Thursday, February 16, 2012

Portents of "The Plastics"

In “The Times They Are A-Changin’” Bob Dylan sang, “And you can’t criticize what you don’t understand.”

(Wait, he started his piece with a Dylan quote? How original! He never does that!)

In many ways, Dylan is correct (as usual). But that doesn’t mean you can’t question that which you do not understand. And in case you haven’t gathered this already, there are a lot of things that fall under this “I don’t understand” banner for me (just ask The JudgEmentress). Some are a tad serious (ex: the current state of the public school system baffles me) while others are legitimately important (ex: why would someone get Oreos if they weren’t “Double Stuf”?) In the end, they all pester my brain to no end, for many various reasons.

Seriously, why would anyone buy or eat Oreos if they weren’t Double Stuf?

Why would someone voluntarily listen to LMFAO?

Why isn’t Mountain Dew Code Red a more popular beverage? No, it’s not nearly as refreshing as original Mountain Dew, but it’s delicious nonetheless.

How can NBC’s The Office be this bad? I understand that Steve Carell (aka Michael Scott) left the show, and I understand how funny and important his character was to the program, but should the drop-off really be this stark? And if so, why isn’t every show producer and movie director on the planet throwing crazy money at Steve Carell to be in their next project?

Why are people so critical of Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook? Yeah, he takes some shots away from Kevin Durant, but he also takes pressure off of him. And yeah he is a tad careless with the ball and forces it on offense at times, but the athleticism and drive and constant effort that he brings night-in and night-out on both ends of the floor far outweigh any negatives that might come with his game. Find me one NBA team that doesn’t want Russell Westbrook on their roster. He’s not perfect, but the dude is a stud.

Why are people so intent on bashing Jersey Shore and the people that watch it? It feels antithetical to me.  We know it’s a terrible show full of completely detestable human beings. Of course we know that. That’s why it’s on TV in the first place. That’s why people are watching it.

How has Nicholas Sparks survived this long without a bunch of dudes just banning together, hunting him down, holding him captive and torturing him until he swears on his life to never write another book, ever again? I in no way support unwarranted violence or cruelty towards another human being…but if I ever ran into that guy on the street somewhere, I’d make sure to do so with my car.

But the one question that has been eating at me more than all others of late involves neither politics nor America’s favorite cookie sandwiches. It has nothing to do with alternate flavors of Mountain Dew or television programming. It is tangentially related to Nicholas Sparks, but not imperatively. It actually involves Amanda Seyfried, and the question of why Hollywood continually tries to force her on the people of this great country. It’s not really offensive or abrasive or even off-putting. It’s just confusing. I just don’t get it.

The utter perplexity spawned by the mainstream media’s determination to make Amanda Seyfried a household name and A-list actress has been ravaging my brain day and night. What is the appeal? What is the motivation behind her path to stardom? What is it that makes her so endearing to those casting blockbuster movies or shooting magazine covers, and why don’t I see it too?

Before I delve further into this subject, let me first make sure that you know who Amanda Seyfried is. After breaking onto the film scene with a supporting role in Mean Girls (great movie), she has since gone on to leading roles in films such as Mamma Mia!, Dear John, In Time and the soon to be released Gone, among others. Secondly, I want to make sure you know that I have no qualms with Amanda Seyfried as a person. I’m not attacking her character or saying she’s ugly or assuming that she smells bad. I just think she’s in way too many freaking movies, on way too many magazines and walking way too many red carpets. Maybe she’s an outstanding individual. Or maybe not, I have no idea. I’m just perplexed by this idea of her as a superstar, and why it’s being forced on me by popular culture.

I don’t think Amanda Seyfried is a great or terrible actress. I don’t think she’s make-your-knees-weak pretty, but she’s clearly a long way from being unattractive. She’s not hilarious or dull, not engrossing or forgettable. She’s always somewhere in between. Always showing potential, but nothing that makes me think I’ll be bouncing my grandkids on my knee and telling them about her someday. She’s had a few bank-breaking box office returns (Mamma Mia!, Dear John) and major flops (Jennifer’s Body, Red Riding Hood). She’s received critical acclaim and widespread pandering, top billed weekends and forgettable openings. But through it all, she’s never struck me as having some unidentifiable magnetism. I think she generally does a good job, but I also think she’s benefitted from strong, big name supporters (Streep, Timberlake, the aforementioned Sparks). I’ve never viewed her as having the ability to draw in viewers, but based on the fact that she keeps getting leading roles in major, wide released films (and in turn popping up all over TV and the newsstands), I feel as if I’m being actively convinced to think otherwise.

For example, I’ll see just about any movie that has Denzel Washington, Ben Affleck, Will Smith, Brad Pitt, George Clooney or Mark Wahlberg. Plot, co-stars, reviews – all of it is basically irrelevant. If any of those guys have a major part in the film, then I’m banking on past experience and personal preference when I assume I’ll enjoy the movie.  The same can be said of women of my mother’s generation when it comes to ladies like Meryl Streep, Jennifer Anniston, Julia Roberts or Sandra Bullock. Even with the younger female generation of today we see a similar impact with people such as Reese Witherspoon and Natalie Portman, and we’re beginning to see the same effects with the likes of Emma Stone, Mila Kunis and Rachel McAdams. But Amanda Seyfried? Eh.

I have no grand point or ultimate observation. I have no vendetta against Seyfried or some larger issue I’m trying to address. I’m merely confounded constantly by this young actress popping up in every other movie; it’s beginning to reach un-ignorable levels. I don’t know how much longer this confusion will last or why I even put this much thought into it in the first place. And yet for right now, the lore surrounding Amanda Seyfried completely and utterly confuses me. I just don’t understand.

Until I realize that if she keeps getting all these movie roles and magazine covers, she must be doing something right. She must be well-liked by those casting her and working with her, and she’s probably on the verge of a major, post-Mamma Mia! breakthrough that just hasn’t quite happened yet.  Judging by her workload, she appears to be awfully dedicated to her craft and career choice.  She’s never done anything particularly stupid or offensive, and to my knowledge, she hasn’t been involved in any major scandals or internet sex videos. She’s probably snickering at those that question her merits as a leading lady, flashing her bank statements and kicking back outside her beachside mansion in Malibu while sipping on some fruity drink with a mini umbrella peaking out the top. And she most certainly couldn’t care less what I think of her, whether I’m criticizing her or not. Heck, as far as I know, she’s always spoken rather highly of me.

On second thought, maybe I do like Amanda Seyfried. Maybe I’m not nearly as confused as I thought I was. Where can I buy some stock in this girl? I'm all in.

I suppose the times truly are a-changin’.

Thanks for reading

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