Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Friday Buzzkills: Violence, death, and some things that really suck

We're running late, with no time for pleasantries. You'll just have to crack open your Bartlett's, grab some pithy quotation and attempt to awkwardly relate it to current events on your own, because Friday Buzzkills is kicking in the door, waving the .44.

- The plea deal in the trial of rapper T.I. (his lawyer calls him Clifford Harris) finally wrapped today, with the judge sentencing America's youth groups to 1,000 hours of having to listen to Harris' insincere admonitions to avoid the pitfalls of guns, gangs, and drugs while waiting to get their copies of King signed. Harris' community service will help him avoid a lengthy prison term–although he is still expected to serve up to 12 months once it's completed–and after that he can get right back to making another album about the awesomeness of guns, gangs, and drugs. Let that be a lesson to you kids: If you're going to carry around unregistered machine guns, you better make damn sure that you're famous…

- …although obviously, in this crazy, mixed-up world where people like Lauren Conrad count as "famous," that's easier than ever. Perennial case in point: Paris Hilton, whose very existence is apparently enough to spark a brawl. Upon her arrival in Istanbul, Turkish reporters and photographers lost their shit and violently tore each other apart: Punches were thrown, noses were bloodied, and at least one man was bludgeoned with a TV camera. In the end, though, all the carnage was worth it, as the brave soldiers of the press finally managed to capture an image of the socialite getting into a car, which future generations will be able to gaze upon and know that their struggle was just.

- If nothing else, the Paris Hilton dust-up gave us even more footage of people getting hurt–and everybody knows there's nothing funnier than serious bodily injury. At least, that's the reasoning behind ABC's new competition series Wipe Out, which hopes to deliver "the most crashes, face plants, impacts, and wipeouts ever seen on television" via an obstacle course "designed to make people crash and burn" just for chuckles. Are you not entertained? There's also NBC's new cage fighting show Strikeforce On NBC, which will finally put mixed martial arts where it belongs: That howling void of a time slot after Saturday Night Live. No word yet on who's providing the bread to go with all these circuses.

- You know what makes for better TV than trauma? Death–and if Edward James Olmos has his say, that's the way Battlestar Galactica will go out: The actor recently told SCI FI Wire that "it's not inconceivable that all of the characters will die by the end of the upcoming fourth and final season," saying, "I think that most people would be shocked, and they would be hurt, and they would be totally, totally frustrated…But that's a truth that people have to realize." A commitment to capturing grim truths and a refusal to wrap things up in a tidy, life-affirming bow? No wonder your show is so low-rated. Perhaps on the way to your mass demise you could at least take time out for a scene where someone kicks Baltar in the balls?

- As remakes go, it's hard to top Battlestar Galactica for improving upon the original; unfortunately, the same probably can't be said for the planned update of The Lone Ranger spearheaded by the writing duo behind the Pirates Of The Caribbean trilogy. Once again, Disney and producer Jerry Bruckheimer hope to do for the "musty" legend of the masked vigilante cowboy what they previously did for pirates and Zorro: Namely, take a beloved archetype and turn it into a needlessly confusing, bombastically grating, flimsy framework for a theme-park ride aimed at hypercaffeinated kids. We can't wait to see the scene where Tonto offers a touching message about the plight of the Native Americans before being interrupted by an elaborately choreographed slapstick shootout.

- And really, why bother with remakes at all when there's so much great original material out there waiting to be picked up? Just look at this upcoming passion project from Dolph Lundgren, who will direct and star in Command Performance, a film he also co-wrote about "the drummer for the warm-up band of a big American performer giving a concert for the Russian premier. Naturally the bad guys break up the show. And just as naturally the drummer is an ex-Marine." Golden ideas such as this would seem to float down on pillowy clouds farted out by God himself, but Lundgren actually credits Madonna with the story idea. With triple-threat yarn-spinners like the Material Girl and Drago around, why did those striking writers even bother coming back?

- Oh, right: To serve at the pleasure of folks like NBC's Jeff Zucker, who just taped the world's most painful promo for upcoming new episodes of My Name Is Earl. For those keeping score, there are at least two crass instances of product placement, one attempt to squeeze the last bit of funny out of Borat, and one giant smarmy jackass making everybody feel ashamed for watching his network. It's niiiice.

- If we can learn anything from "JZ," it's that people behind the scenes should stay there, a lesson reiterated by recent e-mail dialogues between those outraged Fanboys protestors and a guy whom /film swears is vilified director Steven Brill, a thin-skinned last-minute replacement who takes genuine umbrage at those upset by his Harvey Weinstein-approved decision to turn a humble little movie about kids fulfilling the dying wish of a cancer-stricken friend into a laugh-a-minute "lookit the neeeerds!" blockbuster. In the published exchanges, Brill allegedly tells one irate fan, "U suck for emailing me your bullshit whining. U r gonna like fanboys better because of me and then u can kiss my ass." He then calls another a "dumb cunt," before threatening to "hunt you down fucker." While one can ponder the wisdom behind personally responding to Internet attackers with inarticulate, profanity-laced taunts, the real question is this: When overly obsessive Star Wars fans and the guy who directed Little Nicky throw down, is there even anyone worth rooting for?

- Then again, it's not as though an admirable résumé precludes one from making regrettable public statements: Take Spike Lee, who used his acceptance speech for Chrysler's Behind The Lens award (Mmm, legitimate!) as an opportunity to accuse Hollywood studios of "sneaking black faces into the board room to make it look like they're integrated, but what they're really doing is plucking blue-collar workers and dressing them up for the meeting." Surprisingly, Lee insulting every single African-American executive on the planet somehow failed to finally put an end to racism as we know it. Although, geez, what's he complaining about? I mean, it's not like Vogue is making magazine covers that make LeBron James look like a crazed ape-man here to steal all the white women! Oh, wait…

- And if you really want to talk persecution, that's nothing compared to the plight of the "emos" in Mexico, who are facing constant violent attacks, including more than 800 young people who recently invaded Queretaro to hunt for kids sporting emo looks. For those of you who wouldn't mind giving your own local Pete Wentz-alike a smack, it's important to note that these attacks aren't motivated by distaste with the emos' preferred musical style or fashion sense, but by a deep-seated homophobic response against men dressing effeminately. (And yet for some reason, it's perfectly cool for macho Mexican hombres to love Morrissey. Go figure.)

In addition to the beatdowns, anti-emo sentiment has also swept the media, typified by this clip from Televisa, where faux-hawked El Douche presenter "Kristoff" goes off on the various forms of emo in Spanish before switching to English to exclaim, "Fucking bullshit!" Great…As if "emos" didn't have enough to cry about already.

- It's been a bad week for folks who worked on 1961's landmark drama Judgement At Nuremberg: We've already reported that co-star Richard Widmark passed on, and today came the news that Oscar-winning screenwriter Abby Mann died Tuesday. In addition to creating a string of politically charged and socially conscious movies such as A Child Is Waiting and the awesome Ship Of Fools, Mann also gave the world Kojak, which spun off from his Emmy-winning TV movie The Marcus-Nelson Murders. Who loves ya, baby? (We do.)

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