Hollywood

Media-Thon Monday (6)

Hey, remember these? Media-Thon Monday has returned! What is Media-Thon Monday? Good question! Now, next time, raise your hand. MTM (as the cool kids call it) is a compilation of pop-culture finds that I think are interesting and worth sharing. So, without further ado, here… we… go!

That is a picture of a Drive-In theatre screen, FYI.

That is a picture of a Drive-In theatre screen, FYI.

Boy & Bear

My friend, Travis, sent me a link the other day (he lives in Australia). He likes to share good music when he comes across it. The band is Boy & Bear (from down-undah), and they are really, really great, especially their album Moonfire. For three days I thought the band was called Moonfire and the album Boy & Bear. Moonfire is the coolest name ever, so it was a little hard to get over.

I digress. Here is the first song off of Moonfire, “Lordy May.”

The Battle of Blockbusters

No, this isn’t about Blockbuster closing all their stores (though that is worth noting). It’s an interesting article I came across about similar themed movies coming out at the same time (think Armageddon and Deep Impact).

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Short Story: Reality Ace

A prologue to a short story I’m writing. Happy Short Story Saturday!!! (I just made that up). Warning: Rough language.

Prologue: Reality Ace

There’s no such thing as reality. Reality TV, that is. Viewers assume—we want them to; if not, we’d be on welfare—cameramen show up and start following strangers, like assholes.

No, no, honey. There’s contracts and lighting, and scripts. Have you ever seen a producer without a script? Me neither. When a producer’s involved you can bet there’s going to be a script. It’s going to be fake; that’s what you pay for—entertainment. It’s an industry, baby, and we don’t leave shit to chance.

A jungle, a deserted island, a cooking contest, it doesn’t matter. Reality TV is no better, no different than professional wrestling (sometimes, wrestlers wear more clothes); we know the winner (you know we do), and we know the outcome (you’ve got to know).

That’s what I do. Ace Jordan. I produce outcomes.

CBS, I started there. Every two years some new hotshot out of UCLA film studies guns for your job. So I ended up at NBC, but what did they know? Nothing, it turns out. A year later I moved on to basic cable with two offers: “Heels on the Hills,” (for lovers of rich, white suburban wife drama), and “Ghost Walk,” a run of the mill ghost hunters program.

I chose “Heels” for the paycheck, but it cancelled after three episodes. Pulling some strings, I found myself on the set of “Ghost Walk” as a location scout.

The show’s main producer, Jerry, told me the first season was filmed entirely in a studio. By season two the network asked him to branch out. 

“A real circus act,” says Jerry and it’s true. We’ve filmed in abandoned state hospitals and creaky old cabins—the locations, I find them all. It’s a shit job, but it’s mine, and I take it seriously. That’s the only way to get ahead: take your shit-job seriously.

Our indomitable hosts, Michael, Brad, and Aisla, are as good as any I’ve seen. On TV they’re touched, thrown down, and spoken to by entities. People ask me if I ever get scared while filming on location. I tell them that, often, we retake cuts due to crew laughter. Everything’s staged.

And honestly? Brad deserves an Oscar.

Tomorrow we head to Upstate New York, a little town outside of Rochester. (The worst part of canceling “Heels” and gaining “Walk” was the move from Los Angeles to New York. I’ve got a mouse-hole for an apartment, costing me what a three bedroom in the Valley did). There’s this old abandoned house in Pittsford I found—empty for nearly thirty years, the city is tearing it down—it’s perfect. We’re claiming it as the site of a 1942 family murder in Pennsylvania (that never happened) and interviewing fake neighbors for hire.

Ghosts are as fake as a Food Network cooking contest and I know the winner, the outcome. All I need is a paycheck and a way out, a way back to the Emmys.

Just give me a way out.

Suspension of Disbelief: Hollywood’s Fail on Marriage

Hollywood gets a lot of things right. Especially lately. Films are based in reality more than ever before. Case and point is the latest James Bond film, Skyfall. There were some things, obviously, that required a high suspension of disbelief for sure (surviving the fall off the train, the villain’s plans, etc.). But besides that, I’d say most of Skyfall was grounded in reality. Which besides Casino Royale, had never really happened before in the James Bond franchise.

Argo is another great film set it a realistic world. Sure, it was based on a true story which always helps. But that’s never stopped Hollywood before from changing just about everything to make the story more palpable and interesting. See: Any horror movie “based” on a true accounts. Argo was just real. It felt like you were watching the story as it was truly unfolding. It was grounded in reality.

But with marriage, man, they just don’t get it. I never noticed before I was married, but now every time I see a portrayal of married couple on the “big screen” I just shake my head.

That’s not what it’s like! That’s not what it’s about!

Hollywood writes marriage (and love for that matter) from the individual perspective. “How can I be fulfilled?” “What makes me most happy?” It’s like they’re writing about some unfamiliar foreign concept they’ve read about in books.

So here is my best example. Sure, it’s based on a mid-size indie film you probably haven’t heard of because it wasn’t that successful. It’s the 2011 film Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, starring Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt. First off, this movie is just not very good, so take that into account. But I bring it up because of how the story settles. Before I tell you what happens, make sure and read this review quote in the movie poster below. The one about it being a, “feel good charmer.”

(Spoiler) Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

So it’s a romantic movie that tries to bring together Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt. The problem is that he is married and she is committed to a soldier (who becomes a POW). At the end of the movie, they finally realize that they are in “love.” So Ewan leaves his wife and Emily leaves the soldier (literally the next day after he returns).

Ummmm, we’re supposed to feel good about this? As an audience member, I’m not sure I want to root for these people.

All they are doing is chasing their lusts and leaving their families. That’s not what marriage is about. It’s not what love is about. True love, marriage, and relationships, it’s about commitment. Long-term. Seeing through the selfishness and getting through to the other side.

This is what Hollywood doesn’t get right and probably never will. I guess that’s ok. As long as the viewer learns to see it for what it is. Fiction.

Unfortunately, the more we see this stuff acted out on the big screen, the more we become desensitized to this childish behavior. We accept it as true and normal.

I’m not saying married people should stop watching movies. I love the movies. I’m a film nerd for sure. What I’m saying is, may be we should be a little cautious of what we have become to accept as normal.

Modern cinema: based in reality, just not in relationships. It’s as if our suspension of disbelief has shifted away from giant explosions and cool gadgets, to what we now call a relationship.