Mickey Rourke’s ‘Masked Singer’ Tantrum Is the Perfect Metaphor for Cursed Times 1

This is a preview of our pop culture newsletter The Daily Beast’s Obsessed, written by senior entertainment reporter Kevin Fallon. To receive the full newsletter in your inbox each week, sign up for it here.

This week:

  • In a real soggy-bottom mood.
  • The Masked Singer is terrorizing me.
  • Dolly Parton may save us all.
  • But not if Carole Baskin ruins us first.
  • Something that made me laugh a lot!

Mickey Rourke, The Masked Singer, and America

I desperately try not to engage with The Masked Singer. But like the bill collectors for that gym in Astoria I joined 10 years ago and never canceled my membership to, the show somehow always finds a way to find me.

Listen, the series is exceedingly dumb, no matter how much the critics I respect insist its patent absurdity perfectly pairs with our cursed times, no matter how impressive the costuming may be, and no matter how quickly I will YouTube all the clips if I found out that “Lips” from this season is, as some suspect, Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Lisa Rinna.

I have found myself in this last year watching more reality TV competitions than ever before, and it is in fact that over-produced lameness of so many of them that make them appealing distractions. But not this one. I can’t.

Still, the show’s lineup of feathered, fluffed, and maniacal characters is pop culture’s manifestation of the various sleep paralysis demons that haunted me from ages 9 to 33. No matter how hard I try to fight them off or turn away from them, there they are forcing my eyes open, terrorizing me into attention.

This week, in a first for the show, the eliminated contestant “unmasked” himself. Even for this show, it was an exceptionally bizarre sequence. After performing a rendition of “Stand By Me” by Ben E. King, “The Gremlin” started pulling at his mask and demanding that “I want to take this off right now,” complaining, according to host Nick Cannon, that “it’s too damn hot.”

And so while the judging panel loses its mind over the unscripted chaos, “The Gremlin” is helped out of his elaborate costume, revealing that it was, almost implausibly, 68-year-old star of The Wrestler Mickey Rourke underneath.

In a short interview after the hullabaloo, a sweat-drenched Rourke drolly explained to Cannon why, tantrum notwithstanding, he did the show in the first place. “I was in the neighborhood,” he said. “I do like the show. I watched like four episodes when they asked me, ‘Would you be interested?’ So I watched, like, from the very beginning and all that shit.”

And that’s it. He cut ties with the show immediately after and eschewed all of the typically extensive post-unmasking press responsibilities. And you know what? I get it.

Is there a more accurate channeling of the fuck-this-shit vibes of today than a cantankerous celeb begrudgingly taking part of the dog-and-pony show of what mainstream America has misguidedly ruled as “good,” realizing how truly terrible the experience is, and then being like “it’s too hot, screw this” and walking off in anarchy, expectations be damned? Was Mickey Rourke on The Masked Singer actually a searing piece of topical performance art? Or is the most telling thing about it how America has gone beyond the capacity for such metaphor?

I guess the point is that I never want to watch this show again/stay tuned for my take on whatever happens next week.

A Christmas Miracle, If We Make It to Christmas

A Christmas musical produced by and starring Dolly Parton is coming to Netflix this November with Christine Baranski, Jenifer Lewis, and former So You Think You Can Dance legend Jeanine Mason also starring and Debbie Allen directing.

The plot of the film is not, believe or not, “Kevin Fallon had a dream once and now it’s come true and he’s going to cry for 90 minutes about how beautiful it is and it turns out that the universe is actually good, God is real, and she’s got Dolly Parton’s epic tits.”

Evidently it is an It’s a Wonderful Life-inspired story in which a domineering rich lady played by Baranski (Pulitzer Prize for casting) returns to her quaint hometown to evict all the charming people who live there and develop a mall on the land. And right before Christmas, too! Would you believe that the warm spirit of the townspeople, and the guiding voice of an actual angel (Dolly Parton, duh) changes her mind?

Anyway, the only reason to want to live past Election Day hits Netflix Nov. 22.

The Tiger King. Err…I Mean Lion King.

Earlier this week, as inevitable as if it was written in the ancient scrolls, Carole Baskin performed a samba on Dancing With the Stars to “Circle of Life” from The Lion King while dressed as an actual lion. It ranks among the most lunatic things I’ve seen on that show—that’s a high bar—and the notorious Tiger King star was eliminated.

Not hours later, Variety reported that Barry Jenkins (Moonlight) will direct a sequel to The Lion King, a follow-up to the uncanny valley “live-action” remake of the Disney cartoon that made a few trillion dollars last year.

Coincidence? Cross-promotion? Carole Baskin’s Nala audition? Violent attempt at murdering my last two remaining brain cells? Who could say.

The Best Thing on the Internet This Week

Sex and the City, with more pussy.

What to watch this week:

Dick Johnson Is Dead: The best movie of the year. (Friday on Netflix)

One Day at a Time: The new season on CBS for you to watch! (Monday on CBS)

Schitt’s Creek: The season now on Netflix for you to watch! (Wednesday on Netflix)

The Good Lord Bird: Ethan Hawke maniacally screaming is always a good thing. (Sunday on Showtime)

Saturday Night Live: Live, in-studio, with an audience! Also Jim Carrey as Biden! (Saturday on NBC)

What to skip this week:

The Walking Dead: The World Beyond: A show’s title should never be a metaphor for its quality. (Sunday on AMC)