Because the internet needs another list
Well, what a week it’s been, readers. For the purposes of this – brand new! – column, the week is anything between now and last Thursday. Sorry – I don’t make the rules. (Actually, in this extremely limited space, I do. I’m a tinpot dictator of the page; just call me Jordan Stalin).
The last seven days have unspooled in a kaleidoscope of pop culture frippery, of underwhelming awards ceremonies, internet outrage, pop pornography and one dubious covers album. There have been winners, and there have been losers. Everyone loves arbitrarily dividing people into random categories, don’t they, so let’s carve ‘em up real good, have a poke around, and see who comes out on top. Think of it as a light entertainment autopsy.
This has been a particularly easy week to begin a column about the week’s winners and losers, as it was the Oscars on Sunday, an evening all about pointlessly rewarding stuff so white blokes can feel good about themselves. Interestingly, the real winner was actually the loser.
Spike Lee’s spectacular BlacKkKlansman missed out on Best Picture in favour of Green Book, a hackneyed race relations drama written and directed by white people. Lee reportedly stormed out of the room, then later joked that “the ref made a bad call”. Well, the ref did make a bad call; BlacKkKlansman is an astonishing film – exciting, thought-provoking, devastating in its depiction of racism – while Green Book is a lame box-ticking exercise about a chauffeur (Viggo Mortensen) whose racism is forgiven because he likes Little Richard, or something.
Spike Lee, whose epochal Do The Right Thing failed to receive an Oscar nomination when Driving Miss Daisy won Best Picture in 1990, must be developing a pathological loathing of cars. Spike, you deserve the Oscar, but at least you’re the winner of a column you’ll never read.
As an aside, country pop hero Kacey Musgraves recently performed her stellar hit ‘High Horse’ and then left on an actual horse. Sounds like a winner to me, though I don’t know how Spike Lee feels about this particular mode of transport. If he doesn’t mind, she also wins. The horse, too, now I come to think of it.
Well, this is the fun bit, isn’t it? The pop cultural highlight of the last seven days came, for me, when Ja Rule – a man loathed for his involvement in the Fyre Festival, and whom no-one can remember anything else about – attempted to win over the crowd at an NBA halftime show. “Are we ready!” he called to tens of thousands of near-silent, non-plussed people. “Are we readddddddddddddy?” In the end, with a surprisingly amount of self-awareness, Rule replied to the echoey stadium: “I guess not.” Given his track record in festival organisation and public speaking, I hope Ja Rule soon becomes a negotiator in hostage situations.
And, of course, Morrissey has unveiled the track list for his covers album ‘California Son’, out in May. His previous album, 2017’s ‘Low In High School, proved he’s forgotten how to write songs, so in theory this doesn’t sound like a bad idea. And then you see the artwork. It’s like the sky grew dark and the baby from Teletubbies grew up to support UKIP. And then you listen to the first track he’s released! The Mozzer version of Roy Orbison’s ‘It’s Over’ sounds like the closing number of an eight-hour musical about Theresa May’s political career, starring Nigel Farage as the back-end of a pantomime horse. Playing in Ramsgate this summer, probably.
‘California Son’ resembles the work of someone who’s even tired of their own controversy, but still craves spotlight, so has turned to other people’s words instead. But even this has proved controversial, because people on the internet are annoyed that the likes of Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong and Ed Droste from Grizzly Bear appear on the album. To be honest, the entire project looks like something that’s been discovered on an old hard-drive and dusted off in the wake of a tax bill, in which case the only real winner here would be the Inland Revenue. But if Billie Joe Armstrong and Ed Droste want to endorse Morrissey, that’s their prerogative. I’ll be listening to The Queen Is Dead, oblivious to the whole sorry affair.
Anyway! This week’s losers are Ja Rule and Morrissey. Also probably the Teletubbies baby, who’s been drawn into this through no fault of his or her own.
Ed Sheeran’s ‘Shape Of You’ has been banned from daytime play in the Indonesian province of West Java, because the song has been deemed ‘pornographic’. Hard to call this one, because on the one hand it’s awful that the people of West Java are subjected to such a conservative government, but on the plus side at least they don’t have to listen to Ed Sheeran.