Tuesday, March 30, 2010

On Coming Out and Career Revival Attempts

The other day I wrote about some out-of-work screenwriter trying to grab (or re-grab) his 15 minutes of fame by writing a non-apology for his role in bringing the cinematic debacle Battlefield Earth to the big screen (basically saying "it's not the movie I wrote!"). It was such an oddity I had to give my two cents on it, and it was in many parts an entertaining read.

Now, official has-been pop star Ricky Martin has just come out of the closet. To the uninitiated, that means he's announced that he's gay. The funny thing about it is, the general public kind of saw the writing on the wall a few years ago when Martin sired twins by a surrogate mom (i.e. "you're marketed the world over as a Latin sexpot, and yet you have to get a SURROGATE to carry your kids instead of placing them in a woman the old-fashioned way, which is what arguably millions upon millions of women would absolutely love for you to do? WTF?"), and several people who were even keener (e.g. Barbara Walters) saw it a lot earlier than that. So, frankly it's about as "newsy" as George Michael's coming out. Or Elton John's.

So why do it at all? Well, I haven't really been following the music scene a whole lot for the last several years, but it strikes me that this guy hasn't had a whole lot of hits since his first English language album was released over ten years ago. Maybe in the post-Adam-Lambert-coming-out climate Martin felt that the market would be more receptive to gay singers than they would to aging Latin pop stars. Apart from the fact that I'm pretty sure Lambert is a better singer than Martin is, the thing about Lambert is that he has work that is currently on the radar. Martin, outside of his usual Latin audience, has apparently fallen well below it. Had he outed himself at the zenith of his career or even after selling a moderately successful album I believe the applause at his candor would have been a lot louder, but now he's only a few notches, if at all, above the aforementioned Battlefield Earth screenwriter. Maybe he'll come up with a follow-up revelation that he isn't really gay once it emerges that no noticeable bump in the sales of his albums has occurred.

Scriptwriters deserve to get work based on their skill and musicians deserve to sell albums that provide a great listening experience; this promotion-by-controversy/ shocking revelation business is quite honestly depressing. I couldn't give two shits if Freddy Mercury slept with men ; he was a rock god. Neither do I care if Adam Lambert is gay; the man has a great voice and he isn't shy to use it. But as much controversy as they courted, at least they let their music do the talking the loudest.

Well, Martin doesn't appear to be getting a whole lot of Yahoo! hits so maybe people aren't quite the suckers I'd figured them to be.

An Open Letter to Google Ads

Dear Google,

I confess I don't really understand how your ad placement system works, but it strikes me that right now, it's not working very wqell.

After Manny Villar started polluting my blogspace (and just about every other space on the internet) I went to AdSense and clicked my preferences; I made it clear that I DON'T want political ads on my blog. It strikes me that I was ignored; the ads continued, and it strikes me that the only reason they even stopped is that Villar must have used up his "Net" time the same way he has come close to using up his TV air time. One reason I'm sure that this is the case is that Villar has since been replaced by another senatorial candidate, this time one of those mass-murderers from the era of martial law who has managed to perpetuate himself in the political system by jumping allegiance time and time again just like every other worm in elected office and who would now seek to do so with your help.

How archaic is your filtration system that you can't even detect a simple political campaign ad for what it is? What kind of money have the candidates dropped into your bank accounts that you can summarily ignore your subscribers' emphatic pleas to be free of politics in their blogs, which for people like me are often a haven from the trials and tribulations of daily life?

Please, if my recalibrating my preferences didn't say it clearly enough, please TAKE ALL THESE POLITICAL CAMPAIGN ADS OFF MY BLOG!


This Irate Blogger

Sunday, March 28, 2010

If You're Going to Own Up, then Own Up, for God's Sake...

A curious bit of entertainment-related news popped up today: there's a story in the New York Post which is described as an apology by J. D. Shapiro, one of the screenwriters of the 2000 film Battlefield Earth for...well, the movie itself, though one presumes he only referred to his role in getting it made. It must have been a major role, as he received an "award" in the form of a Golden Raspberry, also known as a "Razzie" for his work on what has been voted as the worst movie of the decade (the 2000s). Shapiro received the award personally, and while in the case of people like Sandra Bullock and Halle Berry one can say they're simply being good sports, in Shapiro's case it would appear that he showed up because at the time he had nothing better to do.

His apparent unemployment aside, the piece is an entertaining read at first, in which Shapiro starts out by confessing that he only ever got involved with Battlefield Earth author L. Ron Hubbard's Church of Scientology, and subsequently with the production of the film, because he wanted to get laid. There are a good number of chuckle-inducing passages on the way, and in some instances I even found myself laughing out loud.

Then, maybe about midway through the piece, the tone changes as Shapiro goes from blaming his dick for his participation in the production to blaming John Travolta and his people for overhauling his script. Now, I have no interest in defending this film but I have to say that if Shapiro had truly wanted to apologize for this movie he could not have picked a less sincere way to do it. Had he really wanted to tell everyone how sorry he was for even turning in a draft for what turned out to be a critically-reviled and commercially-shunned film he could easily have done so without resorting to the old "I wrote a different movie" chestnut. Instead, he seems to make the rather feeble suggestion that his draft would have made a better movie. The most he seems to apologize for from this point onwards is the fact that he even bothered to collect a paycheck for this film. As for writing it, however, Shapiro seems much more convinced that he had written a better movie than that which saw theatrical release.

Now, though I will take the trouble to point out that apart from Battlefield Earth this man seems to have no other screenwriting credits (or at least, none that a quick Google search could turn up), which would seem to suggest a desperate grab for attention here, but whatever his motives I think the real issue here is why Shapiro even bothered to preface his piece with the declaration that he had written the "suckiest" movie ever, considering that according to him, he didn't write the version everyone saw.

In this day and age of zero accountability (witness the execs of the Big Three who went to Washington with their begging bowls sometime last year and basically disavowed all responsibility for running their companies into the ground with their insistence on making, marketing and selling gas-guzzling pieces of junk) it would have actually been kind of refreshing to see a mea culpa, even if came kind of out of left field and was for a movie that everyone except the folks that award the Razzies has already chosen to forget (by no doubt suppressing their memories). It certainly got my attention, and if Google is to be believed, quite a number of other people's, too. Too bad it wasn't much of a mea culpa at all.

So really, if one wants to apologize, then one should APOLOGIZE, for the love of Pete, rather than make a ham-handed attempt to shift the blame to someone else mid-diatribe. Shapiro should just own up for his part in the disaster and then maybe the healing can begin. Assuming, of course there's even a ghost of a hope left for his screenwriting career...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Recycling Superheroes Part II (and Manny Villar is...Gone??? Thank God!)

I don't think it was even a year ago that I blogged about how Hollywood seems to be falling into the habit of recycling actors for roles in comic book movies. I guess the most dramatic possible illustration of how utterly insignificant my blog is to the folks over in Tinseltown is the fact that they have just done it again. Chris Evans, the actor who played Johnny Storm, aka the Human Torch of the Fantastic Four in the two rather unloved film adaptations of the comic-book, has just been cast to play Steve Rogers, aka Captain America in the upcoming feature film.

The sad thing about it is that I actually like Evans. I was willing to defend the second Fantastic Four movie and to a lesser extent the first one because of how perfectly cast he was as Johnny Storm (and how perfectly cast Michael Chiklis was as Ben Grimm, aka the Thing). When Twentieth Century Fox recently announced that they'd be rebooting the Fantastic Four film franchise I was genuinely hoping that he and Chiklis would be retained (though I also hoped that the Thing would be replaced with CG rather than his rubber makeup, which made him look like a pile of orange shit). I find his portrayal of Johnny Storm to be incredibly true to the character's comic book origin; he's cocky, he's a loud mouth, and he loves fast cars and hot women. Now, I don't know whether or not he has the acting chops to pull off a completely different comic book character in Captain America, and maybe he does, but as far as I'm concerned that's not even the point.

The point is that there are sooooo many actors out there, known and unknown, who could play any given role, including that of Captain America, that confining the choice to so very few as to include people previously cast as comic-book characters just feels like yet another symptom of Hollywood's collective lack of imagination. Evans, in particular, has starred in, apart from the Fantastic Four films, Push, a superpower-themed film, and is going to star in TWO comic-book based films this year alone.

Go ahead and make your comic-book movies with the same actor over and over again, Hollywood. Ask yourselves this, though; what would Iron Man have been like if Tobey Maguire had been given the role of Tony Stark, or what would Batman have been like if Christopher Reeve had been given the role of Bruce Wayne?

A little imagination can go a long way, please start showing some.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Aging Matinee Idols (and Manny Villar can eat my dog's day old shit)

It was weird watching the John Hughes tribute on the Oscars last night; though I hadn't seen all of the movies featured there I knew just about every one of the movie stars who appeared onstage to say some kind words about him, and even most of the actors who appeared in the clips that formed the montage of his body of work. And in those clips they were all so...very...young.

I was between ten and thirteen when most of the movies featured came out but I remember seeing those actors and basically figuring they'd never grow old.

Having seen so many of my actual friends die young, it's a bit of a paradigm shift to suddenly see people who seem to have abruptly grown old. I'm not talking about the people I see regularly, in person or on the big or small screen; watching them age before my eyes just as surely as they see me doing so before theirs is a markedly different experience from running into someone one hasn't seen for so many years and being hit in the face with the reality of age. I need no reminders of my own mortality, and in fact I find what I saw somehow oddly reaffirming; so much can happen between now and the day we die, and as long as we're alive it's largely up to us if what happens is good or bad.

In short, the tribute to John Hughes, to me anyway, had the desired effect; rather than mourn a death, the once-young icons who stepped up on the stage there on Oscar night ended up celebrating life. And as near as I could tell, they all looked their age, not all botoxed-up like Manny Villar.

Thank You Academy! (And DON'T vote for Manny Villar)

Having watched the 82nd Academy Awards earlier today, I wasn't treated to a whole lot of surprises as the people widely expected to win, well...did. It wasn't unlike seeing "Titanic" or "The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King" romp all over their rivals many years ago, though in this case the awards were slightly more evenly distributed over more films.

I won't spoil the winners for anyone who may blunder onto this blog post without having seen the show or read about the winners, but on a personal note I will say I was rather happy with the way the awards turned out.

Suffice it to say that just because the Academy had to cave in to pressure to make room among the Best Picture nominees for more...popular movies, they certainly haven't sacrificed their judgment when it comes to recognizing the movies they truly love. No, they stuck to their guns, and made a little bit of history in the bargain.

I'll say no more, but suffice it to say that this marks the dawn of a new day!

Friday, March 05, 2010

The Advertisement of the That Motherfucker Manny Villar

Several months ago I noticed a "monetize" option on my blog and recalled all of the wonderful stories I'd heard about people making money off their blogs. So I signed up for the program.

The thing of it is, this blog isn't particularly popular and I don't even have a whole lot of time to write it in it anymore, so I basically haven't been paid yet because it only gets remitted to me after the income reaches a specific critical mass. Well, next to nobody clicks on this thing, and the few people who do usually don't even comment (one of them insists on texting me instead), but I take some comfort knowing that I've earned x amount of cents at the very least.

But boy, the ad of Manny Villar that has been showing up regularly on my blog now for months really just pisses me off. It's the proverbial salt in the wound. I know and accept that people who write about useless, irrelevant shit make bucketloads of money through their blogs, and that some other somehow manage to get 15 minutes of fame because yahoo basically picks up their blogs for opinions on everything from fashion to events. I am okay with that; I'm okay that they're making money off their blogs and I'm not...but to see this asshole's mug smack in the middle of my blog actually discourages ME from posting on my own blog.

I can't stand Manny Villar. I think, based on what I've read and heard, that he's a liar and a thief and that there's a fair chance, if he's elected, that he will rape this country like no one ever has or ever will.

I've tried to call up the "monetize" option and take it off, but I really don't know how, so it's really frustrating.

If you guys at Google are reading this, please take this asshole's mug off my blog, even if it means losing ads. I'm not making any money off them anyway.

Yesterday I thought I'd found the solution; I clicked onto google ads and adjusted my preferences to exclude politics and current events. The next time I logged on I was pleased to see something else. Apparently, however, Villar's crew have found a way around this and have once again had Google reinsert his irritating face onto my blog. PLEASE, Google, recognize this bullshit as a political ad and BAR it from my blog!