Nerdrotic and The Critical Drinker Return to Piers Morgan Uncensored

Are Nerdrotic and the Critical Drinker the new Riggs and Murtaugh, Tango and Cash, or Cates and Hammond? If so, Piers Morgan is the crusty old captain who’s had enough of their antics – well, not really, as he seems to get a kick out of them. The pair appeared on Piers Morgan Uncensored again, following their first stint on the show to discuss the Oscars. This time, Disney and Hollywood’s wokeness were the main topics – with a brief sojourn to discuss Sydney Sweeney’s heavenly endowments – and they had more pushback. Esther Krakue returned from the boys’ last visit, and they were joined by Ernest Owens, a journalist from Philadelphia and the author of a book called The Case for Cancel Culture: How This Democratic Tool Works to Liberate Us All (which is at the top of my non-existent Amazon wish list). As you can guess, Owens was not exactly aligned with the rest of the panel. You can see the segment below:

“By popular demand;” I guess Gary and the Drinker were a hit last time. A glance at the viewership for recent Piers Morgan Uncensored videos confirms that theirs is in the upper echelon with 871,000 views; the only ones that did better are the episodes discussing the Israel-Hamas war and one involving the P. Diddy raid. I suspect it’s partly because their channels are so popular (Nerdrotic just passed 1 million subscribers, much to Dan Vasc’s chagrin, and the Drinker is creeping up on 2 million), meaning people who don’t normally watch Piers Morgan Uncensored are tuning in to see their favorite YouTube personalities. But I wonder if regular viewers of the show also liked them because it’s gratifying to hear opinions that are more popular than mainstream media outlets want you to think they are. And since Piers Morgan seems to agree with them, it’s likely much of his audience does, too. As I’ve said before, that’s part of the secret to their success: letting people know they’re not alone.

As for the debate itself, I liked it partly because Ernest Owens made some good points, too. While I think he’s diminishing the effect identity politics is playing on the movie business’ downturn, he’s right that part of the problem is a lack of originality and a general fatigue from the audience. People are tired of these movies, which is why something different is a breath of fresh air, and Barbie is a good example. He misses some key points, though; Barbie also succeeded because it played to its audience, who turned out in droves and turned it into a huge cultural event. Many of the movies that are failing – Marvel, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, seemingly Pixar and Disney’s animated films (which I haven’t seen) – have stopped targeting their audience and are seeking a different one, the result being that no one is showing up. For the first three, that’s men and boys who love superheroes, sci-fi, and swashbuckling adventure; for the latter two, it’s families who want safe, wholesome, traditional movies that kids can see. (When I say “safe” and “traditional,” I don’t mean it can’t be new and innovative; I mean, maybe not so much with the gay teenagers and “non-binary” characters.)

But one of the main reasons audiences have “fatigue” is that the movies mostly aren’t good anymore. Did the shift towards identity politics come at the expense of storytelling and character work? It certainly seems so, which Drinker points out, but it could also be a perfect storm of two bad things happening at the same time. I think it’s a bit of both; the focus on identity politics necessitates bringing in writers who want to infuse their work with that, and these people tend not to be very good storytellers. And Gary’s argument that they wear their ignorance of the source material like a badge of honor is also correct and another indication that they simply don’t care about making compelling stories anymore; making a good Thor movie is not as important as putting the various sociopolitical elements they want to foist on the audience into what they believe is the palatable package of a Thor movie. It’s not so much an either/or scenario but a confluence of problems that compound each other and are making entertainment worse (a Tro-Clon, for my Angel peeps). Gary is right about Disney, Marvel, Lucasfilm, et al being “the DEI department” as well; the call is coming from inside the Mouse House.

I also think Ernest Owens is right in a larger sense about all-black movies not being a problem, which is why I think Nelson Peltz’s comment, which they were discussing, was stupid and counterproductive. Diversity in general (which an all-black cast isn’t, but I’m not here to split hairs) isn’t a problem and hasn’t been for a long time; when I was a kid, I and everyone I knew watched Family Matters, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and Martin because they were funny shows about real characters (and Steve Urkel). We knew they were shows about black people, but they never felt like “black shows,” if that makes sense, even when they occasionally dealt with race issues from a black perspective. Owens’ example of Black Panther is a good recent example, and one where the black cast is a natural extension of the characters and their world. I don’t think people had a problem with Black Panther: Wakanda Forever being about black people; it was more about ditching the main character and replacing him with his sister, then fundamentally changing the antagonist from his comic origins for diversity purposes.

On the topic of Joker: Folie à Deux, I’m more interested than anyone on the panel seems to be, mostly because of how much I liked the first one. I had no idea what to expect from Joker and couldn’t even figure out if I was excited to see it or not. And it was genuinely surprising, a movie that, as Drinker says, is divorced from the comic book movie world, a crime film that manages to pay tribute to the comics that spawned its central character in various ways. It’s an odd duck, to be sure, but a great movie. And because Todd Phillips took so many risks, did so many off-kilter things, and succeeded, I’m open to the zany idea of making the sequel a musical. Phillips has more than earned the benefit of my doubt. Gary’s recollection of the drummed-up controversy around Joker (and I can confirm his story about having to go through a metal detector to see it because I was there) is funny in retrospect; the media did this because they didn’t want people to see a movie they viewed as critical to their side of the political divide. But Joker can easily be interpreted as criticizing the right, or of holding both sides and everyone in the middle equally responsible for the downfall of society and the emergence of a monster. That’s because Joker is smart, complex, well-written, and designed to make you think – the opposite of the simple-minded lecturing in woke movies.

Shall we move on to Sydney Sweeney? Let’s. I wrote about this at length, but I believe what Piers Morgan says has some merit; the fact that the world is so enamored with Sydney Sweeney’s beauty and that she is embracing it is a big step in the burgeoning cultural shift everyone hopes is not a mirage. Physical beauty – real physical beauty, not the phony one where we have to pretend to find the mom from What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? sexy – suddenly feels like it’s okay to recognize again, and the sweetest irony is that it stemmed from a movie that went out of its way to hide it. Madame Web did everything it could to suppress how lovely Sydney Sweeney is, and she torpedoed that when she showed up to the red carpet premiere in… that… dress. She forced the dichotomy of her looks and Hollywood’s portrayal of them into the light, and she became an instant icon. (It’s funny how everyone hated Madame Web but loves the women who starred in it, particularly Sweeney and Dakota Johnson; this is entirely because of the way they dealt with the film and its audience, or lack thereof, and they proved to be much smarter than anyone else involved with that movie.)

All in all, this was another fun showing from Nerdrotic and the Critical Drinker, and I look forward to seeing them pop up on Piers Morgan Uncensored and other shows more often.

Comments (2)

April 4, 2024 at 2:12 am

Oh cool, I’ll definitely give that a listen. Glad to see you using the full name of Joker: Folie à Deux, your coworker however, not so much lol

    April 4, 2024 at 2:00 pm

    I like the title. It’s more imaginative and evocative of the character (or characters, since Harley Quinn isn’t exactly sane either) than a simple Joker 2 would be.

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