July 24th, 2013

Mister Cranky-pants

Ny-Quil In My Peanut Butter: A Rant

(This started out as an aside in something else I was writing, but then it metastasized into a rant and now I need to get it out of my system.)

You guys, can we be done with pointless mashups now?

Because I am really, really over them.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not against mashups in general. There are plenty of things out there where someone has taken two disparate elements and combined them in an enjoyable way. Usually this is because there's some unexpected correspondence between the two, or because it takes some creativity to get the pegs from one to align in an aesthetic way with the holes of the other. Sometimes it's that the incongruity between the two is so strong that it's surprising and therefore amusing to see them together. This I can appreciate. This is good stuff. I'm happy to see this stuff.

But then there are the mashups where it's nothing more than the juxtaposition of two completely unrelated things. Like, some guy says "Imma draw Watchmen like Peanuts!", and Snoopy ends up as the Comedian not because there's some subtle similarity being highlighted, or because there's some ironic contrast between them, but just because each of those characters needed to be paired up somewhere, so, y'know, why not. There's no point to it. It's not saying anything, it's not making any kind of commentary, it's just kinda there. And these are the mashups I'm sick of.

You know how the Genre Movie series is all about the recognition pseudo-joke, to the point that they don't actually make jokes about other movies, they just stick in something that's from a different movie, and the audience is expected to laugh because it's a thing they recognize? It's like that. The pointless mashup is lazy and dull and built on nothing. Hey, look at this, here are two things that you recognize, and now they've been put together! Woo! Awesome mashup, amirite?

No. It is not awesome. It was mildly amusing the first, I dunno, eighteen dozen or so times that I saw something of its ilk, but now, every bloody week, there's a new wave of pointless context-free mashups popping up on my facebook feed where someone has drawn Big Bird dressed as Darth Vader, or photoshopped Optimus Prime helping Martha Stewart cook a haggis, or made a gif of Cinderella summoning Cthulhu, and it's not even mildly amusing anymore, it makes me want to power-wedgie a toddler up a flight of stairs because it's all just. so. BORING.

What I'm saying is, there are some unexpected combinations that are really great together, but not everything is chocolate and peanut butter. Some things are Ny-Quil and peanut butter. Or liver and marshmallow peeps. Or even popsicles and cheesecake, both of which are nice on their own but when combined are basically just a mess. You cannot make a super-dessert by taking two good things and throwing them in a blender together. And then you pour the resulting goo out into a muffin pan and bake it and run a skewer through it an call it a cake-pop? No! It partaketh neither of the lollipop nature nor the popsicle nature, and is therefore an abomination in the eyes of the Lord. It's a goddam cupcake on a stick! And I know that's not even how you make cake-pops, and I don't care because they're revolting and I hate them. Ugh!

Okay, my rant went off the rails a bit there, but I think you get the gist of what I'm curmudging about. I'm not saying people shouldn't make whatever the hell they want. I mean, that Peanuts Watchmen thing, that wasn't some guy setting out to make something viral and overplayed, that was just him drawing something fun to get his creative juices flowing, and more power to him for it.

But the juxtaposition for its own sake, the lazy mashup with no point whatsoever, the un-joke of two things we recognize thrown into a blender: this horse is dead. Elvis left the building on this horse, the horse got on a ship, the ship sailed into the sunset, the water the ship sailed upon went under a bridge, the horse hit its head on the bridge, and then the horse died. There is no need whatsoever for anyone to paint a Carebear heart on its belly to aim at so they can post a selfie titled "SO EPIC MUST SEE!" whilst beating the aforementioned equine cadaver with a rolled-up Buzzfeed article because IT IS ALREADY DEAD so everybody, please, let's all just stop flogging it and be done, because oh my GOD. SO. OVER.

Fucking cake-pops.