Pop Chart

5 minute read
Claire Suddath, Kayla Webley, Megan Friedman, Feifei Sun and Megan Gibson

GOOD WEEK/BAD WEEK

Oddball Fetishists

An auction of the Unabomber’s hoodie and other personal items raked in more than $200,000.

Non-NBC Networks

Bids on the U.S. TV rights for the Olympics through 2020 proved futile for ESPN, ABC and Fox.

MUSIC

Why Can’t Coldplay Stop Crying?

Chris Martin has finally out-Coldplayed himself. The British rock band’s new single, “Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall” (history’s most lachrymose song title?), will appear, along with the song “Hurts like Heaven,” on Coldplay’s forthcoming, still unnamed album. That is, if they stop weeping long enough to finish it.

MOVIES

How Hollywood’s Mighty Fall

When, exactly, did M. Night Shyamalan start making bad movies? Almost immediately, according to the Hollywood Career-O-Matic. The joint project by Slate and Rotten Tomatoes allows users to track any movie notable’s critical trajectory. Shyamalan’s slide is steep, from The Sixth Sense (an 85% rating) all the way to The Last Airbender (6%). Here is a look at three others:

CAREER-O-MATRIC

DAVID FINCHER | MICHAEL BAY | UWE BOLL*

[The following text appears within a chart. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual chart.]

ROTTEN TOMATOES SCORE

Alien 3 39%

The Rock 67%

The Social Network 96%

YEAR OF RELEASE

Blackwoods 11%

Alone in the Dark 1%

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen 20%

*BOLL, WHO HAS MADE SEVERAL ADAPTATIONS OF VIDEO GAMES, HAS BEEN CALLED THE WORLD’S WORST DIRECTOR

VERBATIM

‘If you took naked pictures of yourself on your cell phone, you hide your face, people.’

Reese Witherspoon, offering a piece of advice during her acceptance speech at the MTV Movie Awards. Hoping to reverse the trend of starlets who release sex tapes and nudie pics, she added, “It’s totally possible to be a good girl. I’m going to try to make it cool.”

PLAYBILL

THEATER

Singin’ in the Ring

Every Broadway production has to fight to get made, so a potential new show based on the film Rocky has its work cut out for it. Songs have not yet been announced for the production–which hopes to launch in Germany in fall 2012, followed by a Broadway debut in spring 2013–so we decided to write one of our own.

The Ballad of Rocky and Apollo

Two men/ One ring

It’s on when y’hear that ding, ding

One fight/ Pow, pow

Who’s the one who’s gonna fly now?

Lyrics by Josh “The Rainmaker” Sanburn

TELEVISION

Revolving Networks

After greeting early birds on NBC’s Today show and anchoring CBS Evening News, Katie Couric will try to give ABC an afternoon-slot dynamo–and fill the gap left by Oprah–when her syndicated talk show debuts in fall 2012.

TECHNOLOGY

Les Tweets? Mais Non!

French anchors must bid adieu to Facebook and Twitter. Because of a decree banning both overt and subtle promotion on the news, officials have barred broadcasters from mentioning the companies unless they are reporting on them. Generic references to social media will have to do.

HIGH COLOR

New York City’s High Line opened a new section June 8, doubling the length of the public park built atop an old elevated railroad track. The extension includes a lawn for visitors to sprawl out on and several public art pieces, including Rainbow City, above, an interactive installation made of colorful balloons in various shapes and sizes.

MUSIC

Explicit Expression

On the heels of Rihanna’s bondage-friendly music video for “S&M,” which was banned in 11 countries, “Man Down” depicts a sexual-assault victim who tracks down her perpetrator and shoots him in the head. She joins a starry club of women who have used the format to tear up taboos (and sometimes tear off clothing).

RIHANNA

VIOLENCE

Calling “Man Down” violent and inappropriate, the Parents Television Council called for RiRi’s risque video to be banned from the airwaves.

M.I.A.

GENOCIDE

M.I.A.’s 2010 statement against genocide and racial profiling, “Born Free,” contains scenes of redheaded boys being killed en masse; the video is so troubling that it was even originally banned from YouTube.

MADONNA

SACRILEGE

The video for the title track of Madonna’s 1989 album Like a Prayer features burning crosses and a scene in which a woman seduces a saint–acts that angered then partner Pepsi.

FIONA APPLE

SEXUALITY

Apple’s critics said her 1997 “Criminal” promoted heroin chic, had overtones of child porn and contradicted the singer’s message of female empowerment.

ERYKAH BADU

NUDITY

In 2010’s “Window Seat,” Badu takes off all her clothes along a street in Dallas and then, completely nude (but blurred), falls down in Dealey Plaza, the site of the JFK assassination.

CARTOONS

A Smurfy Scandal

Smurf society was an exemplar of communism, says French academic Antoine Buéno, who accuses the blue characters of red beliefs (as well as anti-Semitism) in a new book. Smurf fans have dubbed his work a “dream wrecker.”

5 THINGS YOU DON’T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT

1. Living in a nation responsible for the worst music video ever.

Norway and Tonje Langeteig may have bested the U.S.

2. The stigma of being a middle-aged gamer.

The average age for someone who plays video or computer games in the U.S. is 37.

3. Being a pothead in Connecticut.

Marijuana has been decriminalized there.

4. James Franco ever taking a break.

His experimental electronica EP is out in July.

5. Jon Stewart.

He cut his hand on live TV, but he’ll be O.K.

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