Thursday, May 19, 2005

Playing to the audience

When evaluating the utterances and yawps of entertainer types, one must always keep in mind that these people are never off-stage. At least not in public. Perhaps not even in private. And their behavior and statements often seem deliberately geared towards offending or at the very least stimulating some degree of controversy. For one of the prime dictums in Hollywood is that even “bad” publicity is always better than “no” publicity.

My favorite scandal sheet, the New York Times, today features an article, “Latest 'Star Wars' Movie Is Quickly Politicized,” detailing the instant politicization of “Episode III - Revenge of the Sith." Mr. Lucas is credited with fueling the idea that the final offering in his trilogy twice over holds secret references to President Bush and the violence in Iraq:

… And just what was Mr. Lucas - who could not be reached for comment Wednesday - thinking when he told a Cannes audience that he had not realized in plotting the film years ago that fact might so closely track his fiction?

Alluding to Michael Moore’s remarks about "Fahrenheit 9/11" at Cannes a year earlier, Mr. Lucas joked, "Maybe the film will waken people to the situation."

Apparently in all seriousness, though, he went on to say that he had first devised the "Star Wars" story during the Vietnam War. "The parallels between what we did in Vietnam and what we're doing in Iraq now are unbelievable," he told an appreciative audience.

The audience is “appreciative” so why not give them what they want. And please don’t forget that “France is sometimes called the biggest blue state of all, after all.” How peachy. Open the film at Cannes, follow in the gravitationally-challenged Mr. Moore’s most ample foot steps – depth-wise if not otherwise – and you’ll have them eating out of your hand while they fill your pockets and sing your praises. What more could anyone ask for? Respect, maybe? In the form of a papal ring for them to kiss?

My first experience with being literally stunned by an entertainer playing to a specific audience was a number of years back when I witnessed Whoopi Goldberg performing in front of an all-black group during a BET special. Every joke, every quip, nearly every word was about “whitey.” That was her shtick for this audience. Play to their prejudices, their hostilities, to all the pent-up resentments they must certainly have because they are black. You are black and they want to hear you say it. Over and over again. Victimology, race-bating and a good time all rolled into the neat, but again, not-so-small package of Ms. Whoopi.

But leave it to the NYT to successfully reach for and grasp the absurd with the following wee bit of moviedom’s inner workings:

As a rule, Hollywood studios go to great lengths to ensure that their projects - both in the development stage and especially when they are positioned in the marketplace - are free of messages that could be offensive to any great swath of the movie-going public. Like, say, people who vote for one political party or the other.

That would have been closer to the truth if they left it at “…are free of messages.”

Peter Sealey, a former marketing chief at Columbia Pictures, who teaches entertainment marketing at the University of California, Berkeley, at the end of the article notes:

… that a Universal Pictures marketing executive had given a lecture to his marketing class about "King Kong" which is coming out later this year. “Is there a political overtone to it?” Mr. Sealey said. “I suspect he's got to think that through today. The political sensitivities are so great that you have to take that calculus into consideration. Is somebody going to read into ‘King Kong’ that it's pro-Iraq, or it's going to get PETA upset?”

PETA may get upset over “King Kong”? Are the inmates really running the asylum? More importantly, do we really need another King Kong movie?

I prefer Fay Wray any day.


ETA 1506 zulu

More on this from FASTFAC - Who, by the way, really was a top gun as well as a combat instructor pilot in Vietnam:

Anyone who believes that Vietnam and Iraq are parallel 4-dimensionally displaced twins of each other has their creative and intellectual heads up their collective asses! Sorry...might be a bit strong for an opener.

Lets see...similarities, similarities....

...Iraq and Vietnam invited us (pleaded for us to help) was only Vietnam. Pleading for freedom in Iraq meant the excision of your tongue...starting somewhere in the groin area
...Iraq is two countries (Iraq North and Iraq South) is only Vietnam
...Iraq and Vietnam are/were governed by religious fanatics sucking up to a despot who didn't give a Vietnam...well...okay, we all do some sucking!
...I have it, Vietnam was "invaded" by the U.S. under the Republican was Iraq (does either Michael or George remember the names and party affiliations of previous Presidents?)
...Are people dying every day in hopes of finding their "freedom"...Yes! That's one.
...Should we be proud that America backs up its principles with action...damn betcha!

'nuff said.

No, just one more thing. . . Check six.



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