Oct 122011


I was updating my Netflix queue last night, looking for a classic comedy that my wife and I might like—and that might get me off the hook temporarily for my usual prediliction for adding really dark, negative, cynical films to our queue. Most recently, for instance, I watched Werner Herzog‘s memoir on his old partner in crime, Klaus Kinski: My Best Fiend. It’s a nice, moving memoir of a difficult friendship, if you’re into that kind of thing. (My wife, by the way, who had no interest in watching this documentary with me, walked into the room at one point, during a clip from the opening of Aguirre: The Wrath of God, my favorite Herzog flick. She didn’t know what I was watching, but the nature shots of the Peruvian mountains immediately caught her eye. “Ooh, what’s this movie?” I told her what it was, reminding her which video I was watching. “It looks beautiful. Would I like it?” Usually I’d take the opportunity to stretch the truth and see if I could finally trick her into watching a non-nature documentary [eg, Grizzly Man and Encounters at the End of the World, which she has liked] by Herzog, one of his fictional films, which she instinctively knows is the kind of movie I love but would turn her stomach. I couldn’t lie. “This movie is so negative,” I told her, “it makes Apocalypse Now [which, like a woman in one of my favorite an Onion pieces, she has still not seen all the way through!] seem like a romantic comedy.” Later she walked in during a scene from Herzog’s Nosferatu and did a 180 as soon as she saw Kinski’s hideous creature.)

Anyhow, while scanning the Netflix suggestions under Classic Comedy a movie title caught my eye. Then I saw Groucho Marx‘s face on the cover. I don’t know, Groucho Marx just gives me a bad vibe. It’s much like the vibe I get every time I’m confronted with Randy Newman‘s face. I know they’re both respected artists in their field. I even appreciate their work a bit once I get by the instinct to do a 180 as soon as I’m confronted with their visage. What respected film and music artist (one of each) just give you a bad vibe?


  56 Responses to ““I don’t know, [INSERT ARTIST] just gives me a bad vibe.””

  1. pudman13

    Joni Mitchell always gave me a bad vibe. I’m not sure what it is that puts me off her, but something always did. Sean Penn gives me a bad vibe…but I can pretty much explain why. Does that count?

  2. Jack White. I always think his music is going to suck for some reason, even though I like (not love, but like) almost everything that I’ve heard him do.

    There’s plenty of directors and actors and actresses that I don’t like but i usually know why.

  3. Deerhunter. Even though I like a fair amount of their stuff, they’ve got this whole death-trip thing that I can’t connect to.

  4. Certainly these count! This is a “gut-check” thread, one related to our occasional Six-Pack or Shotgun? series.

  5. BigSteve

    I really like Deerhunter. What’s the death-trip thing?

  6. Billy Idol. He’s given my the creeps since I first saw him. I have no idea why – but it’s still very much true.

  7. Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull always gave me bad vibe — I do like some Tull, though.

    I overcame teenage bad vibes about Led Zep, Neil Young, and Fleetwood Mac. They no longer emit evil transmissions to me.

  8. tonyola

    Alanis Morrisette. Even when she’s trying to be nice, she always seems to give off an air of mean, venomous snippiness.

  9. That’s funny. I wrote some surprising (to myself) positive tribute to her a few years ago. I’ll have to see if I can dig that out of the archives later.

  10. Here’s what I wrote. Looks like the original video I posted is no longer available.


  11. shawnkilroy

    Jeremy Piven & Billy Bragg

  12. mockcarr

    I don’t care what you have to say, it makes no difference anyway, whatever it is… I’m against it.

  13. Morrisey. There. I’ve said it. I’ll admit that I am ignorant to almost everything the man has ever done, but…just look at him. I can’t bring myself to it. I know I am probably robbing myself of some GREAT musical fodder, but…well…look at that guy….


  14. Happiness Stan

    I know this is a totally personal thread, but if you were ever to have a chance to have a conversation with Billy Bragg he’s an incredibly nice bloke…

  15. BigSteve

    Is James Woods respected? I loved Videodrome, but in his other movies he creeps me out, even when he’s not supposed to.

    In music there are too many to mention, so I’ll just say Zappa.

  16. David Thomas

  17. Happiness Stan

    Helena Bonham-Carter, like fingernails down a blackboard, has always come over as arch and calculating even before she went all wacky and married Tim Burton (or vice versa), can’t bear her

    Lou Reed. Was watching Television at Glastonbury the year that the VU reunion happened (finally got into the site half an hour after they’d played…) and realised that I was standing next to Lou. I’ve never been one to be shy of saying hello or asking for an autograph from anybody, but there was just the most evil vibe coming out of him that I completely freaked and moved away.

  18. Happiness Stan

    PS, I’ve never seen Apocalypse Now in its entirety either. Fell asleep half way through it at the cinema on its first release, and twice while watching it on the telly. I’ve always been allergic to the Marx Brothers as well, watched their films with friends roaring with laughter while I sat there experiencing nothing but boredom and irritation. I was also thinking Joni Mitchell and Frank Zappa, possibly Roger McGuinn (although in his case the music probably makes up for it).

  19. hrrundivbakshi

    I’ve always wanted to start a thread examining artists who inexplicably depress you — like, for no good reason. Perhaps you’re getting at the same thing here. If so, my biggest head-scratcher in this category is Al Green. I don’t know why, but I can’t stand to listen to his music because it just brings me way the hell down. If that counts as “bad vibes,” then he’s my guy.

  20. Yes, Woods is considered an Actor of fairly high regard. I’m pleased that you have stooped to participating in this thread, BigSteve. Often I think of you and Oats as holding yourselves above this sort of nonsense. Welcome to the jungle.

  21. Salvador with Woods and Jim Belushi is one of my top five movies of all time.

  22. I love that “evil vibe” story, Happiness Stan. Funny that you bring that up following Oats’ mention of David Thomas. I LOVE Pere Ubu and have no beefs whatsoever with the side thereof that Thomas brings to the band. One time, following a show, I found myself standing right beside him and got the same kind of feeling. I quickly skedaddled.

  23. Gene Simmons – He’s got a reality show. Everything’s for sale. Screw that guy.

    Melanie Griffith – Back when she was a serious actress. She’s kind of pathetic now.

  24. I’ve got your back on those two!

  25. machinery

    David Byrne bothers me. Always has. Just never dug his vibe.

    I have the same feeling for Mario Van Peebles. I just can’t figure that guy out.

  26. Do I smell jean jacket?

  27. ladymisskirroyale

    I’m in agreement with BigSteve. And Bradford Cox’s offshoot, Atlas Sound, is great.

  28. ladymisskirroyale

    Godspeed You! Black Emperor drives me to drink (or ear plugs). I just can’t stomach them, and I’ve tried for the benefit of matrimonial harmony.

    I just yelled out “How do you spell GYBE?” and I got in return, “Don’t tell me they are your 180?!” See.

  29. trigmogigmo

    I’ll agree on Lou Reed; I’ve just never ever warmed up to his vibe beyond a passing VU familiarity. However, for my musical choice how about John Mayer? There is something off there.

    Glenn Close gives me the creeps. It’s probably just good acting, but I don’t know…. Samuel L. Jackson and Christopher Walken do too, but in a way that glues me to the screen and makes me smile.

  30. ladymisskirroyale

    Good call on John Mayer. And throw in that Curious George guy too.

  31. 2000 Man

    Lately I get creeped out by Brett Dennen. He sings like he swallows his words and you don’t whistle through the graveyard, you whistle past it. John Mayer is gross, too.

    That guy that does Inside the Actor’s Studio interviews creeps me out, too. Who the hell is he? A guy with zero talent, less insight and a pandering personality. Yuck.

  32. tonyola

    That’s James Lipton, and the show actually started out really good when it had genuinely great actors discussing their craft and careers. Then it turned into a publicity stop for whatever movies were out at the time, and it went downhill.

  33. shawnkilroy

    i’m sure he’s wonderful. his singing gives me the willies. Shane McGowan too!

  34. Cyrptograms in particular is absolutely death-obsessed lyrically (and even musically — the band claimed the instrumental “Red Ink” was supposed to be a sonic evocation of what it’s like to be dead, which give me a fuckin’ break), but it’s a constant theme elsewhere too. “Helicopter,” for example, off the last one.

  35. trigmogigmo

    Who is…. Oh, that guy. Yeah. I don’t dig the hacky sack barefoot acoustic guitar vibe.

  36. machinery

    Actually the Jean Jacket is the reason.

  37. Radiohead. Just bums me out…I hear nothing enjoyable when they are playing…To me, it’s just a wash of muddy electronic sounds with whiny high pitched mewling over the top. And visually, I am CREEPed out by that lazy-eyed, Jackie Rodgers, Jr. – looking front-man, and his spastic, arrhythmic flopping about. I hear no melodies, hooks, beats…and have no idea what he is “singing” about 99% of the time. The whole presentation annoys and depresses me, and they’re popularity baffles me. They feel like a band that has garnered success more through people having been told they are cool to like, rather than the merits of their miserable music.

    Mel Gibson, starting after…I dunno, The Bounty, or The Road Warrior…whenever he got really, really famous…there was just something that I found unsettling about the guy…a barely concealed rage and contempt (&, no, this isn’t just with the benefit of hindsight – I always said this about him, esp. after he became a “celebrity”, and we saw more of him outside his roles in films). There was a mean-spirited vibe I got from him that made it harder and harder for me to enjoy any films in which he appeared.

    This has always been my favorite send-up of James Lipton’s fawning pretentiousness (it’s not Will Ferrell): http://youtu.be/BvFV8Oh5VHU

  38. Great, you find something to like (sort of…in a back-handed kinda way) in the precious dope who doesn’t know the meaning of “ironic”, but you’re ill at ease with Groucho Marx…who is fucking hilarious!…. AND really knew his way around verbiage! Baffling…

  39. I don’t think Gene Simmons is a good example. It’s his behavior and statements that are so distasteful, not a general unease that can’t be explained. Gene is just an asshole. It’s not a mysterious vibe he’s giving off. It’s like saying, “there’s something about that Pol Pot that just bothers me a little. Not sure what it is.”

  40. misterioso

    Eddie Vedder. But, Mod, for Chrissakes, how can you not think Groucho is brilliant? ‘Cause he was brilliant.

  41. misterioso, I don’t doubt that he was brilliant. The problem is, he simiply bugs me too much for me to judge it with my own ears and eyes.

    See, I’ve watched enough of those Marx brothers movies to know that I would be comfortable making a hipster case for the briliance of Harpo, the mute, blond-headed guy, right? He is cool. I even know there’s a HANDSOME Marx brother who’s more of a singer/ladykiller type, less of a knucklehead, right? With a few minutes’ research I could show up at a cocktail party with the likes of you and even make the case for his “subtle charms.” I just get a bad vibe from Groucho. I get this sense that the world doesn’t need him, at least my world doesn’t need him. I am CERTAIN that he’s a genius and everything else you guys want to say about him. I don’t know, Groucho just gives me a bad vibe. And that’s just the way I feel. Finding out how you feel about other characters in the world of film and music was what this thread was meant to be all about. I hope someday to actually have my personal Groucho Breakthrough Moment. You must know by now I’m nothing if not open minded.

  42. misterioso

    Does that mean you are open minded or that you are nothing? No, but really: in fact, the world does need Groucho. And if you are aren’t sure whether Harpo is “the mute, blond-headed guy” then I would suggest you probably haven’t watched enough of those Marx Brothers movies. “See, I’ve listened to enough of those Beatles records to make a case for George Harrison, the guitar playing guy, right? And there’s another one that plays guitar, too, isn’t there?” I mean, c’mon.

  43. Did you actually listen to enough Pearl Jam to pass judgment on Mr. Vedder? Come on, man, Groucho’s got millions of fans. Does he really need me to think he’s a genius too? Why do people get so pissed about me simply getting a bad vibe from Groucho? What does he stand for that’s so deeply felt by his admirers? What about all my other charitable works around here? All the Mad props I’ve sent out? I’m a good egg, ain’t I?

  44. I think Groucho is meant to give off a bad vibe: that is, if you’re the establishment. It is fairly obvious that Groucho expresses his class resentment is some really funny ways.

  45. mockcarr

    You don’t need to roast the Mod’s nuts for this, just by saying it’s a vibe, we can discount any real thought going it anyway. And his dismissal of comedy in rock supports his weakness in appreciating this genre.

  46. Oh, SNAP! Take that, Mod.

    The 99%

  47. misterioso

    My loathing of Pearl Jam is only partly related to EV’s bad vibing. They just suck in a big way. I am not going to play the “I’m open minded” card with them, either. As for being a good egg: I still have high hopes for you.

  48. schneids

    sounds like someone’s calling mod the establishment…

  49. So, Mod, YOU are the 1%! J’accuse!

    I’ve got a good mind to occupy RTH, dammit!

  50. Happiness Stan

    I’m with you on this one Mr Mod, but after forty years of trying am now fairly sure that the long hoped for Groucho breakthrough moment is not likely to arrive.

  51. Happiness Stan, that means a lot.

  52. Happiness Stan

    After maligning Helena Bonham-Carter the other day, I heard a radio documentary at the weekend which reminded me just how very much I dislike the work, (and personality behind the already dislikeable screen persona), of Charlie Chaplin, so I think I’d like to revise my nomination.

  53. Happiness Stan, I’m glad you revised that as I have had a long standing crush on HBC. I consider she and Kate Winslet to be an updated, British take on my Ultimate Axis of Hotness: Ingrid Bergman and Grace Kelly.

  54. Wow, I don’t mind Helena’s Look, cdm (although I think she’s a drain as an actor), but that’s some high class you’re putting her in. I can’t see her having any business with that UAH of yours, but who am I to say?

  55. I’m not saying that she is in the Ultimate UAH. I’m only saying that she represents the dark haired, less well behaved half of the more contemporary, third generation version of the UAH. And I can’t explain why but it is what it is.

  56. That makes sense. I can’t – and won’t – argue with your clarification.

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