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Entries in Ariel Vered (6)


Encore, Encore!

You've just spent over an hour singing, swaying and screaming at the top of your lungs as you watch your favourite singer/band rock it out. Suddenly, and all too soon, it's the last song, and you give all you've got left in you for this closing crowd-pleaser that brings the house down. The song ends with a “Goodnight New York/LA/Omaha/insert city name. Thank you for being such a great audience!” The singer exits the stage, the lights go down, and that's when the shrieking really starts. Why the sudden commotion? Is everyone present in the audience afraid of the dark?

Nope. You have just found yourself at that hallowed part of the show they call the Encore.

Musicians measure success by record-breaking sales, albums going platinum, Twitter followers and Facebook likes, and concerts selling out in under 30 seconds (ahem, Bieber). I don’t think it’s offensive to say that a common characteristic of most musical artists is a healthy dash of egotism. But all those measures of success I mentioned? They are all markers of popularity that occur completely removed from the artists themselves. You can’t really soak up adulation from a blog post, magazine blurb or radio interview.

The Encore is different. In the few moments before the artist re-emerges, the audience becomes desperate. Pleading, “If we haven’t been an enthusiastic enough audience, we promise we’ll be better if you just please play a few more songs. And also, haven’t you not yet played your current biggest hit? This can’t yet be over, right? Right?????”

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A One Woman Review of Duets

The other night, I watched the new singing competition show Duets. Honestly, I was expecting a serialized version of the first time Gwyneth Paltrow insisted we take her seriously as a singer. It’s been over a decade and I still haven’t given up hope.

The show opened with a flashy opening number by the four celeb judges: Kelly Clarkson, John Legend, Jennifer Nettles, and Robin Thicke. As the four sang a rousing song asking if we the audience would allow them to entertain us, two thoughts occurred to me. First, where is the dancing monkey and elephant on a unicycle? That’s instant entertainment.

But also, that these are probably four of the most agreeable people in the music idustry: Kelly Clarkson and Jennifer Nettles are both from the South and have that Southern twang to prove it; John Legend was home-schooled by his seamstress mother in Ohio; and Robin Thicke is half-Canadian (need I say more?). Basically, these are the nicest kids in town. I’ve never watched American Idol or The Voice, but I’m pretty sure that the talent of the contestants is only barely equal in importance to the inter-judge sniping. Simon and Paula? Adam Levine and Christina Aguilera? That gets the ratings and sells the tabloids.

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In Defense of Britta

Have you met Britta Perry from Community? She's the worst.

Community started off with a totally generic sitcom conceit. Self-involved narcissist Jeff (Joel Mchale) pretends to be a Spanish tutor in order to cozy up to Britta (Gillian Jacobs), the blonde bombshell, which to his dismay results in the formation of a ragtag study group. That's, like, a breath away from the premise of Joey, and we all know how well that went (hint: it took Matt LeBlanc 6 years to bounce back).


And then something awesome happened: at the same time that the study group bonded as a weird little family unit, Britta turned out to be absolutely insufferable. It is a Community-universally accepted truth that proves itself each and every episode as the series blossoms from the weird alien baby that it is into…a snotty, smug alien teenager?

Britta is an absurd, self-absorbed hypocritical crazy face who has railed against various Big Issues like intolerance, conformity, and, most recently, marriage and stereotypic gender roles (“Weddings are like little girls’ tea parties except the women are the stuffed animals, the men are making them talk and they’re not drinking tea, they’re drinking antiquated gender roles”). And goddamn it, she’s the MVP of Season 3.

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Insert Laugh Here

On the CBS show 2 Broke Girls, a young white girl says to an older black man, “I've got something to show you.” The black man replies, “That's how I got hooked on cocaine in the 80’s.”

According to the laugh track, this is a funny joke.

On a recent flight to Israel, I found myself trapped on a plane from the 1970’s that, instead of video screens in the backs of the seats, had one central screen for the cabin that dictated the content and order of in-flight programming. Positively barbaric, if you ask me. Which is how I found myself, against my will, watching 2 Broke Girls, a show that I literally had zero desire/inclination/intention of ever watching. And to my complete non-surprise, I was greeted with a garish sitcom that flaunted the most gauche of sitcom tools: the laugh track.

Laugh tracks can’t help but intrude on jokes like a flashing neon sign advertising naked ladies dancing. On a great sitcom, this can be a needless impediment to expanding audience base. But even more offensive is the laugh track of an unfunny sitcom. Not only do the jokes fall flat, but you have to question: who are these fake viewers who supposedly are finding these nonsensical jokes hilarious?

The laugh track is, quite simply and obviously, a crutch. It is never subtle, always intrusive. It screams "LAUGH HERE" in much the same way that the score of Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ insisted to the audience that we were supposed to be sad about Jesus (Um, yeah, in case we forgot?). To this, I say: Give your audience a little freaking credit. We can figure out what’s funny. And stop trying so hard; it’s embarrassing.

Care for another 2 Broke Girls “gut-buster?”

White girl: “You can’t tell an Asian he messed up. He'll go into the back and throw himself on a sword.”

If I wanted to laugh at a broke girl in Brooklyn who occasionally makes racist jokes, I would just tape record myself.


-Ariel Vered


The Errand Boy

A man walks into Duane Reade. 15 minutes later he leaves with two packages of tampons and a six pack of beer. Stop me if you've heard - or lived - this one.

I was wandering down the aisles over the weekend when I came across a man staring at the tall display of feminine hygiene products, while he talked on the phone. Operating on the assumption that this wasn't a fetish thing, I instantly felt insulted on his behalf.

I have been living on my own for the better part of a decade, and in that time, I have learned how to do my laundry, how to go grocery shopping, and how to make my own doctor's appointments.

I have also learned, from the school that is Life, how to shop for all my toiletry and cosmetic needs. Which, and this should not shock anyone, as a woman, requires the purchase of feminine hygiene products.

Now, it's not that difficult to build a pharmacy trip into your day's agenda. On your lunch hour, on your way home from work. In New York, there are at least two competing pharmacies on every block. And they're just as plentiful in car-centric cities. So why, I thought to myself, was this woman sending her poor boyfriend/husband on this demoralizing excursion? And on a Sunday morning at that, while she was probably lounging about.

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