God, I hate it when NPR tries to be hip. I also hate it when they show willful obtuseness in the face of pop culture. On this score, I’m impossible to please, and should probably just tune out when they try something like an “appreciation” of Patrick Swayze, which didn’t quite work. Terry Gross could have handled it, but she’s got her own fish to fry, and can’t be popping in to the other shows to give them notes.
It’s hard to say what was wrong with the Swayze piece; maybe it was done by someone too young to really grasp the dual wonder and disappointment of the guy — he was always the best thing in a bad movie, but couldn’t really make the leap to good ones. He belonged in a different era, when his Gene Kelly combination of physical grace and unquestioned masculinity could have been packaged in his own “Singin’ in the Rain.” Either that, or he needed to live a little longer, until Quentin Tarantino could have built a script around him, like he did for John Travolta and Robert Forster. As it is, he’ll be remembered for doing his best work in individual scenes where he could shine — the last few minutes of “Dirty Dancing,” the Chippendale’s sketch from “Saturday Night Live” — rather than one single movie.
If you’re a fan of “Point Break,” I don’t want to hear about it.
And while I hate it when bloggers link to their own past work like it’s some sort of scholarship, I reread what I wrote about Swayze at the time of his diagnosis last year, and I’ll stand by it. You can read it here.
I just watched the “Dirty Dancing” clip again. Great dancing, of course, but why did the rest of the movie have to suck so bad? Why is Jerry Orbach glowering when everyone around him is happy? Why is the orchestra leader conducting, when we’ve already clearly seen they’re dancing to a record? And when the old people join in I have to pull the covers over my head and die a little bit.
(You know a movie I’d pay to see? One about Jennifer Grey’s nose job. I know it’s been discussed on TV, but a smart movie that drills down into plastic surgery and all its implications, using Baby’s rhinoplasty as a through line? That would be worth doing.)
Oh, and my all-time fave Excruciating NPR Pop-Cult Moment is when Noah Adams tried to lead a segment explicating the career of the late Big Pun, the rapper. Yeah, that guy. Yeah, Noah Adams. It’s still one of the funniest things I ever heard.
Friends, it appears that casting a couple worms in the job pool this morning has eaten up my blogging time. What are we thinking of “Mad Men” so far this season? I’m thinking it’s simultaneously wonderful and awful, which is, I hasten to add, a very good thing for me. I love entertainments where everyone involved points at the highest rows in the house and says, “That’s what we’re aiming for” and then maybe falls short, but dies trying. The mood so far this season seems to be “the thing that’s coming? It’s getting very close…” It’s not quite there yet, so we’re seeing a lot of Peggy slowly getting the message about what women are worth, really, and Betty ditto, and we really need more Joan, but so far it’s hard to see how it’s all coming together. The last scene this week was wonderful, all of Betty’s hopes deserting her at the time hope likes to do so — in the middle of the night — while the primordial ball-and-chain of all womankind wails from its crib. (Yes, it’s a joy, too. It’s both. That’s the point.) She’s going to have the worst post-partum depression ever.
I’m getting a little tired of the hollaback lines and scenes we’re all supposed to titter over. From the un-seat-belted children playing with dry cleaner bags in the first season, we’re now expected to gasp over the OB nurse telling Betty to get ready for her shave and enema. standard for childbirth back in the day. This feels forced.
What say you? I’m off to the gym to think about it.