Pop Culture Blind Spot: Crossroads

Okay, you know those movies and shows that everyone has seen, and when it comes up in conversation you just sort of nod and hope nobody asks you anything? I have a lot of those. The entire Godfather series, for example. I know. Anyway, we’re both out to tackle our pop culture blind spots and find out if the phenomenon we’ve missed out on are really all they’re cracked up to be.

Our first installment is a cinematic masterpiece that is the zenith of my generation’s teen entertainment. It stars Britney Spears and was written by a young Shonda Rhimes. And I’m pretty sure I’ve told like 5 people that I’ve seen it when it came up in conversation. That was a lie.

Ladies and gentlemen, Crossroads.


 

0:00 Not only have I refrained from seeing this movie since it came out in 2002, I have also been pushing it down our post queue for, like, two months. So I think a lot of our Pop Culture Blind Spots are movies, shows and albums that we’ve avoided because a still small voice said “another episode of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, why don’t we?”

1:00 Taryn Manning, Zoe Saldana, Shonda Rhimes? This was an incubator for stars of the future.

1:20 … and the past. Kool Mo Dee, anyone? [Edit – next morning: I cannot remember where or how Kool Mo Dee appeared in this movie.]

I have already had to pause this to laugh at the Brit Spears voice over.

1:40 The wardrobe department did a very good job on the 90s flashback jacket for young Zoe Saldana (Kit, but it sounds like Britney is saying Kid). It’s easy to picture “90s kids clothes” today, but when it was only a couple years after the fact it was hard to remember what has changed. Like, if you told me to dress a child like it’s 2007, I’d put it in …. an Obama Hope logo tee shirt? No clue.

By the way, young Britney is played by Jamie Lynn Spears, before her life and career went in a totally different direction. You could almost say she was …. at a crossroads.

2:20 There’s a time capsule. I’m hooked.

3:00 Oh thank God. Britney is singing again. Madonna’s Open Your Heart, which is really more suited to a televised mass wedding, to be honest.

3:51 BRIT IS THE VALEDICTORIAN. This is important.

4:10 PENNSATUCKY IS A PREGNANT TEEN. This is more important. I also am not sure how or when Taryn Manning became typecast as the redneck bad girl from the wrong side of the tracks, but she is so amazing at it.

OMG THIS FOREVER YES.

5:50 Why is Brit in a prom dress AFTER graduation? Do they do that in … is this Louisiana?

In my day (2 years after this movie was made) graduation night was the first chance you had to start never seeing most of those people ever again.

6:36 Britney Acting Range: Emotion #1: Pouty. She cries over missing out on high school stuff to become the valedictorian. When she says “I was like ‘is this it?'” you can almost see her straining to recall memorized dialogue.

7:23 They’re at some sort of fancy post-grad soiree. I forgot how shiny and pink 2002 was. Saldana is rocking the rows of twisted hair into a bun look. Sans butterfly clips, because it’s not 1999 here.

Reminiscent of the best Zoe Saldana role of all time, Eva in Center Stage.

10:30 Brit and her Nerdy Male Friend (Lucy and Henry, which sounds more like a preschool class in 2015 than a high school class in 2002) prepare to have sex for, presumably, the first time. There is a scarf strewn over a bedside lamp. Does anyone toss a scarf over a lamp before sex IRL? Anyone? Seems like a fire haz.

Henry, BTW, is Justin Long in his early career.

12:45 Pennsatucky fights with a guy with molded vertical Ken Doll hair.

14:38 The Time Capsule was so boring. Oh my god, so boring. They put in emblems of their hopes and dreams, which is exactly as not-interesting as it sounds. Saldana wanted to get married, Brit wanted to find her mom, and Pennsatucky wanted to get out of dodge.

Britney Acting Range: Emotion #2: Opening a box. Kind of neutral, but wouldn’t most of us be if we were opening such a boring-ass time capsule?

17:10 Brit calls her mom “mother” which gives me hope that things will turn Baby Jane/ Psycho / SOMETHING.

Yo remember those slim-fit rugby shirts we used to wear? I assume there’s a name for them.

That one shirt we all had.

19:40 Bucket hat. Trailer park. They’re going to LA.

21:32 You know those people who,when you’re singing in the car, try to ~show off and sing really good? Britney Spears is that person.

Saldana has those sunglasses with a shape in rhinestone decals. Those are Paige Michalchuk sunglasses.

25:40 Ben was in jail. Ben is the guy they’re driving to LA with. Never take rides from a stranger, friends. That’s how you get serial killed.

27:00 Saldana is rocking some yellow-gold eyeshadow that I also sported a lot c. 2002. I thought it made my blue eyes “pop” but I looked like a baby that needed to get put under those jaundice lights.

Also they’re buying Funyuns. Do people actually like those?

29:00 Dan Aykroyd wants Brit to come home. I have avoided mentioning that Dan Aykroyd was her father till now because it pains me.

31:10 Those shirts with the thin neck scarf thing attached! I had roughly the same top as Saldana has on.

32:18 Pennsatucky and Saldana fight. If anything is redeeming in this movie, it’s Taryn Manning. She is amazing.

Britney Spears Acting Range: Emotion #3: Frustration. Broken-down car on road trip.

35:55 The girls do a Karaoke performance to make money. I Love Rock n Roll. I forgot about that Britney Spears cover. Spears packed a crimper in their luggage, apparently; thank God. She also has one of those shirts where the writing on it is split open in front of her cleavage, and her underwear is a solid inch above her low-rise jeans. Okay. So I have adjusted to the 90s fashion revival, but it’s really going to sting when the early 2000s come back.

38:00 Did you ever notice that Britney changes the end of every word that ends in an “ee” sound into an “ay” sound? ‘He was with may.’ I think that must have been part of the Mickey Mouse Club training protocol, because the late 90s boy bands did that, too. Or is it a very specific accent native to the Oakwood?

43:00 The girls have a slumber party at the house from Pretty Baby.

I waited to add images til my lunch break, and I can’t look up Pretty Baby at work because… have you seen Pretty Baby? But Google it and you’ll see that the set design is 100% the same.

 

Child!Saldana went to fat camp. Is fat camp real? Has anyone been? Will you write a guest post? I’m dying to know more.

44:55: Britney Spears Acting Range: Emotion #4: Rue. Rue? Rueful? She’s bummed. Mom stuff.

You know what this movie is missing? The Shonda Rhimes cadence from Scandal. Where they all “talk like THIS, like.. they are reading a SLAAAM… poem.”

46:00 Wait, Pennsatucky is pregnant because she got date raped? This just got dark.

50:10 How many sing alongs do they have to do? I mean I know it’s a road trip movie… with Britney Spears in it… but I want to leave sing alongs to Man! I Feel Like A Woman on my high school tennis bus where they belong.

54:20 Car Owner Ben was arrested for helping his sister get away from his stepdad. This is the least fun road trip ever.

57:45 NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO.

Nobody told me that Britney was going to dramatically recite the lyrics to Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman. I would have remembered if somebody told me that. I would have steeled myself for it. Britney Spears Acting Range: Emotion #5: Poetess.

Shouldn’t a valedictorian be better at writing?

1:00:00 Kim Cattrall is here. Maybe that will help. She’s Brit’s mom, who lives in a McMansion. Lots of white, light oak, and giant floral arrangements. The decor preferences of a total bitch. She is dressed like the Crocodile Hunter, may he rest in peace.

1:06:40 Ben set Brit’s “poem” to music. That’s what I’ve been watching for over an hour? The origin story of Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman? Britney Jean Spears’ fifth-best single? Now anybody who knows me knows that I love early 2000s-era Britney … hell, all the Britneys… but this is just too much.

“Not a girl, not yet a woman.” So, a teenager. That’s a teenager.

1:09:20 They’re singing in the car again (If It Makes You Happy by Sheryl Crow, this time). Oh Christ Jesus. Holy Mary Mother of God. Sing With All The Saints In Glory. Why? If I wanted to listen to someone sing Sheryl Crow in the car I would go run errands with my mom.*

* If you like me even a little bit, you would love my mom.

1:12 I’m sure they explained this in between sing alongs, but how do they have the money to stay at all these hotels? Car Owner Ben? Now they’re in LA in a room with a beach view that looks like it would be the set of a Mary Kate And Ashley original movie. One of them would be the girly, sweet one and the other would be the sporty, funny one and their names would be Cleo and Baylee. Or Maddi and Lylah. Or Trixie and Summer.

Shea and Maxie?

 

1:14:02 Ben has a back piece of angel wings, but make no mistake, he’s no Helena.

1:15:40 Oh shit. Saldana’s BF is hooking up with some hussy AND he’s wearing one of those zip up bowling shirt things. AND he raped Pennsatucky. So obvi Pennsatucky owes nothing to anybody at this point, but wouldn’t you do a friend a solid and tell her that her BF/Fiance is a rapist? Or like slip it into a note since it’s an uncomfy convo. I’d say you could text it, but in 2002 that would have taken like 15 minutes and that’s IF your plan had texting.

1:18:20 Pennsatucky fell down the stairs getting away from Rapist Dylan and lost the baby. This road trip is the pits. Is anything good going to happen to her ever, or is this an early 2000s cautionary tale about going to parties in the first place or some-such?

I feel like this is an e.e. cummings poem where Milly (Brit) gets to befriend a fallen star whose rays five languid fingers were, and freaking Molly (Pennsatucky, Saldana) has to get chased by a terrible thing that runs sideways blowing bubbles.

1:24 So Pennsatucky sat out her miscarriage or whatever, and now they’re ready to go.

**** At this point, I went to take a picture of the screen but was accidentally on selfie mode. It’s against my better judgement to post this, but this is the ACTUAL UNALTERED FACE I WAS MAKING while watching this:

Displaying FullSizeRender.jpg

Those aren’t so much eyes as saucers brimming with confusion. ***

1:25 Dan Aykroyd comes to collect Brit. She says “don’t make me run, let me go.” Then she hands him her locket so that he can keep half of it and find her at an orphanage in 10 years, and she leaves to make out with the guy she met that week.

There’s a billboard for Spy Kids in the background, to give you an idea of what era we’re in.

And if there were still any doubt of what era we’re in, Brit sings at an American Idol-esque audition wearing a criss-cross crop top with enormous billowing sleeves. Pennsatucky and Saldana, fresh off a miscarriage and finding out her fiancé is a rapist, respectively, sing backup.

1:29 They make a new time capsule, but with no wishes for the future, because I guess Britney is the only character who has one at this point. For they are not girls, not yet women.

Teenagers.

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Queue Adieu: Titanic

I always stock my Netflix queue with the best of intentions, but in real life 90% of my Netflix viewing consists of rewatching shows like Parks and Rec or Friday Night Lights. Another 5% is documentaries that help me fall asleep, like a child’s favorite lullaby if lullabies were about unsolved murders and obesity. I have weird dreams. Then the final 5% is the movies that have sat on my queue for months, only for me to forget about until after they’ve left the site. Well, no more. Every month …. if I remember … I’m going to watch one of the movies that Neflix is about to bump and blog about it. First up: Titanic.

The Movie: Titanic (1997)

Expires On: August 1.

Watch or Rewatch: Rewatch, I have been a human living on earth for the 18 years since Titanic came out. 18? That can’t be right.

Should You Watch It? If you’ve never seen Titanic … YES. I assume even most teenagers who weren’t alive/ were babies then have seen it on TV by now, but maybe not. Also, if you haven’t watched it for years, it’s worth a rewatch to see if you still remember all of the dialog (I do, apparently).

Thoughts During The Movie:

  • In my childhood I thought the Keldysh scenes were great, but now that I can get my fix of Titanic wreckage footage elsewhere it’s super boring.

    Fun fact: I’m fascinated by ship wrecks.

  • Also everything the Keldysh guys say is so cheesy. I can’t even pick one thing. Every line, and every delivery, is just dripping with schmooze and …. wine coolers? They all seem like guys who would drink wine coolers.

    Your face is stupid and you’re stupid.

  • When Titanic mania was in high gear I thought Kate Winslet was the prettiest person ever. Fine, normal. But not normal is praying – literally praying – that I could have Rose’s hair. Still sounds almost normal? Wrong. Because I have curly red hair. What was I even after? Just leave out more tendrils and get on with your life.
  • Plus we live in the future and there are tutorials now:

  • Now that I’m a decade older than Young Rose, it’s actually Old Rose I want to emulate. Not now, but eventually, it would be great to be super old with tunics and beaded earrings and sweet extra-long gray hair. Not sure at what age you’re supposed to get into pottery.
  • Did anyone ever make up lyrics to the Titanic theme music that plays throughout? You know, the one that’s like ba da BAAAA doddle-oddle-daa-AAA, daa da daaa dum dummm. Like “on this booooat, that you call unsinkable, you’re all gonnnn-a die” or “she’s so riiiich, but he is a poor boy, how will happppp-en next?”
  • Thing I Never Noticed Before #1: You see them lift Rose and Jack’s sex car onto the ship.
  • Thing I Never Noticed Before #2: FABRIZIO. I was all about the J.D. before but it’s actually all about Fabrizio. RIP (spoiler?), I’m gonna never forget you.
  • Third class is more multicultural than an elementary school math textbook word problem.
  • Thing I Never Noticed Before #3: Actually, also Cal. He’s sort of hot and smarmy and personality-wise, maybe a better match for Rose than Jack was, if he weren’t such a jerk.
  • During Titanic mania, did anyone else scour passenger lists to see if maybe just maybe you had an ancestor on board?
  • The GCI people you see on deck when they pan over the ship look like they’re from a CD-ROM game. #TECHNOLOGY
  • “You’re gonna cut her meat for her too there Cal?” Maybe this is what Molly Brown really sounded like – I assume so since Kathy Bates is a great actress- but I feel like a character from Oklahoma somehow ended up in Downton Abbey.
  • Thing I Never Noticed Before #4: Tommy Ryan. I had some serious Jack Dawson blinders.
  • Thing I Never Noticed Before #5: When Rose and Jack plan on going to the pier and riding horses…. ugh. Those couples who have been together less than a day and they’re already planning vacations together.
  • I cannot be the only one who uses “start from the outside and work your way in”  to deal with extensive place settings.
  • I recently saw a picture of c. 1998 Nick from the Backstreet Boys and thought it was Jack for a second. That hairdo made everyone look the same.

    Obviously no Jack Dawson.

  • You know how period dramas usually look influenced by the time they were made? For instance, all these 2010s movies set in the 1800s, where the women have long, loose curls with layers when their hair definitely would have been worn up if they weren’t hookers. Or the ’70s hair on all of the men in Little House On The Prairie. Well, Titanic did a great job of actually looking like 1912, but I have a sinking feeling that if it were made today, all of the women would have 50% more eyebrow action.

    Mary Pickford knew what was up.

  • Is Rose responsible for how half of all girls born after 1997 have the middle name Rose? Don’t worry, Abigail Rose or Hannah Rose or Madison Rose, it’s a very pretty name, I’m just curious.
  • And how a quarter of all boys born after 1997 are named Jack (my nephew is one, though he’s technically named after my grandpa instead of Jack Dawson).
  • If the Titanic sailed in 2015 the portrait scene would be 5 seconds long and consist of Rose taking a nude selfie, which would quickly circulate through the passengers before reaching Cal. #busted
  • The thing is, I feel like Rose and Jack must have had better options in the cargo hold than the backseat of a car, right? Jeepin’.
  • Victor Garber works a lot, so it’s super distracting that every time I see him, I think “Mr. Andrews, Mr. Andrews!” in that Dorothy Gale voice Rose uses.
  • Nobody ever says it, but the Heart Of The Ocean was one tacky-ass Claire’s Boutique-looking necklace.
  • Surely the Titanic had a more sophisticated security protocol than shackling thiefs to pipes?
  • Any lawyers here? Then maybe you better remember Lady Duff-Gordon from Wood v. Lucy, Lady Duff-Gordon. It’s a nice Cardozo opinion that has become sort of a standard in contracts texts. It’s also an early instance of celebrity clothing endorsements.

    $12, what a steal! Or actually I feel like that would have been fairly expensive.

  • New obsession I just discovered during this rewatch: behind the scenes set photos from Titanic. I mean:
  • I remember reading that they went back for the Titanic re-release and changed the stars to be more accurate. That’s hardcore, but also makes me wonder if it’s fair to do do-overs. And if so, why didn’t they also replace those 1997 technology people on the ship?
  • Why did they make Old Rose make that stupid noise when she threw the necklace in the water?
  • Jack died, and that’s sad, don’t get me wrong, but also would you toss away a multi-million dollar necklace because of some dude that you banged once and were into for three days when you were a teenager? I’m sure Lizzy had some car payments or whatever that that would have really helped with.
  • Okay, the Celine Dion song is sort of a jarring 90s slow pop jam after watching a movie set in 1912. Also, also. This isn’t related. But when I was walking at lunch last week a guy called to me “Celine Dion, come kiss me!” and usually I forget those kinds of comments as soon as they happen, but I am still puzzling over it. First of all, I don’t look like Celine Dion, but it made me wonder if people can tell that I’m part French Canadian. I always thought of them as a people who don’t look like anything in particular. Also, is Celine Dion even considered attractive? She looks normal, but I’ve never heard anyone be like “you know who I wish I looked more like? Celine Dion.” Eh, maybe it was because I was wearing a backwards tuxedo and the heart of the ocean. Coeur de la mer, I call it
    celine

    Wait… DO I look like Celine Dion?

     

  • She’s dead, right? Guys, she dies, yeah?