Thursday, April 27, 2006


Dodging the potholes of celebrity

…and more of your questions answered by
The Crabby Critic

Dear Crabby:

I watch American Idol and dream of becoming a star. My mother says it’s a waste of time to dream on that because so few make it. What do you think?

Charles in Kansas

Dear Chuck of the Aspiring Hestons:

I’ll concur with your ma’ part way. So few make it, and not always the one’s that should. Usually not the one’s that should. I mean – honestly, somebody needs to explain the lasting appeal of Vin Diesel, Jean Claude Van Damme and Bjork to me. (Aside: the list is bigger than this but I won't bore you herein with the rest. They aren't worth the effort or space). Where I differ from mom's homespun concern is in the abandonment department.


But let’s be clear about something before continuing. There are NO STARS in Hollywood today – just common people with huge bank balances. We call them celebrities.

What’s the difference, you ask?

Well, stars were primarily known for their work in front of the camera – not for how many people they’ve slept with, what drugs they’re smoking, how many hookers they’ve rented or any of that other backstage nonsense that so readily keeps a celebrity’s waning career afloat today.

Two bits of advice for wannabe’s like yourself.
One: Do yourself proud…Brad Pitt looking like ‘I was a teenage Jesus’ (right) or Cary Grant?

I know which one I’d pick to emulate!

Second: the best advice I can offer anyone who thinks they have what it takes to be like a ‘star’ is that they should never care about their audience.

Oh, surely, they should still seek to deliver as fine and solid a performance as they can. That goes without saying. But regardless of how well they deliver the goods, that performance will be perceived as good, bad or indifferent without any accurate barometer of assessment.

You see, most audiences go to the movies without any set criteria or even general understanding of what makes a film or an actor good, clever or entertaining. If enough of these misguided self-appointed critics think something’s a hit, then it is – at least in measurable box office dollars, which is all Hollywood today genuinely cares about.

Artistic success is not measured or valued at all.

It’s an unknown quantity best left for the film historian to rediscover some fifty years after nearly everyone associated with the production is either dead, senile or doing infomercials for some exercise equipment that they don’t really use.

But, the audience goes and sits in the dark for two hours like a bunch of anesthetized sheep and when they exit the theater they’ve already decided the success or failure of a film based on their own inexplicable set of mythic criteria – so vastly simplified and unquantifiable that not even studio market research can accurately predict the outcome of any film’s success even fifty percent of the time.

In the old days, the studios used to have audiences fill out preview cards after a sneak preview, where everyone had the opportunity to put in their two cents in about what they had just seen. Based on these comments the studio would then go back and re-edit or, in some cases, re-shoot portions of the film before holding another ‘sneak preview’ and then put the film into general release.

Today, the studios think they’re so much more than clever by hiring a bunch of analysts to do that thinking for the audience. But it hasn’t made films better; just more narrow-minded and unappealing to everyone but a select market share – and sometimes, not even them.

Yours truly,
The crabby critic

Dear Crabby:

Is it okay to cheat on your husband if you already know he’s cheating on you?

- Valerie in Massachusetts

Dear Two-Wrongs:

No for the same reason it’s not okay to butcher a nearby farmer’s blue ribbon sow to paint your toe nails red, just because you believe that with a couple of hundred head of pork stinking up the yard he suddenly won’t be missing the extra bacon.

In what context of proposing your question did you think I’d say yes?!?

I suppose if you want to be accused of the same indiscretions that your wandering Walter is guilty of, then you can throw caution and your diaphragm to the wind, sashay your tooty to the No-Tell Motel and Mack Tack yourself to the nearest Rico Suave for a night of mattress pounding sex. But Val – hey girl, you won’t be getting even with your husband. You’ll just be lowering yourself to his level…no pun intended.

Yours truly,
The crabby critic

Dear Crabby:

I hate going to church. Alls it is, is a popularity contest and fashion show anyway. Who has the best clothes, nicest hair, cutest body. Why should I go when most of the folks there aren’t there for spiritual reasons anyway?

Yours truly, Cynthia

Dear Anti-Christ:
- I’m kidding…

Well alright then...don't hold it all in, tell me how you really feel.

Why indeed? I’ve always been a firm believer that there is a great divide between the divine and man made religion. I believe in God.

I just don’t think He and Pat Roberson have the same speed dial.

You should remember one thing, Cynthia. Religion was designed by men initially to put the fear of divine retribution into the uneducated masses.

Scare them with a bunch of “You’re going straight to hells” and hopefully they’ll conform to whatever hidden political or religious agenda you’ve got cooked up as a sideline. It’s worked that way for centuries on some very silly premises. The problem as I see it isn’t religion itself but the ‘men of God’ those teachings have been left in the hands of. A zealot is a dangerous thing.

Churches, synagogues…and life for that matter, are teeming with people who come to show off their clothes, put on airs and generally critique their social caste without so much as paying any attention to the service taking place before them.

What matters is the sincerity invested in the act itself. A good Christian, Jew, Catholic, Muslim...etc (and you'll pardon those religions I've left out) is 'good' for the deeds performed away from that center of worship.

Certainly - we are all prone to faltering and make mistakes. However, it is in our ability to recover from these absences in good judgment and with humility, rather than saving face, that separates the truly inspired from just your average run-of-the-mill heathen in white linen.

Yours truly
The crabby critic

Dear Crabby:

I just took my family to Disneyland and was shocked by the changes they’ve made in the theme park. Actually, horrified is more like it. I don’t understand why Tomorrowland now looks like a giant pile of antiquated junk from the turn of the last century instead of its white and shiny façade that used to be there. I also think they need to put back the submarine lagoon. Why did they change Disneyland?

Barrie in Arizona

Dear Barrie:

Your guess is as good as mine. I suspect that the submarines were closed because with declining profits the attraction proved too costly and cumbersome to maintain. Do I think that’s a good reason for getting rid of a time honored tradition?

Absolutely not!

Disneyland is a cultural artifact from another time in American history when positivism in the human spirit reigned indomitable and supreme. It was created by a man whose blind optimism and creativity far outweighed pragmatic 'common sense' firmly grounded in the 'real' world. For these qualities alone - Walt Disney today is quaintly referred to as a 'visionary' rather than a daydreamer with a genuine run of mixed luck and good fortune - which is much closer to the truth. Arguably, no one stands in greater admiration of 'Uncle Walt' than I.

However, through the rubric of postmodern reflection his Tomorrow-land was very much an attraction of its day - carrying on with the early concepts of 20th century man and merely dressing him up in unfamiliar 'futurist' facades.

In recently refurbishing these facades the imagineers (those fellas who design all the attractions) have regressed to the daydreams of another great visionary - Jules Verne; and rightly so since, like Disney, Verne's view of tomorrow was steeped in a regression from that ‘tomorrow’ by those same limited trappings that were true in his own time.

Today, Disneyland remains very much a repository for our collective dreams - only now the kingdom is run by bean counters whose greatest ‘wish upon a star’ is a very callously expected ‘supercalafragalisticexpialadocious’ bottom line.

Walt wouldn’t be pleased. He’d throw up.

Yours truly,
The Crabby Critic


Blogger David Herrle said...

Brilliant stuff! Hahaha! The sow's blood for toenail paint, the Brad Pitt/Cary Grant choice, etc.!

May 04, 2006  
Blogger jipzeecab said...

On church going:
In 1973 my family and I went on a sunday visit with a favored aunt and uncle to a fundamentalist Christian church in Western Ohio.
The service wasn't out of the ordinary but I noticed during the sermon that I was the only adult male in the audience who hadn't dozed off.
Fortunately I drew some comfort in the fact that the Choir was adorned in robes that were of the same shade of blue as my favorite NFL team at the time, the Miami Dolphins..

May 31, 2006  

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