The polls open in just a few short hours, at which time the fate of the world — well, the country at least — will be in the hands of the people. That means us. We, the people of the United States of America, will be able to cast our vote for the President of the United States. And the person that we (and, let's be honest, the Electoral College) choose to fill that seat in the Oval Office will determine the next four years, and beyond, of life in this country. Feeling power hungry yet? You should be! Because the only way this Democratic Republic of ours works is if us common folk actually exercise our right to choose the leader of the free world.
If you are one of those cynical types who loves to chorus, "But I live in New York, it's always a blue state" Or, "Texas will vote Republican whether I make it to the polls or not," I'm here to say — STOP! That kind of thinking only leads to trouble. You know what happens when you assume that your favorite is safe and fail to vote? He or she gets voted off! I mean, doesn't get elected to political office! If you need further convincing of voting's importance you need look no further than your own television. Reality TV is, once again, life in a microcosm.
A quick look back at Dancing With the Stars frontrunner Sabrina Bryan leaving the series in tears all too soon (twice), is a heartbreaking reminder of what happens when you don't vote. For more motivation, check out this list of reality show contestants who were sent home too early, all because America assumed they were a shoo-in. Don't let your presidential candidate of choice follow in their footsteps!
JHud may be an Oscar- and Grammy-winning artist now, but back in the day she was the girl that didn't win American Idol. Actually, she didn't even come close. On Idol's third season, Hudson sailed into the Top 10, and after the Top 9 performances earned the most votes. Just two weeks later, she was done for. Hudson came in seventh. Eesh. She deserved so much more.
On Season 2 of So You Think You Can Dance Allison wowed the judges and the crowd week after week thanks to her amazing technique, raw emotion, and strong connection with her partner, Ivan Koumaev. Unfortunately, Allison didn't make it past the Top 8. The show's producers clearly saw the error of their ways, however, because they brought Allison back as an All-Star for Seasons 7, 8, and 9.
Brandy's experience as a performer without a doubt helped propel her to the top of DWTS' 11th season, but that doesn't mean a win was guaranteed. Brandy and her partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy were on the top of the scoreboard consistently — they scored the second highest points of all the teams overall — and yet, they didn't even make it to the finals. Brandy was sent home instead of Bristol Palin just before the final round.
No one could believe it when Chris Daughtry was eliminated from Season 5 of Idol. No one. After his elimination, Daughtry himself expressed shock at his elimination. He, like most of America, thought he was practically guaranteed a spot in the finale.
Amelia was an early favorite on SYTYCD Season 9. Her retro style earned her some choice highlights in the Vegas episodes and things only got better from there. However, fan favorite Amelia was eliminated in Week 4's shocking quadruple elimination. Yes, it was the judges who ultimately sent Amelia home, but it was America's (lack of) votes that put her in the bottom. The poor girl didn't even make the Top 10!
Jesse's elimination from Season 2 of The Voice remains the show's most controversial move. Granted, it was Christina Aguilera — not the public — who decided to let Campbell go. But that only goes to demonstrate the danger of a dictator. Do not let one person's opinion control the fate of a nation reality competition!
During his first time in the Bottom 3 on Idol's seventh season, Australian singer Michael Johns was sent home. He left the stage amid boos from disgruntled fans. Well, you know what, fans? It's your fault this happened.
Pia was a frontrunner on American Idol Season 10. When she was sent home in ninth place, judges Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez, and Steven Tyler were all visibly and vocally upset. By failing to pick up a phone, America inadvertently made a choice the judges never would have.
If there were to be a poster child for voting, it would be X Factor contestant Rachel Crow. The pint-sized powerhouse was eliminated by the show's audience only after judge Nicole Scherzinger decided to forfeit her vote. These tears are on your hands, Nicole.
Follow Abbey Stone on Twitter @abbeystone
[Photo Credit: Fox (7); ABC (2); NBC]
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Widening the thematic scope without sacrificing too much of the claustrophobia that made the original 1979 Alien universally spooky Prometheus takes the trophy for this summer's most adult-oriented blockbuster entertainment. The movie will leave your mouth agape for its entire runtime first with its majestic exploration of an alien planet and conjectures on the origins of the human race second with its gross-out body horror that leaves no spilled gut to the imagination. Thin characters feel more like pawns in Scott's sci-fi prequel but stunning visuals shocking turns and grand questions more than make up for the shallow ensemble. "Epic" comes in many forms. Prometheus sports all of them.
Based on their discovery of a series of cave drawings all sharing a similar painted design Elizabeth (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie (Logan Marshall-Green) are recruited by Weyland to head a mission to another planet one they believe holds the answers to the creation of life on Earth. Along for the journey are Vickers (Charlize Theron) the ruthless Weyland proxy Janek (Idris Elba) a blue collar captain a slew of faceless scientists and David (Michael Fassbender) HAL 9000-esque resident android who awakens the crew of spaceship Prometheus when they arrive to their destination. Immediately upon descent there's a discovery: a giant mound that's anything but natural. The crew immediately prepares to scope out the scene zipping up high-tech spacesuits jumping in futuristic humvees and heading out to the site. What they discover are the awe-inspiring creations of another race. What they bring back to the ship is what they realize may kill their own.
The first half of Prometheus could be easily mistaken for Steven Spielberg's Alien a sense of wonder glowing from every frame not too unlike Close Encounters. Scott takes full advantage of his fictional settings and imbues them with a reality that makes them even more tantalizing. He shoots the vistas of space and the alien planet like National Geographic porn and savors the interior moments on board the Prometheus full of hologram maps sleeping pods and do-it-yourself surgery modules with the same attention. Prometheus is beautiful shot in immersive 3D that never dampers Dariusz Wolski's sharp photography. Scott's direction seems less interested in the run-or-die scenario set up in the latter half of the film but the film maintains tension and mood from beginning to end. It all just gets a bit…bloodier.
Jon Spaihts' and Damon Lindelof's script doesn't do the performers any favors shuffling them to and fro between the ship and the alien construction without much room for development. Reveals are shoehorned in without much setup (one involving Theron's Vickers that's shockingly mishandled) but for the most part the ensemble is ready to chomp into the script's bigger picture conceits. Rapace is a physical performer capable of pulling off a grisly scene involving an alien some sharp objects and a painful procedure (sure to be the scene of the blockbuster season. Among the rest of the crew Fassbender's David stands out as the film's revelatory performance delivering a digestible ambiguity to his mechanical man that playfully toys with expectations from his first entrance. The creature effects in Prometheus will wow you but even Fassbender's smallest gesture can send the mind spinning. The power of his smile packs more of a punch than any facehugger.
Much like Lindelof's Lost Prometheus aims to explore the idea of asking questions and seeking answers and on Scott's scale it's a tremendous unexpected ride. A few ideas introduced to spur action fall to the way side in the logic department but with a clear mission and end point Prometheus works as a sweeping sci-fi that doesn't require choppy editing or endless explosions to keep us on the edge of our seats. Prometheus isn't too far off from the Alien xenomorphs: born from existing DNA of another creature the movie breaks out as its own beast. And it's wilder than ever.
A decade-long gap between sequels could leave a franchise stale but in the case of Men in Black 3 it's the launch pad for an unexpectedly great blockbuster. The kooky antics of Agent J (Will Smith) and Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) don't stray far from their 1997 and 2002 adventures but without a bombardment of follow-ups to keep the series in mind the wonderfully weird sensibilities of Men in Black feel fresh Smith's natural charisma once again on full display. Barry Sonnenfeld returns for the threequel another space alien romp with a time travel twist — which turns out to be Pandora's Box for the director's deranged imagination.
As time passed in the real world so did it for the timeline in the world of Men in Black. Picking up ten years after MIB 2 J and K are continuing to protect the Earth from alien threats and enforce the law on those who live incognito. While dealing with their own personal issues — K is at his all-time crabbiest for seemingly no reason — the suited duo encounter an old enemy Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement) a prickly assassin seeking revenge on K who blew his arm off back in the '60s. Their street fight is more of a warning; Boris' real plan is to head back in time to save his arm and kill off K. He's successful prompting J to take his own leap through the time-space continuum — and team up with a younger K (Josh Brolin) to put an end to Boris plans for world domination.
Men in Black 3 is the Will Smith show. Splitting his time between the brick personalities of Jones and Brolin's K Smith struts his stuff with all the fast-talking comedic style that made him a star in yesteryears. In present day he's still the laid back normal guy in a world of oddities — J raises an eyebrow as new head honcho O (Emma Thompson) delivers a eulogy in a screeching alien tongue but coming up with real world explanations for flying saucer crashes comes a little easier. But back in 1969 he's an even bigger fish out water. Surprisingly director Barry Sonnenfeld and writer Etan Cohen dabble in the inherent issues that would spring up if a black gentlemen decked out in a slick suit paraded around New York in the late '60s. A star of Smith's caliber may stray away from that type of racy humor but the hook of Men in Black 3 is the actor's readiness for anything. He turns J's jokey anachronisms into genuine laughs and doesn't mind letting the special effect artists stretch him into an unrecognizable Twizzler for the movie's epic time jump sequence.
Unlike other summer blockbusters Men in Black 3 is light on the action Sonnenfeld utilizing his effects budget and dazzling creature work (by the legendary Rick Baker) to push the comedy forward. J's fight with an oversized extraterrestrial fish won't keep you on the edge of your seat but his slapstick escape and the marine animal's eventual demise are genuinely amusing. Sonnenfeld carries over the twisted sensibilities he displayed in small screen work like Pushing Daisies favoring bizarre banter and elaborating on the kookiness of the alien underworld than battle scenes. MIB3's chase scene is passable but the movie in its prime when Smith is sparring with Brolin and newcomer Michael Stuhlbarg who steals the show as a being capable of seeing the future. His twitchy character keeps Smith and the audience on their toes.
Men in Black 3 digs up nostalgia I wasn't aware I had. Smith's the golden boy of summer and even with modern ingenuity keeping it fresh — Sonnenfeld uses the mandatory 3D to full and fun effect — there's an element to the film that feels plucked from another era. The movie is economical and slight with plenty of lapses in logic that will provoke head scratching on the walk out of the theater but it's also perfectly executed. After ten years of cinematic neutralizing the folks behind Men in Black haven't forgotten what made the first movie work so well. After al these years Smith continues to make the goofy plot wild spectacle and crazed alien antics look good.