Thursday, 20 November 2014

Hollywood Babble On & On #1197: Big Brother Is Watching You

Paul Greengrass, best known for shaking the camera a lot in the Bourne movies, has been tapped to adapt George Orwell's classic novel 1984 for Sony Pictures to be produced by Scott Rudin.


In case you've lived in a cave Orwell's 1984 is the story of Winston Smith. Smith lives in Oceania, a state in perpetual war and under the regime of IngSoc, or English Socialism, led by the enigmatic Big Brother.

Surveillance is everywhere, with devices called "telescreens" monitoring your every move while bombarding you with propaganda about loving Big Brother, hating Emmanuel Goldstein, who both might not exist, and if you stray from the ruling party's line, whichever that might be, you will be taken to Room 101 by the Thought Police, and "corrected" until you loved Big Brother.



Smith works for the Ministry of Truth and it's his job to rewrite old newspaper articles so any future history will reflect the party line. He's chafing under the repressive regime that dictates his every thought and action and rebels, by falling in love with a girl named Julia.

The book had been adapted several times, but only two films were ever released to theatres. The one people remember was the fairly faithful adaption directed by Michael Radford with John Hurt as Smith, that was released, fittingly in 1984. Artists Shephard Fairey tried to make his own version in 2012, but the project fizzled out in development.

When I heard Greengrass was directing, the first thing I thought of was of Big Brother complaining that all the telescreens were shaking in all directions. But my misgivings go deeper than that.

1984 is a book that is still relevant even 30 years after it's science fiction date, but it's very easy to misinterpret.

Orwell was a socialist, which means that he desired a system where everyone was equal in all things,   and worked solely for the betterment of mankind instead of personal greed.

However, Orwell was also an intellectually honest realist, he could see what was being done in the name of socialism all over the world. Pogroms, purges, massacres, and the casual mutilation of truth, which Orwell viewed as sacred, to fit the whims and factional schemes of the rulers. Orwell recognized that the fundamental flaw in any political system was that no matter what, ruthless people would constantly try to wrest control, and many times succeed. If ultimate and even intimate power was to be had, then the most ruthless people would claw their way to the top. That's why a die-hard socialist was able to write two of the most critical novels about socialism, 1984 and Animal Farm

Which brings us to heart of the problem.

Hollywood's idea of a political scientist and philosopher is Russell Brand.

When it comes to political/economic/social issues, Hollywood is a blend of ignorance, hypocrisy, political correctness, and self righteousness. They seem to believe that saying the correct things counts more than doing the right things. In Hollywood it's perfectly okay to have a personal carbon footprint equal to a mid-sized European country, or a business operation as ethnically & gender diverse as a KKK meeting, as long as you give money to the correct causes, campaign for the correct politicians, and get your picture taken at the correct protests and fundraisers.

In Hollywood, it's all about image, and nothing to do with substance or accomplishment.

Which is why I'm pretty damn sure that Hollywood will butcher any adaptation of 1984. They'll probably turn Oceania in Oceania Inc., Big Brother into a CEO, and drain any true relevance from the work, because they lack the intellectual depth and honesty to admit that a non-capitalist system can possibly be evil and oppressive.

That and the camera will jerk around so much it'll make me motion sick.

So just let it rest Hollywood.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Hollywood Babble On & On #1196: Special Effects & The Self-Fulfilling Idiocy.

Charlie Jane Anders at io9 wrote a piece about how we're in a golden age of visual magic in movies.   She's right, many movies are just eye-poppingly gorgeous in the visual effects department, and, in my opinion if the filmmaker use a blend of practical effects and CGI, the potential for bringing fantasy to beautiful life is practically limitless.

However, like everything else in Hollywood, there's a dark side.

Even though VFX are more important than ever before, the VFX industry itself is in deep shit.

A classic example is the VFX company Rhythm & Hues. The company had been at or near the top of the VFX racket for about 20 years, producing consistently top notch work in lots of huge hit movies.

Yet, on the eve of winning the Academy Award for their work on Life of Pi, they were declaring bankruptcy and laying off pretty much all of the people whose work was winning Hollywood's highest honour.

They're not the only ones. Between 2003-2013 over 21 VFX companies, companies that were supposed to be successful, went bankrupt or went completely out of business.

Why did this happen?

Because the studios, though dependent on VFX companies, love to screw them over financially because they can get away with it.

It works like this.

In movie making the budgets pay for time.

Cast, crew, are all paid for the time it takes for them to make the movie. 

That's the fundamental of budgets.

The studio makes a deal with a VFX company to do a specific number of special effects shots for a specific amount of money. They are giving the VFX people money to pay dozens, if not hundreds, of artists and technicians for their time to work on the effects for these shots.

This is all worked out in the pre-production phase, the problem is that what is worked out and agreed to, often isn't what the final project turns out to be.

Scripts get rewritten, reshoots are ordered, roles are recast, and all that stuff creates delays, and in many cases the VFX shots have to be either radically adjusted, or redone completely from scratch.

However the studios insist that they do all this new work within the money they were paid during pre-production. The problem comes from the fact that the VFX company still have to pay those artists and technicians for the new work. Which means that the VFX companies have to take millions in losses for every job.

To top it all off, the VFX companies don't get any profit participation. That's because profit participation is solely for the stars, the director, and the producers. That doesn't mean those people see a dime, Hollywood accounting is a moral/mathematical morass.

The studios think they can get away with it because a lot of VFX artists and technicians are driven first by a love of the art form than by a desire for money. They also know that if one falls there are hundreds willing to take their place.

Then comes to what I suspect is the biggest reason the studios feel they can get away with it, and it's not financial, it's social.

The studios will waste fortunes in up front fees and "dollar one" deals on actors who dropped more bombs than the Luftwaffe before they'd drop one red cent on making sure the VFX people get paid enough to stay afloat.

Why?

Because certain actors, even certified box office poison, hold a lot of sway within the Hollywood community, and that's what matters. These "stars" that I call "media appealers" can get an executive a good seat at the fashionable fundraiser, a nice mention in the press via their publicists, and ways into the hottest social spots that practically drip with glamour.

They have nothing to do with business, the audience, or getting films made, but they have EVERYTHING to do with living in the upper echelons of Hollywood. They are also things that VFX people cannot deliver, hence leaving them not just second class citizens, but literally serfs in the eyes of the studios. They have no standing, no clout, and henceforth don't deserve to be treated with anything resembling human decency or even good business sense.

This can't go on forever. Eventually the laws of nature and economics will kick in, and the costs of getting VFX are going to skyrocket.

It's just another one of Hollywood's self-fulfilling idiocies.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Hollywood Babble On & On #1195: Monsters or Superheroes?


Universal Pictures was the studio that brought horror to Hollywood.


Back in the silent era horror films were being made, but they had an uneasy relationship with the supernatural. Either the "monster" was just a disfigured madman or if the film featured what at first looked like the supernatural, the studio would always "Scooby Doo" the movie's ending, by revealing that the ghost/vampire/werewolf was just a hoax done by criminals to further their shady schemes.

Universal Pictures changed that.

Carl Laemmle Jr. was the 20something son of the founder of Universal Pictures as well as its head of production, and had been raised on a steady diet of Central and Eastern European folklore. When the opportunity came to adapt Bram Stoker's Dracula for the screen, he took it, and made a decision that revolutionized Hollywood horror.



Instead of having the titular character being a criminal or a maniac in an elaborate disguise Dracula was just an undead creature cursed to feed upon the blood of the living. There was no Scooby-Doo style unmasking, because he wasn't wearing a mask.

That changed EVERYTHING in the field of horror. Monsters were in, and Universal was the king of the monster heap.

Eventually the classic Universal Monsters, Dracula, The Frankenstein's Monster, The Wolf-Man, and The Mummy fell out of fashion. 

Universal played no small part in this demise with their tendency to flog their franchises to death with multiple sequels, crossovers, with declining budgets, and quality. Eventually they drifted into self-parody, then total irrelevance. The monster-mantle was taken up by Britain's Hammer Films while Universal pretty well dropped the gothic and followed the other American filmmakers into more science fiction based monstrosities.

Universal has dipped its toe into its old Monster well. First by reinventing The Mummy franchise into an Indiana Jones rip-off. Then they tried to turn Van Helsing into Batman, and while their attempt to re-boot The Wolf-Man attempted horror, it was an overwrought, bloated monstrosity.

Now Universal has announced that they're rebooting their monster franchises again. But instead of being gothic horror monster movies, they're going to be modern-day action adventures in a shared universe that will eventually all come together, like Marvel's The Avengers. They've even hired a "hive" of writers to develop this new idea.

All I can say is: Oy.

Basically, they're turning their monsters into superheroes.

Why?

Because they think that's where the money is.

Well, yes and no.

Superhero movies make good bank, but they're also incredibly expensive to make. That means that unless you have a popular franchise and a brand that people associate with quality stories (like Marvel) you're looking at a razor thin profit at best.

What sort of standing does the Universal monsters have with audiences?

Well, their Mummy franchise made enough to justify some sequels and a spin-off with the prerequisite diminishing returns. Van Helsing might have broken even if you squint your eyes and ignore the fortunes they spent on P&A, and The Wolf-Man tanked badly.

Ask anyone their opinion on Universal's monster movies and you'll most likely get no higher praise than a "feh" and if they're a horror fan you'll get a lecture on how they symbolize Hollywood's neutered mindset. They had neutered their monsters, from being fearsome beasts from the darkness to wimpy CGI playthings because an executive hoped kids would buy the toys and other merchandise.

So now Universal is saying that they're not only going to repeat their plan, they're going to make it even more tepid.

The irony is that low budget horror has potential for massive profits when its marketed right. The means to make a smaller scale, really scary, monster movie exist. But Universal doesn't want to do that, because that requires work and imagination. It's much easier to sell the Board of Directors a load of hooey about imitating Marvel, and when it all sinks like a stone, just blame it on the market research firm.

Fuck that.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Hollywood Babble On & On #1194: Random Bits of Nonsense

AMAZON WON'T BURY THE HACHETTE

Mega-retailer Amazon and Mega-publisher Hachette have inked a multi-year deal, calling a truce on their war over e-book pricing.


To sum up the feud Amazon was racking up big losses in their quest to undercut and monopolize the book retailing business. They thought that they could use their bulk to get the big publishers to start eating some of Amazon's losses. Well, Hachette was the first one to say: "Ah hell no!" and thus the war began.

Now it's over. Probably because Amazon's shareholders took a look at the money they were haemorrhaging in the CEO's war of supremacy, and told Bezos, to make some kind of deal.

I still stand by my previous statement that if the big publishers don't want this to happen again, and again, and again, then they need a plan.

1. IMPROVE DISTRIBUTION: A few years ago I tried to order a book, a newly released novel from a popular author, through my local bookstore, which is now out of business. I had Amazon as an option, but I was willing to pay a little more to help support my local indie. They told me that the distributor took 6 to 8 weeks for those kinds of orders. Well that put the kibosh on that plan, since I was hoping to give it as a Xmas gift. There is no reason for that in this day and age. If Amazon can do it, the big publishers can do it for retailers. Or they can...

2. EXPLOIT PRINT ON DEMAND: The machinery to manufacture books on site exist, it's just not being used. There should be a machine in every bookstore in the world, right by the cashier, and under a sign that says: "If it's not on our shelves, it's in this machine." The customer gives the cashier their order, and they're told to feel free to browse the shelves while they wait the 10 minutes it takes to print and bind the books. You can also use this to screw Amazon by making their publishing arm's titles available via these machines. Thus they can't complain about being shut out, and the combine behind them will make a little off of every order.

Anyway, what else is in the news…

WONDER WOMAN BY A WOMAN

I'm not normally one to jump on rumours of who is doing what until things are signed, sealed, and delivered, but I just can't resist this one.

DC/Warner Bros. are reportedly interested in getting a female director for Wonder Woman, and at the time of this writing Canadian TV director/producer Michelle Maclaren is in the front of the pack.  Maclaren certainly has the right CV, starting her directing career on the X-Files and working on such big name and acclaimed shows as Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones. Also, as a female director the studio only has to pay her 77¢ for every dollar they would pay a male director. (Now that's good satire!) 

But seriously, her record shows an ability to do quality drama, action, and suspense, while working within the tightly controlled budgets and schedules inherent in TV production. Plus, TV is where all the interesting storytelling is being done these days, and she's in the thick of it. Which makes her more than qualified for the job regardless of gender.

All I ask is that they work in getting some colour on Wonder Woman's outfit. Brown is not a super-heroic  colour scheme.


Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Hollywood Babble On & On #1193: Foundation Lives Again?

Sometimes a Hollywood project has what just might be a Hollywood ending.


Naturally there was much wailing, gnashing of teeth, and rending of garments as the imaginations of science fiction fans were assailed with images of Will Smith as Hari Seldon, a laser-blaster in each hand, blasting robots and aliens while screaming "Ah hell naw!" as a CGI tidal wave of lava topped with surfing Nazis sweeps over the White House.

However, a ray of hope has just broken through the clouds of despair.


I like Nolan, especially with his work on the series Person of Interest, which tells a massive, multilayered, and complex saga of paranoia, artificial intelligence, redemption, revenge, power, and the relationship between governments, bureaucracies, and the citizens they are supposed to serve, all while in the guise of an action packed vigilante crime procedural.

If anyone can do Foundation justice, I think Jonathan Nolan can.

However, I do have one source of trepidation.

It's going to be an HBO show.

Now you're probably wondering why I would be concerned since HBO has put out so many great shows, but I do have a valid point, just give me a second.

If you're not familiar with Asimov's magnum opus the Foundation series begins in the far future. A mighty Galactic Empire rules what appears to be an eternally stable society.

However, not everyone sees it that way.

Scientist Hari Seldon has developed a new field he calls "psychohistory" which calculates the movements of vast societies. His calculations predict that the Galactic Empire is on the way out, and that an age of chaos and darkness that could last millennia is on its way.

Hoping to mitigate the damage done to humanity Seldon starts The Foundation. The Foundation is a community of scientists, artists, and other experts on the remote planet of Terminus, and its their job, and the job of their descendants to rebuild a new society from the ashes of the Empire.

Now the book series has an episodic structure that actually suits a series adaptation very well. However, the cast changes radically changes from episode to episode since there are literally centuries separating some of them, which might hinder the audience getting attached to any specific characters for very long.

But those are just structural and narrative challenges that I'm pretty sure Nolan & Co. can handle. What I worry about is HBO and its philosophy.

Since HBO is a pay cable channel, it is not restrained by the rules about sex and violence that regulate what goes on broadcast and some levels of basic cable.

That's a double edged sword.

Because there are times when HBO gets hung up on putting things in shows just because they can, without asking whether or not they should.

The Foundation saga features a cast mostly of scientists, and intellectuals, with the occasional soldier and space traveller. It also contains almost no sex, which HBO is going to see as a problem. I can see the story conference going like this:
NOLAN: Now this is the scene where Hari Seldon explains how and when the Galactic Empire will start to collapse.
HBO EXEC: It's brilliant but we need Seldon to be having sex with a woman while two hot lesbians scissor each other in the background during this scene.
NOLAN: It takes place in a University lecture hall? 
HBO EXEC: Change that to a brothel. Also, we need this Mule guy to rape some people. Gotta have more rapes. Plus we need the characters to say the word "Fuck" at least twenty times per episode.
NOLAN: Why? 
HBO EXEC: Because we can, that means we have to.
Can you see why I'm worried. It may work on some shows, but in the age of easy access adult content via the internet, it's literally unnecessary to sell a show. Especially one with a large built in audience who might be creeped out by seeing a "sexed up" Foundation saga.

So let's hope that HBO knows when to hold'em and knows when to fold'em.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Hollywood Babble On & On #1192: Bourne Again?


Matt Damon is returning to the role of Jason Bourne the recovered amnesiac/super-spy-ninja guy for another edition of the Bourne Franchise.


Why?

Because he tried to have a career outside of the Bourne franchise and failed.

Failed badly.

A quick look at his box office record shows that the last movie with him in a major role that was an unqualified hit was True Grit, and in that movie he was just Jeff Bridges' sidekick. At best a handful of his recent movies have broken even, but most have tanked, and tanked badly. Without Jason Bourne his career is dangerously close to getting into Nicole Kidman and George Clooney territory where he becomes a full fledged box-office negative.*


He needs a hit to keep the roles and the fat paycheques coming in, and while Universal made money with the Damon-less Bourne Legacy, figures they'll do better with the original titular character.

Personally, I never really got into the Bourne Movie Franchise. Some may knock the Bond movies for being repetitive, but Bourne is worse. Bourne is as if the James Bond writers didn't want to waste time coming up with ANYTHING new.

The premise of the franchise is that the CIA ignores terrorism, espionage, foreign threats, and international crime because they're too busy trying and failing to kill their own people. 

Why are they trying to kill their own people?

Because the CIA did some evil illegal stuff trying to create some sort of super-spy-ninja-types that they will have to kill the moment they step outside because their existence threatens to expose the illegal stuff. Only the illegal stuff worked too well, and they're unstoppable. 

Now the CIA could just leave the guy alone, because unless there's an army of assassins blowing up large chunks of Europe and the USA there's not enough proof to get this guy's story past the far fringe of a conspiracy theory website.

But they don't, because there wouldn't be a movie, so they do all kinds of mad homicidal stuff to give the hero the evidence he needs to blow the lid off of everything.

It's a premise that's not only stupid on every level, it's a lazy hackneyed cliche and really just an excuse to have lots of shaky-cam fight scenes, another thing that bugs me.

Anyway, we'll have to see if Damon's Bourne can breathe some life into his nearly terminal career.
_________________

*Now some of you will say: "What about Gravity, that was a hit with George Clooney?" And while he was in that movie, the studio deliberately left him out of the ads for Gravity, emphasizing Sandra Bullock, who is actually a fully qualified movie star.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Trailer Trashing: CHAPPIE

Neill Blomkamp, the man behind District 9 and Elysium has a new flick coming, it's called Chappie and they've released the first trailer.


First thing I noticed: IT LOOKS EXACTLY LIKE EVERY OTHER NEILL BLOMKAMP MOVIE.

I suspect that if you gave Neill Blomkamp unlimited resources and historical research to make a film about the Emperors of Ancient Rome the Imperial Palace of the Eternal City would look like a slum in Johannesburg.

I understand that auteurs have a certain aesthetic sensibility. However, with Blomkamp it looks like visually he's either in a rut, or has a one track mind.

Second thing I noticed was that I noticed it all before.

The trailer doesn't make the film look like an entertaining and unique work but a mishmash of  Short Circuit, Short Circuit 2Edward Scissorhands, Wall-E, and all points in between. It's practically a remake.

They even have Hugh Jackman playing the stereotypical vaguely kinda military looking guy who has to destroy the poor innocent robot because that's his job. 

Why should I pay money to see this movie since it looks like I've already seen it a dozen times before already?

Monday, 3 November 2014

Hollywood Babble On & On #1191: Eurowood?

Peter Bart, former Paramount executive, producer, and longtime mainstay at Variety, posted this piece about how many European filmmakers are trying to fill the gaps being left in the movie market by the major US studios.

He makes a good point. 

Look at the release schedules of the major studios and you'll see that they're chasing the mad pipe dream that it's possible to only make blockbuster mega-hits. This leaves many genres including non-comic book action, drama, and many types of comedy, horror, thrillers, mostly out in the cold despite having the potential to be extremely lucrative at a low cost.

Bart sees the biggest problem is connecting with a North American audience, and like many Euro-producers think "international stars" are the key.

Not quite.

If the European filmmakers want to truly connect with North American they need to follow some key rules.

1. DON'T USE HOLLYWOOD'S IDEAS OF STARDOM GUIDE YOUR CASTING.

In Bart's article they mention that a producer is working with Sean Penn in a movie that they hope will break through with the American audience. Better to just put their money in a big pile and set it on fire, because at least that way they might be able to cook wienies off the fire. There is an elite list of actors in Hollywood who are downright toxic at the box office, but still get major leading roles because Hollywood keeps telling people they're big stars.

The casting of Sean Penn, Nicole Kidman, Tina Fey, Russell Brand, and Ricky Gervaise can literally toss a film into box office oblivion. George Clooney is on his way to that status unless his agent can use black magic to convince people that his glorified cameo in Sandra Bullock's Gravity was the key to its success.

As accurate a headline as "Dewey Defeats Truman"
I call these people "Media Appealers" because their appeal seems to exist almost entirely within the Hollywood community and the media outlets that want to be in that Hollywood community. The problem is that they usually bag big roles with big fees despite being unable to sell tickets to the last lifeboat off a sinking ship.

What these producers need to do is to do the serious research needed to find out which stars are really worth the investment. Maybe do a variation of the sabermetrics that weighs costs (in both money & hassle) against how many bums they put in theatre seats. I'll bet you'll be surprised to discover who is worth what, and then you can base your decisions on that.

2. DON'T DO BUSINESS LIKE THE BIG HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS.

The biggest problem with the way the big Hollywood studios do business is that it doesn't seem to make anyone involved happy. Litigation is so common that it's not even considered news anymore, and it's affecting business. Since everyone is expecting to be screwed if their film's a hit, everyone with the slightest amount of clout gets everything they can up front regardless of real market forces, and that drives up costs, and drives down profits.

Treat people with a modicum of respect and honesty and you'll be shocked at how it will drive your costs down and your potential for profit up.

3. GET A DISTRIBUTOR WHO REALLY NEEDS YOU.

Form a partnership with a distributor who will treat you with the same modicum of respect and honesty that you will use on others because if they don't you'll go and leave them in the cold. That means avoiding the big studios and their shady practices.

4. AIM FOR QUALITY.

Back in the day a film had a week in theatres to make their money, and that was that. That changed thanks to the arrival of television, then the advent of new streaming and home video outlets. That's actually a good thing if a film is well made and entertaining because even if it gets lost among the crush of big studio blockbusters in theatres, it still has a chance to find its piece of the audience via other outlets.

It doesn't take much money to make a quality film. It just takes hard work and imagination which are both rarer than money, especially in Hollywood.

That's my advice.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Hollywood Babble On & On #1190: Ma's Money Meets Movieland


Jack Ma is an extremely rich man, and his company Alibaba Group, had the biggest IPO ever, and he's on a little shopping trip in Hollywood.

First, he's looking for content. Alibaba handles a wide range of online services, and its the entertainment wing that's needs content and lots of it. Remember, there are well over a billion people in China, they crave entertainment, and, for the first time in the country's history, the country has a growing middle class who has money to spend on entertainment.

But reports say that Ma is looking at more than just content. There's talk that he's considering buying a piece of mini-major Lionsgate Pictures.

Buying a piece of Lionsgate is probably a smart move for him, because it would set him up with something outside of China.

Why?

Because, as I always say, China is a growing market, but it's not a free market.

Jack Ma is rich, important and prominent, and that's great, but in the context of China, he is not truly powerful. True power in China rests solely in the hands of the ruling Communist party.

Under the Communist Party, China is a fundamentally feudal economy. A merchant/worker class is allowed to make money, but only as long as they please the ruling political elite. Except instead of Kings, Lords, and Knights that need appeasing Chinese businesspeople must pay various forms of obeisance to politicians, policemen, military officers and bureaucrats. Displease any of them and you could end up having your assets seized, and your ass seized shipped off to the dankest dungeon around.

Since it's very uncomfortable to do business while balancing on a political high wire that being jerked around by the whimsy of over 100 internal political factions, it's important to build a safety net.

That safety net comes in the form of foreign assets.

A good example of this practice is Russia. It's dangerous business to be rich and successful in Russia. At any moment the cronies of the ruling class may decide that your property would look better in their possession. Then you are well and truly screwed.

That's why you see Russian oligarchs dropping huge money to buy up foreign assets, their favourite being British real estate. They need something that is outside of the reach of their hometown higher-ups so that when the shit hits the fan, at least their family can live in comfortable exile.

It's unlikely China's government will embrace wider economic freedom in the form of expanding political rights, including protection from unlawful interference, imprisonment, and seizure. That's because they remember what happened to the regime of General Augusto Pinochet and his Junta who took over Chile in a bloody coup.

At first the Junta tried to rule the nation's economy the way they ruled everything else, with a mix of brutality and corruption.

Their attempts at central economic control flopped, leaving the country with high unemployment, crippling inflation, and exploding debt.

Desperate, the Junta agreed to follow a program designed by University of Chicago economist Milton Friedman. That program called for the government to essentially pull out of economic matters almost entirely. That meant that one of the most politically oppressive regimes in the Western Hemisphere had a high level of economic freedom.

What happened?

Chile is no longer ruled by a military dictatorship. The growth caused by the economic freedom led to a movement for greater political freedom that eventually forced the Junta out of power.

The rulers of China, be it the men at the front, or the string pullers behind the scenes, have learned that lesson. They will allow only enough to generate prosperity, and do everything they can so it doesn't go any further.

So expect Ma, and others like him from China to start buying up not only content, but companies, real estate, and anything else that can be well and truly theirs and out of the reach of politicians.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Hollywood Babble On & On #1189: Sexual Perversity In Toronto


Trigger warning: The following post contains reference to kinky sexual behaviour, allegations of sexual violence, and mental image of a middle-aged hipster in a gimp suit.


However, that trigger warning doesn't cover what I found the most shocking part of this story. The taxpayer funded and long running Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (aka The CBC or Mother Corp) actually fired someone.

That someone is 47 year old radio/TV host Jian Ghomeshi, who was fired from his show Q, over accusations of sexual violence against women.

Ghomeshi's defence is that he admits to being a lecherous creep, but that the alleged violence was in the form of consensual BDSM games, and that he believes that he's been unfairly fired and deserves a payout from Canada's public broadcaster of $50 million.

But I think we're getting ahead of ourselves.

Ghomeshi started out as a singer in a folk/pop band called Moxy Früvous in the late 80s, but the band never really made it big outside of its home base in Toronto and Ghomeshi was recruited by the CBC to be one of their "youthful" on-air personalities. At the time he was considered a perfect match for the CBC, he was just ethnic enough to tick their diversity box, but his middle-class British born/suburban Toronto raised background made him fit right in with the CBC's dominant corporate culture like a hand in a heavy latex spanking glove.  

He bopped around from various shows on CBC TV and radio before finding his niche on Q, an hybrid radio/TV arts and pop culture interview show that plays nationally in Canada and on over 200 public TV and public radio stations across the USA.

Now Q needs a new host now that Ghomeshi is out, and while it's unlikely that Ghomeshi will return, a case may be made for him getting at least some kind of payout from the CBC, or to be more accurate the Canadian taxpayer.

It all hinges on whether or not what he got up to with the women was consensual BDSM, and thus a private matter, or a non-consensual criminal case. If the CBC and Ghomeshi's accusers can't make a legally acceptable case proving that he acted criminally instead of just lecherously, they may have to cut him a fat cheque.

Why?

Because then he'll claim that he was fired over private sexual business being made public, and then he'll mention a name and a title.

The name:
Sook Yin Lee

The title:
SHORTBUS
Sook Yin Lee hosts CBC Radio's long running cultural show Definitely Not The Opera, and she also starred in the 2006 indie film Shortbus from director John Cameron Mitchell. Shortbus' is best remembered for featuring graphic, uncensored and un-simulated sexual acts performed by the cast, including Sook Yin Lee.

The CBC threatened to fire her over the film for pretty much the same reasons they fired Ghomeshi, conduct they consider unbecoming an on-air CBC employee. However, the CBC backed down and let her keep her job after being bombarded with accusations of sexism, homophobia, and "censorship" by Sook Yin Lee's defenders.

I'll bet dollars to Tim Horton's donuts that if they fail to prove any sort of felonious activity on Ghomeshi's part, he will claim that the CBC is engaging in a double standard by punishing him for doing in private what she did on screen.

Is Ghomeshi a creep?

Probably. I've yet to hear anyone say anything in his defense that didn't make him sound like a lecherous douchebag.

However....


I don't know what really happened between Ghomeshi and his accusers. That means that I won't declare him either guilty or innocent until after a proper investigation has been done by people who know how to do proper investigations. I don't have any evidence either way, and, the odds are, neither do you, so let's not jump to any conclusions based on accusations and rumours.

Does he deserve a $50 million payoff?

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

However, that doesn't mean that the CBC won't have to pay him anything. Unless they can prove some serious wrongdoing by Ghomeshi beyond being creepy, Ghomeshi will play the double standard card, and they don't have much of a defence against that.