Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Hollywood Babble On & On #78: Just Because They're Famous...

There's a rumour reported on many movie/gossip sites that octogenarian pop-tart Madonna is bugging Warner Bros. Studios to let her star in an updated remake of Casablanca and set it in modern day Iraq.

While I hope that the rumours were just a preemptive April Fool's Day prank, it does have that annoying ring of deranged Hollywood truth to it. Madonna is still treated by the media as if she pooped diamonds and puppies when she hasn't had a real music hit with the general public in a long, long time, and has destroyed many films by her simple presence. She is also legendary for a massive ego that still thinks she can be the queen of music and movies and won't stop trying no matter how many miles of film get wasted in the process.

Because of that, it's quite believable that she would think that sh
e could remake a classic film, play a character half her age, and "re-imagine" what was originally an unabashedly patriotic film about self-sacrifice in the fight against Nazism, into yet another anti-American diatribe, when such films are beaten at the box office by slide shows of my Aunt Millie's trip to Akron, Ohio.

She could quite possibly be that self-deluded.

But that's not the scary part.

The really scary part of the story, the part that fills my little black heart with dread, is that such a deranged idea just might get the green light by the studio.

Now logic would dictate that an ageing pop-star with sagging record sales, a grating and obnoxious public image, and a dismal movie record would be the last person for a major studio would trust in a modern updating of that Porky Pig cartoon where says son-of-a-bitch, let alone a beloved classic like Casablanca.

But this is Hollywood we're talking about.

Logic often has very little to do with anything.

There's a chance that the studio might just give her what she wants, and piss away millions of dollars in the process.


Because she's famous.

But not famous in the way that means ordinary people would pay money to see her in a movie, or buy her albums in large numbers. No, she is what I call "Media Famous."

These are increasingly too very different things.

The media, Hollywood especially, grants the title of "star" based entirely on a concept called "name recognition." Name recognition is the percentage of people who recognize a famous person's name. The higher the percentage of people know the person's name, the more famous they are.

Now can you see the problem inherent in that?

Well, let me explain.

99% of people recognize the name Adolph Hitler.

However, those same people probably won't pay to see him starring in any movie that doesn't involve his painful death at the hands of hungry badgers, or buy his album of Austrian folk songs reworked into gangster rap.

Madonna started out essentially as a novelty act. Her shtick was to provoke shocked reactions from people through childish blasphemies, and overly sexualized posturing. She was able to maintain a certain amount of longevity in her career, by constantly "reinventing" these poses over and over again. And since this novelty was based on attacking the shibboleths of Christian Middle America, the media lapped it all up. The media played along, because it fed the baby-boomer generation's desire to be "courageous" and "rebellious" without any of the consequences of real rebellion.

Then things began to change.

Thanks to the democratizing influence of the internet, the media wasn't the only taste maker left in the world. Shock at Madonna's antics turned to boredom, as it does with all novelty acts, her record sales were a shadow of their former glory, and she faced her greatest fear: being ignored.

But the media stood by her. Hyping her work way beyond her general popularity and status as a taste-maker, especially when she "reinvented" herself again as a "political" pop-star mouthing the same sentiments that all the other celebrities were mouthing.

Now any movie she makes, especially a remake of a classic, would be a tremendous artistic and commercial mega-bomb, but because she has a lot of name recognition, thanks to the constant media hype, she just might get it made.

She's not the only one to use this tactic. Paris Hilton gets movies made, they just don't get seen, and remember that producer who declared to the media that he was casting Britney Spears as The Virgin Mary. If that wasn't a stunt to sucker Hollywood money, I don't know what is.

I just hope, for the sake of humanity, and Warner's stockholders, that all this Casablanca talk is just a really stupid prank.

I really, really do.

1 comment:

  1. I hope so, too!

    Just the thought of Madonna (loving herself) in a remake of Casablanca… makes my stomach turn.