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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Morally Reprehensible Media . . . Beyond Your General Threshold

Let me start with the bottom line: Image is not the person. Your worth does not come from it.

Here's the backdrop:
I happened upon a Today Show spot last week for NBC's upcoming Kate Middleton-Prince William wedding coverage. Not having caught the bug, the media manipulation's been coming off rather heavy-handed. Even desperate. In an ever-growing world of inputs and outlets, those of us with [nearly] fully developed frontal lobes know to shift focus elsewhere as needed. But even from a position of primary indifference, things in the media can still hit like a slap in the face. And this particular promo slapped me.

The scene: a little girl, 7-9 years old, in the lap of her (perhaps) grandfather, narrating to him from a large print, childlike fairy tale picture book about Kate & William and the Royal Wedding. An unnatural light, a purple-magenta cast tinged the scene, and then a star wipe transitioned it out, Disney magic style, leading to the real pomp & circumstance commercial.

Media saturation? Fine--expected. Targeting children, trying to sell little girls an interest in this wedding? Beyond the pale.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Grin and Bear It: Film Is As Film Does

I really feel for actors. It's gotta hard out there for them. Having extraed in some post-Katrina productions while in La. to get set experience years ago, when back in NY, I signed up to receive casting notices with the same idea in mind--set exposure. However, with a full-time day job and only being suitable for about 1% of the already demographically filtered notices, it was never going to work out. I turned off the NY notices when I left the coast, but in March-April, the Middle States breakdowns started coming in heavier than in the previous several months combined.

In following with my Death of Story, it doesn't escape me that casting notices, as brief as they are, can tell a lot of about the writing, characters, and mindsets behind the scenes. Those at the helm.

As a sample, demographically filtered (i.e. female, post-college, pre-motherhood, ethnicity open):

Saturday, April 16, 2011


I read of review--no, a talk piece for the authors triggered by the latest news broadcast movie Morning Glory. It starts: "Morning Glory is no Broadcast News, but . . ." The first part is correct. The rest, inconsequential. You can fill in your own "but." Morning Glory is no Broadcast News.

. . . But . . .
it's a story about an underdog fighting for a pursuit she believes in when few do.
But it's a story about a man caught between his sense of principle and legacy and the fluff of modern "news."
But it's about compromise. Making choices.
But but but . . .

Within the first 10 minutes, the writer plants this seed: "You had a dream. Great. When you were 8, it was adorable. When you were 18, it was inspiring. At 28, it's officially embarrassing. And I just want you to stop before we get to heartbreaking." From mother to daughter. This is your main character's obstacle. The hook.

Within a few scenes of this, you'll know everything that's going to come in the movie. Actually, you already know from the trailer alone. But these lines were so simply poignant that I couldn't help but want to go where the story wanted to take me.

Monday, April 11, 2011

I'm Not Here

I created this as a sort of video version of a redirect script from my defunct YouTube channel.

I think it's totally cute.

I've decided on the name O for my stick figure character ("O" the letter, not zero the number).

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

The Death of Story: Part 2

It shouldn't be any surprise that Story is dead. We live in a time of soundbites, not communication. Of informing, not sharing. People only care about page rank, not whether their content warrants it. Unbalanced paltry fragment-writers consider themselves Journalists. Or Writers. It's as clear as day that Story is dead.

Contrary to what the internet may present, Writing is not just an effusion of thoughts without any sense of structure or cohesion or completeness. Writing and Story have a theme that is supported by all its component parts: character or fact and events.

Imagine a 5-minute scene of a family merely filling a dishwasher and talking about just that and only that: filling a dishwasher. Now know that this scene actually appears in a movie. A drama. An "indie" drama. What story does this scene tell you? What overall story do you imagine it's in the aid of telling?

Picture a slow-motion hot dog bikini fight. In a film about robots or Mars or baseball. What story do you imagine that's meant to tell?

The story I get from both of these is that the filmmaker/writer lacks self-editing. A) Your life is not a film. B) Your boyhood or adult fantasies are tangential filler.

Monday, April 04, 2011

In the Era of Snooki, Perhaps I Expect Too Much

The Death of Story

Everything you know and love, going the way of the dodo . . .

In the era of Snooki, perhaps I expect too much. Nothing against Snooki. I wish anyone who happens to find success continued success--as long as it's not to the detriment of others. The insidiousness of celebutants might be debatable, but I find it hard to begrudge anyone's *moment* in the spotlight. Not even the Olive Garden brand of performers out there: Enticing packaging, Insipid product. (Yes, Olive Garden is the epitome of big scale American commercial mediocrity. I said it.)

Where substance is lacking, I quickly stop paying attention. So, yes, let them all have their day in the sun. They are just a symptom, not the problem.

My lament is not about Snooki nor the current breed of pantless figurehead songstresses who are selling nothing substantive, just their legs. No, my lament is that . . . Art is dead. Entertainment, on its death bed. Writing, moribund. And I find it all to be terribly depressing. The way a Vaudevillian in the 1920s and 30s must have found watching everything he/she knows and loves die a slow death.

Vaudeville theater, c. 1900

I've pondered it and I reject the idea that I expect too much. I expect exactly what any consumer or artist should: quality and richness.

"A depressed guy smoking a cigarette is not a film." –Family Guy
90 minutes cobbled around 1 stellar scene is also not a film

My friend Steven Boone has had a beef with film editing of the past decade: e.g. start a film in the midst of an event and then progress with standard storytelling AFTER that scene (prime example: *The Dark Knight* or the currently airing *Kennedys* miniseries which follows this schema to near incoherence). He describes modern cinema as feats of engineering, spectacles of technology. My beef is MUCH more basic than that though on the same continuum. My beef is with the loss of writing. The muddling of storytelling.