Jesse Plemons Is a Bully Who We Have Allowed to Fail Upward

How have we let this happen? How have we, as a nation, allowed Jesse Plemons, a.k.a. Meth Damon, to fail upward like this?

There were warning signs. All it took was his second film appearance, as Tommy Harbor (younger brother of star QB Lance Harbor) in Varsity Blues

What do we call this? Bullying. Pure and simple. And the only thing bullying produces is more interpersonal violence: 

Fool me once, shame on you. But fool me twice? 

The red flags were all around us. This bullying behavior by Plemons’ character Ox in Like Mike is textbook. The aggression. The lack of empathy toward a height-challenged Lil’ Bow Wow. Look at how he thrives on the insecurities of others (to hide his own insecurity at being an orphan, perhaps?) while misusing his power over other foster children. 

America appeared to be on to this shitbird after Like Mike. Plemons spent the remainder of the early 2000s schlepping it from CSI to Grey’s to NCIS. But somewhere along the way we lost our focus, and we allowed this bully to continue to fail upward. Worse, we let him continue to think that his antisocial behavior was okay. 

Like most bullies, Landry Clarke’s pals on Friday Night Lights might not have thought there was anything wrong with him. But just tell that to the man he MURDERED. How does a kid go from a stable, football-loving home in Texas (Varsity Blues), to an orphanage in Los Angeles (Like Mike), to committing involuntary manslaughter back in Texas (FNL)? BECAUSE WE ALLOWED HIS WORST CHARACTERISTICS TO DEVELOP WITHOUT CHECKING HIS UNWANTED, AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOR, THAT’S WHY.

And don’t for a minute think that Landry’s killing (not the last murder Plemons would commit on screen, either) was a once-off, spur-of-the-moment type of thing. No, Plemons would continue to commit ever-more heinous acts of violence against those less powerful than he:

Like most bullies, Plemons’ Todd in Breaking Bad flirts with white supremacy. Based on his meth-slave relationship with Jesse Pinkman, it’s clear that he also struggles with letting his friends be independent from himself. 

The bullying would continue. Take Plemons’ appearance in Black Mirror, in the episode “USS Callister,” for example. Plemons’ intimidation and coercion has progressed into middle age, where he takes out his frustrations and resentments on sentient digital clones of his coworkers. Unsatisfied with bullying on a terrestrial stage, Plemons now appears to have taken his abuse to galaxies unknown. 

And the behavior persists to this day. It was only last year, in fact, that Plemons portrayed Chuckie O’Brien—the man who may have been responsible for Jimmy Hoffa’s disappearance—in Martin Scorsese’s lauded TV mini-series The Irishman.

What can possibly be next for this heinous bully? What new heights will we allow him to climb? Will Jesse Plemons next portray Regina George in a gender-reversed recasting of Mean Girls? Will he transport back in time to join Cobra Kai? 

Whatever he attempts next, it’s time for the American moviegoing public to just say no. Plemons’ bullying has to end. It must end.

Was the Angels’ victory over the 1994 Chicago White Sox in Angels in the Outfield the most improbable sports victory in movie history?

I’ll come out and say it: The most improbable aspect of Disney’s Angels in the Outfield isn’t the fact that Christopher Lloyd somehow skirted the player’s union to get on the field or that Joseph Gordon-Levitt wouldn’t be adopted. Instead, what really grinds my gears is that the lowly California Angels—despite not receiving any angel assistance whatsoever in their final game—somehow beat the 1994 Chicago White Sox to clinch the division title and the pennant at the end of the movie.

How could this have happened? How could that year’s Angels squad, a team so bad that Gordon-Levitt’s father bet that he wouldn’t have to regain custody of his child until they won the pennant, pull off a victory against a White Sox team that clearly would have won its first World Series championship in 77 years had the 1994 season not been stopped short by a player’s strike? It’s a mystery that grows ever more perplexing when you compare the team’s rosters: 

First Base
White Sox: Frank Thomas. Frank Thomas losing out on the full 1994 season is one of the worst travesties in American sports. The Big Hurt posted a shocking 1.217 OPS in 1994, the 18th best single-season OPS of all time. The guy was in the midst of a Ted Williams–caliber streak, and he was well on his way to earning his second straight AL MVP award and my everlasting love and affection. The Angel Gabriel couldn’t have stopped Frank from winning this game. Post-playing career boosted by Nugenix. 
Angels: Mitchell Page. Second place AL Rookie of the Year in 1977. Career batting average of .266, but he couldn’t make the roster for the Athletics’ 1981 postseason campaign. Post-playing career cut short by alcoholism. 
Advantage: White Sox, and it’s not even close. 

Second Base
White Sox: Joey Cora.
 Survived a stabbing, one-time All Star, and won a ring as the third base coach for the 2005 White Sox. Brother of Rob Manfred–patsy Alex Cora.
Angels: Israel Juarbe. Played Freddy Fernandez in The Karate Kid, a role for which he has been referred to as a “bitch motherf*cker” in at least one MMA-themed forum. Probably best known for his limited role as the room service waiter in this exceptionally 80s clip
Advantage: White Sox.

Short Stop
White Sox: Ozzie Guillén. 
There’s a lot that can be said about Ozzie. The spitfire-spewing third baseman-turned-Fidel-Castro-praising-and-gay-slur-using manager who we let things kind of slide with. The man invented Ozzieball (grind out a single, bunt him over to second, then smash a two-run home run) and managed the best Sox team of the 21st century. But I think this clip comes the closest to capturing all he brings to the table.
Angels: Albert Garcia. Dude doesn’t even have a wikipedia. 
Advantage: White Sox.

Third Base
White Sox: Robin Ventura. 
A two-time all star, six-time gold glove third baseman, and by all accounts a nice guy who was never as good of a manager as he was as a player.
Angels: Stoney Jackson. Appeared in the “Beat It” music video. Doesn’t seem to have heard of a “Drake LaRoche.” 
Advantage: Angels. As far as I know, Jackson never got his ass whooped by a 65-year-old Nolan Ryan. 

Left Field
White Sox: Tim Raines. 
A 10th-ballot hall of famer and arguably on the Mt. Rushmore of Montreal Expos players (I assume that this is a statue made out of chewing gum and used kilts outside a Montreal punk venue). 
Angels: Mark Cole. Actors without their own wikipedia pages are the theater equivalent of kids getting stuck playing left-center field. 
Advantage: White Sox.

Center Field
White Sox: Lance Johnson. 
Most famous for the fact that I somehow confuse his name with Larry Walker’s. Wikipedia tells me he’s the only person to lead both the AL and the NL in bats, hits, and triples, which is cool if that’s the thing you’re into. 
Angels: Matthew McConaughey. With McConaughey, you get power and longevity. The McConaissance was still decades away when McConaughey made this spectacular catch in center field. Dude had range, and no I’m not talking about going from Dallas Buyers Club to Wolf of Wall Street to True Detective to Interstellar in a calendar year.  Just imagine the 30–30 potential he would have deep into his Magic Mike era as a ballplayer. 
Advantage: Alright, alright, alright. Angels. 

Right Field
White Sox: Darrin Jackson.
 Jackson’s most notable career achievement to date has been the fact that he (mostly) stayed awake alongside Ed Farmer’s radio calls (RIP to a real one, Farmio). That fact alone is far more impressive than beating out Nicolas Cage for a bullshit Oscar for The Pianist.
Angels: Adrien Brody. This man definitely would not kneel for the national anthem. We never see him playing his position, but given his Mookie Betts–esque stature and Italian American–ass quaff, he must be a right fielder. 
Advantage: Angels, I guess. 

Designated Hitter
White Sox: Kit “Hit or Die” Kesey.
 In real life, this position would probably be filled by Julio Franco, who slashed .319/.406/.510 in 112 games. But one of the few White Sox players we actually get to see in the movie is good old “Hit or Die,” which doesn’t even come close to the worst nickname for a White Sox player. 
Angels: O.B. Babbs. He’s listed as only an “Angels Player” on Wikipedia, so I guess he gets slotted in at DH. 
Advantage: White Sox. You don’t cross a guy with a nickname like “Hit or Die,” especially when he’s allegedly the league RBI leader

Pitcher
White Sox: Jack McDowell.
 Played in a band that once opened for The Smithereens. Also pulled off a goatee for most of his career and won the Cy Young in the year before Anaheim started receiving angelbolic steroids. 
Angels: Tony Danza. Angels wasn’t Danza’s first or best role as a washed-up MLB player. In real life, Danza went 9–3 as a professional boxer, but in Angels it is revealed that he’s about to die because of his lifelong smoking (womp womp).
Advantage: White Sox.

Catcher: 
White Sox: Ron Karkovice.
Daddy. The only thing Ron Karkovice looked like he enjoyed more than performing an unconstitutional traffic stop is drinking a Miller High Life after mowing the lawn. 
Angels: Tony Longo.Daddier. And noted chili dog aficionado
Advantage: Nobody’s out-thiccing Longo. 

Manager
White Sox: Gene Lamont. 
Fresh off a 1993 Manager of the Year Campaign. Survived more than 15 years of working in Detroit and Pittsburgh. 
Angels: Danny Glover. Keeps referring to a mysterious, ill-fated “stint in Cincinnati” throughout the movie. But he won’t come clean about working with Mel Gibson? Also, google keeps thinking I’m trying to do half-assed research about Donald Glover. 
Advantage: White Sox. Say what you will, but Lamont never threw his players on the bus by suggesting that they needed angels to win a game.

Secret Weapon
White Sox: Michael Jordan.
 Performed surprisingly well at AA Birmingham while he was riding out the storm after retiring from the NBA under suspicious circumstances. Would probably choke out Ozzie during a practice. Remember, even angels buy shoes. 
Angels: Joseph Gordon-Levitt. College dropout. Shoehorns the female lead into a “manic pixie dream girl” persona in (500) Days of Summer. Had better chemistry with Tony Danza in Don Jon


As if that wasn’t bad enough, JGL gets savagely dunked on during one of the worst (among many) screenwriting of this film: 

  • [having just given up custody of Roger, JGL’s character, forever] 
  • Mr. Bomman (JGL’s character’s father): I’m sorry, boy. 
  • [he exits the courtroom]


Advantage: White Sox. And you know Jordan is betting on this game too. 

Owner
White Sox:
 Jerry Reinsdorf.
Angels: Ben Johnson.
Advantage: TBH both of these owners seem pretty anti-player and determined to lose rather than spend an extra dollar. This one’s a toss-up. 

Overall: If this game had actually occurred in real life, I had known about sports gambling, and the internet existed to the point where I could place a bet with an offshore sportsbook whose servers are located in modern-day Yugoslavia, this would have been a traumatic gambling loss for me. That is to say, it is patently absurd that the White Sox didn’t win this fictional game, and I hope that Disney deep-sixes Angels in the Outfield from Disney+ like it did to Song of the South and Star Wars: Ewoks

The Dumbest Possible Lines in F9 If It Goes to Space

In an interview last week, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges let slip a remark that strongly suggested the possibility that the newest installment in the Fast and the Furious franchise, F9, will see our favorite crew of international crime-fighting street racers go to SPACE. This is actually somewhat logical for a series of films that has raised the stakes with reckless abandon in each successive film, though we admit we had hoped they’d wait until the tenth film for the inevitable space excursion so the world could be treated to a barrage of groan-worthy Space X puns.

Throughout the course of the last nine films, the franchise has made a splendid transition from a self-serious homage to Los Angeles street-racing culture to a rollicking, self-aware half-caricature-half-tribute to the action movie genre. However, the series has never completely uncoupled itself from the corniness of the earlier installments, so if F9 does indeed take our favorite Family to space, we can expect some absurdly bad dialogue to surround the adventure. Here are a few lines we think we might hear in the film:

DOM: You know, my pops always told me to shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, he said, you’ll land among the stars.

ROMAN: We’re going to SPACE? Hell yeah, baby! I’ve always wanted to see some of them good-lookin’ alien bitches!
TEJ: [rolls eyes]

JOHN CENA’S CHARACTER: Just because there’s no gravity in space doesn’t mean you can’t get a little……..Attitude Adjustment

TEJ [TO ROMAN]: No one can hear you scream in space, so maybe we’ll finally get one quiet moment from your dumb ass.

LETTY: You know I’d ride with you to the end of the Earth…
DOM: We may need a little more than that this time.

ROMAN [to Ramsey]: Come on, baby, look. I could take you anywhere. [points to Earth from space shuttle] You wanna go to that place there? I’ll take you there.
TEJ: That’s North Korea. You’re gonna take her to North Korea?

Movie Pitches for a Post-Pandemic World

60*: In the 2020 pandemic- and labor-unrest-shortened MLB season, the White Sox went 60–0 en route to their first World Series victory since 2005. But should their incredible season have an asterisk next to it? From producer Barack Obama and the guys who brought you Fever Pitch comes the sports movie from an era when we worried we’d never have sports again.

Jumanji 5: There’s no alternate world, but they play a board game, which is pretty fun.

The Newest Wes Anderson Movie [working title: The Sunnyside ICU]: What, you think that just because there’s a global pandemic, Wes Anderson can’t make another movie? You don’t think he can just walk into someone’s house, paint everything in pastels and make things symmetrical and well-lit? Fuck you. (Starring Jason Schwartzman.)

I Know What You Did Last Summer 2: A psycho murderer stalks a group of teens who spent the summer of 2020 ACTING LIKE EVERYTHING WAS NORMAL, NOT SOCIAL DISTANCING, HAVING PARTIES INDOORS, SPREADING THEIR IDIOT GERMS EVERYWHERE.

You Stupid Motherfuckers: This is just three and a half hours of Dr. Anthony Fauci personally and repeatedly insulting the American people (directed by Scorsese, obviously).

Shooting Blanks: A heartwarming rom com about LeBron James, a generational talent on the court who has his last shot at winning one final NBA championship. But you’ll never guess who his team signs—his nightmare ex! Premiering on the Hallmark Channel this August.

Quaranteam: OK, hear me out—it’s six conventionally attractive white people who live in a massive apartment in the Village, and buddy let me tell you, they get into some serious HIJINKS during their time in quarantine (they fuck).

Imagi-nation: A gutsy documentary following that time The Celebs sang at us for some reason, culminating in an emotional debut at the Toronto Film Festival.

A Quiet Place Part 3: It’s quiet because we’re all dead!

Untitled Harry Potter Prequel: In which J.K. Rowling reveals that the founders of Hogwarts were all anti-vaxxers. (Also that Helga Hufflepuff had an IUD.)

La La La La Land: The President spends every minute of every day singing incoherently to avoid learning about all of the people dying. The choreo is sub-par because only white straights are allowed to help on the film.

There Used To be 50: A touching tribute to the former state of Florida, written and directed by Pitbull. 17 Oscars, a clean sweep.

QUIZ: The 1975 Lyric, or Classic Teen Movie Quote?

1. “She can’t be what you need if she’s seventeen.” 

2. “I’m in love with Jesus Christ.”

3. “What happens to us in the future? Do we become assholes or something?” 

4. “We’re all human, we’re just like you man.”

5. “Who allowed you to be this beautiful?” 

6. “I don’t want your body, but I hate to think about you with somebody else.”

7. “Who needs affection when I have blind hatred?”

8. “Ugh, as if.” 

9. “Love yourself like someone you love.” 

10. “We accept the love we think we deserve.” 

11. “You’ve got a beautiful face but nothing to say.” 

12. “I want to go to the rooftop and scream ‘I love my best friend Evan!’”

13. “You just write about sex and killing yourself and how you hardly ever went to school.” 

14. “But the really amazing thing is, it is nobody’s goddamn business.” 

15. “Don’t fall in love with the moment and think you’re in love with the girl.”

16. “Why don’t you speak it out loud instead of living in your head?” 

17. “I just want to let them know that they didn’t break me” 

18. “We’re all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it.” 

19. “I put on this shirt, and I found your smell, and I just sat there for ages contemplating what to do with myself.” 

20. “Do you think they are maybe the same thing? Love and attention?”

***

***

***

***
Answer Key
1. The 1975 lyric
2. The 1975 lyric
3. Back to the Future
4. The 1975 lyric
5. Booksmart
6. The 1975 lyric
7. 10 Things I Hate About You
8. Clueless
9. The 1975 lyric
10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
11. The 1975 lyric
12. Superbad
13. The 1975 lyric
14. Easy A
15. The 1975 lyric
16. The 1975 lyric
17. Pretty in Pink
18. The Breakfast Club
19. The 1975 lyric
20. Ladybird

Marvel Superheroes, If ESPN Was Introducing Them

Spider-man

  • From Queens, NY
  • Does whatever a spider can
  • Raised by single aunt in a 625 sq ft apt
  • Sticky hands
  • Parents dead!!

Captain America

  • Benches 625 raw (550 power clean)
  • 102 years old, making him the oldest Avenger in this year’s draft
  • Blue collar, red-and-blue-shield type player
  • Player comparison: a white one

Black Panther

  • From island nation of “Africa”
  • Cat-like reflexes
  • Grew up poor, we assume
  • High school coach describes him as: “natural talent, a freak athletically, incredible specimen”

Thor

  • God of thunder
  • Dead mom!!!
  • Averaged 11.6 YPC in 2019
  • Coach’s son
  • Three-time consensus all-MVC
  • New England will make him play wide receiver
  • [Brent Musberger voice] Have you seen his girlfriend?

Thanos

  • Five-tooled, six-infinity-stoned player
  • Has all the measurables
  • Working to support his adopted daughters
  • Generational talent who plays well in space
  • Can take out half the opposing team

Hulk

  • Recorded 27 sacks in 1.5 games for Harvard
  • Abusive father 😦
  • Described as “gym rat” by gamma ray lab tech
  • He MAJORED! In SCIENCE!

Iron Man

  • Locker room guy
  • High IQ 
  • Cerebral
  • Overcame debilitating and, frankly, embarrassing addiction issues

Ant-Man

  • Tremendous upside
  • Saw a man do a drug once!
  • Lived in a van 
  • Tweener
  • Sneaky athletic

The 10 Best Quotes of The Last Dance, So Far

10. “There’s no I in team, but  there’s an I in win.” – Michael Jordan, when it was suggested that he could have had the ball slightly less often. 

9. “Straight up bitches.” – Horace Grant, describing the dauphin dynasty Detroit Pistons leaving the court without shaking hands after being disemboweled by the Bulls 4–0 in the 1991 ECF. 

8. “Are those the pills you take to keep you short or are those diet pills?” – MJ, a tall king, mocking body positivity icon Jerry Krause. 

7. “They had Craig Ehlo on me, which, in all honesty, was a mistake.” – MJ, 31 years after making a shot over Craig Ehlo. 

6. “Mom and dad, he’s an alcoholic.” – MJ, as Scott Burrell pleads with him to stop bringing up his infidelity and alcohol consumption on camera. 

5. “Michael was like the Pied Piper walking down the Champs-Élysées.” – The late David Stern, slandering MJ with allegations of paedocide. 

4. “Well, I think it’s been pretty easy.” – MJ, as a rookie, when asked about playing in the world’s foremost professional basketball league.

3. “Scottie, ya know, he’s got feelings.” – MJ, talking about the complex mental machinations of the greatest number two of all time. 

2. “I’m not gonna fuck my summer up.” – Scottie Pippen, unveiling those complex mental machinations to be primarily a desire to have a sick, surgery-free hot girl summer. 

1. “That was God disguised as Michael Jordan.” – Former Indiana State University letterman Larry Bird, falsely implying there is a distinction between God and Michael Jordan. 

Hot Takes in Your Area: Are we sure that Joaquin Phoenix is good in Joker?

Guys (and, since this is the Academy we’re talking about, I really do mean “guys”), we need to talk. Are we sure that Joaquin Phoenix is good in Joker?

Two things up front, both of which we can hold in our heads at the same time: First, Phoenix is one of the best actors of his generation (and also probably an alien). Second, Joker is a mediocre movie at best and morally irresponsible at worst. 

But putting all that aside, are we certain that America’s foremost anti-cow-insemination scoundrel was a great actor, much less the ~best~ actor, in Todd Phillips’ gritty Taxi Driver reboot? 

Acting weird doesn’t make you a great actor. If we’re going to give Oscars to off-the-rails performances of characters with a destructive persecution complex, then Adam Sandler would have had himself a night on Sunday. And Phoenix himself has played memorably weird characters in the past but, unlike Joker, all of them had an unmistakable depth and generated unique insight into what it means to be human. I still can’t tell you what half of The Master was about, but I know there was something true about Phoenix’s Freddie Quell. The same goes for his roles in Her, in Walk the Line, hell even in Gladiator

But all those roles had what Phoenix’s Joker didn’t—they were interesting. You trusted that Phoenix didn’t just have a reason why his character was behaving like he was, but that it was a good reason. Even not having a reason at all can be enough, but that wasn’t what we got here. 

Instead, Phoenix’s Joker was a hollow pastiche of victimhood and trauma. Few actors have pushed the envelope quite like him, and he was rewarded for it on Sunday. It’s just a shame that it wasn’t for his best performance. 

WOW: George Lucas’ Jedi Council Predicted the Obama Administration YEARS Before the 2008 Election

Okay guys, check this out. This. Is. Mindblowing. 

Star Wars fans know how much attention and detail George Lucas poured into his art. But I’m guessing that most of you didn’t get this MAJOR easter egg hidden in the prequel trilogy. It turns out that Lucas, by portraying the Jedi Council in Episodes I through III (not to mention other assorted ~not canon~ stories), totally NAILED the Obama administration that would roll into office more than THREE YEARS after the release of Revenge of the Sith

Pretty wild, right? Here’s how we know: 

  • In the prequels, the Jedi Council is portrayed as a group of high-minded and well-meaning libs. A veritable “team of rivals,” if you will. But just as Secretary of States Clinton and Kerry were unable to foresee or prevent the rising trend of nationalism across the globe, the Jedi—despite strong moral superiority and favoritism from the media—were oblivious to the return of the Sith Order happening in their midst.
  • Emperor Palpatine never gained the popular vote, but, like Mitch McConnell, he commanded a disproportionate majority in the Senate. 
  • Yoda is an obvious stand-in for Joe Biden. I mean, both are old, neither can communicate well, and they both just absolutely love reminding you of all the great people they knew in the past. But ask them to stand up and actually do something for once? Whoooaaa, buddy, let’s not take things too fast. 
  • It goes without saying that the Droid Army is a portentous commentary on the tenuous morality of drone warfare. I mean, duh. 
  • I’m not sure how Lucasfilm pulled this one off, but if you analyze the script closely, you can tell that Mace Windu is an amalgamation of all the Crooked Media guys. Just as Mace keeps reminding you that he’s a great swordsman, Jon Favreau, Jon Lovett, and Tommy Vietor keep reminding you that they were in the Obama administration. And let’s not forget that Windu and all those podcasters literally failed to predict the rise of Trumpism/an emperor happening right in front of them, and then were pretty ineffectual at trying to stop it. 
  • Mitt Romney, like Jar Jar Binks, negligently allowed a racist to spew racist theories in support of his campaign and/or empowered an evil lord through democratic channels.