Monday, 3 September 2012

Hollywood Babble On & On #949: Question? Answer.

I got a reader question, and I'm going to try to answer it...
Rainforest Giant asked...

Have you heard Kira (sp?) Sedgewick's comments about flyover country? She dared to point out that there was a world beyond the coasts and that they hold different opinions. The kid from 'American Pie' works on a Nickelodeon show and Nick has been linking to his filthy twitter feed. Any downside for Nick or are we already too decadent?

Finally, with all the talk about comics anything new on that front esp. Arrow?
I have heard Kyra Sedgwick's comments about flyover country. It took a little digging but I did find them.

For those who didn't catch the story Sedgwick the comments came up during an interview on the Tavis Smiley Show about her recently concluded run on the successful cable TV police drama The Closer

The story was picked up by some conservative Hollywood watchers and one of them posted the relevant clip...

Now if you don't have the two+ minutes to spare to watch the clip, I'll give you a summary and a little explanation.

Sedgwick talked about how her show earned great numbers when it came to viewers but very little respect from within the Los Angeles / New York media community. Partly because the show was a police procedural, the workhorse of television, but mostly because it was seen as a show for "Red States."

"Red States" is a term used to describe states that tend to vote Republican and be more politically and socially conservative than the people in Los Angeles and New York City. However, a more apolitical description would be the term "Flyover Country."

Flyover Country is slang for the parts of the USA that are not in the greater metropolitan areas of Los Angeles and New York City. The residents of LA/NY never visit these places, they only "fly over" them on their travels between the big coastal media centers.

Now the big problem Hollywood has is that they know pretty much next to nothing about the people who live in "flyover country" except what's told to them by their immediate neighbors, who get everything they know from the stereotypes in movies and TV shows made by Hollywood. 

It's a vicious circle of isolation and it's only getting worse.

There are three reasons for this...

1. Politics Meet Over Simplification: Right now the divisions between people who identify themselves as Democrats and Republicans haven't been this big in a very long time. Hollywood is predominantly Democrat and large swathes of flyover country vote Republican.

Now this has a toxic effect in Hollywood which already has a culture dedicated to following trends and fads in a united pack, and a tendency to reduce everything into overly simplistic black/white/good/evil paradigms.

That means that if you deviate from the socially accepted pack of Hollywood, you are not just different, you must be evil.

So what used to be a wide patch of territory marked "boring" in the mental-map of citizens of the Axis of Ego is now labelled "Here There Be Monsters" like it was laid out by a medieval cartographer who thinks flesh-munching demons dwell beyond the borders of his remote little abbey. 

That is if the abbey was a mansion in Beverly Hills.

2. Ivy Leaguism: Back in Hollywood's Golden Age, when the entertainment industry not only didn't ignore Flyover Country, but actively pursued it all the people running show business came up from the streets.

They were working class people, many didn't have degrees, and some didn't even finish high school. Instead they started at the bottom of the business, and worked their way up to the top.

Nowadays, to qualify for a post in the mail-room or as an assistant you need not only a degree from an elite Ivy League university, but membership in the right college fraternity, and a relative who is either in the business, or is owed something by someone who is already in the business.

The industry's management shifted from self-made go-getter types who came from the working class immigrant neighborhoods of the big cities, and hard-scrabble smaller industrial towns, to recruiting the elite of the tonier coastal suburbs.

This gives an element of snobbery to Hollywood that it really didn't have before. Anyone who doesn't live the way they do, is now seen not as hard-working ordinary people, but dim-witted rubes not smart enough to function in their ultra-modern world.

3. Other People's Money: In the golden olden days Hollywood didn't look down on the audience that lay beyond its borders, because that audience was what put luxury cars in the mansion's garage.

Nowadays there's a buffer between the audience and Hollywood and it's called Other People's Money. The studios and the networks are all just small cogs in massive multinational conglomerates. If something offends flyover country, like Jason Biggs' X-rated failed attempts at political humor on Twitter, it doesn't matter to the parent corporation. Whatever happened only affects a tiny part of a big machine, and they think that such behavior will help sales to foreign countries who they assume have the same attitudes because the rich elites they socialize with from those countries have them.

So I doubt Biggs will be substantially "punished" for his off-color tweets, since he scrubbed the offending "jokes" as soon as a backlash started. He's just small potatoes, and any outrage his remarks started will probably be short lived.

Now should he be punished?

Probably. At the very least he needs a strong verbal bollocking about posting rude jokes about a prominent politician and his family on the eve of starring in an animated kid's show.

I hope I've answered your question.


Now onto your comics question...

I haven't heard much about what's going on in the comics industry of late. However, I have heard a little about the plans for the upcoming show Arrow, featuring the DC comics character and what I heard doesn't exactly make my heart dance.

Word is that the greenless Green Arrow will embody the spirit of "Occupy Wall Street" and fight the evil 1% corporate villain types. Because no one has ever done anything like that before.

I don't think anyone at Warner Bros., the CW, or DC Comics has given much thought to how those in flyover country, otherwise called the majority of the population, really think about Occupy Wall Street. 

I suspect that they don't have the same thoughts about it that Hollywood is having.

See, everything goes full circle here.

1 comment:

  1. Furious,

    Sorry to hear that 'Arrow' is fighting the 'Chris Tucker' villains. That's not only boring it's never done well.

    The best action comic writer in my book is Frank Miller. Famously a liberal until he was mugged, he wrote the best Batman comic (Dark Knight) and defined Daredevil. His visceral sense of outrage shared by 90% of the population who felt violated by the crime and 60's to 70's era soft judicial system lit up the page.

    The new 'Arrow' show had a chance to plug into that energy. The average criminals are just as dangerous and likely to victimize the poor as they always were. Unfortunately they do not fit the Hollywood favored criminal profile.

    Most Hollywood types don't understand the average Joe much less street crime or criminals. They find real criminals boring and depressingly not-white and not-rich. They'd much rather write about something they understand, upper class white people.

    Arrow had a chance to actually put a clothyard shaft through a violent mugger. Instead he'll battle corporate bodyguard mooks and probably a few executives who do Taebo. Maybe if we're 'lucky' Arrow will battle against 'Blackwater' mercenaries.

    Boring, boring, boring. If I can use the 'Chris Tucker' rule to figure out who the real bad guy is before the theme song is over why bother? 'Law and Order' was the same way, you could figure out the real criminal and crime sometimes before the first act was over. Maybe Arrow will do well, people like the familiar and 'Law and Order' with an Arrow might do well.

    Rainforest Giant