A Knights TaleA knock-off Gladiator-esque arena filled with people stomping their feet and clapping their hands to Queen’s “We Will Rock You”, and yet the story is set in 14th century Europe.

This just reeks of bad cheese, doesn’t it?

Yet that’s kind of the point. The creators of this movie realize that the music doesn’t quite fit the scene…and that’s why you should think it’s “cool”. What other movie has ever done such a thing? What other movie would have taken that type of chance?

What other movie has a “spur of the moment” dance sequence set to David Bowie’s “Golden Years”?

Well…you certainly don’t see scenes like that every day in movies, do you?

Heath-Ledger-Promo-Shoot-AKT-a-knights-tale-12062059-1547-2000But here’s the thing: the movie is actually quite entertaining.

I wouldn’t go so far as to call it “great” or “awesome”, but it’s certainly “good”. It’s the fact that the movie isn’t actually “bad” that makes this cheesy movie so much fun (the excellent cast certainly helps, too). If it sucked, then the whole concept would fail. Because it’s good, you’re sitting back watching it and wondering just why in the world the movie’s soundtrack includes Thin Lizzy and Bachman-Turner Overdrive.

But it does. And you like it. And people around the world like it.

5085_headingYou really shouldn’t…the concept, in theory, doesn’t work. Yet here it is…a movie that made over $110,000,000 worldwide at the box office and continually plays on television every year, over a decade after it was released. It’s become a modern-day version of a fairytale filled with action, romance, true love, and a scene featuring “Low Rider” by War.

Obviously, this movie has become the very definition of being a “guilty pleasure”.

A-Knight-s-Tale-Wallpaper

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Kraft macaroni and cheese

Or as it’s called to us Canadians…KRAFT DINNER (which is what it shall be named for the remainder of this post).

Kraft Dinner

Oh where to begin on the awesomeness that is Kraft Dinner? How about a history lesson?

Classic Kraft Dinner packageWell…the first incarnation of this guilty pleasure delicacy was introduced back in 1937. Not a whole lot about it has changed since then as it’s still a dry macaroni pasta and powdered cheese mix. But there’s just something about this “mix” that makes it absolutely “must have comfort food” by legions of fans.

It initially took off in popularity because of World War II, as families considered it an easy and inexpensive meal for an entire family. Plus it had a shelf life of ten months, which was a huge benefit for those who didn’t own a refrigerator.

Kraft Cheesy PastaSo as time has gone on, children everywhere have continued to eat Kraft Dinner (also known as “KD” in Canada and “Cheesy Pasta” in the UK) as a “right of passage”. And it doesn’t stop with just kids, either. I remember (vividly) eating KD throughout my university years…not just out of want but a lot of times out of need, too.

Is KD timeless? Sure…but it’s done its best to keep up with a modern society looking for healthier choices.

Wait…is Kraft macaroni and cheese actually healthy? It is if you believe their packaging!

Kraft Dinner Smart

Omega stuff and fibre boosts and vegetables, too? It’s gotta be healthy!!

Kraft Organic Mac

Organic dry macaroni?  Sure…why not?

KD Smart

You gotta be kidding me…

Kraft Macaroni & Cheese SpongebobBut it’s not all just about the “healthiness” of this incredible edible item. It’s about the marketing, too. I don’t know about you, but I will buy ANY pasta that’s got a tie-in with Spongebob Squarepants. Or Pokemon. Or Scooby Doo. Or Fairly Odd Parents. Or Rugrats. Or the Flintstones. Or NHL teams. Or Bugs Bunny.

Well…I think you get my drift here. They do a LOT of children’s tie-ins.

Kraft Dinner AlfredoBut it’s not all just about the children’s tie-ins, either. Oh no, my friends…it’s the flavours and types of KD that are available that make it just that much more amazing. You’ve got the regular, the spirals (my personal favorite), the veggie pasta, the white cheddar, the hearty four cheese, the parmesan alfredo, and even the “tomato” style that resembles pouring ketchup all over your KD (a Canadian “gourmet” version).

If none of those float your boat, then you can try microwavable “instant” KD in a variety of flavours like alfredo, white cheddar, and “extreme pizza”.

Kraft Dinner Extreme Pizza

No…I’m not kidding.

KD FacebookWhile Kraft macaroni and cheese may not be quite the staple of a balanced diet like its Canadian counterpart, it’s still considered a heckuva popular comfort food. Don’t believe me? Try arguing with the over 1.2 million fans they have on Facebook. Of course, Canucks aren’t ones to ignore KD when they have the chance, with over 400,000 in the Great White North taking up the mantle of liking Kraft Dinner on Facebook, too.

There are Kraft Dinner recipe websites (both official and unofficial). There is a Kraft Dinner Wikipedia page. Burger King restaurants in Canada offer it on their children’s menu. You can use Kraft Dinner to analyze your relationship. You can watch (seemingly) endless Kraft Dinner commercials on YouTube.

At the end of the day, it’s a dry pasta and “cheese powder mix” that combine to make enough food to feed at least two people for about a dollar. That, in and of itself, should be all that’s required to make this a guilty pleasure.

Kraft Dinner products

Gangnam Style

Posted: November 8, 2012 in Music
Tags: , , ,

Don’t even pretend to not know what “Gangnam Style” is. You can’t deny the power of this international one-hit wonder. It gets in your bones…it flows through your veins…it jumps into your pants…it makes you want to dance like you’re riding a horse.

Wait…what??

Unbelievable but true, some South Korean thirty-something “rapper” has come up with a song and dance that has gotten the entire world’s attention. Want proof? The dude just got recognized by the United Frickin’ Nations for having “unlimited global reach” and was named a UNICEF goodwill ambassador.

All for dancing like he’s riding a horse.

Let’s face it…the song is catchy, there’s no denying it. There probably isn’t any way it would have become a global phenomenon if it wasn’t a catchy pop song. I mean, throw the video on and have him lip-syncing to David Hasselhoff’s “Jump In My Car” and you might have a slightly different reaction from the planet.

And that’s the key to this guilty pleasure, isn’t it? The video. I’m sure you remember the first time you sat there and watched it; egged-on by a co-worker who always spends too much time on YouTube because he lives in his parents’ basement. Your first reaction was probably the same as everybody else’s…

What in the f*ck am I watching right now?

So you add one incredibly insane video to a catchy song and you’ve got the “Macarena” for 2012 times 100 because of the strength of social media. I mean, this song has become such a massive one-hit wonder it’s like somebody took “I’m Too Sexy“, threw it in a blender with “U Can’t Touch This“, drank it and crapped out “Mambo #5” in Korean.

I mean, this song has gone to #1 in 29 COUNTRIES! There is absolutely no way that you can buy that type of success in today’s “here today gone tomorrow” world.

But I guess that’s the catch, isn’t it? Psy, the “artist” responsible for this musical nonsense, has never really been popular outside of Asia until this song and (if we’re being perfectly honest) won’t be popular outside of Asia in another few months…a year, tops.

Fame is fleeting, my friends. One-hit wonder fame is ever MORE fleeting…which is why they quickly become guilty pleasures.

Vanilla Ice

Posted: November 2, 2012 in Music
Tags: ,

Okay…I’ll be the first to admit that there’s not a whole lot out there to love about Ice after you’ve heard “Ice Ice Baby” a couple thousand times, but you gotta admit that there’s something lovable about the guy that just keeps him going more than the Energizer bunny (do they even DO those commercials anymore?).

For those unaware, Vanilla Ice was the first artist to take a rap song to the #1 position on the Billboard 100 charts. That, one would think, would be enough to cement his position at the top of rap’s “all time greats” list, right?

Well…not really.

There were many reasons for Ice’s lack of respect. One would be that he dressed like this:

Yeah…that pretty much eliminated any credibility he’d get with the black/hispanic/pretty-much-everybody-else community. I mean, can you imagine a bunch of kids on some street corner in Brooklyn thinking it was the coolest damn thing in the world to crank out “Ninja Rap” on their ghetto blaster to psych themselves up for a drive-by?

And people thought that Ice had pretty much disappeared after 1993 came to a close. Oh, I think not, people. This guy has been on television more in the last ten years than in the height of his popularity. Seriously.

Don’t believe me?

The Surreal Life — This was pretty much his “comeback” performance. He went around trashing the place and telling the world just how much he hated being Vanilla Ice and acted like a big  douchebag, yet went on to say afterwards that it was all just an act to make for interesting television. He then went on to perform “Ice ice baby” all around the world for years afterwards in front of some pretty impressive crowds…

Vanilla Ice, Jann Arden, and some other chick who comprise the judging team on “Canada Sings”.

Canada Sings – This is an…umm…interesting concept. Basically, a bunch of co-workers at some Canadian company get together and come up with a Glee-esque performance. Three judges (of which Vanilla is one) will then give some opinions  and decide which team of co-workers get to earn $10,000 for the charity of their choice. I mean, it makes sense, right? Whenever I think of “judging the singing ability of others”, I think of Vanilla Ice. Immediately.

Dancing on Ice – I honestly don’t even know where to begin or WHAT to tell you about THIS one…

The Vanilla Ice Project – You would think this was a joke until you actually saw it. Apparently, one of the things that Ice was doing all these years was flipping houses…and doing it well. So now he’s got his own show on the DIY Network where he gets to show off his reno skillz while still dressing like a home-boy from 1991. Nothing like watching a guy wearing a wife-beater and side-locked wide-brimmed cap talking like Snoop Dogg about how the interior needs a waterfall to make it shizzle.  Or something like that…

Oh…and don’t forget that Ice had a pretty substantial part in Adam Sandler’s wildly successfulThat’s My Boy“:

Any way you slice it, Vanilla Ice is still a part of today’s mainstream culture in some shape or form. You want to hate the guy, but he pops up all over the place and makes you want to pay attention.

And really…you still LOVE to hear “Ice ice baby”, even if you won’t admit it. That’s okay…I won’t tell anybody.

Wipeout

Posted: August 14, 2011 in Television
Tags: , ,

How in the world can you describe “Wipeout” in a way that can truly tell people who haven’t seen it what it’s all about?  Well…at least describe it in a way that doesn’t make you cringe when you say “big red balls”.

It’s billed as a show where people compete on the “world’s largest obstacle course”. But in reality, it’s just a way to show people falling, getting hit in the face (or other parts of the body that make one chuckle), falling some more, and generally “wiping out” in ways that you never see in real life. Because the show is done with foam obstacles and involves water, the contestants rarely get injured so that makes it fun to laugh at their expense.

C’mon…haven’t you seen a small child fall down and want to snicker just a little bit, but you couldn’t because they were hurt?  This is the adult version and it’s safe…so it’s fun for all to point and laugh.

The show itself was inspired by Japanese game shows like Takeshi’s Castle, which has had a cult following for years (it was on back in the 80’s) and it also showcased people being embarrassed for a multitude of reasons.

I have to admit to being a fan.  I had to stop watching it with my son, though, because even though he loved it and laughed all the way through (awww…such a great father/son bonding moment), he began jumping from one piece of furniture to the other in an attempt to copy what he was seeing.  NOT what I had in mind.

But yet here I am…still writing about a show I can watch at any time day or night and, regardless of whether or not I’ve seen it before, I’ll laugh each and every time.

Am I proud of it?  Not really.  It’s a VERY silly show.  But the fact that I’m not proud to watch it and yet I continue to watch it is the very definition of guilty pleasure.

Sigh…I love you, Wipeout.

It may be hard to remember, but there was a time when Britney Spears was “all that and a bag of Doritos”.  She was new to the music scene…was young, hot, and sang really catchy pop songs.

Honestly…for a very long time it appeared as though Britney could do no wrong.

Then something happened.  That something was a break-up with the (supposed) love of her life, Kevin Federline.  Similar to how Bobby Brown destroyed Whitney Houston’s career (and arguably her life) while they were together, Federline appeared to destroy Spears’ career once they split up.

Please…how many female pop stars shave their head for no reason and then attack photographers with an umbrella?

Everybody assumed her career was over.  There were conservatorship issues, child custody issues, and a HUGE public image issue to overcome.  I guess the moral to the story here is to never count out talent. Or Britney.

Blackout was released in 2007 and, while not the mega-smash she was used to, was still pretty successful…eventually selling over 3 million copies worldwide and proving that her fans were willing to forgive her for being bat-shit insane. Now, I was never a fan of the album but try as I might, I couldn’t resist the catchy single “Piece of me” (the first single, “Gimme more”, was actually her first top 5 single since “Baby one more time”).

Circus came next, as did the hit single “Womanizer“. The single itself sold over 3 million copies (probably helped by the fact that she was naked in the video) and helped the album became one of the biggest of 2008.

Do you see where I’m going here?

This was followed-up by 2011’s Femme Fatale, which is now on it’s third single “I wanna go“.

It has really gotten to the point where it is almost cool to like Britney Spears again.  ALMOST.

At the end of the day, Britney is still a low-class redneck chick who just happens to be extremely hot and makes fun pop music that people listen to. Honestly…if she entered the entertainment industry at this stage in her life, would anything other than pornography even be an option for her?

On top of everything else, she’s an in-studio artist who can’t seem to find a single note to sing live yet people flock to her concerts by the thousands. Try explaining THAT one to me.  Did we not learn anything from Milli Vanilli?

You don’t want to admit it…but you like her.  You listen to her.  You ENJOY her.

She has now become a guilty pleasure.

TMZ

Posted: July 31, 2011 in Internet
Tags: , ,

Let’s face it…we all realize that TMZ is the lowest form of “journalism” you can find online.  At least it’s the lowest form you can find before the “journalists” being to make things up.

TMZ appears to have been created to make you, the NON-celebrity, feel better about yourself.

They insult celebrities…they mock celebrities…they post the worst pictures of celebrities…they ambush celebrities with their cameras…they appear to revel in ruining any respect that a celebrity may have.  And they do it all without apologies.  By all accounts we…as the general reading public…should be disgusted by this website.

But we’re not.

No, we’re drawn to TMZ like flies to manure.  We’re excited to see what the next scandal will be and how TMZ will analyze it and break it down.  We don’t normally believe news stories about celebrity deaths until TMZ has confirmed them. We can’t wait to hear about the tiniest detail about a celebrity’s life.

Obviously, there’s the question on whether or not this says more about us as people than it does about the website itself. When you think about it, is TMZ any different than the National Enquirer was back in their heyday in the 80’s? Probably not, but with the world in a different place now and everything available readily online, it just seems that the meaner TMZ (and other sites like Radar Online) gets, the more people flock to their site.

And what’s worse is that they publish stories on practically anything remotely related to celebrity.  I mean, do we really need to know how big a television or movie star’s on-set trailer is? Do we really need to know how a celebrity’s offspring needed to get bailed out of prison for a minor offense? Do we really need to see a picture of a celebrity mid-chewing of food so they look absolutely ridiculous?

Of course not.  But TMZ isn’t about “need”,  it’s about “want”.  And this, kids, is why it’s a guilty pleasure.  We really REALLY shouldn’t enjoy TMZ on almost any level, yet we do.  It’s one of the most popular websites in cyberspace…and we’re all to blame thank for that.

I really think a recent “Weird Al” Yankovic release says it best in a song called (aptly enough) TMZ:

You’re sort of famous
A minor celebrity
And so it only makes sense
The world would be
Obsessed with every
Single thing you do
They’re running ’round
With their camcorders in the night
They’re lurking patiently
And hoping that they just might
See something real embarrassing
You do
A bad hair day and sweat-stained T-shirt
That’s the story that
They’re gonna feature
With exclusive pics
Of your flabby behind
You think you’re all alone
But that’s right when you’ll find

A bunch of paparazzi
Popping out of nowhere
Cameras in your face
And then suddenly
You’re on TMZ
You’re on TMZ

Following you
When you’re walking down the street
And asking stupid questions
While you’re trying to eat
So you cover your face
Thinking to yourself
“Hey, isn’t this creepy?”

And they’re out there praying
You’ll have a big meltdown
And take ’em on a little car chase
Through this whole town
They’ll be there with you
When you’re going to jail
First on the scene
For every wardrobe fail

You just picked up some transvestite
Seconds later
It’s up on the website
Get a Vegas wedding
A quickie divorce
And they’ll be
Sneaking in
Snapping pictures, of course

And if they ever catch you
Picking your nose or
Storming down the street
On a drunken spree
You’re on TMZ

Stalking you, just waiting by your front door
Trailing you through
Airport security
They’re with TMZ

They’re with TMZ

Oh, let me tell you
It’s getting to the point
Where a famous person can’t
Even get a D.U.I
Or go on a racist rant
Those guys are all around
So you really shouldn’t dare
Go to every club in town
If you’ve flaunt your underwear

Seems that every single time
A star decides to shave their head
Or ram their car into a tree
They’re on TMZ

If they catch you peeing in the bushes
Later on, that night
Well, I guarantee
You’re on TMZ
You’re on TMZ

You’re on TMZ

Every single celebrity
Knows they’re gonna be

They’re on TMZ