by Vincent Kwan
Cameron and Matt post for the early-riser, coffee crowd; I tend to post for the late night, glass of wine crowd. Or, I’m just a huge procrastinator. Your call, dear reader, but I would love it if you judged me favorable. Anyway, so far we’ve seen two fantastic “John Mayer Effect” Top 5s, so you all should be ready to be let down by mine. As always, please comment to tell me how terribly wrong I am.
The John Mayer Effect – n. the effect whereby an object becomes so drastically overrated at a certain point that it subsequently becomes underrated
1. The “9-to-5”, White Collar Schedule
“Fighting the man” (but not to the degree where, you know, actually disturb the balance of things) is a trope common throughout our popular media narratives, and nothing reeks more of the system than working behind a desk for 8 hours a day. If 90s kids movies taught me anything, the office is where your parents go if they don’t love you enough to spend time with you. Naturally, the idea of the desk job isn’t really appealing to anyone in their formative years. But after going through a couple petulant years of “I SWEAR TO GOD, DAD, I’LL NEVER BE ANYTHING LIKE YOU” and the largely “anything goes” structure of college, the rigidity introduced by the white-collar working world is surprisingly refreshing. When I started working, I noticed that I was not only far more productive, but I had so much more free time. Having distinct periods of the day dedicated to work and play tends to make the quality of both much higher. Four hour Netflix binges used to make me feel guilty in college. Now, they’re a justified release after a day at work. Turns out, Mom and Dad might have had a good thing going as a working stiff. That is, until their asshole kids took up all of their free time.
2. Reggie Bush
Few players’ careers have undergone the hype rollercoaster that Reggie Bush has. Coming into USC as the second best football recruit in the nation, Bush disappointed few with his play in the Coliseum, shattering records, winning the Heisman, and giving football fans a performance in the 2005 Rose Bowl that goes down as one of the best in history (matched in dominance by Rivals’s top recruit of 2002, Vince Young). However, the wheels came off when Bush entered the NFL, with his high stature coming into the league undoubtedly accentuated his fall from grace in New Orleans. Stripped of his Heisman, relegated to the unsavory “change-of-pace back” label, and joining the fraternity of Kim Kardashian’s “been there, fucked that” list*, Bush was sold for scrap parts to the Miami Dolphins. However, in the Magic City, Bush has experienced a rebirth, putting together two productive seasons as a feature back in a league below-average offense. His numbers (~1000 yds, ~6tds), don’t suggest superstardom but in a league that has an attitude of “next warm body in” when it comes to running backs, Bush’s sneaky resurrection and longevity in the league make him underrated in my book.
*Membership being, incidentally, the greatest threat to the black community since the crack epidemic of the 80s and early 90s.
3. Justin Timberlake
How can one of the world’s biggest pop superstars be considered underrated? You have to consider Timberlake’s trajectory as an artist. What amazes me is the fact that N’Sync’s Celebrity and Justified were released within a year of each other. In that year, Timberlake’s sound escaped from the black hole of Swedish-produced technopop to a rarified form of white boy R&B that still stands unmatched in my opinion (sorry Adam Levine, Robin Thicke). Adding further to the Timberlake mystique is his distinctive selectiveness in releasing his music. As the boy band genre that introduced us to him collapsed, there was no urgency on Timberlake’s part to cash in on what could have been his fading star. Instead, he took his time selecting his projects, making an excellent follow-up in FutureSex/LoveSounds and showing (surprising) taste as an actor. It’s this self-awareness that I think makes Justin Timberlake underrated in the world of mega-stars: a keen understanding of when to move on and where to go.
4. The films of Wes Anderson
The films of Wes Anderson frequently just how homogenous being unique could be. With a string of releases all centering around dysfunctional families going on journeys, Wes Anderson transformed the definition of “indie” from its logical origins to meaning a particular brand of saccharine twee. Both Anderson’s characters and fans of his movies alike have approached a sort of “indie singularity” – where everyone is identically awkward, neurotic, and self-convinced of their own idiosyncrasy. Spare me if I don’t think his movies are any less formulaic than any typical Hollywood blockbuster. Given that the trailers made it look like the entire movie was shot in Instagram, it was surprising that Moonrise Kingdom was the movie that turned my opinion on him. The movie doesn’t break the mold of twee; in fact, it’s almost absurd in its twee-ness. But that’s what I found so refreshing about Moonrise. Anderson’s decision to be sincere and unabashedly romantic was jarring in a largely ironic world.
5. A Good Night’s Sleep
I used to take it as a point of pride how late I could stay up each night, bucking the popular science of “8 hours a night” in the face. This came to a screeching halt when I entered my senior year at Notre Dame and any time I had to work past midnight felt like a hellish death march. For whatever reason, getting by on little sleep is treated like some sort of battle scar. We tend to imagine these people as the “Work hard, play hard” types. This is stupid. More likely, they’re “be really shitty at everything” types, the kind of people who start every conversation with a 10 minute monologue about how tired they are. As I’ve quickly learned, there’s no shame in going to bed before midnight. Usually, it’s a sign that you’re a responsible, productive member of society.