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Digesting the lowest rung of pop culture so you don't have to!
When Nick and I started the new blog, we wanted to touch on “controversial” pop culture issues. We wanted to dive into aspects of pop culture that either have fierce loyalists (i.e. the cult of Whedon) or middling reception (i.e. why isn’t something more or less popular), or have nearly universal detractors (i.e. the Twilight franchise). We wanted to rile up our core base while speaking to them from a direct, generational standpoint. The first issue we will cover are the notion of Life-Time Passes in pop culture.
So, let’s start by explaining what a Life-Time Pass even is (hereafter referred to as an LTP). In pop culture, an LTP is, generally speaking, when a long-time productive celebrity gets a pass for each and every new project he or she undertakes based on the clout of their older projects. For an easy example, think about someone like Robert DeNiro. DeNiro is nearly universally regarded as being one of the greatest actors of all time. DeNiro’s more recent projects, however, have seen nearly universal critical drubbings. Films like the Focker franchise, Righteous Kill, and the recently released Limitless are perfect examples of this. But we still hold DeNiro up on a pedestal, because he has appeared in Raging Bull, Taxi Driver, The Godfather Part II, Brazil, and many, many other fine films over his 30+ year career. So we forget about it if he takes a ten million dollar paycheck to get hit in the nuts in the latest Focker-film.
In a recent perusal of the excellent website The A.V. Club, I came across an anonymous feedback message from a poster who suggested that some minor celebrity was worthy of a LTP simply for voicing a minor cameo in an animated project. I was fairly shocked, from a pop culture standpoint, by the eagerness and willingness to just throw around LTPs without any real regard for pop culture and filmdom as a whole. LTPs are supposed to be for the Scorseses, Deniros, Streeps, and those that have earned their due credit for years and years (in most cases, decades plus) of being in cool projects and delivering fantastic performances over and over again. We can’t just hand them out like penny candy at a five-and-dime store. They’re worth more than that.
When I conceived of this article, I told Nick that I didn’t believe in handing out Life-Time Passes, not even to the DeNiros of the world. I’ve amended myself a bit on the issue. I’m allowed to change my mind, after all. LTPs are a good way to indicate who has had a long enough, successful enough (from a critical standpoint) career to make the ends of their Hollywood lives a bit easier. I realize how stupid that sounds (does a celebrity really need an easier life after all?). DeNiro, however, has earned the right to get hit in the balls by Ben Stiller for 10 million dollars. I would love to let Stiller hit me in the nuts for ten million dollars.
What it comes down to is basically this: Let’s not throw around Life-Time Passes all willy-nilly. Let’s reserve them for the people who actually deserve them. In a few days, I’ll post Nick’s thoughts on Life-Time Passes and see what he says about them. In the meantime, feel free to drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org for your own thoughts!