Who whores out the whoremen?


It was an implicit assumption in reading this you believe I am better than every other movie critic who ever lived. Read the fine print.
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Reported on 7th of May, 2011

It was an implicit assumption in writing this that I am better than every other movie critic who ever lived (you, by reading same, have given your tacit agreement to the above statement. Read the fine print).

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This is not due any intelligence or wit on my part; after all, I was not the one who came up with Death Camp For Cutie, or Sex And The City 2 as the greatest science fiction film ever made. I obviously wish I had, but my brain is not that big. Fortunately for my ego, it is small enough to think that it could have come up with those bits. Nor is my ability to fool myself the reason I am better than then every movie critic who ever lived. I am better than every movie critic that ever lived for the simple fact that I see movies, and critics don’t.

No, I’m not accusing Mr. Roger Ebert of fast-forwarding over the dull parts of Your Highness and giving it a bad review (or fast-forwarding over the dull parts of Meek’s Cutoff and giving it a good review); if I was a movie critic, and I am, this is exactly what I would do if given the opportunity. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve reached for the imaginary TiVo remote during the part when we hear about how his father was sad, and so he’s sad, or her sister needs forgiveness so she has to kill that robot. I imagine the people behind me, especially those in the UK, are especially confused by the man making the ‘be-boop, be-boop, be-boop’ (to be read aloud in increasing pitch) sound. For those of you in our lovely third-world country who have never experienced the joy of TiVo, I will explain: if you hear a strange man in the theater gesturing at the screen and loudly be-booping, it means: ‘shut up, and shoot the robot’. You may also want to call the police.

If, mentally speaking, I block these parts out anyway, what’s the difference between me and them, other than the obvious indication that they’re not so lazy or scared of rejection that they actually got a job?  The difference is that they see screenings, or worse yet: screeners. Truth be told, I’m not sure which is worse. Being able to pause a movie, or seeing it in an audience of fellow film theory inductees who are wondering ‘why the character isn’t more like Robert Bresson’s priest, or why it lacks the subtlety of an Abbas Kiarostami long-metrage’ (sorry: that only works if you read it aloud in a whiny voice for effect. Do it now. No, I don’t care where you are. You already made the ‘be-boop’ noises, and now you’re shy?).

As someone once cleverly said, gay and straight sex, mechanically speaking, are only 10% different, so why get all worked up about it (unless, of course, you're getting all worked up about it)? Yes, I'm calling all movie critics homophobic. Or maybe gay. I'm not really sure. I'll have to read that one over again.

Let’s say for the sake of argument, that Ms. Ella Taylor, having resentfully accepted the assignment to ‘see’ Thor, actually goes through the motions of watching the entire thing, even occasionally looking up from playing Angry Birds to note that Thor is sad because his father is sad. Scene for scene, she has seen the same movie I have, and could probably recall the story arc, various characters that did stuff, bits of dialog, and so forth. I mean, she could certainly do it better than I could (mental note: I’m arguing that movie critics are worse than I am). Nevertheless, Ms. Taylor did not see Thor in a movie theater. And this matters, and not just from the old-timey, anything–old-is-by-proxy-more-authentic-and-I-should-know-I-just-used-the-internet-to-talk-about-it kind of way. Ms. Taylor et. al. are getting paid to talk about 10% of the experience they’re critiquing. As someone once cleverly said, gay and straight sex, mechanically speaking, are only 10% different, so why get all worked up about it (unless, of course, you’re getting all worked up about it)?  Yes, I’m calling all movie critics homophobic. Or maybe gay. I’m not really sure. I’ll have to read that one over again.

In any case, movies are my hot, hot sex and movie critics miss out on the 90% what it means to see a movie. Critics, especially those is in America, will never see, for example, the extremely strange Benicio Del Toro ads for Magnum (no, not the condom; ‘Weird’ Al does those). Magnum is a european ice cream bar, and as Mr. Del Toro attempts various heists, it turns out his girlfriend, who is apparently Cathy, has all along been after chocolate, whereupon Mr. Del Toro gives the hammiest look to camera since The Wolfman, and is killed by an overzealous security guard (that last scene didn’t happen, but it helps to remember it this way). If you see this ad, or the one where Mr. John Malkovich and Mr. George Clooney hawk crappy espresso machines and then see The American (okay, fine, Red), it makes you, well, wish for the commercial to start again, but it also subtlety changes the movie-going experience. The way that, say an Abbas Kiarostami or a Robert Bresson would.

One could make various accusations that actors are whores, and that these commercials spoil the films that the actors are in, but this quickly turns into a fiduciary circle jerk (this is like the commercials you see on the internet they put in front of trailers. I mean, trailers are commercials. So, basically we’ve evolved to the point where we’re willing to sit through commercials for the longer, more boring commercials, that are in between the longer, and even more boring commercials. No wonder Ella Taylor is playing Angry Birds). Basically, you’re accusing someone of being paid money for doing something. How dare they!

No, the thing that spoils the movie, the thing that critics will never see, is the hateful, hateful, hateful Orange ads. You (probably) live in America, and you don’t have these soul-draining exercises in soul-draining. The idea, which was probably accidentally tolerable for a nanosecond, is that you should turn off your mobile phone during the film (sorry, cell phone. That’s just what they call them here. At least I didn’t say ‘civilisation’. Or ‘democracy’), and that Orange, a mobile carrier in the UK, would then say ‘Don’t let a phone ruin your movie’. Charming. Until they went on a rampage to actually ruin your movie. Forever.

I am put in mind of a man I once met who, within the first minute of meeting him, described himself as ‘funny guy’. I knew, as soon as he said it, that 1) he wasn’t, and 2) that I had a new rule that allowed me to judge people. As the Orange ads evolved, they became ‘funny’: the joke was, we’ll get name actors to parody the process of product placement (see above, about actors appearing in European ads so as not to sully your reputation. Thank god there’s no network of interconnected computers allowing the instantaneous transmission of everything ever, otherwise they’d be ruined:(1234). In the way of synergisticosityness, the movie studios added to this ‘joke’ by cross-promoting their films which were then taken apart to become Orange ads. Why, it’s not a trailer for The A-Team, it’s an ad where actors pretend to sell without actually selling. See they’re whores because they’re not aware of their awareness of being whores, which is, at this point in cultural time, the only thing left that they can do to actually make them whores. That, and be paid to have sex for money.

Okay.  In what may be most verbose caption yet, here's the result of a quick google for 'Orange Ad':  it's an article about the Orange Ad that features, that's right, an ad before the ad which runs before the trailers (ads for films) that run before films. Needless to say, I switched phone plans, started gambling, and stopped going to the cinema.   Oh, you didn't want that last one.  Should have a made a commercial for it.

Okay. In what may be most verbose caption yet, here’s the result of a quick google for ‘Orange Ad’: it’s an article about the Orange Ad that features, that’s right, an ad before the ad which runs before the trailers (ads for films) that run before films. Needless to say, I switched phone plans, started gambling, and stopped going to the cinema.
Oh, you didn’t want that last one. Should have a made a commercial for it.

Placed as it is after the commercials (ten minutes) and the trailers (ten minutes), the Orange ad is impossible to avoid unless you time it exactly right, which I’ve tried, and tried, and tried, and it’s impossible to do without missing the first part of the movie, which I will not do. I am reminded of Mr. John Waters, who once told me, or told an audience that I was in, or told an audience and I read about it, of the uselessness of test screenings. He was, he argued, making movies for a particular group of people who liked his movies. If he changed them to please everyone, the people coming to see his movies wouldn’t come anymore, and neither would the people who weren’t coming to see his movies in the first place. And so it is with the Orange ad. You’re talking to the guy who loves studio misfires as much as the next guy, actually quite a bit more. I’m the guy who would see The A-Team, or Gulliver’s Travels just because you were stupid enough to make them, but I literally can’t. The effects of seeing the orange ad tie-ins 100,000 times had caused the inevitable PTSD: I get to the ticket booth, fully intending to see whatever crap you have stitched together and marketed, and start twitching, dancing like a puppet, and end by calling out: ‘Do we play that the dolphin is there?  DO WE PLAY THAT THE DOLPHIN IS THERE?????‘.

Insidious

1 May 2011 @ Odeon Brighton


$15.00 or, if one must be jejune, and one must... 
★ ★ ★ ★ ★

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You could rightly accuse me of envy directed towards those who do not have endure this torture (just as the movie critics are no doubt envious of me that I didn’t have to sit through Gulliver’s Travels and The A-Team). But with the costs come benefits: the biggest advantage is the cinema itself, which is a dark, shared place. And if that’s meant to sound creepy, good, because that’s why horror movies work so well there. If I was a critic, for example I would not be able to like Insidious, and that would make me sad. Referring back to Scream 4, this is the first kind of horror movie, the scary kind, where generally nothing happens, except for the transformation of the ordinary into the dangerous. Had I seen it on a screener (or in an screening audience so desparate to prove their coolness), I wouldn’t be able to admit that a movie scared me (or that I paid £8 to be afraid, I situation I avoid with great effort in the real world. In fact, I would have been disappointed had I not been scared. Strangely, disappointment is apparently not something I avoid in the real world). In fact, I may be able to write off the ticket for my PhD, since it scared me so much that I actually laughed, the way that soldiers can sometimes do at the end of the 60 days of combat. I lasted about 4 minutes.

To all the armies in the world: do not, under any circumstances, put me in a war.

Like the poster, the fake tear adds to the fear.

Like the poster, the fake tear adds to the fear.

Why Insidious works, I think, is largely due to light, and our dependence on it in every day life. The last scenes take place in a kind of dark netherworld, and the dream logic which does not allow you to simply bring a flashlight along. I know, in the brain part of my brain, were shot on a stage, but the brain part of my brain couldn’t tell the difference. Critics have not been kind to this film, and it may be because it’s actually terrible and boring, and I was just traumatized by all the Orange trailers. But I think it’s partially because film seeing is so crucial to film watching (or is it the other way around), that you’re in a dark place, frozen, as the conveyor belt of scenes unfold before you. There’s no escape, even from the boring parts. Not even TiVo can save you.

Insidious

Profits!

It’s just so well shot, I have a strong feeling I’ll be stealing from it. And never admitting it in print, of course.
$3.00
The weird advantage of doing this two years later: I remember this film, and being scared, much more than any of the ‘horror’ films seen since. So for one enjoyable viewing:
$7.00
For the second viewing if it’s good.
$10.00
Total Profits
$20.00

Losses!

and if I’m wrong. Risk management at its best.
$5.00
Total Losses
$5.00

$15.00

It’s obvious that trailers are at least 70% of the movie experience (especially when it comes to ruining movies by either giving away the good bits, or by making seem better or worse than they are), but this is getting long, and trailers are not so much a very special six-part article, as they are fifty book life’s work. I say this, as I don’t do wish to imply that I have exhausted my tirade about film critics.

I have not.

And finally, since I don’t want any feminists to think that I’m a sexist (or any cute girls to think I’m a feminist), I have to ask: what did whores ever do to deserve this low categorization? Can we just substitute ‘Johns’ instead? Oh, I’m sorry. Paying to have sex is adorably rebellious (House), proof of wealth and power (Bay/Sheen), and not, you know, pathetic. ‘What a John!’, we might say. Remember that it’s the Johns that make it all possible. Johns pay for sex (and sex slavery, sorry adorable sex slavery). Developers destroy the landscape, but the Johns buy the houses. Wall-mart kills the small businessman, but Johns buy the endless stream of slave-made crap (sorry, adorable slave-made crap). Jack Black dances like a puppet by pretending to dance like a puppet, but the Johns buy Orange phones (they don’t really. Orange is a terrible, expensive and poorly maintained phone network with inept customer service. And you know when I say it, it must be true). Mr. Anthony Hopkins may give up acting, and then whore himself out to Thor, but it’s the Johns that see the movie.

Oh, wait.  That’s me.  Scratch that.

Whores!

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