Burning Love, the new web series from Yahoo, could be seen as parody but it's actually a pastiche of The Bachelor. Ben Stiller's got a co-executive producer credit but the show's really the vision of husband and wife Ken Marino (star and director) and Erica Oyama (writer).
Ken stars as dim-witted, fire fighting bachelor Mark who immediately rejects blind bachelorette Tamara P. (Carla Gallo) because he feels that to be loved and appreciated, his handsome exterior must be seen. His decision on whom to give his hose to (fireman's hose) is not necessarily based on their looks, however. Spotting Agnes (played by 81-year-old Helen Slayton-Hughes), he notes with lustful growl that they've got a cougar in the pack.
Agnes will survive the first cut. Tamara P. won't. Sadly, the first cut also finds Mark eliminating Ballerina and Dana. Dana? A young woman looking for love who wears a panda costume because she wants a man to get to know her before he sees her. That's not something Mark can get into. On the limo ride back, Dana pulls off her panda head and wonders if she misplayed her hand? Did we mention Jennifer Aniston plays Dana? It was a brief but wonderful bit that reminded you of how much TV still misses Rachel Greene. Ballerina was a sexually charged contestant hilariously played by Community's Ken Jeong and, we'd argue should have been kept around a bit longer.
With Jeong gone, most of the zany energy comes from Haley (Natasha Leggero) who's made the fashion choice of going bottomless. Whether riding a mechanical bull or sitting around with the other bachelorettes, Haley's free falling. Leggero took time to shine as Nikki on this year's Are You There, Chelsea? Fortunately for Burning Love, she's been fully charged as Haley since her character's entrance. Another contestant to watch is hiding-her-pregnancy Vivian who hopes to land Mark before her water breaks. And Kristen Bell is doing strong work as devoutly religious Mandy who explains to Mark in their first scene that she's already committed to someone: the Lord Jesus Christ. Among the males, Michael Ian Black is bringing just the right combination of sleeze and shock for the Burning Love host and Adam Scott is hilarious as Mark's therapist Damien who does not have any training but will take Mark's money and encourage Mark to work through his issues by cleaning Damien's office.
With three episodes posted so far (next one goes up Monday and the schedule is new epiosdes go up Mondays and Thursdays), Burning Love is already the comedy hit of the summer.
Wait. Let's qualify that. Burning Love is already the intentional comedy hit of the summer. That qualifier is needed because there's a great deal of hilarity coming from people who unknowingly send themselves up. That would be "self-parody," not "self-pastiche."
Take Katrina vanden Heuvel who learned all about espionage from her father and, from her mother, got the money to buy herself a seat at the table, in fact the whole table -- a cardboard fold-out, poker table better known as The Nation magazine.
Last week, she was on NPR's Talk of the Nation (no relation) to explain how the failed recall effort in Wisconsin not running Scott Walker out of the governor's mansion was not, in fact, important or any big deal. Sure took her a lot of words to explain something so minor but maybe she was just running off at the mouth because she wasn't allowed to join the segment at the start?
Like Jane Eyre's Bertha Antoinetta Mason, Katty got consigned to the attic for half the segment so that host Neal Conan could start the segment with Ken Rudin and they could take three calls before bringing on a miffed Katty.
"I am right here, Ken, I'm -- no, I'm sorry, I'm here," declared Katty to Neal emphasizing that the most important person was herself. "I'm here."
If you missed where the emphasis was placed, she reminded listeners quickly, "You know primaries are vexing, but they're part of our democracy, and I think the labor movement has a larger question to ask itself in terms of not just the labor movement but independents. In the piece I write with Robert Borosage, which well be at . . ." "The piece I write with"?
Grammer and manners dictate that you list the other person first but Katrina is her father's daughter and that becomes more obvious with each passing year.
And if you think, "Oh, it was said in passing." Yes, it was. Twice. A minute later, she was again speaking of what "I write in the piece with Robert Borosage." Like he's one of her coffee fetchers and not a real writer in his own right? (Katrina's most famous coffee fetcher went on to become the Obama campaign's 2008 blogger.)
That second mention brought howls of laughter:
You know, at The Nation we do it through investigation, through exposing, but we also need, and I write in the piece with Robert Borosage, we need to propose a vision of an economy and a society that is appealing and engaging to millions of people.
The Nation is an opinon journal which sometimes publishes one investigative story. And sometimes doesn't. Here's investigative journalist Peter Byrne explaining the realities about Katty van-van's 'support' for investigative journalism:
I AM PLEASED to announce that my national exposé of Sen. Dianne Feinstein's conflict of interest has been selected as one of the 25 most underreported stories of 2007 by Project Censored, headquartered at Sonoma State University. I cherish this award because it means I am doing my job as an investigative reporter. Stories that the mainstream media ignore often reveal truths about our system of governance that editors at corporate daily newspapers work overtime to cover up. In this case, the cover-up was abetted by the editor and publisher of The Nation, Katrina vanden Heuvel, after The Nation's nonprofit investigative fund bankrolled my investigation of Feinstein. The story was headed for the cover of that weekly magazine shortly before the 2006 elections when vanden Heuvel, a wealthy Democratic Party partisan, spiked it. Subsequently, vanden Heuvel wrote an editorial praising women leaders of the newly empowered Democratic Party, mentioning Feinstein on a positive note.
Oh, Katty van-van, the truth is as hard for you to escape as the genes that gave you your father's nose.
As hilarious as it was to hear Katty extoll herself as the champion of investigative journalism, so it was to hear her claim that she's working "to propose a vision of an economy and a soceity that is appealing and engaging to millions of people."
The column she couldn't shut up about is entitled "A Politics for the 99 Percent" (and she gave herself top billing; alphabetical order -- like manners -- be damned). But she doesn't want to help the 99%.
We say that not because she lives in a mansion. Those who live in glass mansions shouldn't throw stones, we understand that. (We also understand -- and are grateful -- that our homes don't have the rodent problems Katty's home does.)
We say that because she spent the last four years running a magazine that repeatedly spat on the working class while pretending to care about the working class. She ignored poverty, she ignored how White House policies have increased poverty and hurt and ignored the poor.
The only people she wants to help are the ones who think just like her. In her bitchy column, she insists this will be "the most idelogically polarized election since the Reagan-Carter face-off of 1980." And she's certainly doing her part.
Her comparison may, in fact, be apt. A candidate whose values and beliefs will probably form only if he's elected to the White House versus Wall Street's very own corporate raider of the America's assets. Year after year, Katty whores for the corporatist in Democratic clothing. Her mind's become as small as her nose is large.
There is something very sinister about Katty van-van. A woman who's living off family money should be able to tell some truths. Instead, she whores like she's competing for the title of America's Most Needy, writing garbage like, in 2010, "The result is that even when historic reforms like healthcare emerge, they are so battered that supporters end up dispirited."
There is nothing good about ObamaCare. America needs single-payer, universal health care. They don't need ObamaCare. All that 'wonderful' legislation did was take your ability to buy health insurance and turn it into the law that you must buy health insurance or pay a hefty, yearly fine when you do your taxes.
Catty Katty co-pens this sentence, "The perils of the politics of division -- enforced by a beleaguered, aging white minority against an emerging, more diverse America -- are clear." Katty is the aging White minority, especially in her falling down mansion in Harlem (honestly, if someone called a code inspector out to check the wiring, Katty's home would probably be condemned). It's always hilarious to watch Katty presume to speak for all of America, this spoiled, ugly rich girl who used to piss her panties well beyond first grade has grown up into into a spoiled, ugly rich woman who still has a tendency to smell like stale urine.
The good news is, people aren't buying her act anymore. And when a whore can't sell it, the pimp retires them. So Katty may drift into the background shortly as a result of realities like these emerging in response to the propaganda she's been penning:
This article is telling, detailing the cozy relationship with the drug industry the administration had while crafting the health care bill: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06...
I voted for Obama in 2008. I will not do so again. Why should I have to choose between amputating my thumb or my ring finger? Green party in 2012.
BTW, if you are thinking "what else could Obama have done but compromise?", the answer is that he could have fought, hard. Viciously. Exacting brutal revenge and punishments on wavering blue dogs who held him hostage. Like Johnson and FDR. No weakness, no excuses. None of these people are innocents to be coddled.
And in what must really hurt (considering Katrina's trashy father), this comment, "Vanden Heuvel and Borosage have made careers dividing the middle class and suppressing the real left. It is time for the real left to emerge and through off the shackles of neolib and CIA oppression. If we don't the nation will continue to slide to the right." Remember, boys and girls, the CIA will not be called out while Katrina's at the magazine. Won't happen.
If politics is God's joke on humankind, as they like to say in DC, we'd argue Katrina vanden Heuvel is politc's joke on writing.
Writing's one of the things that Kevin Smith had. Some might argue he's got a web show on Hulu called Spoilers, but, having seen it, we'd argue he's got nothing.
Kevin plays tormented genius like someone who's decided to live out Tim Burton's Ed Wood. Not long ago, when he announced that his upcoming hockey film will be his last film directing, he noted that he had never really accomplished anything in film.
That's not quite true but do we dare tell the truth about Kevin Smith?
Oh what the hell, someone needs to and maybe it'll get him out of the career slump.
Kevin married and that was a huge mistake for a man with bi-sexual leanings that his own sense of manhood has prevented him from acitng on and that the same sense of manhood now forces him to deny even exist. Because he's forcing down attraction towards men, he had to take nudie photos of his wife and get Playboy to publish them. Surely, that meant she was attractive and he should continue to have sex with her. (As often as an overweight man who bakes his brain daily on pot can have sex.)
It was this 'normalization' process that killed the career of Kevin Smith. Joey Lauren Adams, a wonderful actress and wonderful woman, never got alarmed when Kevin's eyes checked out another woman or another man. She wasn't hung up on things like that and when your sexuality is fluid -- as Kevin Smith's was in desire if not practice -- and you don't want your sexuality to be fluid, you can't have Joey Lauren Adams as a girlfriend. Yes, she's beautiful. Yes, she's sexy. But she won't play the traditional, stereotypical roles you need her to. So you dump the only woman that ever challenged you -- mentally, artistically, physically -- and go on to live a lie.
The lying eats at you which is why you stuff your face and go from stocky to grossly obese.
The lying is also why you end up directing garbage like Jersey Girl (don't blame it on Jennifer Lopez) in the first place., and why you find it harder and harder to tell true stories.
Liars can't deal with the truth.
So people in the movie industry begin to notice that even your scripts in recent years are so forced and so thin that you use actors' names in place of characters. You're no longer creating anything, you're forcing it out.
Clerks was a good film to start with. It has flaws but is a classic of the independent film circuit. The heart of the film was two relationships -- four men, two relationships. Mallrats failed not because Shannen Doherty's a bad actress but because no one clued her in that she was playing a beard.
Chasing Amy is a first rate film. An undeniable classic. And, yes, Rose Troche and Guinevere Turner influenced it. But mainly because those two film makers provided Kevin with something to hide behind: It was them, conversations with them, that inspired it.
Of course if two lesbians actually inspired the film, you might look for a really warm lesbian relationship or even just one female-on-female moment that radiated intelligence. You won't find that in Chasing Amy. The moment of truth takes place when Holden (Ben Affleck) kisses Banky (Jason Lee).
That's the moment the movie leads up to, that's the moment that makes the movie.
And Holden is the stand-in for Kevin Smith. So while Banky's aroused and offended, Holden's saying it's okay, pushing to go to bed with both Banky and Alyssa (Joey Lauren Adams). That was Kevin Smith's film-self trying to tell the real self it's okay.
Kevin Smith isn't gay. At this point. And we're not saying he is. We're saying he has some desires towards both sexes. His best moments in his films are where that's played with. Dogma, for all the nonsense about high ideas, only works off the tension between Ben Affleck's Bartleby and Matt Damon's Loki. And try to remember you're watching what is supposed to be a 'small, independent' film. Matt and Ben have rarely looked so gorgeous, been filmed so lovingly.
When Kevin could recongize the attractions in the 90s, while refusing to deal with them, he had interesting moments in film. Then came the new decade and a new life and an effort to deny who and what he is.
Watching him on Spoilers go on and on to Carrie Fisher about jerking off to her image, we weren't so much struck by what a bad interview it was (though it was a bad interview) as by how hard he was trying to establish himself as a man who has only ever been attracted to the opposite sex.
The reason Kevin's films of the '00s have sucked is because he has nothing to say. He's bottled up the truth inside in an attempt to deny it.
We're not saying, "Kevin, grab the nearest Jeremy Sisto lookalike, hit the road for Palm Springs and hide away with him for a week at the Ocotillo Lodge."
We are saying, "Stop denying who you are."
And we are surely saying, "You're never going to turn a film with Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan (Cop Out) into a hit because you're never going to be sexually charged by either. Grasp that and realize that if you can't find a hormonal connection to the proprety, you can't make a film out of it."
Kevin Smith has become a Draq King parody of himself. And this butching it up continues to rob him of the ingredients that made his films so interesting and so alive in the 90s. He can continue down this road until he's become nothing but self-parody; however, as Katrina vanden Heuvel demonstrates, that's the road that extinguishes all traces of creativity and originality. But knowing yourself and using that to put your stamp on something, as Ken Marino and Erica Oyama are doing on Yahoo, is creativity. Take that path, Kevin. Quickly.