And Now For Something Different…

Kanye West, who has won 21 Grammys, may be boycotting the awards this year alongside Justin Bieber and Drake AP PHOTO

Kanye West, who has won 21 Grammys, may be boycotting the awards this year alongside Justin Bieber and Drake AP PHOTO

As we inch agonizingly slowly and alarmingly quickly toward the first full month of the Donald Trump presidency, I think we can agree that the news is just … exhausting lately. We went from “this is the best inauguration of all time” to “no refugees allowed, especially from Syria” in about 10 days. And then each development begins the furious cycle of dissent and defense on social media and in the regular media, which lasts until the next thing happens (about six hours).

I understand the seduction of complacency in any form as much as the next person, but this is exactly the 24/7 politics oversaturation that will lead to it. There are a lot of people out there feeling hopeless and anxious. We can’t just feed into that with these despair cycles. We just can’t. We must not change who we are in times of crisis.

I’ve been seeing many statements about the value of pop culture during trying times — not as distractions from reality, but as part of the necessary fabric of our lives.

So this week, we’re going to talk about the pop culture that got overshadowed by the political storm, and we’re going to enjoy it, dammit. That which makes us happy has value in any circumstance.

Ben Affleck is no longer directing The Batman.

Affleck says it was too much commitment to have to write the script, direct the film, produce it and still star. Given DC’s shaky trajectory right now, he’s probably right. (Early word on Wonder Woman has … not been positive, which makes me very sad.) Still, what a pity. We’ll never know what could have been!

On the bright side, we still get The LEGO Batman Movie next week. It will probably be the best DC movie we watch this year (it hurts me to say this).

Of course, there also were rumors that Affleck would somehow back out of playing Batman completely at the time this article went to press…

La La Land is winning all the awards.

What a surprise that a musical nostalgic for Hollywood’s MGM glory days is cleaning up at all the awards shows. We saw this happen before (with silent-film tribute The Artist) and odds are that it’s going to happen again at the Oscars. Will this musical have more staying power? Honestly, I don’t think so. The climate is a little too politicized; the mood is a little too progressive and forward-looking for La La Land to carve out that niche in the pop culture landscape. It’s no Singin’ in the Rain, after all. It’ll win its awards, and we’ll all have forgotten it existed six months from now.

But the real question really is this: Why the hell are Lion and Florence Foster Jenkins getting so many nominations?

Drake, Kanye and Bieber may boycott the Grammys.

There’s a legitimate case to be made that Grammy judges are out of touch with the music scene and biased toward older, conservative, mostly white artists, easy as it may be to want to write off this trifecta as just being salty and undeserving.

I did a little research as to how, exactly, the Grammys get voted on. (The most enlightening article I found was by Grammy judge Rob Kenner on Complex.)

The voting body consists of some 12,000 people involved in the music field, whether as vocalists or producers or what have you. Specially selected screening committees first pare down categories to ensure that submissions fall in the right genres. The eligible titles are forwarded on to voters for a first round of votes in “their areas of expertise” (a maximum of 13 out of 31 fields). Then, the final round of voting lets everyone vote in 24 of 31 fields.

Somewhere in the middle of this process, an actual secret committee (for real) has the power to select final nominees and override voter choices, if they see fit.

I’m sure you can see the problems in this model without me pointing them out.

So don’t write off Kanye’s ranting just yet. That’s basically how Macklemore won over Kendrick Lamar, in a nutshell.