Kristen Stewart has had a hard few weeks. Not only has she been forced to cope with constant tabloid scrutiny following her cheating scandal with married Snow White and the Huntsman director Rupert Sanders, but she also has to deal with something far more difficult to stomach: absolute, unfettered hatred. Of course, brutal detractors have been around as long as the famous people they hate (let's face it: there were probably thousands who thought Betsy Ross was awful and couldn't sew), but Stewart is living during the age of the Internet, when hatred flows as rapidly as misspellings.
Case in point: This new shirt — sold online — which is causing scandal for reading, "Kristen Stewart Is a Trampire." It's a message that's working up Stewart loyalists for being undeniably mean-spirited — but it's hardly the only message on the Web that calls out the young star for entering a moral gray zone that many her own age enter. Just search for Stewart's name on Twitter, every tween's favorite over-sharing tool (that's not Tumblr), and you'll find detractors lining up like it's the opening of the final Twilight movie. "Kristen Stewart cheated on Robert Pattinson. They're both ugly." "I'm not surprised that Kristen Stewart cheated on Whatshisface. I'm just surprised she did it with a guy." "Me and my family discussing how much we hate Kristen Stewart." "I really just hate Kristen Stewart so much." And, my personal favorite, "Kristen Stewart's acting teacher was blatantly Plank from Ed Edd & Eddy."
Cartoon Network-inspired digs aside, it's Twitter, Facebook, and other avenues of self-expression that are making it harder to be a celebrity these days. Skreened.com, the site with the offending K-Shirt (which is a Kristen Stewart T-Shirt, of course), allows for users to click on a few buttons to create a garment with a horrible message and make it available for public consumption. Even if no one buys a shirt, it's still far too easy to be cruel — in a pre-Internet era, you would need a steam press, felt letters, and a trip to the mall to create and buy the garment. Now, all the vitriol is free – and virtual.
Which, of course, makes it easier for stars to realize just how hated they are, even if the emotions are completely irrational. Twitter, which brings sentiment to the masses and stars, can not only influence public opinion, but also the celebrities themselves. That's turned some away from the swarm of negativity that builds up online. Take One Direction boy bander Zayn Malik, a musician who owes a great deal of his band's success to its teenage, tweeting fans... who eventually drove him off Twitter. His last tweet (with Twitter's standard grammatical laxity preserved) said, "The reason i don’t tweet as much as i use to, is because I’m sick of all the useless opinions and hate that I get daily."
You can't blame him — especially when the hatred has gotten so intense, Twitter requires a police presence. After placing a very respectable third in the men's 10m diving competition at the London Olympics, young British diver Tom Daley started receiving death threats through on the social media site: "I'm going to find you and I'm going to drown you in the pool," a UK teen said to Daley. The teen was arrested for harassment before being let go with a warning.
But should Internet negativity deserve more than mere warnings? Everyone can agree that death threats, no matter how they are delivered, are over the line, but how about the garden variety expressions of dislike? What about the lashings Kristen Stewart or Selena Gomez face just for dating boys that are the objects of other girls' affection (Robert Pattinson and Twitter's supreme god Justin Bieber, respectively)? What do they say about us as a culture? The sentiments behind these outbursts probably aren't very different from what girls felt toward anyone who would dare to date David Cassidy or the disdain faced by New Kids on the Block by some teenage males. But now the hatred is out in the open, making it acceptable for all young pop culture fans to adopt a dangerous mean girl attitude towards the latest teen sensation, be it Stewart, Miley Cyrus, or the troubled Demi Lovato. If one user was allowed to publicly embarrass and attack a celebrity, why couldn't another? Why not use the Internet as society's giant burn book? But there is a big difference between telling your friends that you hate NKOTB in third period and persistently and senselessly attacking Lovato for her weight where millions can see it. We are becoming accustomed to living in a culture of disdain and forcing those who want to work in it grow impossibly thick skins.
No matter how well-paid these public whipping posts are, it seems evident they're not going to be able to take the vitriol forever. Lovato, for one, has talked about how bullying contributed to her issues with cutting and eating disorders, and though she's undoubtedly overcome her insecurities, it's almost cruel to imagine what awaits her on the Internet while she judges The X Factor. Certainly celebrities are closer to us than ever before, but if we continue to anonymously abuse them with the help of technology, they may be forced to withdraw to a place where we won't be allowed even the slightest access ever again. And, for Twilight fans, that's more cruel than a "Trampire" shirt. Follow Brian Moylan on Twitter @BrianJMoylan [Photo credit: Wenn.com] More: Kristen Stewart Cheated on Robert Pattinson with 'Snow White' Director What Is Kristen Stewart Thinking? A Thought-Provoking Gallery Lovato chastises Disney bosses for TV joke about eating disorders
The Olympics! You guys! The entire world has Olympic fever and we're not about to stop it until the fat lady (or Paul McCartney) sings this weekend. But seriously, what a crazy event when you think about it, right? Once every four years we have the birth of a new strain of celebrity: the superathlete. These men and women are different from our actor celebrities, because these folks never asked to be famous. They simply asked to run, swim, jump, or shoot things. And so, of course, because of this, we love them even more so! And when the Olympics end, it almost feels like a graduation of sorts. Here was this 2 week training course on consta-attention: now it's time to enter the full-fledged celebrity dome of existence. So as our young athletes go into the great big unknown, they need to be armed with knowledge of their strengths OFF the court/pool/track/field/whatever. So we've decided to give them a little help. And what's more helpful than superlatives, right?! So take note, Olympians--this is your most (or least) future-y thing!
Sport Most Likely To Be Made Into A Raucus Comedy Starring Will Ferrell
Rhythmic gymnastics. I mean we all saw the beauty and grace of Mr. Ferrell in Old School, so why not give his rhythm gymnastic skills their own vehicle? Maybe we can get Vince Vaughn on board.
Sport Most Likely to Influence NYFW
Those synchronized swimming ladies were OUT OF CONTROL, eh? It's, as they say (in the BIZ!), a revelation. You'll surely be seeing Russians Natalia Ishchenko and Svetlana Romashina sitting next to Anna Wintour and inspiring Lady Gaga.
Athlete Most Likely To BEG To Be Let Into NYFW
Most Likely to be A Mime
Xu Lijia of China
Most Confusing Sport, Ever
Laser radial sailing. I have no idea what is happening or how it is a race.
Most Likely To Bare All For Maxim or FHM or Whatever
Sport Most Likely To Signal The Dawn Of Our Very Weird Future
Indoor Track Cycling. Seriously, that s**t is like TRON.
Athlete Most Likely To Cameo In The New Avengers film
Robert "Incredible Hulk" Harting of Germany.
Worst Named Olympian
Vania Stambolova (Sorry about your stumble, p.s.).
Best Named Olympian
Ezekiel Kemboi of Kenya
Athlete Most Likely To Shill. Just Shill.
Athlete Most Likely To Let Everything Go To His Head
Ryan Lochte. JEAH JEAH!
Most Likely to Dance on DWTS
Aly Raisman's parents
Most Likely to Have Their Just-Announced Reality Show Do Mediocrely
Most Likely to Be an Awesomely Mean Judge on the Inevitable Gymnastics Reality Competition Show Coming Soon
Duo Most Likely To Be "Having A Volley-Ball" on a Campy Bravo Reality Special
Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings
Most It's Just Not Even Fair To Anyone Else
Men's US Basketball
Best Use of Boners
The Men's American Rowing Team (Sorry, the picture was too NSFW for us to post, but look it up)
Athlete for Which Olympics Is Just a Novelty Talent Show
Most "If I Don't Win, The Queen Will Just Buy Me A Pony"-iest
Zara Phillips, granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth II
Most Likely to Host SNL
Thanks to a little birdie named US Magazine, we know that Ms. Douglas wants to be an actress (we can just imagine all of the awkward interviews with Jay Leno now), so it makes the most sense that the littlest flying squirrel we know would gun for the chance to host the show. And! Well, it doesn't seem all that far off--especially since Gabby is arguably the breakout Olympic star from this year. So why not get her a bit ahead of the game and come up with a nice monologue scene for her, eh?
We imagine it to start off with assertions of her non-squirrel status ("many people call me by my nickname, the flying squirrel. I'm hear to tell you I'm not a squirrel, nor can I fly"). However, we all know that a goofball (yes, you, Bobby Moynihan) would egg her on, and they would have a high-flying battle where Gabby's high-flying kicks and flips will eventually launch her into the air where a slow-motion battle royale set to the music of West Side Story would take place. Gabby's teammates would also be rigged up and battle the SNL boys to an epic defeat. That's one way to get them back for the terrible hair-related sketch that will undoubtedly happen later on in the evening.
[Photo Credit: NBCOlympics.com; Tomás González via @tomasgonzalez1]
[GIF Credits: Youshang (Robert Harting); BadBoiBilli (Ezekiel Kemboi); Grazia (All Others)]
Follow Alicia on Twitter @alicialutes
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While recent animated blockbusters have aimed to viewers of all ages starting with fantastical concepts and breathtaking visuals but tackling complex emotional issues along the way Ice Age: Continental Drift is crafted especially for the wee ones — and it works. Venturing back to prehistoric times once again the fourth Ice Age film paints broad strokes on the theme of familial relationships throwing in plenty of physical comedy along the way. The movie isn't that far off from one of the many Land Before Time direct-to-video sequels: not particularly innovative or necessary but harmless thrilling fun for anyone with a sense of humor. Unless they have a particular distaste for wooly mammoths the kids will love it.
Ice Age: Continental Drift continues to snowball its cartoon roster bringing back the original film's trio (Ray Romano as Manny the Mammoth Denis Leary as Diego the Sabertooth Tiger and John Leguizamo as Sid the Sloth) new faces acquired over the course of the franchise (Queen Latifah as Manny's wife Ellie) and a handful of new characters to spice things up everyone from Nicki Minaj as Manny's daughter Steffie to Wanda Sykes as Sid's wily grandma. The whole gang is living a pleasant existence as a herd with Manny's biggest problem being playing overbearing dad to the rebellious daughter. Teen mammoths they always want to go out and play by the waterfall! Whippersnappers.
The main thrust of the film comes when Scratch the Rat (whose silent comedy routines in the vein of Tex Avery/WB cartoons continue to be the series highlight) accidentally cracks the singular continent Pangea into the world we know today. Manny Diego and Sid find themselves stranded on an iceberg once again forced on a road trip journey of survival. The rest of the herd embarks to meet them giving Steffie time to realize the true meaning of friendship with help from her mole pal Louis (Josh Gad).
The ham-handed lessons may drag for those who've passed Kindergarten but Ice Age: Continental Drift is a lot of fun when the main gang crosses paths with a group of villainous pirates. (Back then monkeys rabbits and seals were hitting the high seas together pillaging via boat-shaped icebergs. Obviously.) Quickly Ice Age becomes an old school pirate adventure complete with maritime navigation buried treasure and sword fights. Gut (Peter Dinklage) an evil ape with a deadly... fingernail leads the evil-doers who pose an entertaining threat for the familiar bunch. Jennifer Lopez pops by as Gut's second-in-command Shira the White Tiger and the film's two cats have a chase scene that should rouse even the most apathetic adults. Hearing Dinklage (of Game of Thrones fame) belt out a pirate shanty may be worth the price of admission alone.
With solid action (that doesn't need the 3D addition) cartoony animation and gags out the wazoo Ice Age: Continental Drift is entertainment to enjoy with the whole family. Revelatory? Not quite. Until we get a feature length silent film of Scratch's acorn pursuit we may never see a "classic" Ice Age film but Continental Drift keeps it together long enough to tell a simple story with delightful flare that should hold attention spans of any length. Massive amounts of sugar not even required.
[Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox]
The first and most important thing you should know about Paramount Pictures’ Thor is that it’s not a laughably corny comic book adaptation. Though you might find it hokey to hear a bunch of muscled heroes talk like British royalty while walking around the American Southwest in LARP garb director Kenneth Branagh has condensed vast Marvel mythology to make an accessible straightforward fantasy epic. Like most films of its ilk I’ve got some issues with its internal logic aesthetic and dialogue but the flaws didn’t keep me from having fun with this extra dimensional adventure.
Taking notes from fellow Avenger Iron Man the story begins with an enthralling event that takes place in a remote desert but quickly jumps back in time to tell the prologue which introduces the audience to the shining kingdom of Asgard and its various champions. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) son of Odin is heir to the throne but is an arrogant overeager and ill-tempered rogue whose aggressive antics threaten a shaky truce between his people and the frost giants of Jotunheim one of the universe’s many realms. Odin (played with aristocratic boldness by Anthony Hopkins) enraged by his son’s blatant disregard of his orders to forgo an assault on their enemies after they attempt to reclaim a powerful artifact banishes the boy to a life among the mortals of Earth leaving Asgard defenseless against the treachery of Loki his mischievous “other son” who’s always felt inferior to Thor. Powerless and confused the disgraced Prince finds unlikely allies in a trio of scientists (Natalie Portman Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings) who help him reclaim his former glory and defend our world from total destruction.
Individually the make-up visual effects CGI production design and art direction are all wondrous to behold but when fused together to create larger-than-life set pieces and action sequences the collaborative result is often unharmonious. I’m not knocking the 3D presentation; unlike 2010’s genre counterpart Clash of the Titans the filmmakers had plenty of time to perfect the third dimension and there are only a few moments that make the decision to convert look like it was a bad one. It’s the unavoidable overload of visual trickery that’s to blame for the frost giants’ icy weaponized constructs and other hybrids of the production looking noticeably artificial. Though there’s some imagery to nitpick the same can’t be said of Thor’s thunderous sound design which is amped with enough wattage to power The Avengers’ headquarters for a century.
Chock full of nods to the comics the screenplay is both a strength and weakness for the film. The story is well sequenced giving the audience enough time between action scenes to grasp the characters motivations and the plot but there are tangential narrative threads that disrupt the focus of the film. Chief amongst them is the frost giants’ fore mentioned relic which is given lots of attention in the first act but has little effect on the outcome. In addition I felt that S.H.I.E.L.D. was nearly irrelevant this time around; other than introducing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye the secret security faction just gets in the way of the movie’s momentum.
While most of the comedy crashes and burns there are a few laughs to be found in the film. Most come from star Hemsworth’s charismatic portrayal of the God of Thunder. He plays up the stranger-in-a-strange-land aspect of the story with his cavalier but charming attitude and by breaking all rules of diner etiquette in a particularly funny scene with the scientists whose respective roles as love interest (Portman) friendly father figure (Skarsgaard) and POV character (Dennings) are ripped right out of a screenwriters handbook.
Though he handles the humorous moments without a problem Hemsworth struggles with some of the more dramatic scenes in the movie; the result of over-acting and too much time spent on the Australian soap opera Home and Away. Luckily he’s surrounded by a stellar supporting cast that fills the void. Most impressive is Tom Hiddleston who gives a truly humanistic performance as the jealous Loki. His arc steeped in Shakespearean tragedy (like Thor’s) drums up genuine sympathy that one rarely has for a comic book movie villain.
My grievances with the technical aspects of the production aside Branagh has succeeded in further exploring the Marvel Universe with a film that works both as a standalone superhero flick and as the next chapter in the story of The Avengers. Thor is very much a comic book film and doesn’t hide from the reputation that its predecessors have given the sub-genre or the tropes that define it. Balanced pretty evenly between “serious” and “silly ” its scope is large enough to please fans well versed in the source material but its tone is light enough to make it a mainstream hit.
WHAT IT’S ABOUT?
This follow-up to the 2006 smash hit Night at the Museum picks up shortly after the events of the first film with one-time museum security guard Larry Daley now living the life of a famous inventor. One night he decides to pay a visit to his old haunt the Museum of Natural History where he discovers that some of his favorite exhibits (and old not-so-inanimate friends) have been labeled as “out of date” and are being shipped off to storage at the Smithsonian Institute archives. In no time he gets a distress call from miniature cowboy Jedediah who informs Larry that a group of history’s most notorious evil personalities including Ivan the Terrible Napoleon Bonaparte and Al Capone are hatching a conspiracy. Together with their ringleader the 3000-year-old Egyptian pharaoh Kahmunrah they plan to take over the Smithsonian and after that the world. Larry springs quickly into action teaming up with Amelia Earhart and tries to save his old friends — and perhaps the planet — from the insidious invaders who’ve awakened from their slumber.
WHO’S IN IT?
Ben Stiller returns as Larry playing straight man once again to a legion of historical figures including new and returning characters. Back from the original are Robin Williams as a spirited Teddy Roosevelt Owen Wilson as Jedediah Smith Steve Coogan as the Roman emperor Octavius Patrick Gallagher as Attila the Hun and Mizuo Peck as Sacajawea. Ricky Gervais again appears briefly at the start and finish as museum curator Dr. McPhee. Welcome additions include a lively Amy Adams as the famed female flyer Earhart and a very funny Bill Hader (TV's Saturday Night Live) as an insecure General Custer. Christopher Guest plays Ivan the Terrible while Alain Chabat has lots of fun as Napoleon. Jon Bernthal’s Al Capone meanwhile is cleverly shot and isolated in vivid black and white. Best of all by a mile — and the real reason to see Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian — is Hank Azaria who plays Kahmunrah with brilliant comic timing and an affected speech pattern that’s highly amusing. The multi-talented Azaria (The Simpsons) provides the voices for two new computer-enhanced characters: a towering Abraham Lincoln and Rodin’s sculpture of The Thinker. Jonah Hill also shows up in an early scene as a Smithsonian security guard who confronts Stiller — a subplot that goes nowhere.
Although this follow-up suffers from a severe case of “sequelitis ” director Shawn Levy knows what makes this formula work for kids. Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian deserves props as the rare studio blockbuster intent on actually providing a little education by making these important historical personalities come to such vivid life. Use of photos and paintings from the adjacent museums is the most inventive new wrinkle serving as a clever interactive device for Stiller to use throughout the flick.
The screenplay (again by Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon) rehashes a lot of what was fresh in the first film and the result feels roboticly recycled. Levy’s direction seems rushed at times as if the filmmakers are afraid anyone with an attention span beyond 30 seconds. Kids will eat this up but aside from Azaria there aren’t many laughs for Mom Dad and older siblings.
For pure visual-effects wizardry and wonder you can’t beat the gang’s arrival at the Air and Space Museum where the production actually shot for a week. It’s awe-inspiring. Amelia Earhart’s encounter there with the African-American Tuskegee Airmen is also a swell touch.
NETFLIX OR MULTIPLEX?
Multiplex but drop the kids off and go shopping instead.