Cultural Odds And Ends, Fortune Cookies

The purpose of the entertainment industry is to distract you while your pockets are picked.

Is it a coincidence that we talk about “staging” a coup d’etat? After all, the best coups are pure theatre, with no casualties. We might also say that the audience contributes its suspension of disbelief, and comes away purged of pity and terror.

Is it merely a satisfying linguistic coincidence that other products “make” or “earn” money, while Hollywood films “gross”?

Some men have claimed that women can never be comedians, because they are intrinsically not funny. This is ridiculous, because there are such things as female comics, and perhaps there would be more on a level playing field. If being a comic demands a certain black view of the world’s follies, plus good timing, they can certainly do that. On the other hand, the relative scarcity may be due, not to discrimination, but the fact that too many women are much too busy being intrinsically right to be funny or indeed anything else.

Once upon a time the kitchen of a middle-class home was relegated underground or to the back. The master never set foot there, the mistress came only to supervise. But the servants cooked, uncomfortably. In the 1950s the kitchen migrated to the front, so that the housewife could welcome hubby home. It then became the social centre, although the French and Iberians persist in having a dining room. The terminus of the trend may be found in Germany and Scandinavia, where people spend vast amounts on the appearance of their kitchens and then buy the cheapest possible processed food to microwave there.

One-liner ideas for films:
* Three hundred liberals hold Thermopylae against a million knuckle-dragging rednecks.
* A film from the point of view of Ernst Stavro Blofeld – or his cat.

In another life I should like to write a Bildungsroman about a young girl who wants to explore the real world as opposed to fishing for attention and hand-me-down moralising. It might be interesting to explore the forces that would be opposed to her becoming a rational adult.

Douglas Adams pioneered robots with Genuine People Personalities™. This might be closer than we thought. The place to start would be add-ons to Siri, for nagging, boasting, guilting-out and passive aggression.

The last scene of Woody Allen’s All You Wanted To Know About Sex… is a conceit about the interior life of a man on a date and getting laid, with the actors playing body or brain functions and in Allen’s case a spermatozoan as parachutist. I propose that the scene be remade with the woman instead. We might learn something from her “control room”.

6 Responses

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  1. Written by James Beck
    on July 12, 2011 at 16:32

    All commercial enterprises gross and net. Hollywood films report their gross because their production costs, especially the actors’ salaries, are confidential, and the film companies tend to be privately held and/or limited partnerships. When the data are available, Hollywood studios also report out how much the films earned.

    By contrast, I think you are correct to characterize a coup as theater; after all, that is what elections are, too. However, your romantic vision has problems. Only the majority ever comes away purged of pity and terror. At best, the minority faces fear of coercion, but historically speaking, they may encounter far worse.

  2. Written by urban
    on July 14, 2011 at 02:42

    You’re right about ‘gross’, of course James, but I do know what Hugo means. In the mainstream media, unless the topic is business, one doesn’t hear that use of ‘gross’ much, EXCEPT when the story is the weekend’s receipts at the cinema, in which context ‘gross’ seems to be the term of choice.

    But then, what other industry has how much each one of its big producers earned over the weekend broadcast far and wide every week? So, unless you’re in business, weekly reports about movie attendance is probably most of the times most of us hear the word used that way.

  3. Written by Mr Fnortner
    on July 14, 2011 at 15:13

    I want to think that Hugo meant us to also perceive the alternate meaning of gross: to disgust, offend or nauseate.

  4. Written by Hugo Grinebiter
    on July 14, 2011 at 17:01

    Mr. Fnortner is right as usual.

  5. Written by urban
    on July 15, 2011 at 15:33

    My assumption was that he was playing on that ambiguity as well. Curious about the etymology of that alternate meaning. Gross anatomy? That does seem to apply to a lot of people I know.

  6. Written by Hugo Grinebiter
    on July 15, 2011 at 15:49

    It’s probably a happy coincidence, but the Norwegian for horror movies is “grøsser”. “Grøss” is a shiver down your back, see; but there is no meaning of disgust or nausea. Our financial term is “brutto”.

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