By Omari Sankofa II
Last updated: 05/19/13 11:05pm
After months of building speculation, Kanye West returned in a major way on Friday night: broadcasting his talking head on 66 buildings across the world in his premiere of his new song, “New Slaves.”
He quickly followed up with an eye-opening performance on Saturday Night Live. In addition to “New Slave,” he unveiled his primal scream-filled, rock-inspired “Black Skinhead” in front of a screen that rapidly displayed images of price discounts, and occasionally lingered on a message that read “Not for sale.”
Does Kanye has an agenda? Duh.
A minor outrage rose when it was revealed that his new album, dropping June 18, will be titled “Yeezus.”
And at some point, Kanye snapped. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when, but when he emerged from hiding after the Swift incident, he was meaner. Colder. His music was harsher and more fiercely-produced. The fun-loving guy who rapped about the “Good Life” on Graduation was broken.
Back to his infatuation with Jesus.
Is there a more tragic figure in ancient biblical lore? Before the storm happened, Kanye was already questioning his faith in God. It jumpstarted his career, after all. And through his trials and tribulations, his relationship with God evolved.
On “Cant Tell Me Nothing” in 2001, he rapped: “I had a dream I could buy my way to heaven. When I woke, I spent that on a necklace.” These days, it seems the only approval he’s seeking is his own. One of the songs on “Yeezus” is titled “I Am A God,” which is hardly the humble Kanye that rocked a backpack earlier in his carer.
Kanye sees Jesus in himself. He sees himself being whipped on the cross. He thinks he’s a victim. The award show rants, the mic-snatching, the presidential dissing, it’s all because Kanye thinks the world hates him.
To a certain degree, that’s true. Kanye’s burned plenty of bridges over the years.
His most illuminating moment came when he hijacked Chief Keef’s banger “I Don’t Like.” Yeezy raps, “The media crucify me like they did Christ. They wanna find me not breathing like they found Mike.”
Yeezus isn’t so much a new persona as it is Kanye proving a point. He knows the world think’s he’s a douchebag. He doesn’t care. He wants the same acceptance he enjoyed when he was rocking shutter shades and collaborating with every artist under the sun.
Kanye’s not selling out, as he showed during that SNL performance. Kanye is not for sale.
Here’s the thing about 2012’s summer blockbuster The Avengers: aside from making over $600 million dollars at the box office and nearly clearing its 220 million dollar budget on opening weekend alone, it made history. All of the character buildup and introductory movies beginning with 2008’s Iron Man were stellar, but having all of these beloved characters come together on screen and have it be successful is astonishing.
Alas, with great success come great strife, and looking forward to the next series of solo ventures for the Marvel heroes leading to the inevitable Avengers sequel, there appear to be mounting financial issues.
Robert Downey Jr., in his role as Iron Man, made an estimated $50-80 million dollars from the Avengers, far exceeding his celebrity cast mates including Scarlett Johansson and Chris Evans. The reason for this simple: after the success of Iron Man, a frankly mid-tier superhero in terms of popularity and an overall risky venture with Downey’s checkered history of substance abuse, he renegotiated his contract to include a percentage on profits made from future films. And when The Avengers soared, so did Iron Man.
Comparatively, it appears as though Thor, The Hulk and Captain America all got the short end of the proverbial stick. Evan, Ruffalo and Hemsworth all reportedly made between 2-6 million dollars reprising their roles in the superhero mash-up, and some are fed up. Evans and Johansson in particular have made their disdain public, saying they believe they deserve more compensation.
From Marvel’s standpoint, I can understand why they are willing to shell out the overwhelming amount of cash for Iron Man. Anyone who’s seen the Avengers can see Tony Stark, the man beneath the suit, is the star. Downey’s charismatic presence and well-honed acting ability shines through. He truly is Iron Man. Everyone else, while valuable, can be replaced in Marvel’s eyes.
Take The Hulk as a prime example. If you include 2003’s Hulk (you really shouldn’t, it’s awful), the not-so-jolly-gamma-radiating giant has been played by three different actors. The Incredible Hulk, perhaps the best of the pre-avengers hero films, featured Edward Norton, a respected dramatic actor with iconic films such as Fight Club and American History X on his resume. And yet when he pushed for more influence over The Avengers script and how The Hulk should be handled, Marvel dropped him like a bad habit.
Other examples abound. Colonel James Rhodes, Iron Man’s uptight military sidekick originally played by Terrence Howard, was replaced in the sequels by Don Cheadle. If you escape the existing Avengers movie universe, moviegoers have seen two separate Spider Man film revivals in the last 11 years alone. After Tobey Maguire’s trilogy left a bad taste in the studio’s mouth, they simply green lit an entire new franchise under the dubious Amazing Spider-Man heading.
While I don’t want to see some other actor throwing Captain America’s shield or blasting baddies with the lightning of Thor, it wouldn’t be too huge of a surprise to see it, given past actions. And realistically, the average film fan who shelled out their eight bucks to see The Avengers isn’t going to care. Sure, some comic fan-boys and girls may complain on forums, but ultimately they’ll be seated, clutching their buttery popcorn and coma-inducing sodas just like everyone else.
Well, according to a Texas TV station, one of the entertainment world’s newest, yet most beloved sweethearts, is a raging criminal.
With the rush to report any information — and I mean ANY information — on the Boston Marathon bombings early last week, many news organizations ditched accuracy in favor of breaking the story first. CNN fell for it. ABC News did as well.
But perhaps the most laughable instance of a failure to fact-check came from Fox 4 Dallas-Forth Worth, a local station in Texas. The network’s closed captioning system, while discussing the two brothers pegged as responsible for the bombings, announced “New Girl” actress Zooey Deschanel’s name, mistaking it as 19-year-old Dzhokhar A. Tsarvaev.
Known for her wit, vintage clothing and ’60s reminiscent bangs, Deschanel has become a household name from movies such as “Elf” and “500 Days of Summer.” That being so, the mix-up soon made national news, and the actress herself even tweeted a snapshot of the incident for her followers.
My first question is, how was that mixup even possible? The two names aren’t even remotely alike, and just about everyone and their mother knows (or should know) who Deschanel is.
Okay, so maybe not everyone knows who she is. But if you aren’t sure about a name, why on Earth would you not check both names to distinguish between the two people?
It takes two seconds to check a name. But it’s going to take at least a few weeks for said station to get over their mortification and gain reliability from viewers, especially in the wake of such an emotional event.
Hey, did you know Jay-Z went to Cuba? I didn’t, nor did I feel particularly enlightened when I was told he did.
Apparently, however, this was a big freaking deal. Not only that Jay-Z went there with his wife for their anniversary, but that Mr. Z then released a song in which he bragged about having “White House clearance” for the trip.
This is honestly one of the stupidest pieces of “news” I’ve ever seen, and we’re not even done yet.
Not only were people upset that a celebrity couple dared visit Cuba — apparently the Cold War is alive and well in the Caribbean, or something — but it seems people were aghast at the thought that President Obama might have had a hand in it.
Because of tyranny or something, I presume.
Why exactly this required an official White House response, I don’t know.
But Press Secretary Jay Carney delivered one in which he basically said that the issue of traveling to Cuba is a matter for the Department of the Treasury, not the White House, so why in the world would the president have been involved?
I feel like I should be using this to comment on the rampant celebrity culture in America, but this is so stupid I can’t bring myself to form an argument. If Dennis Rodman can go to North Korea, why can’t Jay-Z go to Cuba?
Actually, that was stupid too. Never mind. I really need to spend less time on the Internet.
When the Harlem Shake became a thing, people jumped all over it.
There must have been thousands of videos, all with the same trite formula: lone person — usually wearing some sort of mask, helmet or hat — dances in a random place while everyone ignores him, followed by numerous people in costume appearing after an edit point is invoked and dancing crazily.
I’m not going to rip them for that — hell, we here at The State News got in on the action ourselves — but a new take on the formula was refreshing, even back in the infancy of the meme.
I feel like it’s best to get that out of the way, up front. The issue of race and racism is a touchy one at the best of times, and I in no way consider myself qualified to get into that discussion myself.
That’s where LL Cool J and Brad Paisley come in.
The two collaborated on a song called “Accidental Racism,” which is intended to deal with the issue of being unconsciously racist.
It’s a noble goal, and one we could all probably stand to learn from. The execution, however…well, I’ll just let Grantland’s Rembert Browne explain below:.
This almost-six-minute song, while a doozy for the entire ride, only really gets noteworthy at three minutes and 40 seconds. That’s when the post-racial baton is passed from Paisley to Cool J and things get really fantastic.
“Dear Mr. White Man, I wish you understood”
Dammit, LL. Did you really have to start off with “Dear Mr. White Man”? His name is Brad. He’s right there. Just call him Brad. You’re allowed to. It’s 2013.
“What the world is really like when you’re livin’ in the hood
Just because my pants are saggin’ doesn’t mean I’m up to no good
You should try to get to know me, I really wish you would
Now my chains are gold but I’m still misunderstood”
I’ll let you use this “chains” imagery once, LL, but no more. I beg of you no more.
Paisley: “Tryin’ to understand what it’s like not to be / I’m proud of where I’m from”
LL: “If you don’t judge my gold chains” DON’T. YOU. DARE, LL.
Paisley: “But not everything we’ve done”
LL: “I’ll forget the iron chains”
I told you not to go there. Why don’t you listen?
My final thoughts: The song — specifically the lyrics — are just staggering for all the wrong reasons. It’s hard for me to even coherently talk about it.
So let’s just appreciate the unintentional comedy, try — and probably fail — to listen to the message, and drift away on the strains of…whatever you want to call this.
Remember the days of Drake Bell starring on the hit Nickelodeon shows “All That,” “Drake and Josh,” and even getting hit in the head with objects on “The Amanda Show”? Well, in case you almost forgot about him, he made his presence felt again, but this time it wasn’t all fun and games.
Actually, come to think of it, it all started with a game, when Bell tweeted out his new idea for a “Miley Cyrus or Justin Bieber” game. It was simple, he tweeted a picture of one of them, and everyone had to guess, except winning it is a little harder than one would think.
Regardless, just the idea of someone saying anything less than spectacular about Bieber will send his fans, or Beliebers, into a state of criminal-like thinking. In this episode of “Let’s Lose Our Minds Over Something,” Beliebers extended their wishes to Bell, letting him know that they wanted his plane to crash. Sounds sane enough.
It didn’t end there, however, as Bell reminded everyone that talk is cheap as he tweeted out he will be landing at LAX at 11:55, and courteously invited them to greet him at baggage claim.
So what’s next? How awesome can a beef between a former child star and a current mega-celebrity with a maniac fan base really get? Well, let’s find out in this list of likely scenarios:
1. Bieber tweets back. And why shouldn’t he? If this guy jumped off the Grand Canyon while wearing a gorilla suit, then the Grand Canyon would be full of teenage girls and costume stores would be out of primate wear in 12 minutes flat. Beiber has the support of tens of millions, and the Twitterverse is just home court advantage for him as well.
2. Bieber comes out with a diss track. Also note that this would be the weakest sounding diss track of all time. Unless you think a slim white kid talking about how Bell lacks “swaggy” a good diss track, then we should all just stick into the 2pac and Biggie days.
3. Speaking of 2pac and Biggie… could you imagine if this exploded into a “my gang vs. your gang” sort of deal? (head explodes from laughing too hard) Instead of guns and knives, weapons would be rolled-up Bieber posters and shards of broken CD cases, and we would have to replace bandanas with concert t-shirts.
4. A pay-per-view MMA fight. This is what everyone should be pulling for, as the storylines are endless: 90s kids against new millenium kids. Washed up actor against a celebrity at the top. Class against swag. People would pay an irresponsible amount of money to watch this ironically funny matchup.
5. World War III. Will this make Kim Jong Un snap? Was he waiting for someone to rip into his beloved Bieber to launch the missile? Let’s all remember, this man isn’t too mentally sane, and is willing to kill anyone who says the wrong words.
Among movie critics, few stood as tall or rose as prominently as Roger Ebert.
The influential critic, who succumbed to his 11-year struggle with cancer on Thursday, left behind a long list of accomplishments — more than 20 well-received books ranging from fiction to essay collections to his own memoir; his TV shows with film critic and journalist Gene Siskel (including “Sneak Previews” and “At the Movies with Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert)”; and his widely-syndicated film review column in the Chicago Sun-Times (which later moved online).
The last decade of his career, however, is known more for his losses.
In 2002, Ebert was diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer. In 2006, he underwent surgery to remove cancerous tissue near his jaw, losing much of his jaw in the process. With his jaw went his ability to eat or speak.
However, the loss of his speech didn’t affect his voice in the news world.
Ebert continued to review movies on his online column with the same scathing intensity, wit, sarcasm and passion for which it was known for.
Additionally, he was able to communicate through his computerized voice system named “Alex.”
On April 2, 2013 (a mere three days ago), Ebert announced in, what would ended up being his final blog post, a leave of absence from his duties — the fractured hip he suffered in December 2012 was determined to be cancer.
The blog post —titled “A Leave of Presence,” — was filled with thank you’s, ideas for the future, and an affirmation that “I am not going away.”
When you look at his career, he couldn’t have been more correct.
Ebert will be remembered as one of the most important journalists of our time, one who could make or break the success of a movie with a simple thumbs up or down.
Ebert closed his final blog post with a remark.
“So on this day of reflection I say again, thank you for going on this journey with me. I’ll see you at the movies.”