Friday, April 24, 2015

6 Tiny Flaws That Ruined Great Works

I'm sure we are all familiar with the experience of reading an amazing book or watching an amazing tv series only to reach the end and be completely disappointed by a lackluster conclusion.

Oh hey, Tony. Didn't see you there.

And we are all familiar with the idea of one part of a series ruining the entire series. Godfather III ruined what could have been a perfect trilogy. Indiana Jones 4 ruined the legacy of Indiana Jones and Harrison Ford at the same time.

Those are all common occurrences and even more common topics of conversation. A little less common are those pieces of art that are almost ruined by one very small thing, like the cashmere sweater in Seinfeld. A perfectly good cashmere sweater completely ruined by a barely perceptible, miniscule (yet monumental) red dot.

The following lyrics/scenes/lines are the red dots on the cashmere sweaters of their respective bodies of work.

Storm's Line in X-Men

The first X-Men movie was a great film but more than anything, it helped usher in the current era of All Super Hero Everything. Remember in the year 2000 when the only feasible super hero movie was Batman? Then director Bryan Singer came and blasted through the wall of pretensiousness that said super hero movies can't be taken serious. The film also stands out because it's one of the few series ever to have truly great sequels (despite some awful sequels as well). X2 somehow topped the original and became one of the best superhero movies ever. X-Men Days of Future Past may have even outdone that.

And it was all almost ruined by one fucking line uttered by a seemingly bored Halle Berry. Her character, Storm, is one of the greatest female super heroes ever, full of vigor and energy, able to control the weather. Yet, Halle plays her like a stuck up lawyer or something. Still, she's hot and the character is awesome enough to overwhelm her shortcomings. Then, she gets taken out by Toad, a meaningless villain who somehow takes out half the X team. Singer must have figured they got Ray Park to play Toad, they might as well show off his fancy fighting moves.

Storm gathers herself and starts a giant...well, storm, and attacks Toad. As he is hanging on to a rail with his tongue, she hovers near him and asks, "You know what happens when a toad gets struck by lightning?"

When he doesn't respond, she replies, "Same thing as everything else." Then she hits him with lightning and flies off into the sea.

When I first watched the film in theaters, the entire audience cringed. That's the best you could do? First off, Storm isn't known for her witty banter. Secondly, they barely gave her any lines of importance, then when she finally gets a chance to be a badass, this is all we get? Very weak.

But lastly, and most frustratingly of all, the payoff line is awful. Everybody knows the right answer to that question.

"IT CROAKS." It fucking croaks lady. What a wasted opportunity.

Method Man lyric on Campfire

8 Diagrams is the 5th and weakest album from the Wu-Tang Clan (I don't even acknowledge the disgraceful 6th album A Better Tomorrow). It's still a solid album that shows the strength of the Wu in the face of adversity, namely the passing of Ol' Dirty Bastard. The first song, Campfire, is one of the best on the album. Unfortunately, the whole thing is nearly sabotaged from the start by the usually brilliant Method Man.

Now Meth has certainly spit some duds before (just look at the majority of his solo work) but when he's on a good beat and everybody else brings their A-game, he can usually outshine anybody. Yet for some reason, on this grimy track that signaled the return of one of the greatest rap groups in history after a 6 year hiatus, he is given the honor of the opening verse and he spits out this mouth booger:

"I'm trying to bring the sexy back like Timberland and Timberlake."

I understand that rap references everything in life. I understand how huge "Sexy Back" was. I understand that Meth was more of an actor than anything else at that point. But, man, you can not get on a gutter-ass track on a Wu -Tang clan return album and spit that line. That is blasphemy. I tend to cough loudly or yell random words as that line comes up so I can enjoy the rest of the song and album.

The bridge on Ab-Soul's Tree of Life 

Ab-Soul is one of my favorite rappers out of the new crop that has popped up since 2010. He has a few solid mixtapes and a great album Control System. His dense wordplay and witty bars sets him apart from most rappers of this generation. He sometimes covers typical rap tropes, like women and weed, but he doesn't settle for simple nursery rhyme bullshit that makes it to the radio.

Which is what makes the hook on his song Tree of Life, one of the singles for his latest album These Days..., so unbearable. Much like Campfire, The song itself is one of the best songs on an otherwise lackluster album. Unfortunately, to enjoy it, you have to cut it off halfway through before you hear:

Me, and she
Sittin in a tree

Yeah, he made the same mistake Nas did on I Am, except Nas made a whole song based on that damn child rhyme. It's almost worse in Ab-Soul's case because this was a good song until that point. I'd argue it's still a good song (unlike the Nas song) if you're willing to cough loudly for an extended period of time to cover that part up.

Speaking of bad Nas songs...

Black Girl Lost on It Was Written

It Was Written is Nas's second album. It was a notable departure from his first album Illmatic, but still a classic in its own right. It had more of a pop sensibility while retaining the realness and vivid storytelling that drew everyone to Nas in the first place. It's part of the "jiggy" era without being overly corny like Puff and Ma$e. It marks a turning point for rap; previously, any attempt to appeal to a wider audience was marked as "selling out". In fact, many people made that claim about this album, but after a while, even the most staunch purists acknowledged the brilliance of the album.

Except for one glaring flaw.

Black Girl Lost is one of Nas's first "MESSAGE!" songs, and it even had an obnoxious "skit" tacked on to the beginning. It came out in 1996 when I still listened to cassettes, and the song was the first song on the second side, so I had to hear it whenever I had to flip the cassette. Needless to say, I memorized exactly how long it took to fastforward through it and not miss one beat of the next song, Suspect.

Johnny Depp's dance sequence in Alice in Wonderland

In fact, any random dance sequence in movies should be on this list. Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland was far from the classic that the original animated Alice in Wonderland is, but it was an enjoyable, albeit dark, film.

Until the finale, after Alice kills the Jabberwocky. Then, we are treated to tortured with the vision of orange-haired, David Bowie-eyed Johnny doing a 30 second jig. Obviously, I have included it here for you to watch in case you have blocked it from your memory.

You're welcome. (I'm sorry.)

Pretty embarrassing, even for a guy who claimed being photographed was like being raped.

Killer Croc in Batman: Arkham Asylum

Arkham Asylum is one of the few non-basketball-or-football video games I have played post college graduation. In it, you become the Batman. Seriously. I've always loved the character Batman, and I've felt immersed in video games before, but this really let you feel one with the Dark Knight. It's set in an expansive world where you can glide or batarang your way across buildings and kick ass all through the titular asylum. Plain and simple, the game is a breathtaking, action-packed, ass-kicking adventure.

Until you reach Killer Croc's lair. There, you have to find your way through a bleak sewer maze and collect some potion. It's a confusing, dark sequence that completely ruins the forward motion of the entire game. It takes you away from the action and turns you into a confused, running, scared twerp. It took me much longer than any other scene in the game and it's the one I remember most clearly because I celebrated like a 6 year old getting cake when I finally beat it (and no that doesn't justify the shittiness). The rest of the game was right back in the mix of action but I will never play it again, and I consider the sequel far superior, mostly because of that one stupid scene. Killer Croc isn't even a good character...who gives a shit about him anyway!

So there's a few red dots I could think of for now. Can you think of any great works of art that are ruined by one small yet irreparable mistake? Let me know (and I'll steal your idea and write about it!)

I Love You All...Class Dismissed. 

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