Processed Media’s Best of: February 2022

Jackass Forever

Can someone getting punched in the balls bring tears to one’s eyes? Can a scientific attempt to light a fart underwater bring nostalgia for a simpler time in the world? Could we heal all of humanity with marching band uniforms, a treadmill, and a brick wall?

Jackass Forever, in many ways, is the most important movie to release in the early months of 2022; as we contemplate our mortality in a cruel world with images like Preston Lacy’s nuts getting pummeled by tiny fists in slow motion, or ponder our culture of remakes with Exploding Port-A-Potty, Jackass Forever not only feels like a sendoff for Knoxville and the OG crew (RIP forever Ryan Dunn), but a farewell to a specific slice of Americana, one rightfully revered by our generation through the past two decades. Though as blood and shit-covered as ever, Jackass Forever‘s undercurrent of sentimentality and brotherhood remains palpable, beautiful, and properly pungent.

Heels

Admittedly, watching Heels was something I’d put on the back burner after its summer 2021 debut; though the appeal of a small-town drama about an amateur wrestling league and the family running was definitely intriguing, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to commit to the show’s choice of subject matter.

Well, aren’t I the asshole: Heels is a goddamn pleasure, a soapy, heartfelt story about intergenerational rifts, the slow death of small town Americana – and of course, wrestling, written and performed with an appreciation for the sport’s form and artistry… at times, it almost feels like if Rectify and Dare Me had a sweet love baby with a series of goofy Georgian accents (that will probably remind a lot of people of Friday Night Lights). It is a bit rough around the edges, but thanks to a heavy dose of emotional honesty and a phenomenal cast (Alexander Ludwig, Kelli Berglund, and Chris Bauer are particularly great in their respective roles), Heels is the kind of show that could really blossom if Starz can play its cards right with its second season (which was greenlit in November).

Sordid Cinema After Dark Podcast #2 – “Heels Season 1: It’s Not Fake”

Fuckin’ shit up in Horizon: Forbidden West

25 hours in and Horizon: Forbidden West is turning into a bit of a chore; though I’ve enjoyed my time with the story so far, getting to those moments has been a strange, discordant mix of annoying checklist chasing, bloated dialogue – and some seriously awesome combat. Thankfully, though Forbidden West has a little bit too much of everything (I love Aloy, but will she shut the fuck up about the stash for two minutes??), its combat is still top-notch, a hyper chaotic mix of bullet time-esque bow-and-arrow combat, improved melee mechanics, and a whole lot of cool-looking explosions when taking down massive Clawstriders, Alpha machines, and Stormbirds.

There are plenty of times in Horizon: Forbidden West when I just wish it would get to the point already; when I’m engaging with a rebel outpost gone wrong, or a stealth encounter has gone completely right (or wrong!), the best elements of Forbidden West snap loudly into place, delivering the adrenaline-pumping splendor we’ve been waiting five years for.

Love is Blind Season 2, Episode 10 “The Weddings”

Ok, so I came into Love is Blind… well, blind, before sitting down with my partner to watch the 74-minute spectacular of cringe drama. Watching it without context, it felt like watching an extended alt-comedy sketch from the early 2000s, parodying the American institution of marriage – except that the ironic delivery of traditional romantic platitudes (by people who’ve known each other for six weeks)is twisted into dystopian reality television as we watch family after family react to this television experiment crashing and burning in epic fashion. Of the five couples who are set to be married (apparently two others didn’t even make it to this episode), only two of them make it to the reception, leaving a bunch of heartbroken family members in their wake (and in the case of Deepti “I want to fuck your emotions before I actually fuck you” Vempati, the world’s most unconvincing “I’m just fine” speech).

Though I’m not going to go back and watch the season (part of the benefit of watching the finale was seeing every conflict of the season crystallized in dramatic fashion), I couldn’t help but be fascinated about where the “reality” of these stories were bleeding into the reality television experiment of Love Is Blind. Despite the inherent horror of its premise (and the visuals of more than half the results), Love is Blind has clearly found a formula that works for how it stages the conflict between the amorphous “heart” and “mind” of human beings. There are no limits to what people will do for love or money; seeing the two clash in this particular setting admittedly made for a riveting – if thoroughly unsettling – watch for a cold February evening.

Watching other people get fucked up in Elden Ring

At this point in life, I’ve accepted the kind of human being I am – a little bitch who does not have the patience or mental fortitude to play From Software’s lauded series of difficult role-playing games. Elden Ring almost pulled me in, with its gorgeous open-world and the many people insisting that this was the one for everyone – but after watching a Twitch streamer bang their head against the wall of the same mid-game boss for 5+ hours, I knew it was my path to be an Elden Ring voyeur, a person who enjoyed others uncovering the game’s many esoteric secrets, dungeons, and mind-melting optional bosses. It’ll never be a game for me; but if anyone is ever playing Elden Ring and wants to hear someone cackling in the background with joy, I will happily fill the role.

Randy Dankievitch

Randy is the founder of Processed Media and The Mid-Season Replacements Podcast, and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved TV critic. He's written about TV and culture across the internet since 2010, and also writes for UpPortland Magazine and Goomba Stomp/Tilt Magazine.

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