Monday, 6 June 2011

Hollywood Babble On & On #739: Monday Miscellanea

It's Monday, time for a few quick snarks to get your work-week started on the right foot.


Word is all over the web that Robert Pattinson, you know, the sparkly guy from Twilight, dropped an "F-Bomb" during the MTV Movie Awards, the one awards show that makes the Golden Globes look like paragons of integrity.

You know what that means.

Months of complaints from the Parents Television Council, the self-appointed watchdog of TV morality. Those complaints will insure that the clip, tastefully bleeped, will be on every entertainment news show, complete with MTV logo in the corner, over, and over and over again until the entire world just screams "
Just shut the fuck up about this!"

Which is why I am convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that the PTC has been secretly taken over by a cabal of particularly devious Hollywood publicists.


Because they sure as hell aren't helping the cause of "cleaning up" TV.

There was a time when the concept of "least objectionable viewing" dominated the TV biz. That meant that networks tried to avoid offending people, for fear of letter campaigns threatening them with the dreaded "boycott" by viewers angered by their indecency.

Then came "Nipplegate" where Janet Jackson's nipple was accidentally briefly exposed during a "wardrobe malfunction" during the Super Bowl Halftime show (interestingly the half-time show was produced by MTV). While millions have been paid in fines, and legal fees in the subsequent battles with the FCC in the courts that had their last round in 2009, CBS, the Super Bowl, and MTV reaped
tens of millions of dollars of free publicity for themselves. This is because while the majority of the America people pretty much wanted to forget about it, the media wouldn't let it go because it qualified as "news" in their eyes. It was news to them because it had everything they wanted, celebrity, sex (as Seinfeld defined it), and self-righteous prigs plopping Jeremiads about obscenity that served only to keep the story going, and feed the just as self-righteous condescending elitism of the media who want to paint the rest of the country as puritanical rubes who can't take a dirty joke or a wayward nipple with getting a case of the palpitations.

In fact, the only real victim of the Nipplegate controversy was Janet Jackson, whose career outside of appearing in Tyler Perry movies is pretty much in oblivion. This oblivion was caused by the overwhelming quantity and quality surrounding the affair. The quantity of the unending and repetitive coverage of the incident, which went on years after anyone outside the media gave a actor's cuss about it, paired with the sadly poor quality of the nipple in question.

This created a whole new dynamic.

Suddenly the powers that be in TV realized that goading groups like the PTC is a great way to get their "brand" planted all over the place. The risks of dropping an "f-bomb," flashing a tipple of nipple, or just plain going for the lowest common denominator were greatly outweighed by the free advertising such "obscene" materials could garner.

Which brings us to the law of unintended consequences, the more the PTC complains, turning trivialities into national news stories, the more that people like MTV will give them things to complain about. So they get the opposite of what they claim to want.

If they really wanted to end "obscenity" on TV, then do what the TV industry fears even more than boycotts and threats, just ignore them. If they are ignored, then they cease to exist.

It's just that simple.


The Wrap asks a pertinent question about the film production company Participant Media: Is it a business, or is it a hobby?

For those not in the know, Participant Media (formerly Participant Productions) was founded by Ebay billionaire Jeff Skoll to produce feature films and documentaries. While they've had some films do well, the company has dropped more turkeys than a drunk father on Thanksgiving.

This decidedly lackluster box office track record has caused Abu Dhabi funded Imagenation to drop out of their co-production fund before they lose their keffiyehs.

However, Mr. Skoll, who has already invested hundreds of millions into the company, says that he's happy to invest hundreds of millions more. Which causes The Wrap to theorize that this whole endeavor is more of a hobby, than a serious business.

Personally, I have to disagree.

It is a business, but the goal of this business is not to make money, but to get Jeff Skoll a spot among the beautiful people.

Don't believe me?

Look at Participant Media's filmography. While there are a handful of films that people may have actually seen, the majority of the titles would probably get a "never heard of it" from the members of the great unwashed known as the movie-going public.

My theory is that reaction is perfectly fine with Skoll, because the movie going public is not the target audience of Participant Media. The target audience of Participant Media is Hollywood itself. Those films that the public ignores are the sort of films that Hollywood loves to make, as long as someone else is paying for it, and it's failure at the box office won't cost them their cushy jobs. They deal with causes that are politically correct, and fashionable in Hollywood, that get the makers awards, adulation, and pats on the back for "courage" even though the only risk inherent in the film is that the audience will ignore it, which they often do.

It won't make you any real money, but it will get George Clooney to return your calls, and that automatically takes you from the chess club and makes you one of the cool kids in Hollywood, which is essentially high school with money.

That's Skoll's real business plan, and I hope he thinks it's worth it, because nothing makes a millionaire faster than being a billionaire investing in Hollywood.

1 comment:

  1. What's interesting about the goading of the anti-obscenity groups is just how much sense your argument makes. These marketing-types get all hot and bothered for this stuff because, as anyone can tell you, sex sells.