Archive for the ‘Bad Fame’ Category

Ashton Kutcher’s Lateral Move to Nowhere

Saturday, May 21st, 2011

I just watched half of Ashton Kutcher’s romp-com No Strings Attached. By accident. I laughed at a bit player’s line: “The sounds of your sex are ruining my porn!”

Then I got bored and started staring at my thumbs.

Mr. D. Moore has done the same character in about 12 and a half movies, including the glopped-together Valentine’s Day, where he was, once again, the clueless cluck with a heart of gold. Inevitably, I’m confronted with his movies while on airplanes, and each time I shake my head in wonderment, “WHY is he hired?!” …”Why is HE the lead actor?” … “Can’t they find someone else with more than one expression?!” It’s not as though any of these starring roles — The Guardian, Guess Who, Butterfly Effect, Killers, Just Married, the list is endless — has made any money.

Dude, where’s my actor? Ashton Kutcher is not he. This guy is a puppet (also known as a marionette, which is commonly referred to as a dummy)!

kutcher-dumb.png

Which brings me to the news: Hiring his abs, err, this piece of plastic to replace America’s favorite Sheen-wreck in Two And a Half Men makes perfect sense — for Kutcher.

While he may be able to give excellent ghost-written speeches at TED and such events; boast about his one million Twitter follower milestone; handle a pretty good starry marriage to a lady who seems like an actress; talk a good game about causes he believes in, and somehow be credited with the forward to a book on social media … he is not a movie actor as much as a well-honed product placement.

Michael Kelso, the character he handily got us loving in That ’70s Showis Ashton Kutcher. He’s the clumsy, daft guy a lot of women find attractive. It’s what got him started, but sadly, he’s never learned to shake that persona and emerge as a respectable actor.

How about creator Chuck Lorre does something different … actually makes an “actor” of him? Shake it up! Bring him back on 2 ½ as the long lost gay cousin … or, shave his head, give him nerd glasses and make him gain 100 lbs. or wear a fat suit. Will the ladies still drool? Who cares. Pay for the guy’s scene classes and wash that perpetually goofy grin away. Otherwise we might just start missing Tiger Blood–at least ratings wise.

Kutcher possesses none of the traits thrown at him. He’s not this big social media guru; he tweets. As for his huge Twitter following, you do know that once you follow him you are unable to unfollow him, eh? Sneaky bastid. AK plays a public part that changes constantly and he does it quite well. Every choreographed move in this man’s life is strategically pieced together by his posse.

I’m glad — for Lorre’s sake, and for the goober mainstream media’s — that a bright-eyed, good-looking malleable Hollywood star has taken that asshole’s place in a show a lot of people like. I hope everyone at CBS is aware, though, that his ratings popularity is, just like Whoopi Goldberg’s, not guaranteed. Pre-The View a multitude of Whoopi’s movies, books, comedy shows and theater gigs fell with loud crashes; she always does well on TMZ“though. [Her unread autobiography was, not ironically, titled Book!]

The big Ash could pull off his new TV gig if he tunes in and recognizes the need for an eight-year-old show to evolve into something brand new AND different. This is a gig in which he desperately must succeed. We all know he is that guy who while not a trained actor (see above) can perform for his supper. As Daniel Tosh might say, “I thank him.” Because dumb is as dumb does.

But, do we have to be just as idiotic to watch?

____
A portion of the above was originally created for HuffingtonPost but got killed by its AOL-purchased editors; do you think they’re in bed with Ashton Kutcher? I am not upset about it.

Find me on Twitter posing as @laermer. I’ll let you unfollow.

The Inanity of Fame & The Death of Gerry Rafferty

Sunday, January 9th, 2011

It’s so damn sad to think of anyone spending years in a room, depressed and drinking and hoping for a better life. But it’s worse when it is someone you thought “had it all.” Reading about the death of Gerry Rafferty, whom you had to know if you turned on a radio once in the late ’70s, was like poring over the news of someone Dickens might have conjured up. And once again proves that being famous, rich, or beloved by millions is hardly the life that we think it is.

Rafferty, who passed on January 4 at age 63 from alcoholism that had ravaged his liver, was one-half of the infamous duo Stealers Wheel, whose anthem “Stuck In The Middle With You” was sung in the manner of a Dylan song because the duo was mocking how Mr. Dylan made everything folky sound so damn serious (”Clowns to the left of me /Jokers to the right”). But if you watch the myriad YouTube videos of young Gerry, with his dark glasses and his unsmiling mouth, you get the sense that being in the limelight was hardly what he wanted to happen.

Rafferty defined multi-talented: a fascinating lyricist, musical savant who wrote relevant and often sad stories about those around him. Gerry Rafferty was everything nearly all of today’s pop stars aren’t (do you need a list?). On that note, I think a lot of us wander by street musicians who aren’t courted by conglomerate labels and think “Man, I hope you are going to make it big one day.” But what if he doesn’t? What if that isn’t the case and the stoop is his big, happy, momentous break?

I found out last night that Rafferty released a comeback CD in 2009–more than a dozen gorgeous songs that I, a well-informed media comber, didn’t even know existed. When he was interviewed a few years back at his home in Scotland, he explained that his slight outpouring over the years (a few songs, a few vocals, producing one record) was wholly due to his depressive state. It turned out that being famous and pushed/prodded/pumped for more (and Stealer writes about it in the song “Star”) was light years from a reality he’d imagined. And he didn’t want any of it.

This wasn’t a half-assed “George Michael”-style moaning. He didn’t publicly declare how fame made his life bad, boo-hoo. It was more complicated–and this is where I learned about Rafferty’s Dickensian life: In interviews for his 2009 comeback–ironically titled “Life Goes On”–the musician declared that his life started out a mess (a drunk father who beat him and his mother), moved into the phase where he fought with band members until he was forbidden to record solo (hello, lawyers), and then released “Baker Street,” a single that brought him to superfame and so defined 1978 for tens of millions that till death he continued to make $125k a year from it alone. (Rafferty wasn’t living on the streets.)

He recorded for several more years after the success of his first LP, then stopped; got married and subsequently divorced; and tried like hell to fight his way back into art by recording songs that, like the fast-paced “Right Down The Line” had been kept in people’s hearts and playlists because they simply too good, and never seemed dated.

I didn’t know what happened to Rafferty until now; posts like this one appear when the Twittersphere spends more than a day spitting out knowledge and wishes about a singer most of us didn’t think about. But he wasn’t neglected. Tarantino used “Stuck In The Middle” in that big bloody moment inside Reservoir Dogs. And when a Rafferty tune started, whether on Sirius, in a department store, on a DVD, or my Mom’s cassette player, I wondered if there was a Gerry Rafferty out there producing tracks for newbies like so many other 12-hit-wonders after tiring of music business vultures. Yes, Gerry Rafferty was an icon and an idol for many generations; I learned this by browsing the thousand garage-band cover versions of “Baker Street” on every video site imaginable. No, Gerry Rafferty did not have a career during these undefined decades. It appears he was just trying to rise from a stupor.

I am left with a burning question. If he’d had a lesser fame like that of Steve Forbert, who in the 70’s went gold with a single (”Romeo’s Tune” or “Meet Met In The Middle of the Day”), would Rafferty have been able to live like Stevie and record a CD every year, change genres at will–Forbert is a kind of elder statesman in Nashville now–and keep doing what he loved most?

I can hope that would not have been drinking.

[Ending on a happy note: Take a sweet look at how much people adored Gerry Rafferty and watch this 2-minute random short film called Gerry Rafferty Takes Up The Bongos.Rafferty Dead At 63

I’m tweeting about pop culture via @laermer

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