On tap this week:
— The IMDB thought experiment
— Celebrity Criminal Standards
— Conservative or liberal?
And slightly much more!
“Mos Eisley spaceport. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious.” – Obi-Wan Kenobi, Star Wars
If discourse has gone from good to horrid because of the power of the internet, then the bottom of the barrel has to be the Internet Movie Database (IMDB.com). Nothing else can describe just how amusing, and how awful, “conversations” on IMDB are. But I had no idea how ugly they could be until I was doing some preliminary research for my I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell review.
It’s not that I was unaware of Tucker Max and his debacles; I had presumed someone either ripped off the title of the book or he had finally sold out and a major studio was behind it. Imagine my shock when I saw that Tucker had actually written the thing and devoted a whole blog to its production. It was actually kind of heartening as Mike Noyes and I are working on a project together and to see someone else coming from similar circumstances to getting his vision on the screen is something. It’s the culmination of a dream he’s probably had for a long time and I can’t disparage a man for wanting his vision of the world as he sees fit.
I think it’s great he’s able to eek out a living writing a blog and selling books about continuing to live the life that has made him internet famous. More power to him, I suppose, for being able to pull it all off and the film’s astounding lack of success is proof that perhaps this whole notion of being internet famous doesn’t quite compare to actually being able to put asses in seats. The power of the web is that there is a vast audience out there, waiting for new and exciting content. The problem is that it’s free, and when you give people so much for free that when it comes time to get them to buy things it ends up turning them off. Why buy the cow when you get the sex for free, right? Especially when the movie was terrible, probably the worst comedy of the year; it provides credence to the notion that maybe just following the web site is a bit easier then paying cash for a two hour experiment in independent film-making. The fact that he got his vision on the screen is awesome. So I decided to follow the board after I posted the review, if only to see the storm that would follow the film’s opening. And, seeing the venom from both sides, I decided to poke the beast a bit.
Here’s what I posed. Nothing obscene or negative, just some numbers to stoke the fire a bit. And OH BOY did I do it. I was quite impressed at how much negativity came out from one posting of the early box office numbers.
But the more impressive thing was the vitriol, about a year in the making, has been just on this one board. And as I glance through the rest of IMDB, the sort of crass level of communication I see is amazing. I read a paper in a philosophy course on the nature of communication and how it coarsens through each lessening wall of anonymity, as face to face offers the ability to react while the further detached we are the more powerful we feel in how we can insult people. The web offers us this amazing ability to communicate to people we never could meet without it; I find it amazing that a chucklehead like myself can be friends with Danny, Travis and Noyes because 30 years ago I never would’ve met them based on geographic location.
For all the good the web does, it does have a dark side. Much like duct tape and The Force, I’m afraid, but then again it’s thoughts like these that kept me out of the good colleges.
Random Thoughts of the Week
You know what amuses the heck out of me? The treatment Hollywood is according to one of its own in the case of famed director, and legendary lady killer, Roman Polanski. And, especially in light of the way Michael Jackson was practically sainted after his death, we need a way in order to truly evaluate whether or not a celebrity has committed a crime. And I know what you’re thinking. “Scott, you handsome goon, isn’t getting a 13 year old drunk and messed up on Quaaludes so you can violate her in graphic sexual terms a bit wrong? And not just legally, but morally?”
Listen to me now and believe me later.
If people from Marty Scorsese to Whoopi Goldberg are saying that drugging and then sexually assaulting a minor child is ok as long as you’re talented, or that being a pedophile is ok as long as you can make an album as good as “Thriller,” then we need to craft a scoring system in which entertainers can have their crimes excused based on their commonly acknowledged level of talent.
In any sane, logical world filled with things like moral clarity and solid reasoning slipping a child a pill while plying her with booze in order to drop her defenses so you can defile every orifice of her body against her will would be the most brazen, disgusting thing one can do. Well, other then cheer for the Patriots. But we don’t have time for irrelevant garbage like rational thought in this discussion!
Not even for Chris Rock’s insightful commentary:
Now I don’t want to debate the merits of the case or assign guilt to the man; that is for the state of California. I will say that Polanski pleaded guilty and has not recanted his guilt in the three decades since he left American shores. His innocence is not in question here, unlike the marginal case of Jackson’s innocence, and James Bernadelli of Reelviews sums it up the best in his assessment of the situation:
“My opinion of Polanski hasn’t changed in the last week. It’s the same as it was many years ago when I learned the details of his life. He’s an immensely talented filmmaker who has led a tragic existence but who has gone unpunished for the drugging and rape of a 13-year old girl. The new thing here is how many people I respect have gone out of their way to excuse this man’s crime and, in some cases, to argue that there was no crime at all. It’s the petition that saddens me because it says something about those who signed that I would prefer not to believe.”
If we’re going to excuse a man or woman’s crimes based on their chosen profession in Hollywood we need something that tells us how to judge their soon to be heinous acts. Hence this week’s contribution:
The One and Only Kubryk Celebrity Justice Scale
How does the scale work? Easy. You can get away with crimes based on your combined level of talent and success, weight 71.345% for the former and the remainder on the latter, multiplied by the angle of the dangle and factoring in a leveled amount for overall fame. One’s Q factor is, for purposes of this scale, considered a non-factor in that everyone in Hollywood has at least some level of popularity for this scale. Since Polanski has had a vigorous defense, despite not really being commercially successful, we can safely presume that one’s ability to make art is more important then a studio and distributor’s ability to sell it. The scale has five levels based on Polanski’s diddling of a tween as well as some good old-fashioned fun with celebrity antics:
5. “The Michael Bay Memorial Category”
You are nominally talented but your success factor is so incredibly huge that you are mega famous. Like Megan Fox and her puppet master, Michael Bay. In fact, he’s the perfect candidate for this spot because “haterz” are now trying to find the people who framed Snoop Dogg for murder so they can take Bay out of the spotlight for a couple years. Or at least prevent him from making another series of crappy films from ‘80s toys.
Bay is remarkably successful yet not very talented as a story-teller, perhaps on purpose, so if he gets caught hip deep in a 13 year old he’s going to be on the receiving end in prison for a long time. This is the “we can replace you with someone off the street” type. Is there someone right out of film school who couldn’t kick back and make Transformers 3: The Search for More Money a monster success based on the slick advertising and sheer amount of explosions that will over stimulate the average teenage boy’s mind? You bet your ascot.
4. “Channing Tatum’s Personal Assistant”
You can be marginally talented but be able to pick the right choices in terms of roles and films, thus winding up being Channing Tatum. Always on the cusp of stardom, but never good enough to really get it, if you hit this then you could avoid jail but will never be in Hollywood again. You’ll end up working with the guy who was Donna’s abusive boyfriend in Beverly Hills 90210 and exchanging stories about how you finger-banged her in a boutique on Rodeo drive.
3. “Lindsay Lohan’s Crash Test Dummie”
You have immense talent but seemingly blow it with awful choices, or have great choices but not enough talent to really exploit the opportunity. It’s like being Ryan Phillippe in Breach or Val Kilmer in Tombstone. Either way it’s painfully obvious you don’t fit in to the picture but inexplicably you’re there, making Kurt Russell look like a pedestrian or letting Chris Cooper outclass you.
You’d fit in like Rob Lowe in Thank You For Smoking, i.e. the guy who hits it out of the park in very limited doses but never gets a bigger part. Lowe himself was on the short list of actors to be the next big thing when he was caught having sex with a minor on videotape in 1988 at the Democratic National Convention that ended up nominating Michael Dukakis. That should’ve been a warning sign as the only place worse then that would’ve been if it had been during the Republican Convention during the Gingrich years. Granted Newt is the same guy who served his wife divorce papers while she was dying of cancer in a hospital, but this was before the hypocrisy of politicians was taken seriously.
You can survive humping a teenager, like Rob did, except you burn down the role to be anything but are stuck in the middle; talented enough to get jobs but too much of a pariah to go any higher.
2. “Jeremy Piven’s Food Taster”
You are a Golden Globe and Emmy nominee and can survive a scandal, but never reach the top of the summit. You’ll always be the really talented guy who outshines a bunch of young, overachieving actors but never quite destroys it on the big screen like Ari Gold in Entourage. You can be the big fish in a small pond or a big fish with a number of bigger fish, but are never the alpha dog. You are Jeremy Piven, or his equivalent, and a scandal like this isn’t the end of the world.
Why? You can have a big scandal and survive, but you’ll always be the second banana. Your fan base is big enough and you are still successful, but a big chunk of the audience will never forgive you so you will always have to ride someone else’s coattails to the top. You’re either a first tier B-list kind of cat or a bottom rung A-list gal. It’s the equivalent to being Matt Damon in the Ocean’s 11; he was a burgeoning star at that point but it still took a while before you could view him as a legitimate equal to Clooney and Pitt. They were stars, he was the support staff.
1. “That guy who tweaked Christian Bale mid-set in the same room as Robert Downey Jr’s coke dealer”
You can walk into a crowded room, open fire with a machine gun while wearing a bunny suit smeared in feces and you’ll still be beloved by your peers and most of your fan base, too. Johnny Depp could be caught with a bed full of teenagers, all high on Mescaline and dressed like Playboy bunnies alternately dancing on a makeshift stripper pole made up of unskilled, naked migrant workers dog-piled on one another while smeared in ground up rhino horn, and have Marty & Woody signing a petition that would advocate for his release unconditionally because it’s a moral crime. And Whoopi Goldberg would call it not “rape-rape” in the same manner she’d probably excuse Mel Gibson for not really being an Anti-Semite because his dues for the Klan haven’t been paid on time for a couple years.
A Movie A Week – The Challenge
This Week’s Film – An American Carol
The death of satire in film has come from Hollywood making a more direct stance in what it thinks and believes, as opposed to using the whole notion of allegory and spoof to make a point. We’ve seen over the years that liberals have had their fun, now we get to see conservative satire. And boy it’s just as bad.
The film follows the tale of Michael Malone (Kevin Farley), a filmmaker who is a thinly veiled spoof of portly Oscar winner Michael Moore. Trying to abolish the 4th of July, as it goes against his “principles” to celebrate it, he goes through a changing process ripped straight from A Christmas Carol. Visited by three ghosts, including Kelsey Grammer as George S Patton, who teach him the value of Americana, Malone’s anti-Americanism and dislike of anything American come into question as he learns his lesson.
And apparently conservatives haven’t figured out the same lesson that liberals haven’t in terms of making political spoof comedies. Instead of actually being funny, the film knows the audience that is going to see it and does the over the top joke. It’s the equivalent of making the “hot dog in a hallway joke” about a woman, and then following it up with “because you’ve had so much inside you that you probably wouldn’t feel it” or something along those lines. The whole film is full of them; the potential for comedy is insanely high in the film and it goes for the easy joke, as opposed to the good one.
Recommendation to avoid.
What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 Pints of Bass Ale and community college co-eds with low standards at the Alumni Club
Couples Retreat – An all star group of mismatched couples go to a retreat to learn how to be better couples.
Skip it – Everything about this film reeks of being another dumb, vapid, generic comedy.
Do you have questions about movies, life, love, or Branigan’s Law? Shoot me an e-mail at Kubryk@Insidepulse.com and you could be featured in the next “Monday Morning Critic.” Include your name and hometown to improve your odds.
Scott Sawitz is an Inside Pulse original. He's also been featured on The Ultimate Fighter.com, Fox Sports.com, Nerdcore Movement.com, CagePotato.com, Inside Fights.com and Film Arcade.net (among others). When Scott isn't writing about film he's making his own. Check out Drunk Justice Productions right here.