Pop Culture Trial: Innocent or Guilty?
Like a wolf in sheep's clothing, guilty pleasures, such as Jersey Shore or Justin Bieber, lurk in our DVRs and playlists. One delinquent iPod shuffle or deviant ticket purchase, if discovered, could lead to ridicule and embarrassment from our social circles. So we keep them tucked away even though on some level, we really enjoy these pop culture fetishes. However, not all guilty pleasures were created equal. Some are more benign than others. This week, Inside Beat has rounded up prime suspects and either brandished them with a scarlet letter or acquitted them of their crimes.
TLC's Toddlers & Tiaras v. Inside Beat
This culture is fascinated with lifestyles very different from its own - other's obsessions with vanity at the expense of substance, family dysfunction and, grossly, child sexualization. That's why I'm almost uncomfortable to admit that I can't get enough of TV's Toddler's & Tiaras, TLC's reality series about child beauty pageants. It is undeniably funny, albeit disturbing, to watch children squeal as their parents apply false lashes and hair extensions to their infant spawn. In order to fully appreciate the show, you have to ignore that it is inevitably documenting the decline of the human race and take the show completely at face value. You won't regret it. Toddlers & Tiaras airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on TLC. -Freddie Morgan, TV Editor
Cracked Out Online
Cracked is a comedy website that provides the perfect combination of highbrow fact-based humor with pop culture references and crude absurdity. Featuring articles covering everything from "Cooking For Your Nemesis" (by University alumnus Dan O'Brien) to "4 Tips for Properly Attacking Animals with a Bicycle Chain," this hilarious site's variety is only exceeded by its vulgarity. With countless columns revolving around humanity's baser pursuits, along with enough doctored photos to earn a PhD, reading Cracked in public can lead to many a disapproving glance or awkward explanation. Also included on the site are several ongoing web series, such as the internet-trotting Does Not Compute and the ridiculous look into the Cracked offices that is Agents of Cracked. -Jason Pearl, Online Editor
Confessions of an Awkward iPod
So maybe this electro-hip-pop duo isn't very musically "complex," but their music makes for some catchy, feel-good tunes. Though they missed their scheduled visit to the University due to SkyBlu's back injury, that didn't stop us from blasting "Sexy And I Know It" on repeat. Their songs, "Party Rock Anthem," "Shots" and "Sexy And I Know It" may suffer from incessant radio-play, but that makes finding pleasure in their music all the more guilty. Sorry for party rocking.
2. Selena Gomez
Her music career stemmed from The Disney Channel; yep, Selena Gomez's music is definitely a guilty-pleasure listen. Can she actually sing well? Who knows, but her uplifting yet slightly corny track, "Who Says," sure is encouraging, even if it's targeted audience is pre-teen girls. Next up on the Selena playlist is her most recent radio hit, "Love You Like A Love Song." Can't help but bob your head to this transcendent beat.
3. Taylor Swift
T-swift, yes, we've reviewed her album, and yes, she makes our list. She is indeed a great songwriter, even if all her songs seem to have virtually the same topic: Some shade of heartbreak. Well, what else is she supposed to do with all of her pent-up boy trouble emotions? "All you are is mean and a liar/And pathetic and a lonely life and mean." Her lyrics are pretty girlish and straightforward - it's hard to not sometimes sing along (or all the time).
Is Rihanna's music really a guilty pleasure? It has to be, considering some of her song lyrics are, ahem, rather risqué. With songs like "S & M" and "Rude Boy," it's hard not to feel slightly abashed when listening along. Her most recent single, "We Found Love" can also be categorized as a sinful song, simply because it's near impossible to not want to dance to its beat produced by Calvin Harris.
This guy has a killer voice, but his songs are pretty sugary. Not only are they sugary, but also, his lyrical content can be a little overbearing sometimes. He sings about catching grenades for the one he loves, about girls being perfect "just the way they are" and how it will rain everyday without that special someone in his life. We get it Bruno, you don't just like a girl - you become infatuated. Lyrics aside, his songwriting abilities are inarguable and again, that voice of his is spot-on.
6. Random Mix
Here's some singles that are ridiculously tuneful, but we may not always admit to tapping our feet or singing along to them.
"Blackout" - Breathe Carolina
"Good Feeling" - Flo Rida
"If I Die Young" - The Band Perry
"I Like It Like That" - Hot Chelle Rae feat The New Boyz
"You Make Me Feel..." - Cobra Starship feat Sabi
-Emily Gabriele, Music Editor
Bringing Our Inner Child Out to Play
If ever there was a reason to get in tune with your inner child and embrace the age-old saying, "You're never too young," it would be for animated films. Who doesn't feel overcome with nostalgia when absorbed by the magical allure of childhood favorites like Toy Story and The Aristocats when they see them on television after many years? As child it is entirely justifiable to opt to see the new Disney or DreamWorks flick when it is in movie theatres, but once you're in your 20s, phrases like, "Let's watch Kung Fu Panda 2 instead of the new Pirates of the Caribbean!" may warrant some questionable glances. However, as we get older and are increasingly burdened with the responsibilities of adult life, the captivating storylines, ever-improving visuals and charmingly self-aware naïveté of animated films may be just what we need to balance our lives.
Pixar's Ratatouille is arguably one of the best animated features to date. Like the numerous mouth-watering delicatessens that are marvelously brought to life on the screen, this movie is a bone fide guilty pleasure. Initially an adult will sit there and think, "Talking rats, how childish and unoriginal." However as the film progresses and you immerse yourself in the devilishly charming plotline and are overtaken by the high-caliber animation, you soon find yourself rooting for the main characters and saying, "Oh damn, that little rat better get the credit he deserves." -Alex Natanzon, Film Editor