Since 1952, there have been just six men to voice Big Tex, the towering cowboy who serves as emcee, cultural ambassador, and drunk-friend-collection zone at the State Fair of Texas. They were fine men all, with booming baritones well suited to the job of bellowing “Howdy, folks!” and the occasional reminder to wash your hands. But they weren’t exactly what you would call versatile. Not one of them was capable of flowing from soulful jazz to cosmic funk to announcing the start of the pig race. Couldn’t we let Big Tex’s stiff, semi-articulated jaw swing a little? Isn’t it time he’s voiced by Erykah Badu?
Dallas culture blog Central Track recently stumped for the city’s very own queen of neo-soul, pointing to Badu and Big Tex’s shared affinities for their hometown and enormous hats, plus the fact that Badu’s four Grammys more than qualify her for the gig. Unfortunately, their nomination arrived a tad late: open auditions had already ended to find a replacement for the late Bob Boykin, with the fair reportedly sifting through hundreds of submissions. Still, that didn’t stop the launch of this Change.org petition demanding she be considered. Nor did it stop Badu from lobbying hard for the role, giving a little video taste of what she might bring to Big Tex—including bizarro harmonizer effects, some drum-machine-backed freestyling, and a thoroughly modern gender fluidity.
Badu also slipped some messages about proper social distancing and chicken-leg rationing into her patter, something that may prove prophetic for this year’s fair, which—if it happens at all—would likely be dramatically altered by coronavirus-related restrictions. All in all, it promises to be a disconcerting, if not vaguely dystopian, experience. Why not just lean into the weirdness?
Woody Harrelson Gets Freaky As a Cartoon Cowboy
In slightly more conventional casting news, Midland’s own Woody Harrelson will lend his voice to another tall (if decidedly more stoned) cowboy in The Freak Brothers, an animated adaptation of seminal underground comic The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers. First published in Austin newspaper The Rag in 1968, the comic from Houston artist Gilbert Shelton chronicled the dazed, drug-addled misadventures of three hippies living on the fringes of the counterculture. The new cartoon finds them waking up from a fifty-year nap induced by a particularly potent strain of marijuana, only to discover that while weed is now legal across much of the country, society has otherwise harshed its collective mellow in myriad other ways. For instance, the debut mini-episode finds the group dismayed to learn that KFC changed its original recipe, leading them to confront the man who’s hoarded all the best chicken for himself: Donald Trump.
Harrelson’s Freewheelin’ Franklin Freek is joined by John Goodman’s Fat Freddy Freekowtski, Pete Davidson’s Phineas T. Phreakers, and Tiffany Haddish as the voice of Freddy’s cat. The show is currently in search of a network—presumably a lawless streaming one, where all the NSFW language and copious drug references will actually fly.
Hilary Duff Hosts Lizzie McGuire Reunion, Readies Younger Spinoff
The reboot of Hilary Duff’s tween juggernaut Lizzie McGuire remains in limbo, with the creators still at odds with Disney Plus over just how “adult” an adult version of Lizzie McGuire could be. But in the meantime, the original cast did a live script-read for charity, with the Houston actress reuniting with her fictional friends and family on Zoom to perform “Between a Rock and a Bra Place”—an episode that also once ran afoul of Disney censors thanks to its “bra-centric storyline.” Corporate parents can be so lame.
While Duff waits to see whether Disney will ever let her live, Deadline reports that she could be moving on to her own series at TV Land. The network is weighing a spinoff based on Duff’s character on Younger, a twentysomething book editor who, in the most recent season, became the head of a millennial-focused publishing company. And while there are no details on what that spinoff might look like—particularly as Younger revolves around a middle-aged Sutton Foster pretending to be a twentysomething—at the very least it would allow Duff to play a woman who’s (roughly) her own age, someone who’s allowed to date boys, stay up late, and wear bras whenever she wants.
SXSW’s Virtual Cinema to Launch on Oculus
South by Southwest continues to find new online venues for all its stranded and scattered content, with the entries for the Virtual Cinema competition now set to debut on Oculus TV. Seven virtual-reality projects will stream May 22–31 on the platform, allowing users to immerse themselves in 360-degree renderings of far-flung locales and even other people’s lives—two experiences that are in short supply at the moment. From the relative comfort of your headset, you can wander through a 3-D model of the fire-ravaged Notre Dame cathedral, visit the Japanese city of Fukushima a decade after it was swept by nuclear fallout, and even spend time with an eccentric 89-year-old entrepreneur at a nursing home. While these escapes may not sound particularly enticing, they certainly beat looking at your living room.
Post Malone Makes His Own Wine
Through his collaborations with Bud Light and Doritos, Grapevine rapper Post Malone has already established himself as a bit of a gourmand, one whose epicurean tastes are as tailored for gas station parking lots as are his musical ones. But now he’s ready to slip on his finest Crocs and, in his own words, “get a little fancy.” Malone’s latest foray into self-branding is his very own wine—a French rosé he’s dubbed Maison No. 9, after his favorite tarot card, the Nine of Swords. That card typically depicts a person sitting up in bed, visibly distraught, symbolically pierced with swords that represent his or her own pain and fear. So, not unlike a typical 3 a.m. after guzzling rosé.
Sourced from a small vineyard in the south of France (the same one glimpsed in Malone’s video for “Saint-Tropez”), Maison No. 9 is described as a light pink, Provencal-style wine where “ripe pineapple, pear and strawberry meet hints of sweet French desserts,” then presumably smoke Camels and fight. You can expect to have your own run-ins with it quite often: not only will Maison No. 9 be the only wine served at Malone’s gigs, his business partner has grand aspirations to see it become “the Bud Light of rosé,” a sobriquet that might have once been lobbed as an insult in the pre-Malone era.
THIS WEEK IN MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY
Matthew McConaughey has become our state’s most visible, most vocal proponent for staying home, staying responsible, and staying cautiously optimistic amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, even the actor recognizes that these views have become somehow controversial. This ideological war between the mask-haves and masked-nots is yet another deeply politicized rift in a fractious America, and this week McConaughey turned his attention to healing it through a brand-new PSA. This time around, it’s a simple montage of farmlands, fighter jets, and flag-waving children set to a medley of ultra-patriotic songs, all ending with a shot of masked doctors and construction workers, and the reminder that “This is not about politics. It’s about us.”
its about us pic.twitter.com/SRIajbQcx7— Matthew McConaughey (@McConaughey) May 11, 2020
McConaughey also brought his message of unity to the two networks that, arguably, have done the most to divide us in the first place. Appearing on both CNN and Fox News, the increasingly weary-looking actor lamented how our sense of shared purpose has lately been “hijacked” by partisan politics. As McConaughey told Fox’s Bret Baier, “This is a tug of war with the virus, and we need all hands on the rope if we’re going to beat it.” He also urged everyone to think of the mask as a “badge of honor,” rather than an act of political propaganda, one that symbolizes a country joining forces against a common enemy. It’s another sensible appeal from one of our most universally loved celebrities—and although we can no longer seem to agree on science or social responsibility, maybe we could come together over not wanting to put more stress on Matthew McConaughey? Look at him, man. The guy deserves a break.