Archive for Pop Culture

The Inconvenient Side of Probability

I recently listened to the Adam Carolla podcast with special guest Dennis Prager, where the two intellectual heavyweights sat down and dissected society. Giving us their right-wing spin on both societies ailments and how we should remedy them. The subject of race inevitably came up and Adam went into a diatribe about how stereotypes are based on reality, and how our brains make snap calculations when faced with people outside of our own to dictate what kind of threat level your dealing with. The same snap calculations that we evolved with when we were running away from cheetah’s on the Savannah. That basic primal part of our biology has gone nowhere since, but now we’re not on the Savannah, we’re in major urban cities with skyscrapers, and a cupboards full of food. So the threat is no longer cheetah’s, but each other, where different enclaves of society pose different threat levels. Certain crimes amongst the black community are inordinately high in juxtaposed to other races and there are socio-economic reasons for that. Not to mention 200 years of oppression that has altered our culture for the worse, which is passed down from generation to generation without a hint of irony. (See black women and their obsession with covering their natural hair with weave for a tiny sliver of that manifestation) So when a cab driver in New York, see’s a young black male at night, they do the quick math in their head that there’s a good chance that there could be trouble. I agree with this because it’s pragmatic and we do almost everything in life based on probability. A person gives up their motorcycle when they get married, or upon the birth of their first kid because probability indicates that they might not be around long enough for their significant other, or child. When the Boston Celtics have to pick a free throw shooter to convert a technical, Ray Allen is selected because the probability of him converting is the highest. Your car insurance is higher when your driving a stick shift, as oppose to an automatic because probability indicates that there is a greater chance of an accident with the former source of transportation…………the list is endless. So when you see a young black male, in an urban area, at night, Adam feels that you need to play the odds. Even a cab driver (who is most likely from a different country himself) understands this game of probability and I 100% agree. The mere fact that black women have no problems getting cabs highlights that this issue hugs the side of statistics more than it does racism. Except there’s one little thing that our white middle aged, insulated, republicans didn’t bring up, and that is the dangers of the caucasian male, and how they should not be exempt from their ‘danger based on probability’ form of solipsism. When there’s a serial killer on the loose, making suits out of his victims flesh and storing their decomposing bodies in a freezer, I want all middle aged white males to be pulled over while driving as suspects. I also what them pulled out of airport lines because probability does not skew in favor of that demographic. When there is a pedophile on the loose, I want Adam Carolla and Dennis Prager called in for questioning since middle aged white guys have cornered the market on raping children. Once again I’m down for treating life as if it’s sabermetrics towards my race because the data is in…………but the data is in on the white middle aged male as well, and it looks just as bleak.

Fresh Prince vs Seinfeld

Now that we’re nearly a decade and a half removed from two of the greatest sitcoms this planet has ever seen, salient attributes from each show stick out more and more the longer they stay into syndication. Such as how underrated Uncle Phil is or how horrible the first season and half of Seinfeld was. Some of these features over the years are adding up to chip away at the mystique of Seinfeld and help bolster my argument on how I’ve felt for a long time……..Fresh Prince is better than Seinfeld. After people get over the shock value of my statement I ask them to riddle me this:

Which one was more consistent?

Which one was more versatile?                                                                                                                                

Which one had a better cast? (Highly debatable)

Which one is more re-watchable? (Now that we know that Michael Richards openly routes for Kiefer Sutherland’s character in “A Time to Kill”.

Consistency is a foregone conclusion; Fresh Prince hit the ground running and didn’t look back. Even the usual kiss of death in sitcoms where a new character is added couldn’t hinder the Fresh Prince Locomotive. They added baby Nicky in the later seasons and kept on churning out classics. Married with Children exemplifies more of the norm, they added that new kid seven, and the show quickly went downhill, or maybe it was going downhill before that which prompted the desire to add a new character…….it’s a little fuzzy right now. Seinfeld on the other hand……..not so much. That show was on the brink of cancellation in the first season and was green lit for another year because of the lovely circle of friendships that Larry David created within the industry. Demerit points are also taken away for the tragic Seinfeld final episode. EPIC FAILURE!! Totally undermined much of that great season with such a clunker of an ending and this needs to be factored in when comparing the Titans.

Versatility is another no brainer, Fresh Prince made you run the gamut of emotions. Laughter when Carlton and Will were trapped in an apartment with Mad Dog. Poignancy when Will’s dad came back into his life. Awareness, during Vivian’s black empowerment teachings. Seinfeld tackling anything even remotely serious makes me cringe at the very thought. Also I’m going to throw in the bloopers as a versatile trait……….no sitcom will ever have a better blooper reel than Fresh Prince. Carlton’s off the cuff improv when he thought Will killed Lisa at the cabinet was absolute genius. And Will’s “dum dum de dey” remark that almost gave Hilary an aneurysm.

Saying that Fresh Prince had a better cast is almost blasphemes, David Puddy’s character alone should swing the pendulum towards Seinfeld but hear me out. Larry David has shown how interchangeable some of those characters were with the rise of Curb your Enthusiasm, aka, “Adult Seinfeld”.  Can that happen with Fresh Prince? Could there ever be another Carlton Banks? Larry David has been playing George Costanza for the past decade and he hasn’t lost a beat. So for my final edict, I’m going to create a sitcom fantasy lineup to see how they stack up:

Will Smith vs George Costanza – Will wins this hands down, more funny, more charisma, better acting, higher degree of difficulty seeing how Hip-Hop wasn’t quite mainstream yet, and finding a universal audience for that character is way harder than George Costanza pandering to an audience that finds Vandelay industries as groundbreaking material.

Uncle Phil vs Jerry Seinfeld -Both play the straight men surrounded by a world of chaos, Comedic edge is slightly in Seinfeld’s corner but Uncle Phil more than makes up for that with better acting and more versatility. He’s also vastly underrated in the comedic department, especially when he started coming out of his initial role as a pretentious wasp. (I think pretentious and wasp is redundant, I should have just deleted that right?) The episode where Will and himself are battling it out in court and telling their sides of that infamous pool party was his coming out party.

Hilary Banks vs. Elaine Benes – Seinfeld takes this one, Elaine Benes is the greatest female sitcom character of all-time and not even I will take this away from her, although Hilary was better to look at. Got to put the Seinfeld bashing to a brief halt to bask in Elaine’s greatness.

Carlton vs Cosmo Kramer – Carlton in a landslide, even before Mississippi Burning Michael Richards, Carlton has this in the bag. Comedic value through the roof, improv second to none, once again versatility is the underlying theme and he beat his chest loud and clear when Will got shot, or when Uncle Phil was hospitalized with a heart attack.

Last but not least, the passing years have been way kinder to The Fresh Prince of Bel-air. Fashion fads aside…….there is a timeless aspect of Fresh Prince episodes where you feel you can watch it time and time again without getting tired of it. The episode where Will gets trapped in the wilderness with John Witherspoon (pops from Friday) ages like a fine wine. No substitute for an old man calling Will, Wilbur………and lighting fires with hot sauce. Seinfeld in a juxtaposition has a finite shelf life……….George becoming a genius after abstaining from sex and Elaine becoming ostracized for hating the English Patient gets a certain amount of laughs from me before it becomes wash, rinse, and repeat.

So in conclusion, we have been fed through the main-stream media that Seinfeld is the Godfather of sitcoms and we all should have our hats in hand when approaching the all-mighty Oz. No dice, Fresh Prince reigns supreme and anybody who disagrees is just following the mantra of the masses. Fire up the Fresh Prince DVD’s and show me a single episode where you felt that there was a wasted 20 minutes. (Bonus points – Fresh Prince’s theme music has a Pavlovian effect, the minute you hear it, happiness instantly encompasses your body)

The Ugly Truth

I have reached a bodhisattvas like stage in my life where I can say that a certain dude is butt ugly, without the obligatory, “no homo” comment that somehow grants a man complete gay immunity. I never understood the “no homo” statement …….saying you’re not gay after a gay comment should not exalt you. I remember friend number one making a homoerotic observation, followed by silence; then watched friend number two apprehensively clench his fists, awaiting for friend number one to fill the conversation chasm with the “no homo” reset button. If someone goes out of their way to say that there are not gay……shouldn’t we just assume he’s putting from the rough? It’s like when someone starts off a rant by stating, “no offence”. You can bet your life that whatever follows that will be offensive. Sorry for the digression but I was thinking about the ugliest celebrities in the world when thinking of that rant. I’ve made a list of the world’s ugliest celebrities that are stuck somewhere at the tail end of the evolutionary scale. While it’s not politically correct, I’ll use the TMZ bailout rule that is used anytime paparazzi want to get away with suspect behaviour; this is the price they pay for living in the public life.

Without further ado………….

Dikembe Mutombo – This mug is why he blocked shots at will. Think about it……there are plenty of centers that are as big and athletic as Dikembe yet he kills them all in shot blocking. It’s his hideous face that deters oncoming slashers, who throw the ball up Hail Mary style once they get a glance of that thing that grows out of his neck.

Patrick Ewing – How this man procreated is living proof that the NBA truly cares.

Ninja Man – ……………….

Shabba Ranks – The 8th Wonder of the World. I’ll let Marlon Wayans take over from here.

Steve Buscemi – Nice little niche actor with only one barrier preventing him from being a leading man. His GRILL!!

John C. Reilly – Only in a capitalistic society can Reilly be married.

Lexington Steele – The Denzel of this list but still not saying much.

Clint Howard – This man should be caged and studied………so future society’s can understand why we drove our civilization to extinction.

Rinaldinho –  If your familiar with Rinaldinho, it might have taken you awhile to notice that this picture isn’t him. Two show you how random women are; one girl told me that she loved his smile. I laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed and then went to bed………….only to wake up in mid laughter.

Willem Dafoe – This is my boy but he looks like a toon from the movie Cool World that came to life.

Flavor Flav – If aliens descended on our planet and their first human interaction was with Flavor Flav, would that be good or bad for the fate of our planet? He could look like them, which would promote a sense of familiarity; or he could totally misrepresent what we look like as a species and cause world-wide genocide for being so fugly.

Hedu Turkoglu – A wise man once said that “Hedu looks like God wanted to make him retarded but changed his mind at the last second”. Had to come correct for this one since Hedu played his heart out for my beloved Raptors.

Luis Guzman – Apparently Shrek was a documentry on this man.