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  • Media Meanderings

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on January 24th, 2016 (All posts by )

    Taking pen in hand … or actually, the computer keyboard … to while away a few minutes of leisure between wrapping up today’s work. (Yes, I am a small business owner and independent author; weekends and holidays are normal working days for me, although those hours and days are of my own choice, which makes up for quite a lot. And also, the commute is short.)

    I was working away on graphic adornments for the next book in the Luna City Chronicles, and an editing job which I had thought to finish by mid-month, but these things happen. Anyway, I was diverted upon coming out to start cooking supper, to note that Blondie is also working away on her own stuff for upcoming events; for aural wallpaper, she had an old TV show on streaming video as she works. She has been going through various old shows in recent weeks. Last week it was the original Thundercats, the week before that it was McGyver. But this week it’s The X-Files … a show which she finds nostalgically amusing, but which I began to find so repellant that I stopped watching after a certain point. Was it the episode with the murderously incestuous hillbilly clan with the armless, legless mother, or the one where an oh-so-secret US Army unit machine-gunned to death a whole group of human-alien hybrid offspring? Memory does not serve up an exact date at this point, but that was where I decided that The X-Files just was not my cuppa any longer. Not for dealing out spine-chilling bits of horror in weekly episodes – the creepy guy who could slither through AC ducts, the primitive humans living in the wilds of New Jersey, the life insurance salesman who could foresee the death of his potential clients … for sheer story-telling expertise and creepy thrills, right up there with The Twilight Zone, or Kolchak: The Night Stalker. Likely, The X-Files still is, among certain aficionados.

    No, what I could no longer countenance by watching was the government/alien/political shenanigans plots; Cigarette-smoking Man, assassinations, and aliens and all, with the government massively covering up. That, I began to sense was encouraging a terribly unsavory mind-set among the terminally paranoid. It’s one thing to have all this spilled out in the wee hours on radio in Coast to Coast; quite another to have it on prime-time broadcast television. It was almost as if the show was deliberately encouraging and egging on the paranoid element – for ratings and pure sadistic amusement. And so we stopped watching it entirely. Now my daughter is entirely amused, shaking her head over how the show-runners seemed to find it credible that long-term projects undertaken by the military-industrial complex could be kept secret for years, or decades, given that nothing much will remain long a secret when people retire, leave service, and all. Eventually, they write books. Sometimes years later, or even just months. The military is an odd place – and nothing stays secret in it for long. Good story-telling is forever. Messing with the minds of the conspiracy-inclined is also forever, given how many viewers seem to believe that if it is on TV, then it is real.

    And the next media imbroglio – that there are no actors/actresses of color in this years’ Oscar noms… and the chief complainant regarding that situation is a guy-an-spouse who live in a huge estate the size of which if you ran away from home, you could still be at home. This is on-par with Orca Winfrey going on a prolonged media whine about how a Swiss shop assistant demurred showing her a particularly ugly handbag which cost retail about as much as my pension yearly plus what I earn from the Tiny Publishing Bidness. I mean seriously, Will Smith – you want an award trophy for just like … showing up? I suppose the best riposte to this was in another comment thread, by a contributor who seems to be in the acting profession. It was to the effect that he would rather be known at the end of his career by the question, “Why did he never get an Oscar?” than the question, “Why DID he get an Oscar?”

    Discuss, if you will, these relatively trivial matters.

     

    16 Responses to “Media Meanderings”

    1. dearieme Says:

      They should have a special Oscar for ethnic minorities. Then Chicago Boyz can chortle as “they” all argue that blacks/hispanics/south asians/east asians/red injuns/aleuts/polynesians don’t get a fair crack of the whip.

    2. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      For reasons I’m not sure about, I remember The Outer Limits as one of the few TV shows I actually found scary. Of course, I was about 5 or 6 when I was I watching it, so that helped. I clearly remember the opening, where the narrator took control of your TV set:

      Do not attempt to adjust your set.
      We control the horizontal.
      We control the vertical.

      Why I found that so creepy I do not know. I also remember watching an old Boris Karloff Frankenstein movie when I was very young and having a nightmare from that.

      I remember finding The Twilight Zone intriguing and interesting, but not scary. I also remember Rod Serling’s voice was mesmerizing.

    3. Grurray Says:

      A few years ago I decided to binge watch a few seasons of the Twilight Zone. Some of the episodes were just as I remembered them, perhaps even better as long as I mentally adjusted for the social/political context of the time. However, the majority just didn’t age well at all. Almost unwatchable.

      One old show that I can watch over and over no matter how much time passes is the Dick Van Dyke Show. The guy was a comic genius. This year is the 50th anniversary of Mary Poppins. I’m hard pressed to think of a more beloved cinematic character than Bert the chimney sweep.

    4. Bill Brandt Says:

      My conclusion about Will Smith as well.

      We can all look at movies in years past and declare that they should have won. That would be a post in itself.

      But whining about not being nominated. Then I suppose if nominated if not winning would deserve more whining….

      Whether someone should have won and didn’t will become obvious to most in the future. Being dignified and showing up shows more character than whining about not being nominated.

      When all this started I could envision as Dearieme suggested dozens of aggrieved catagories from Inuits to Seminoles complaining that their (fill in blank) didn’t win.

      The ideal thing of course would be to give everyone who acted, directed, produced, etc a movie a gold star.

      If they think their audience has shrunk now just wait until that utopia is achieved.

      I was never a huge fan of the X files – have sorta enjoyed the short reboot tonight – but it wasn’t always horror or gore – in one of the earliest episodes that seems comical today a computer with AI was killing people.

      Weirdness and outside-the-box plots were the goal.

    5. Mike K Says:

      I go to very few movies anymore. They seem to be made for imbeciles. I have seen a few in the theater. We have a new theater called “Cinepolis” with comfortable seating which can be reserved, drinks and food plus waiters who bring your orders. It costs about double the typical theater and seems quite popular. We saw “13 hours” there last week and “American Sniper” when it was out. I’ve also seen “Gravity” which had no plot but good special effects and “The Martian” which was a little better in both. “Woman in Gold” was excellent and recommended by a friend who knew the young lawyer in the story. I have probably seen a couple more but those are all I remember the past year.

      I do like old movies and have both NetFlix, which has few good old movies, and a collection of DVDs. Amazon Prime had an old movie I hadn’t seen in 50 years called “Impact” with Brian Donlevey and Ella Raines. It was as good as I remembered it although it was a “film noir” B movie. A few other old movies have not held up well but most do.

      I did like Will Smith and Don Cheadle and I’m sorry to see them inject themselves into this mess. Ice Cube, whose “Barbershop” movies I liked a lot, showed more sense.

    6. Grurray Says:

      I was always more into Star Trek but did watch X-Files now and again. I was never too interested in alien abductions, and the story arcs got to soap opera-y for my tastes. I liked the Lone Gunmen because it seemed I was always working with geeks like that.

      If I recall correctly, when Scully got cancer the show jumped the shark. It seemed like they were falling back on the disease-of-the-week Lifetime movie plot device.

      I can tell you the last episode that I ever saw. It was “Monday”, which was a total ripoff of Groundhog Day. The one thing good about that one was the performance by Carol Burnett’s daughter, but then they killed her at the end. It seemed to me a cynical way to cash in on the ‘David Duchovny Why Won’t You Love Me’ craze – the post-modern girls love Muldor so much that they’ll die to save him.

    7. Sgt. Mom Says:

      I was trying to recall the last Academy-award nominated movie that I saw in a theater … it was The King’s Speech, IRRC. Last movie in a theater was part two of The Hobbit, at an Alamo Drafthouse chain, which is one of those with comfortable seats, bar and meal service. Add me in to the list of viewers more likely to see a movie on DVD or streaming video at home, years after initial release.

      And as for actually watching the Awards? The ratings for it have been declining for years, so I don’t think I am alone there. Hollywood has been making a point of dissing ordinary Americans for years, this particular kerfuffle is just one more circuit of the drain. And it is most amusing that they are doing it to each other.

    8. Bill Brandt Says:

      Hollywood has been making a point of dissing ordinary Americans for years, this particular kerfuffle is just one more circuit of the drain. And it is most amusing that they are doing it to each other.

      Ain’t that the truth :-)

      Did see a nice movie the other day – Brooklyn, about a young Irish woman who emigrates to NY from Ireland in the early 50s.

      But it was independently produced.

      The Martian was good, but those who read the book said that the producers messed up the end.

    9. Sgt. Mom Says:

      Bill, I wonder if there will be more interesting, better, and creative movie/TV series content produced by providers like Amazon and Netflix in future. They are already in the business of providing entertainment content – why not take that next big step of generating it themselves? Got the market, got the deep pockets to hire the talent, got the means of delivery. Do it to divert and entertain the audience, not to mutually-masturbate each other intellectually.

    10. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      One old show that I can watch over and over no matter how much time passes is the Dick Van Dyke Show.

      I loved that show. I watched a few episodes online not too long ago, maybe a year ago. I was a little surprised to find I have still have a huge crush on Laura, maybe more of one since I appreciate her even more now that I’m older. That was TV in the day when there wasn’t a hint of sneering at middle America.

      Well, there was a little bit, but that was in late night intellectual talk shows out of New York. You kinda want to drag them by their collar from the grave and take them around to see the results of their ideas.

    11. David Foster Says:

      Sgt Mom…”Bill, I wonder if there will be more interesting, better, and creative movie/TV series content produced by providers like Amazon and Netflix in future. They are already in the business of providing entertainment content – why not take that next big step of generating it themselves? Got the market, got the deep pockets to hire the talent, got the means of delivery. Do it to divert and entertain the audience, not to mutually-masturbate each other intellectually.”

      I believe Netflix has already done some of this.

      I also wouldn’t be surprised if Crowdfunding plays a role in expanding content options. There are probably a lot of good programs that could be made for $1 million or less.

    12. Sgt. Mom Says:

      And Amazon Studios produced The Man in the High Castle. Practically every kind of movie save effects-heavy blockbusters can be made with a fairly modest budget. The elite Hollywood establishment may have marginalized itself.

    13. Will Says:

      Knew a few Piney’s back in the seventies when I was stationed in the area. The area was a wonderful contrast to nearby Camden and Philly. I don’t pay attention to the Academy Awards anymore, so the recent shakedown really doesn’t resonate much. Did see 13 Hours the other day, though. Wonder if that’ll garner anything other than contempt?

    14. Sgt. Mom Says:

      13 Hours? Contempt from the Academy by the bucket, as it packs them into theaters in flyover country … we do get thrown some good enthralling films now and again, when the law of averages catches up.

    15. Grurray Says:

      Michael, another great show from the 60s was The Man From Uncle. Think about how far we must have fallen to go from the moral clarity of Napoleon Solo to the byzantine squalor of Fox Mulder.

    16. Bill Brandt Says:

      Sgt Mom – when A & E decided to drop a popular modern Western, Longmire, Netflix took it up and produced the 4th season.

      I’d heard so much about the series Deadwood, and couldn’t get it via streaming on Netflix, that i bought a Blu Ray set – it is excellent although with a bit of OCD on my part started looking into the history of George Hearst and the writers decided to make him some evil ogre, which he was not.

      That would be worthy of a post asking if screenwriters and producers owe it to their craft to make historical characters fairly true to their lives – to keep the integrity of their craft – although i know this would never happen. But then you get millions of viewers getting the wrong idea about history – and contempt for Hollywood (see I did a turn back to the subject) :-)

      Anyway HBO only offered the producers a 4th season of 6 episodes which was refused so the series just sort of …ends to the chagrin of its many fans.

      This was about 2006; I suspect today a Netflix or Amazon would have picked it up.

      The movie business today is very different from up to the 70s – with theater revenue only a small portion.

      I suspect (and hope) more & more outside Hollywood will step in and fill a vacuum…