Scene Selections: Potpourri
We have been gone for a while, and a lot happened. Over the winter break, new shows, movies and music all entered the world, and unfortunately, we at Scene were not able to cover it all. To make up for it, today’s Scene selections is a potpourri of culture happenings from the last month, a grab bag of things you might have missed or things you couldn’t hear enough about.
“Tidying Up with Marie Kondo”
By Nora McGreevy, Scene Editor
Marie Kondo’s new television show, “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo,” which dropped into our Neflix feeds on Jan. 1, feels like the reality television equivalent of a warm cup of tea — gentle, warm and nourishing. In contrast to shows like “Hoarders,” which dwell on catastrophic mess, Kondo’s show centers on ordinary people with normal-sized houses that hold normal amounts of mess. Her “KonMari” method, inspired by the Japanese Shinto religion and her own lived experience as an organizing consultant, foregrounds a sensitivity and care not often found in contemporary self-help discourse. Guided by a deceptively simple question — “Does this item spark joy?” — Kondo’s judgement-free advice and her cheery “ting!” noise, Kondo’s clients embark on the long, mental and physical process of ridding their house of excess stuff. Emotional baggage, too, often gets tossed out with the trash. Tears fall frequently, but Kondo, who’s seen it all before, remains unfazed.
With her Netflix show, Kondo reinvigorates the cult-following that her milestone book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing,” initiated. Conversations and innumerable jokes swept the online landscape in the immediate wake of the show’s release, proving that her message continues to touch a nerve in modern, late-capitalistic society. The diversity of her clientele also speaks to the universality of her message — she tackles the homes of retired empty nesters, a recent widow, young families and a millennial couple, and she brings pretty much the same tools to each space. Watch enough people lovingly handling, thanking and parting with their items — old Christmas decorations, socks, jumbles of cables — and you’ll find yourself itching to dive into your own closets to do some soul-searching of your own.
By Marty Kennedy, Scene Writer
Highlighting the professional career of Vice President Dick Cheney, regarded as the most powerful vice president in United States history, “Vice” contributes to the insatiable desire for politically-based media in the current era. Director Adam McKay stylizes the film in a “Big Short”-esque format — another film he produced — equipped with an omniscient narrator, simplifying informational animations and a few breaking-the-fourth-wall techniques. Christian Bale, who received a Golden Globe for his lead performance, appears almost unrecognizable behind a mask of makeup to provide a striking semblance to Cheney.
“Vice” provides an up close and thoroughly researched look into the era of Cheney, highlighting the controversy surrounding the Iraq War. It’s a must-watch for all trying to understand the complexities of rising, obtaining and maintaining power in American democracy — for personal or public gain. Much attention in the film is given to the blatantly duplicitous pursuit of obtaining misleading information to start the Iraq War, although it also features the most iconic moment in Cheney’s life: shooting his lawyer in the face during a hunting trip. And unlike the Bush administration and their proclamation of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, I am not misleading you for personal monetary gain when I say that “Vice” is an enthralling and well-made film.
“Black Mirror: Bandersnatch”
By Ryan Israel, Scene Writer
Everyone, or at least everyone on my Twitter timeline, has been talking about Netflix — see “Tidying Up” and “FYRE.” When it comes to “Bandersnatch,” the latest installment of Netflix’s “Black Mirror” series, no one has been talking about its excellent plot or characters or writing, because quite honestly it has none of those. The characters are bland and uninspiring, besides the eccentric Liam (Will Poulter), and the writing isn’t particularly gripping either. In regards to the plot, well, that’s where things get confusing.
“Bandersnatch” introduces a “Choose Your Own Adventure” style to television, giving the viewer the option to make choices that affect the overall plot. Some choices are simple and have few ramifications on the overall plot — “Frosties” or “Sugar Puffs” — while others that appear simple have major consequences. Reaching one ending provides little satisfaction because the true appeal of “Bandersnatch” is getting lost in the game and attempting to watch every possible path and ending — which, of course, people have done (spoilers). “Bandersnatch” says a lot about the way we watch television today, even if this fancy, new interactive option can’t satisfy us in the way that traditional storytelling does.
“FYRE FRAUD” (Hulu) and “FYRE: The Greatest Party that Never Happened” (Netflix)
By Cameron Sumner, Scene Writer
Honestly, who doesn’t love a good fraud story? It actually seems we love them enough for Hulu and Netflix to both release documentaries on literally the same story. And trust me, they will undoubtedly fulfill your greatest schadenfreude dreams. Most of us vaguely remember Fyre Festival, the epic Bahamian music festival gone wrong. We saw startling footage of the overall disaster of the thing and felt second-hand embarrassment for the supermodels who promoted the event. But seriously, I had no idea how much of an absolute mess this failed fest was. What I really needed in my life was a three hour deep dive into Fyre.
I would recommend these documentaries to anyone. To me, the Hulu version is the better one, as it’s more informative and features interviews with Fyre mastermind Billy McFarland himself. By the end, you’ll think he’s a textbook moron and wonder how on earth he was able to “accomplish” as much as he did. In both docs you’ll also learn that rapper Ja Rule had a distinct role in the madness, though according to him, he too “was hustled, scammed, bamboozled, hood winked, lead astray!!!” Really Ja Rule? So many others were hoodwinked in this unbelievable fiasco, and, after the fact, we (a.k.a Twitter) are so here for it.
It’s 2019: Tweet softly and carry nothing
By Mike Donovan, Associate Scene Editor
Culture peaked on MySpace in 2003. Culture is now lost. Please cry.
Since culture doesn’t exist anymore, it is our civic duty to draft a functional imitation. What vessel shall we fill with meaning? Instagram? No. Too shiny. Facebook? No. Too old. Snapchat? No. Too streaky. LinkedIn? Heck no! Also, congrats on the new job.
Here is my take, fresh off the griddle: We, the misfits of society, must reclaim Twitter and bend it to our will. Once the pinnacle of casual, a haven for all that is prosaic (tweet: hello world I just did a thing #things), Twitter has become a pulpit for the nation’s most powerful demagogue and the poorly equipped mechanism through which serious journalists have to communicate. The contemporary Twitter feed projects the tragedy of the internet age with grotesque clarity.
But we, the weirdos, can be its saving grace. Twitter, by its very nature, accentuates the performative tendencies of the user. Embrace this. Use the medium as a space for fiction, not fact. Develop a character for yourself. Have your friends do the same. Have your characters conduct an openly fictional correspondence amongst Twitter’s alleged truth tellers. Enliven Twitter’s mirthless stream with a subtextual network of collaborative ergodic fiction.
Nobody will notice. This is fine. You will enjoy it. Your friends will too. Your little underground, though largely inconsequential, will be good. Twitter has no space for consequence. Tweeting as if it does is both irresponsible and boring.