- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 24, 2010

Hatin’ Jaden

“Let’s start with the indisputable fact that [Jaden] Smith got to be in the position he’s in because his father is the biggest movie star on the planet. So where, exactly, should that piece of information lead us? Should we hate Jaden Smith? Should we hate Will Smith? Should we hate every young actor or musician who ever got placed on the map of fame because of his or her parents? (Take that, Miley Cyrus, Michael Douglas, and Jamie Lee Curtis.) Oh, but, of course, the rap on Jaden Smith is that he’s all nepotism and nothing else, that he’s a kind of grouchy preteen Tori Spelling in cornrows. He’s been excoriated as a bad actor (even though, just a few years ago, most viewers had nothing but praise for the appealingly feisty and precocious performance he gave right next to his dad in ‘The Pursuit of Happyness’). … He’s been ripped up and down as ‘insufferable’ for his appearance last week on ‘The Late Show With David Letterman.’ …

“Yet in the online universe of Jaden Hatred, that Letterman appearance played as one thing and one thing only: privilege. And that, on the surface, is what the whole ragging-on-Jaden-Smith phenomenon is really all about - the desire to tear down a child who enjoys the perks of celebrity royalty, even though he didn’t earn them. And now he’s getting a movie career handed to him! You can almost taste the class resentment, the jealousy of folks who only wish, deep down, that they’d gotten such an opportunity themselves and now want to scrawl their rage on Jaden Smith’s image like Perez Hilton going crazy with his Magic Marker.”

- Owen Gleiberman, writing on “Why the hatred for Jaden Smith? It’s the ugly underside of fan worship,” on June 18 at the Entertainment Weekly blog Movie Critics

Euro-cheese

“But here’s the rub: European pop sounds like Eurovision pop even when it’s not from the Eurovision Song Contest. The stuff you hear in the back of Belgian taxis, on German radio, in Sicilian bars, and in the lobbies of Danish hotels: It was all created by the great god of dreck, and Eurovision is his temple. P.J. O’Rourke, surveying the dancing in a club in Warsaw in 1986, deplored what he called ‘the tragic lack of black people behind the Iron Curtain,’ and there is no doubt that had Motown opened up a branch in, say, Bratislava, Europe would have been a happier landmass.

“But the want of taste runs deeper than that - deeper even than the puzzling way in which pop loses every trace of kick and soul when sung in anything but English. There is, and should be, something cheesy in all good pop, but what Eurovision delivers is flavorless processed cheese, as if it were produced not by musicians but by a cultural subcommittee of the European Union, convened in a back room in Brussels. It wasn’t that I sat there, in Oslo, longing for the Supremes or the Stranglers or REM. That would have been too much to ask. I was longing for the Bee Gees.”

- Anthony Lane, writing on “Only Mr. God Knows Why,” in the June 28 issue of the New Yorker

Trademarks

“We’ve never really thought of the New York Times as a bully. Stubborn and crotchety, definitely. But seems a run of Jean-Luc Godard-inspired tees have the old Grey Lady doing more than just shaking her cane and yelling at the kids to get off her yard. According to the New York Post, the paper has threatened a Dumbo screen printing business, claiming they’ve illegally appropriated the trademarked New York Herald Tribute logo.

” ‘We hereby demand that you immediately stop manufacturing and selling articles of clothing bearing the logo,’ Times lawyer Deborah Beshaw wrote in a letter. You know, the logo appropriated for wear by Jean Seberg in Godard’s classic flick ‘Breathless’ and recently re-appropriated by Rodarte to celebrate the film’s anniversary.

“No word on whether the Times has written similar threatening notes to Barney’s New York, where the Mulleavy sisters’ tee is on sale, or for that matter to Urban Outfitters which has been shilling a scooped tee boldly bearing the rag’s current logo. For our part, we think they take what they can get. After all, all press is good press, no?”

- Megan Baldwin, writing on “Why Is The NYT Suing A T-Shirt Company?” on June 23 at Stylite

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