On the big screen, I'm 0 for 5 on seeing this year's Oscar best picture nominees. Maybe I can close the gap in the next few weeks, otherwise I'll have to bank on Heath Ledger as the Joker as my only touchpoint. That was an inspired performance, by the way. So don't count on me for any meaningful Oscar analysis.
Here's what I can discuss: a rundown of pop culture straight guys who are getting the job done. Let's start with two shows who recently kicked off their January to May seasons... Jack and Jack are back. Jack Bauer on 24 and Jack Shephard on Lost. Both dudes are seriously burdened by their leadership responsibilities.
• Ex-spy Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) fled the country but was arrested and made to testify before Congress. Yes, he tortures. But it works for him, and he has no regrets (not even about interrogating members of his own family, I presume, because they all had it coming). The problem with the "24 effect" is that it lessens our national distaste for this sort of thing. It's topical to include a debate the issue, but the producers tipped their neocon hats when Jack was quickly pulled out of the hearing to consult on a terrorist threat, and within the hour was de-eyeballing a suspect. Even in Bauer's tragic and dangerous alternate reality, I have a hard time believing that anyone would want to shame the guy who single-handedly found multiple live nukes and manually disarmed most of them. And yes, he's very sorry about the one that slipped away.
• Jack Shepherd's circumstances on the Lost island are too complicated to explain here. But he, too is being held accountable for questionable decisions in his past. Matthew Fox plays this guy at two speeds only, complete self-assurance and debilitating self-doubt. The male leads on Lost have always been an interesting bunch of egomaniacs. The whole series has been an exercise in male social ranking: who has power, knowledge, faith, or cajones to lead, and perhaps get laid.
• Paul Blart: Mall Cop is poised to reach blockbuster status, having outgrossed most best picture nominees in only 2 weeks. The Washington Post is investigating. Their take: middle-America (cough!straight!cough) will not be told what to like by the intellectual elite! And supersize those movie theater nachos, too!
• Smoove B returns and is on a mission! Like Jack Bauer, Smoove will do whatever it takes to get the job done. His job? To seduce and satisfy every fine lady he meets. He's been a regular contributor to the Onion since its inception, but his columns have faded in frequency in the past few years (review the archives here, or visit the "Boudoir" if you dare). His current quest? To woo Michelle Obama, no matter how many Keith Sweat slow jams or hand-fed oysters it takes.
Will it be difficult to compete with the most powerful man in the free world? This is not a concern. You see, her man will treat her like a wife, the mother of his children, and a partner in leading the country. I will make her feel like a woman.
Let me break it down.
I will greet her at the airport in the finest white limo available. During the ride into the city, I will discuss business with her, while giving her smoldering glances to show her the passion that burns inside of me...
At no point will I mention her fine booty.
Someday I'll also cop to an unhealthy American Idol habit. But that's another post.