Flavorpill’s 2011 Holiday Cultural Wish List


‘Tis the season for gift guides a-plenty — and don’t worry, we’ll have no shortage of those. But let’s get real: we aren’t just thinking of others this holiday season. We’ve got needs and desires, too, dammit! With that in mind, we’ve compiled a cultural wish list of films and books we’d like to see, musical reinventions and comebacks we’ve been longing for, and TV shows we hope will make it next season (or hang it up at the end of this one). Like any such list, what we’ve come up with is massively subjective — so let us know what you’d add in the comments.

A new David Lynch movie

We liked Crazy Clown Time a whole lot more than we expected. And we think it’s cool that David Lynch has turned his attention to Transcendental Meditation, directing Duran Duran concert videos, redesigning his website, and creating his very own, Mulholland Drive-inspired nightclub in Paris. But come on, now. Lynch is first and foremost a great filmmaker, and as far as we can tell, he hasn’t even discussed a follow-up to 2006’s Inland Empire.

Melissa McCarthy writes a book

This has been an amazing year for Melissa McCarthy. She won an Emmy and stole the show in the year’s funniest comedy, Bridesmaids. The logical next step in her career, if such contemporaries as Tina Fey, Jane Lynch, and Mindy Kaling are any indication, is a book. While these projects can feel like perfunctory cash-ins, a recent interview in which McCarthy told Anderson Cooper about her high-school transition from cheerleader to goth has us convinced that she’s full of great stories.

Community gets renewed

Few network comedies are as smart, culturally literate, or just plain funny as NBC’s beleaguered Community. And no show on TV has a more dedicated viewership — as its recent TV Guide fan-favorite win demonstrated. But, sadly, that audience is still quite small, and Community has been put on hiatus despite a full-season order. Not only would we like to see the series finish out its third year, but we’re crossing our fingers that it will be renewed for a fourth. If you do us that one solid, NBC, we’ll promise to stop making fun of Whitney. Deal?

The Simpsons calls it quits

We love this show. It’s a classic. But whenever we’ve tuned in over the past few seasons, we’ve been treated to episodes that were merely OK. Did we laugh a few times? Sure. Is The Simpsons better than most of CBS’s disturbingly popular sitcom line-up? Absolutely. And yet, we still can’t help but think that every new season tarnishes the legacy of the show’s first, classic decade a little bit more. We realize it’s been renewed for another two years, but after that, we’d like to see it go quietly into that Springfield night.

A reinvented Radiohead

Like The Simpsons, we were once big fans of Radiohead. OK Computer and Kid A still number among our favorite albums of all time. But what made them the best rock band in the world, in the years surrounding the turn of the millennium, was their restlessness. Between Pablo Honey and Kid A/Amnesiac, each new album was a revelation. Since then, they’ve settled into a sound we once described as “ominous synths, paranoid guitars, and stuttering drum beats meet the howl/growl of a guy who’s spent too long analyzing the limits of his own personality.” We want Radiohead to inspire us again. We think they’ve still got the talent and ingenuity to do it. So here’s hoping that another transformation is on the horizon.

Celebrity artists giving back to the art world

Art fans, have you been following the recent drama surrounding Marina Abramović? It seems that the “re-performers” who staged her most famous works at last year’s smash-hit MOMA retrospective were grossly underpaid — as in, $50 for a two-and-a-half-hour shift in which they held uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous positions, got naked, etc. They only got the pay increase and worker’s compensation they were lobbying the museum for after two performers passed out on the job. This isn’t the only documented case of Abramović and the institutions she works with undervaluing participating artists — and Abramović, whose work we generally love, isn’t the only art star who’s been called out by her employees. Damien Hirst, for example, has been criticized for the paltry sums he pays the assistants who play a major role in creating the works he sells for millions. We realize that art is like any other profession, in which young talents are generally made to pay their dues. But a basic respect for fellow artists’ time, sustenance, and safety would be a huge gift to everyone who believes in supporting the next generation of creatives.

A great, mainstream female-fronted rock band

Granted, these are not the best of times for mainstream rock ‘n’ roll in general. But while, in the past, we’ve had all of Joan Jett’s bands and Hole and The Go-Gos and No Doubt and Pat Benetar and Heart and Patti Smith and The Bangles and Veruca Salt, etc., in 2011 the mainstream music world feels more gendered than ever. Rockers and rappers (except Nicki Minaj) are male; pop stars (except Justin Bieber) are female. Modern rock radio needs some more lady-driven anthems to break up dudely drudgery. (Yes, Nickelback, we’re looking at you.)

30 Rock redeems Tracy Morgan

Because Tina Fey was busy having a baby, 30 Rock has been on hiatus since last spring. During that off-season, Tracy Morgan shocked fans by launching into a homophobic rant at a stand-up performance. He apologized, but his anti-gay rhetoric was so extreme as to make the mea culpa feel hollow. Since Fey and her writers have a particular knack for addressing contemporary pop-culture controversies (remember the “Joan of Snark” episode and its brilliant dissection of “women in comedy”?), we’d love to see them work in a Tracy Jordan story line that parallels Morgan’s debacle in a way that helps viewers sort out our ambivalence about the comedian — so that we can once again enjoy his hilarious character without guilt.

More critical love for books of music criticism

There were a lot of great picks on The New York Times’ list of the year’s 100 Notable Books. But we absolutely could not believe that not a single volume of music criticism made it onto the Gray Lady’s radar, in a year that included everything from a legacy-saving collection of Ellen Willis’ pioneering ’60s and ’70s pop pieces, Simon Reynolds’ deeply intelligent (and also moderately terrifying) Retromania , Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum’s illuminating oral history of MTV, and Will Hermes’ Love Goes to Buildings on Fire — an exhilarating, cross-genre history of the mid-’70s New York music scene. We’re fairly sure that if the Times’ staff critics had been interested enough in music and pop culture to crack open these fantastic books, at least one of them would have made the final list.

David Bowie tours

We realize he might not have another great album in him, and we’re grateful that he’s gone silent instead of selling us crap. (Hi, Lou Reed.) But, if he’s healthy enough to put on a stage show seven years after heart trouble forced him cancel the last leg of a tour, we’d love to see him live. A world tour would be lovely, but we’d also accept a week-long residency at a great New York venue. Or, you know, even a measly one-off gig that would sell out instantly and for which we’d be forced to fork over thousands of dollars that we don’t have to some scalper for nosebleed seats. That is how badly we want to see David Bowie.