Celebritology Live

Oct 18, 2012

Celebritology blogger Jen Chaney gabbed about the latest celebrity gossip and pop culture news making waves across the Web.

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Welcome, Celebritologists. Much to discuss today, including "American Horror Story: Asylum." Another matter I'd like to toss forward. As some of you may have seen yesterday on the Celebritology Facebook page and Twitter feed, I'm doing tomorrow's Friday list on pop culture (movies, TV shows, music, toys, etc.) that scared us when we were kids, even though clearly we should not have been frightened.

A few of you confessed to your fear of Muppets (especially The Dark Crystal kind). I already filed a short version of the piece for my Sunday Style column but am still soliticing ideas for tomorrow's blog post. If you got any, please share. And thanks to the reader who initially suggested this topic.

Now: chat time.

This is more Hesse than Celebritology, but everyone needs to see it before Amazon takes it down.


I saw this and it cracked me up. I bet sales of that particular binder have skyrocketed.

That's how my husband and I refer to the main brother and sister character on Revolution. The show is getting better, and has potential, if only the supporting cast didn't have to do all the heavy lifting with limited dialogue.

I must confess, I have not gone back to this show and am not sure if I will. Nothing I saw in the first couple of episodes or have heard since is convincing me to do otherwise.

Mark Harris had a recent column in EW that I'd like to hear discussed. It came out of his revulsion at the new series The New Normal and how its gay couple is presented. He essentially said that network TV has taken a step back from Will & Grace where Eric McCormick's Will was gay, but not flamboyant, theatrical, etc. (Sean Hayes fulfilled that function.) But on both The New Normal and increasingly on Modern Family, scripts hew to gay stereotypes. He even took a crack at Modern Family for the way in which Cam is so emotional and theatrical and Mitchell is a persnickety fussbudget. That got me thinking how Modern Family's writers have changed Eric Stonestreet's Cam since the show started. Originally, while he had theatrical interests, he bonded with Ed O'Neill's Jay because he had grown up on a farm, knew his way around power tools, etc. This year, a depressed Cam spends his time making mermaid costumes for his cat. The point is, why do gay men always have to be so, well, GAY in sitcoms where lesbians are never given more signifiers than perhaps a deep voice and an avoidance of makeup?

I read that column and thought it made some excellent points.

There are a few examples of non-flamboyant gays on television -- Blaine  on "Glee," for one, although he's dating ultra-flamboyant Kurt so that deflates the argument a ltitle.

You're very right, and Harris is, too, about Cam. Initially he seemed like an example of the non-stereotypical gay character because, based on stereotypes, he doesn't look like a gay guy. But he has definitely become much more fey, which can be funny but also seems like a missed opportunity to take his character in a less conventional direction.

I still think it's a positive that there are so many gay characters on TV who are layered and not just punchlines. For all their theatricality, I still think Mitch and Cam have more dimension to them than we would have seen 20 years ago.


I didn't watch the first season, but I heard so much talk about the second season that I decided to check it out, out of curiosity. Holy wow, am I hooked, and now I totally get what all the buzz was about! I know this season is a reboot of the first, so it seems like I don't need to 'catch up' on anything to be able to just jump right in. But I should - at some point - go back and watch the first season, right?

Yes, I think it's worth watching the first season, though you're right, it isn't crucial to following the Asylum narrative. You could burn through most of them in a Halloween weekend marathon, which is actually a pretty great idea.

Have you seen the movie yet? The book is in my Top 5 all-time so I am equal parts excited to see it on the big screen but also afraid that it won't translate well. David Mitchell's blessing and his piece in the NYT magazine about the adaptation process helps a little. Like any adaptation of a favorite book, I'll probably watch it with realistic expectations and enjoy the experience, not bemoan the omitted text and/or added movie scenes.

I haven't seen it yet. I see it next week. I have not read the book and figure there is basically no way I could possibly tackle it before I see it.

I have heard that, as massive and dense a story as it is, the movie actually does it justice. We'll see.

"fey". That might surpass "mollycoddle" as my word of the week.

Mollycoddle really is the best.

... I just don't see Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake lasting. Which disappoints me because they have, for the most part, managed to keep their relationship out of the glare of the spotlight, and they're both celebs who seem to stay out of trouble. But haven't they already broken up at least once, and he's been accused of a wandering eye?

Yes, they did split up for a time and yes, he has been accused of that.  (Key word: accused.) But hopefully it will work out for them.

I understand where you're coming given the celeb marriage track record. But let's at least give them the courtesy of getting married (a) and being married for a few weeks  (b) before we start talking divorce.

Have you been watching "Nashville"" We've been really enjoying, it despite the annoying political sub-plot involving Ryan's father and husband. Are those Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere's real voices?

I watched the first ep and DVR'd last night so I could rewatch American Horror Story during the live broadcast while people were tweeting their love for Evan Peters. I plan to watch the second episode tonight or over the weekend.

Similar to muppets, I feared the Ewoks--I was happily enjoying Return of the Jedi until they showed up.

Are you joking or were you genuinely afraid of them? Not judging, it's just really hard to tell when people are being sarcastic when they talk about Ewoks.

Has Tina become much more Cam?


Amen! I would like to point out Max on Happy Endings as a positive example that breaks out of the stereotypes. He's sloppy, he doesn't care about work, he dresses terribly, he doesn't act fey...I actually came into the show a few eps late and didn't even immediately realize he was gay.

I've only seen that show a couple of times. Thanks for adding that character to the conversation.

When i was a kid the day care I went to seemed only to have The Neverending Story to play on rainy days. I still can't watch it. Funnily enough, I spoke with fellow students when I was in high school (small town, so really we went to ALL school together, not just HS) who had gone to the same day carae and also had a great fear of that movie. I still can't watch it.

Thanks, and sorry about the trauma. Do you get the shakes when you hear the theme song? I'd post a link to the music video but I don't want to freak you out.

I think The Labyrinth had a lot to do with it--those muppets that toss their eyeballs into the air and catch them in their mouths are freaky. The Vincent Price section of Thriller is the only bit of music I can think of that scared me as a kid.

Yes, Labyrinth is an issue for many.

By the way, one of the things I was afraid of was the album Kiss Alive II. I wasn't afraid of any other Kiss albums -- not even Dressed to Kill -- but that one's cover and some of its content frightened me.

Any word on what Zach Levi is doing right now?

Based on his Twitter feed, I believe he is in Iceland.

This may be like shooting fish in a barrel, but the Twilight Zone scared the bejesus out of me. And frankly, I have to admit I am *still* a little on edge when I push up the blind on an airplane window. Remember that episode with the gremlin on the airplane wing?

Of course! But Twilight Zone was supposed to scare us. I'm talking about things that scared us when they shouldn't have or at least weren't designed to scare us.

I'm not sure this is all that hard to fathom, but HR Puff 'n' STuff was pretty terrifying.

It's definitely trippy, no question.

Oh that is too much. I love the one that warns everyone the binder does not come with women.

We, as a society, do love to milk a joke, don't we?

The black "Nothing" wolf from The Never Ending Story, The Last Unicorn, Labyrinth, Watership Down, and The Secret of Nymh, Legend, and a movie I am now embarrassed to have been scared of, Monster Squad.

Good ones, all, thanks.

Monster Squad's trailer, by the way, is kind of scary. (Those kids have guns! That's not right.) It was even posted on a site called scaryforkids.com, which means you should not feel embarrassed about this in the slightest.

I'm OK with The New Normal; really only 1 of the 2 is "overly gay". I've given up on PARTNERS, though; horribly written and I had such high hopes.

True, which is sort of the same as Will & Grace, really. Not that Will and Jack were partners, but they were the two lead males and one was off-the-charts stereotypically gay, the other not so much.

Fraggles, the balloonist/wizard from "Wizard of Oz" (seriously, why didn't Judy Garland run in horror from that man?!), and gremlins-before-they-were-gremlins. The last one is why I spent 2 hours in a movie theater not watching the movie at all (and that damn Santa chimney story didn't help) and why, after a well-intentioned friend gave me a Gizmo doll, I didn't sleep with the lights out for weeks.

Wait, so you were afraid of Mogwai -- the cute kind -- and the Gremlins? That makes sense. That movie is pretty disturbing -- that gremlin in the microwave. Ick.

Fraggles add a new dimension to the terrors perpetrated by Jim Henson's creations.

Freaks me out. Don't know why. I think I blame Tim Burton's Nightmare before Christmas for the initial creeps, but then it has somehow attached itself to Gumby and others.

California raisins -- did they scare you?

World Wide Words says that a Molly was a gay man, and caudle was a drink of thin gruel mixed with sweetened and spiced wine or ale, which was given to sick people. http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-mol1.htm

Okay, this makes the word more distressing that I initially thought. (Gruel?)

It's a good thing beauty is only skin deep or I'd be rotten to the core. Who said? She was right and funny. Funny can't be wrong, right?

Oh, I'm not saying she was wrong. I think the previous reader wants to be hopeful about this, too. It's just hard to be, given how badly celeb marriages often go. And having broken up once already, that isn't the greatest sign.

But now is the time for optimism, my friends. For analyzing photos of her wedding dress and finding out which famous people were at the wedding and hoping Questlove ends up being one of them so that he'll tweet the whole dang thing.

I forgot! I was truly afraid of the Peculiar Purple Pie Man of Porcupine Peak (a-ra-ta-ta-ta-ta, a-ra-ta-ta-ta!). Those of you old enough to remember a certain brand of Strawberry Shortcake cartoons/movie may know of whom I speak. For the rest of you, enjoy your kinder, gentler pastry characters!

Nice. Anyone afraid of Gargamel? I think he was more of an annoyance than a genuine source of fear but i am happy to be proven wrong.

And if they do not, why NOT? Those things are freaky.


I recall a Winnie the Pooh cartoon (early 70s) with a fantasy sequence of Winnie dancing with heffalumps. Scared the crap out of me. And here it is, thanks, YouTube.

Well, that is the demonic version. But understandably a little scary. Also: I could swear the Winnie the Pooh ride at Disney World replicates some of this. When we went a couple of years ago, my then 3-year-old son got a little freaked out by it.

I had two toys that scared that crap out of me as a child. One was a stuffed Bozo the Clown doll that was about 3 feet tall. The other was a geisha doll that was attached to a platform. More of a statue/decoration not really a toy. After I got this statue, my sister told me some story about how some girl had the same kind of geisha doll that gradually came to life and attacked the girl. I put a sheet of paper underneath the whole thing, and drew a line around the platform so I could check every morning to see if the geisha had moved. And that Bozo doll would scare the bejeezus out of anyone.

Clown dolls should not be manufactured. There is no way to uncreepify them. We all had this confirmed by "Poltergeist," if we didn't know it already.

Anything re: dolls coming to life completely freaked me out, too. Talky Tina episode of Twilight Zone? No good for me. No good at all.

I was afraid of the guy who stole the kids in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang movie... can't watch it to this day..

The Child Catcher? Just the name alone is an affront to children.

C'mon, nobody's afraid of Ewoks (I almost typed "the Spanish Inquisition" -- old habits die hard). They're freaking teddy bears for Yoda's sake! Honestly, I know there are purists who say it was JaJar Binks that ruined the franchise, but honestly, it was the attempt to make me believe that 3 foot tall teddy bears armed with wooden spears and rocks could trounce a regiment of the Emperor's finest that really killed Star Wars for me. [Sorry, rant over]

I liked the Ewoks. I understand your point. I do. But I was 10 when that movie came out and I thought they were cute.

Jar Jar, however? Total abomination.

I don't have a problem with Uma Thurman and Arpad Busson giving their child meaningful names. What I do have a problem with is that their endlessly long name sounds so ... I don't know, self-conscious? Presumptuous?

It is a lot of names. Luna is fine. Rosalind is nice, too. But the kid has five names. Did the birth certificate come with additional attachments?

That song scared me a lot--I was in third grade when it came out. It was probably the Vincent Price VoiceOver and the evil laugh. I didn't understand why everyone loved it.

Now you do, though, right? The video was pretty scary, too. I can understand being eeked out by it.

But poking fun at stereotypes can be funny!

It can. There just needs to be a mix. There's more of a mix now than there used to be, but there are ways to be funny without relying on cliches.

I still have nightmares about the Stay-Puft marshmallow man.

Really? Not judging, just verifying.

Man, this list is going to be so. good.

The reason why most gay characters on TV act flamboyant is because if they didn't act to stereotype there would be no reason for the character to be gay in the first place - other than making some political statement. Same reason why Jewish characters always talk about their mother and use Yiddish phrases. If they didn't why bother making them Jewish at all.

Really? By that argument, why make a character female at all unless she's going to be a sterotypical woman who cares only about shoes, flowers and crying during chick flicks? Or why make a character black or Latino?

Because that's who the character happens to be. I think there is more of a temptation to make a point politically with gay characters because for all our progress, the culture as a whole is still a little uncomfortable with it. But it doesn't have to be that way.

Just thought of two more gay characters who were not particularly sterotypical in any way: Keith and David on Six Feet Under. David a little more than Keith, but not in a way that was super over-the-top.

My husband and I broke up once, then got back together. We're still around. I don't think it's necessarily bad.

But you're not famous. Unless you are, and then I take that back.

Sorry to join so late, I totally got sucked in to those Amazon binder reviews, they've left tears rolling down my face to balance out the earlier tears from the Katie Perry post.

I clearly need to read more.

This may be too late, and I have gotten a lot of heat for this in my lifetime, but I cannot watch E.T. I ran out of the theater screaming when he first came on the screen, and to this day, I have never seen the whole movie. I still get scared and queasy when I see him and I have to change the channel. I have been told that this is supremely odd.

Actually, a couple of other people on Twitter expressed E.T. fears. Yours' sound a bit more extreme, but you are not alone.

To this day I cannot believe my mom bought me that toy. It's probably the root of all my problems.

Yes. When in doubt, it's always the clown doll's fault.

Stereotype = a core of truth wrapped in exaggeration.

Ah, a bit of a distinction between a pure stereotype vs. a sterotype that has become a cliche. Good point.

It's still fairly de rigueur in Europe, where baby-daddy Arpad's from.

Is it? I'm too Amer'can to know that. That does clarify a little.

Can be a cultural thing. My dad has 9 and my mom has 8. They're both from a northern European country. The names are family ones, and they had more than just one godfather and one godmother. Some of the names are of godparents, others of family members. Honestly, I think it was just previous generations' way of keeping a family name going to keep the in-laws happy, without actually having to name the child "Lambert" or "Bertha..."

Okay. Now I feel completely wrong for poking fun.

Bar none, best gay character on TV is Omar from The Wire. Definitely not flamboyant!

Excellent point. And I think Omar could easily have not been gay an d it would not necessarily have changed the point of his character or his arc within the story. It was something about him that made him interesting and unexpected, but wasn't turned into a political issue at all.

Both my young son and I were/are incredibly creeped out by the bear that comes alive on the Snuggle commercial. My husband bought one through a promotion just to hide around the house to terrorize me. Also terrified of the flying monkeys in OZ. A fact that delights my 4th grade students!

The Snuggle bear, with the delightful voice of Zach Braff? That's actually kind of hilarious.

I haven't posted all The Wizard of Oz phobic comments because i think everyone is well aware of that phenomenon. For some reason, I was never afraid of that movie. I adored it, obsessively, from the minute I saw it when I was 5.

The scariest part of that movie for me was when Dorothy fell into the pig pen. I grew up on farms, and knew that hogs can/will eat humans. That and the tornado scared me most since they were real. I never heard of flying monkeys eating anyone before.

Interesting Oz point.

The witch is kinda scary, even when she's just Miss Gulch.

hi jennie! what do you think really happened with linsey and my second mom, dina in the limosine last week? do u think its all a way to create publicitee for linsey's new movie?

Hey, luvlinsey.

I do think it could be an attempt to generate publicity, as I said in this post. And even if it isn't, it certainly worked.

I was 9 going on 10 when the Thriller video debuted and they played it after my bedtime. I BEGGED my parents to let me stay up and watch it and the werewolf thing in the beginning gave me nightmares.

That's a scary scene. The zombies are pretty scary, too, but their ability to dance minimizes that a little.

"I'm not like other guys ... GO AWAY."

Thriller is the best.

Can we find out if Amazon's binder sales are up? They are now including some customer images of the binders as well. I'd buy one just to keep up the page count.

I don't know if I'll post about it but I am now interested enough to do some research.

This may be too late, but my parents took me to see Fantasia when I was about 5 years old. I had to be taken out of the theater during the Sorcerer's Apprentice--those mops and buckets freaked me out.

Oh, yeah. That's a little much for a 5-year-old, especially on a big screen.

What?! Tina was the HERO of that episode. Telly Savalas was being a grade A jerk and had it coming. The end.

Maybe. But she scared the #@&! out of me.

Paul & Pauline from the Planet Purple on Mr. Rogers

Ooh nice one.

Earlier poster wondered who said, "It's a good thing beauty is only skin deep, or I'd be rotten to the core." Phyllis Diller.

That's  a quality quote.

All right, your responses to this non-scary scary kid things has been fantastic. I'll post a list tomorrow of the best ones, as well as a few of my own.

Sorry that subject dominated the chat so much, but we'll be back together next week, after the Biel/Timberlake wedding, and the second "Horror Story" episode and a bunch of other random stuff has happened that we'll want to discuss.

Thanks again, everyone.

In This Chat
Jen Chaney
Jen Chaney anchors The Washington Post's Celebritology blog, The Post's online window into the world of pop culture and celebrities. She also frequently writes about entertainment trends, filmmakers and other Hollywood-related matters for the print edition of The Washington Post.

A Post staffer for more than a decade, Jen also can be seen reviewing movies on WETA's "Around Town," where she is one of the show's regular film critics. Last year, she contributed a series of essays to the book, "The Friday Night Lights Companion."

When she isn't blogging, at the movies or watching a television show, she's ... um ... probably at home watching a movie or a TV show.

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