I Don't Know How to Ride A Bike... <BR>(and other ramblings): January 2006

I Don't Know How to Ride A Bike...
(and other ramblings)

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Music Video Spotlight: Ashlee Simpson, "L.O.V.E."

From the girl that revived faux rocker stylings and lypsinched her way to "Pieces of Me"...

From the girl who wrote a song about making "La La" on a car...

From the girl who repeatedly told us that she "Didn't Steal Your Boyfriend" (HA!)...

...comes "L.O.V.E.," another riveting masterpiece in Ashlee Simpson's musical oeuvre. The best part about this song is the fact that the chorus is very easy to remember ("L, O, L, O, L, O, L.O.V.E / L, O, L, O, L, O / Did you hear me say?"). The worst part of this song is the fact that the singer is Ashlee Simpson.

So this peppy, overtly trite song is basically about not needing a man around to bring you down because you've got your girls. And while I agree with the sincerity of the message, I don't know how much faith I'd place on Simpson herself. I don't know her personally, but she totally looks like a girl who would ditch you in a heartbeat for a chance to hang out in an arcade with a boy she's crushing on.

If you haven't seen this breakthrough video (either because you don't care or have blocked it from your memory), here is a pictorial refresher. But follow closely, because it does get complicated.

The video, which doesn't add anything to the already empty song and becomes grating the more times you see it, but does act as a way to convey to us that Ashlee Simpson is fun and can get down, begins with our heroine, Ashlee, standing in her hallway. I know, the excitement is already sucking you in. In what appears to be a throw-away shot that any legitimate director would have left for the DVD extras, she fiddles with her eye. Ew, Ashlee: that's how pink eye is spread. Upon further frame-by-frame analysis, I have concluded that she's applying her eye make-up with her finger. There's no mirror in sight, so this would at least explain away most of her look.

Her product-placed cell phone rings, and behold, it's the asshat boyfriend. Ashlee looks away, "annoyed." I bet you she's wondering how a scraggly-looking dude could still manage to have better hair than her.

She decides that she doesn't want to talk to him...

...and throws her phone into the toilet. I'm all down for theatrics, but it has to be noted: she could have simply chosen to ignore the call. Or she could block his number. Or shut off her phone. Anything to keep from literally throwing money down the toilet. But what do I know? The only cell phone I ever owned was purchased for $10 back in 1980 and was the size of a boot. I'm sure if Ashlee signed a three-year contract, she'd get a new cell phone for free.

Content with wasting money but not common sense, Ashlee heads out to a party with her friends. Because what's better than spending Friday night with a bunch of poseurs like yourself?

So she gets the party started by "rocking" out in her friend's car. I know that no one in their right mind would think this is cool, so let's assume that they've devised an elaborate and diabolical plan to get rid of the hanger on.

But no such luck. There she still goes, channeling the hip quotient and dancing capabilities that we've all come to expect from another bleached blonde, Gwen Stefani.

Oh, Ashlee, don't forget to tell your friends that if they need to reach you, they can't. Because you threw your phone down the toilet.

Having safely arrived at the party headquarters, Ashlee & co. make their rounds greeting the extras. In a blink-and-you'll-miss-it-moment, this guy walks by the camera. He's immediately the best thing in the video because in my world, I'd like to think that he's making fun of Ashlee's ill-fated hair and clothing choices.

This party is really in full swing. I mean, I know I've hit a good spot when I see someone entertaining himself by reading the back of a potato chip bag. I also like that they've tried to stick in extras who look like they've just run away from a traveling circus, so that Ashlee looks good by comparison. And what the hell is that Crayola swirl on his chest? Even though I can't quantify it, the more I look at it, the more annoyed I get.

The synchronized dancing montage begins. In real life, no one does this (unless you are Usher). And yet, in music video land, everyone and their dogs know the exact same moves and will perform them at the exact same time. In music video land, you don't actually exist until you dance your way in.

Now I can see why Ashlee has abstained from dancing in her previous videos. Her friends, against better judgment, decide to join in. Everyone half-heartedly dances. Sadly, no one boos or throws broken bottles.

More party clips ensue. All the extras seem to be waking up somewhat. Could it be that Ashlee's invigored dancing has revived their waning spirits? Or maybe everyone's finally drunk.

Some girl walks across the couch in her ugly heels. Goodness, do you do this at home? You are the worst party attendee ever.

The bare-chested Crayola freak covers his crotch. Maybe he caught a sniff of Ashlee in the room?

Ashlee rips off Charlie Chaplin. And then she does it some more. Where the heck did she get that cane? I hope someone doesn't need it right about now.

The extras in the background entertain themselves by trying to briefly revive the "Vogue," formerly made popular by Madonna in 1992. I'm glad that at least someone is having fun.

Ashlee does the robot.

Finally, the director throws in some dancing filler. Now that everyone's caught onto the "Vogue," it's time to bust out the more contemporary moves. These guys are about thirty gazillion times better than Ashlee, and the background extras know it. Although the picture is blurry, you can see that all attention is on these two. No one really cares about Ashlee's dancing, but the girl extras are almost drooling over all this good dancing. The girl in the t-shirt is absolutely gobsmacked, like she's finally figured out how to build a time machine so that she may go back in time and make this video never happen.

A nice shot of Ashlee, lest we forget that it's her video.

There's Ashlee again, teaching us how to spell "love." If you've missed the first ten times she's done this and still can't get a handle on it, you're out of luck.

Did she change? Where's her jacket? Her cane? Where did that hat come from? I feel like I'm watching Memento all over again, and must piece the clues together myself.

Before Ashlee can leave, she must sit on this guy's lap and gyrate a little. Could this be the inkling of a scandalous sex tape that will be available for download in a couple of days?

Remember Ashlee's declaration of "Don't need any man in this room / My boyfriend, he'll be calling me now anytime / I need all my girls to keep him off my mind"? Yeah...I see how it really is, Ashlee. And so do your "girls," who have suddenly disappeared off the face of this music video.

Content that she's sufficiently crapped all over this party, Ashlee stumbles home in the wee hours of the morning. We pan to a shot of the cell phone, still floating on the toilet. It appears that her battery is dead, but I guess her cell phone provider must have a really good manufacturer, because the screen is still on. And the phone, submerged in three inches of toilet water, somehow still works.

The moral of this story: If someone pisses you off, throw your cell phone in the toilet. Hitch a ride with your bestest girlfriends to a party, but don't actually hang out with them (unless it's to solicit them for some synchronized dancing). To be the life of the party, always carry a cane with you.

Rating: (1) Embarrassed Ashlee Simpson out of 5

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Hard Lessons Learned From the People's Choice Awards

I've always thought that the "People's Choice Awards" broadcast is one of the most useless award shows there is, right after VH1's "Big In '05" telecast that ran in syndication for the whole month of December. I'm seriously convinced that the PCAs are just an excuse to give people (who were once popular) shiny things to take home. A quick perusal of the nominees for this year is suspect: under the category of "Favorite Leading Lady," we have Cameron Diaz, Reese Witherspoon, and Renée Zellweger. The PCAs conveniently leave out the fact that "leading lady," in the case of two of the three nominees, doesn't necessarily have anything to do with actually appearing in a good film in the past year. I can only surmise that Cameron Diaz earned a nomination for In Her Shoes, Reese Witherspoon for Walk the Line, and Renée Zellweger for her role in her annulled marriage to Kenny Chesney. Oh, all right. She was also in Cinderella Man.

Another PCA mystery is the nomination process. On the official website, it's all spelled out for us, somewhat vaguely: "Knowledge Networks used its panel, which is the only web-based market research panel that is representative of the entire US population, to identify a pop-culture-involved sample of men and women ages 18-54." Somehow I doubt that this web-based market research panel could possibly be representative of the entire US population, especially since a total of ten people saw In Her Shoes and Cinderella Man, but if this description somehow lulls us into accepting that the public has truly spoken, then so be it.

Not one to stray from the lulling, I became resigned with the whole process of the PCAs. After reading the winner's list and perusing the show pictures, I learned that:

Jessica Simpson always looks vacant, even when she's not speaking or trying to think. And although showing up at an awards show dressed up in Britney Spears' hand-me-downs is a cheap alternative to getting your own clothes, it's not always the best way to go.

If you host an awards show and invite Green Day, they will be the first to RSVP. And also, Billy Joe Armstrong is very heavy-handed when it comes to applying eye make-up. (Green Day won the "Favourite Group" category.)

In a year of Brokeback Mountain, Walk the Line, and Good Night and Good Luck, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith will win every time. Hey, at least it wasn't Hitch. And also, Harrison Ford is strangely turning into George Lucas, and unless we're talking box office residuals from Star Wars, this isn't a good thing. (Star Wars Episode III won "Favourite Movie" and "Favourite Movie Drama," although it's quite odd that it was nominated in two categories that could have essentially been condensed into one.)

I'm still grossed out about Jennifer Garner's mating with Ben Affleck. You can see that his cheesiness has spread all the way onto the screen and into the background, making everything tinged with a Velveeta-cheese orange. (Garner won for "Favourite Female Action Star" and "Favourite Female TV Star." I am going to nitpick here and point out that these nominations would be based on Elektra and "Alias," respectively. While "Alias" used to be a good show, it has since deteriorated. And Elektra just sucks.)

Matthew McConaughey is taking this way too seriously. Come on, it's not like you won a Nobel Prize. Sadly, it's not like it's an American Music Award either. (McConaughey won the "Favourite Male Action Star" category and...you know that Sahara would have been laughed at anywhere but here.)

Reese Witherspoon just showed up in order to practice her acceptance speech, as she will inevitable have to use it when it comes time for the bigger, better awards. Also, she had nothing else to do that night.

Even though Sandra Bullock has: 1) appeared in Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Dangerous; 2) popped up in about ten minutes of Crash to teach us a very special lesson about racism, all but to disappear for the rest of the movie once the lesson is learned; 3) not been popular since 1995; and 4) not been a box office favourite since 1995, she will, of course, win "Favourite Female Movie Star."

The voters of the PCAs could possibly be deaf. (Jessica Simpon won the "Favourite Song From a Movie" category with her rousing rendition of "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'.")

People like giving Ray Romano awards. Every award show must feature an award going to him, regardless of the fact that "Everybody Loves Raymond" has been off the air for about ten years now. (Romano won the category of "Favourite TV Comedy.")

Contrary to popular belief, this is not a drag queen, but Tyra Banks.

And finally, Jason Lee really looks like this in real life; I don't know who Kirsten Vangness is, but she's at the top of the list for Worst Dressed of 2006 thus far; and Randy Jackson's wife is hot.

Here's to another year of useless awards,
Christine