23 August 2006

He was just too glib.

Beware, Paramount. If Crazy Tom Cruise (So crazy!) and his Cult of Scientology can voodoo the South Park guys from winning an Emmy for just making fun of his crazy self and his cult, imagine what he's going to do to you for firing him. It seems the studio doesn't want to be associated with the star anymore. Neither does the rest of Planet Earth, I'm sorry to say.

Crazy Tom Cruise (So crazy!) fired! That's great! I mean, terrible!

Oh, Crazy Tom Cruise (So crazy!), how far you have fallen.

The Devil in the Details
Taylor Lauren Amato

Night at the Museum

Before you read this, watch this trailer. I saw it first when I went to go see Pirates 2, and as much as I already love trailers, this got me really excited.

I'm sorry, but everything about this movie looks amazing to me. I know it's not coming out until December, and there are plenty of other movies that are probably a lot better than this one will be, but when I first saw the trailer, it reminded me of everything that's just so good about the movies, and everything I especially love.

First, look at the cast. Your jaw should drop. Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson are
funny enough, but add in Robin Williams, as well as the legendary Dick Van Dyke and Mickey Rooney, and you have an A-list cast in all ways, quality and quantity. Second of all, the movie takes place in a museum. Classic setting for adventure. Third, it's a huge, famous, important museum in New York City. At what appears to be, judging by the trailer, Christmastime. The best time of the year to be in New York City! There's magic, and history, and comedy, and Teddy Roosevelt - who, as the boyfriend likes to believe and I tend to agree with him, is the Samuel L. Jackson of presidents. A B.A.M.F.

It's true that the film is formulaic - obviously, as I was able to so quickly (albeit lightly) disect it. But, forgive me for saying this, it's formulaic in a good way. At least it is for me. It's not going to revolutionize cinema, but it looks so friggin' awesome. Plus, what a fantastic name and poster.

Not particularly or currently linguistically-inclined,
The Devil in the Details
Taylor Lauren Amato

12 August 2006

HeadOn - Apply Directly to the Forehead...OF SATAN

I'm so sorry for my near month-long hiatus. Between a general summer apathy, evil family gatherings, and a deathly illness (hurray sinus and lung infections, AND bronchitis!! IN AUGUST!!! OMGWTF), I just haven't had it in me to do anything besides lay around like a useless ass. But this just made me laugh.

It's such a famous commercial now, and I'm two weeks behind, I know. I tend to be. But everybody knows this. I see it everyday when I watch Wheel of Fortune. Yes, I watch Wheel of Fortune. Shut up, this isn't about me. This is about HeadOn. Besides being wildly annoying, with a name that can make dirty minded folk giggle, this commercial has actually been shown to be quite effective. Even if the product is not (it's almost entirely made out of wax, and all of the active ingredients are so dilluted as to be ineffective and, as a carcinogen, potentially dangerous).

When I saw this commercial, I thought I was the only person who noticed it. Well, OF COURSE NOT. That was quite stupid of me. Now, I can't really go in depth about how the ad itself works, because I know nothing of advertising. Not that you particularly care, but there's a class on it I want to take next semester, so maybe then I can talk about it. What struck me interesting about this news story, though, is that it seems to me that it almost entirely gained notoriety through it's reaction on YouTube. I've already talked about the possible effects YouTube may have on our media intake. And look! Our top news stories are already being shaped by it!

Um. Yes. That's all for now. Am still deathly ill, after all.

The Devil In The Details
Taylor Lauren Amato

17 July 2006

Nananananananana Spiderman!!!

o this is the teaser poster for the new Spiderman movie, and I must be honest, I'm not impressed. Now don't get me wrong, it's a great poster, but it doesn't tell you anything about the movie. At least, if you don't know anything about Spiderman. The spider's different, yes, but not enough for the average movie-goer to notice. The only hint at the darkness of the movie is in the black of the costume, and even that could be mistaken as a stylistic move. Plus, it's too similar to the other movies. I know it's only a teaser, but I'm really not a fan.

Short and sloppy today, I know, but tomorrow I should have a nice long piece looking at work ethics in the movies Rent and The Devil Wears Prada.

The Devil in the Details
Taylor Lauren Amato

15 July 2006

Wonderful World of CRAP no more, if I had my way.

I have always had a great love of Disney. I was the perfect age for the Disney Renaissance – that prime period of time between 1989 and 1999 when all of the most amazing Disney animated movies were made. To be fair, I was a little too young for The Little Mermaid, but I remember seeing all the others in the theatre. Even as I grew, my love for these Disney movies remained. But now, for some strange reason, my love and academic interest has multiplied.

This is most likely because we are in the middle of another Disney downfall, and I am clinging to these movies, praying for Walt Disney to fix this. Sadly, this has not happened. The only quality movies being released from Disney are Pixar films and the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. And Disney had very little to do with them, other than distribution.

I, along with the entire world, rightfully blame Michael Eisner. Now, I’m not a violent person, but any of my friends will tell you that my hands start clenching in anticipation of a kill when his name is heard. It is my belief that he should be killed, cloned, and then have his clones all killed. This is hardly fair, I know, but I really don’t care. For God’s sake, he took all of the Disney out of Disney.

Whether it’s his fault or not (it is – it so is, but I haven’t finished reading Disney Wars so I can’t back that up yet), the fact remains that Disney is terrible now. It’s really sad, because it isn’t that hard to fix. At least, if I were in charge it wouldn’t be hard.

So I present to you, in no particular order, my Twelve Step Program for Detoxifying Disney Animation:

1) Don’t, for the love of God, let 2D animation die.
This is perhaps the biggest mistake that Disney is making ever. They’ve announced quite some time ago that they are shutting down all 2D animated films in order to focus solely on 3D. In their opinion, nobody wants to see traditionally animated films anymore. This couldn’t be further from the truth, if you look at the reception the classics had, and in fact still have. True, the 2D films in recent years have failed, but they’ve sucked. Don’t blame the genre. It’s actually really interesting to see how much more computers were used from The Great Mouse Detective up until today, and how it was used progressively more and more. There should be a happy medium.

2) Go back to the winning formula used for Classic Disney and Disney Renaissance.
This includes: 1. Using legends, fairy, and folk takes as inspiration. 2. A more Broadway musical style, with original songs and music. 3. A strong, epic story instead of something fun. 4. Humor. Stuff like that.

3) Stop worrying so much about money.
Don’t ignore it completely, obviously, but remember that you have to sometimes spend money to make money. Don’t let quality die in order to save you a few pennies during production; a poorly made film will not make it back.

4) Kill Michael Eisner.
Slowly and painfully. Because I hate him. Hire people that aren’t business people. Hire people that love movies, and especially Disney movies. Because they know. As opposed to Eisner, who had never even seen a Disney movie when he went to the company.

5) Steal the Dreamworks Animation writers and developers, as well as those foreign guys.
The writers from Shrek already have a history with Disney, working in Pirates of the Caribbean. Send them over to animation, and pay them enough not to work with Dreamworks again. Also, look to artists such as Hayao Miyasaki for inspiration. There are many wonderful animated filmmakers (The Triplets of Belleville, anybody? Weird but oh so good.)in the world, and Disney should work to get them. Besides, steal all the Dreamworks guys, and you’ll eliminate the competition.

6) Love John Lassetter and Pixar, don’t fight them.
Disney's already put him in as head of animation and, bless him, he doesn’t want 2D to die either. Disney shouldn’t screw it all up over stupid issues like marketing, merchandising, and sequels. Give Pixar complete creative control. And don't get so damn hung up over sequels. Which leads to Step 7.

7) Stop making Direct-to-Video sequels.
Nobody likes them, they suck, they don’t make money, and they’re an insult to the Disney canon. Put the money and work back to original Disney animated features. The End.

8) Don’t try too hard.
Don’t look too hard for what the demographics what; they often don’t know what the hell they want, anyway. Movies from the Renaissance period, and all of Disney, happened naturally. Don’t take the first that that hits you and work it to death in a desperate attempt to get it to work. Just let it happen. Listen to all ideas and don’t immediately dismiss them.

9) Don’t sacrifice quality for A-list celebrities.
Don’t use famous names if there’s a no name that works better. Nobody ever notices, anyway, unless they have a very distinct voice. It’s alright, however, to have an easily recognizable person play the outrageous sidekick (à la Aladdin and Mulan, and to a lesser extent, The Lion King, with the hyenas). Movies like Madagascar worked, in contrast, because each of the characters complimented the person playing them. Use it when it works, and only then.

10) Don’t dumb it down.
Don’t make a movie vapid and idiotic because you don’t think children will understand it. They will. Dumbing it down also makes watching movies a misery for everyone over the age of 8, which greatly limits your audience. I imagine that everybody, whether they had children or not, went to see Beauty and the Beast. Seriously. It was nominated for Best Picture. If it weren’t for Best Animated Feature, I bet another just like it could win.

11) Continue with the re-releases.
A good idea, because it introduces new children to the movies, and there’s nothing like seeing a movie in the theatre. It always rebuilds excitement. The special editions of Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King for IMAX, in my opinion, were brilliant because they included coveted deleted scenes.

12) Get better PR.
Because really, Disney. People think you hate the world.

I might or might not have a post later on today; turns out I have a sister, and she's in town visiting with her children. This is me, completely boggled. I'll try, but if I do, it'll be short. And probably just a short little blurb on the new Spiderman 3 teaser poster. So, until then...

The Devil in the Details
Taylor Lauren Amato

14 July 2006

Fast little one before Disney

Found on IMDb:

MySpace Bans Political Parody

he social networking website MySpace recently acquired by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. has removed a parody of Sen. Ted Stevens' obtuse description of the Internet as "not something you just dump something on. It's not a truck. It's a series of tubes." (In the same remarks, the senator complained, "An internet was sent by my staff at 10 o'clock in the morning on Friday and I just got it yesterday.") The parody had been posted on the TedStevensFanClub blog by Andrew Raff, a law-school graduate, who is also a member of a Brooklyn-based rock band called The Bosch. According to Wired magazine's online edition, the ditty had been heard by about 2,500 people before MySpace pulled the plug on it, telling Raff that it had received a "credible complaint of your violation of the MySpace Terms of Services." Stevens is the chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee and is regarded as the Senate's most powerful figure affecting broadcasting regulation. Raff, in an email to Wired, maintained that he was not upset about MySpace removing his song -- "just curious as to why." Raff's song got additional exposure on Comedy Central's The Daily Show Wednesday night when Jon Stewart put it on the air, complete with a visual description of how the Internet "tubes" supposedly work.

This really rubs me the wrong way. Maybe because I see it as a violation of Freedom of Speech. I'm pretty sure it doesn't apply to same as privately owned websites, but I still don't think it's right. First of all, parody is always protected as far as copywrite is concerned - although really, it's not like the comments were or anything.

Although it's really nothing new. I don't remember where, but I read that profiles that featured a parody explaining Scientology are suspended. Considering that MySpace has become a website where bands have been able to rise to fame and the creativity (admittedly, among other things) flows, this seems like a bad sign. Mostly maybe it's because I didn't know MySpace had been sold and I see it as the worst kind of selling out.

It's probably just that I get a little annoyed anytime something's censored (except Michael Moore - the man can believe whatever he wants but when he purposefully misleads people on something so important, I think that's dangerous).

I realise this probably makes no sense and is probably hitting the negative side of the logic scale, but I'll have something wordier and much more thought out later, when I talk Disney. I loves me some talking 'bout Disney.

Oh, and by the way, in one of the most astonishing examples of chance, one of my Media Studies professors from school (I go to school in DC, mind) is now teaching at Fayetteville State University, which I live down the street from, practically. And he pimped my blog! Yay! And so you should totally go look at his, the 2 readers I hope I have.

The Devil in the Details
Taylor Lauren Amato

Lindsay Lohan: 'Redheads great in bed'

Lindsay Lohan: 'Redheads great in bed'

BANG Showbiz

Jul. 13, 2006 12:04 PM

Actress Lindsay Lohan has slammed the myth that blondes have more fun, insisting it's redheads who should be envied.

The Herbie Fully Loaded star insists her flame-coloured locks make her naturally more sexy than her brunette or blonde counterparts and, despite experimenting with different hair colours in the past, it's her natural hue that she's most proud of.

She says, "I have this Playboy book called Redheads in my room and I was reading all these things about how redheads are more passionate, and apparently they're much more sexual than girls with other hair colours.

"I think I'm more sexual than my friends. More comfortable in my skin."


Found on ONTD She thinks she's more sexual?

Carlos Mencia says, "DER DER DER!"

The Devil in the Details
Taylor Lauren Amato

13 July 2006

I lose.

eally, really bad.

Chuck Klosterman talks about Snakes on a Plane better than I ever could. Until my next post, very soon.

ETA: Alright, so I'll just write out a response-lite to the article, in order to make this post less of a waste of space.

He pretty much talks about how Snakes on a Plane is an accident of a movie, which in normal circumstances would never have seen the light of day. He goes on to complain that this movie, if it weren't horrible enough (despite how amusing it may or may not be), will inspire other movies to be made the same way, depending on the box office success. And they'll all be failures.

While I wish I could say that I have confidence in those in the film industry to know this as well, it is pretty obvious that they'll try anyway, despite knowing better. I don't see what's wrong with that, really. Nobody knows what they want to see better than the people seeing it, and considering the quality of films today, I don't see how things could get much worse.

Actually, they could. I think I've just jinxed the entire industry.

However, Chuck seems to forget that this certainly isn't going to hold true for the entire industry. There will still be quality films, and ones that are still fun. I think it'd be a really interesting experience, at least once, to make a movie like Snakes on a Plane, but on purpose. A sort of Choose Your Own Movie.

Also, Chuck seems to think that future movies like and including SoaP, were made to be bad movies, in order to create satire. I don't think that the movie is satire at all. It's certainly aware that it's not a good movie, but I think it's aiming more to be a tribute to the great B-movies of the past. The sort of movies that the Angry Beavers used to watch. It can also be considered a Surrealist movie (at least if you look on Wikipedia), although I see the connection. Surrealist works include The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (book, people!), Monty Python, and even, to an extent, Family Guy, Futurama, and South Park. They all use surrealism, in normal-speak equals Random Fucking Shit (pardon the language). SoaP is the same way. It uses a completely weird and crazy situation in order to achieve humor.

But like Chuck, I think too much of it can be a bad thing. SoaP will work because it only takes little things from the fans, like one tagline or the title or the gratuitous sex and violence. People will look forward to seeing this in the movie, because it's more like an injoke than anything else. People didn't petition to have the line put in the movie - well, they might have, but petitions NEVER work - it just happened.

There! Is that better?

The Devil in the Details
Taylor Lauren Amato

Where I am a ranty poo-pants.

Ok, so I lied about putting up two posts yesterday to make up. Instead of writing, I fiddled with my layout! How do you like it?

No, really, tell me. I'm hot for comments. And the like.

And because I still don't feel like writing (my last - and only - three posts all took over an hour or so to actually write), today is going to be super short, and probably nothing more than a rant bordering on obscene.

Really, though. I don't understand the obsession with the Teen Queens of Hollywood. I'm talking about Paris, Nicole, Linsdsay, and all of those other anorexic, disease-ridden slutbags. Normally, I say let those people do whatever the hell they want, but when there are young (and vapid, probably) teenage girls that look up to them, I start to get pissed off. Now I know it's not their fault for being so famous, and that they should be able to do what the hell they want. But whether they want to be or not, they have a responsibility to uphold. It's exactly the same thing as being a parent. They are now role models to hundreds of impressionable people.

Maybe I'm jealous that I'm not a size 0 or rich and famous, but really, if there are people stupid enough in the world to think that Paris Hilton and Linsday Lohan are hot, or the coolest people EVAH OMGZ, then I say let them be happy in their silly little world full of sunshine and rainbows. Hopefully they don't need drugs like these party freaks do. And there's no way you can convince me that they're clean.

And anyway, don't any of these people have pride? Look at them! 90% of the pictures taken of them show them to be ugly (no, there's no other word for it), sickly, sad, and dressed like whores. Are people so afraid of their wrath that nobody can tell them how horrible they look? I remember reading a story where Lindsay Lohan was at a restaurant and asked the waitress to go to Baskin Robbins (or Coldstone, or somewhere) to get her ice cream. The waitress told her to get it herself.

I would kiss that waitress, were I ever to meet her.

These people really need to be taken off of their pedestal. What has Paris Hilton done, anyway? She's acted a bit, and sings now (By the way - her new single? TERRIBLE!), but besides those mediocre bits of work? Nothing. She's famous simply for being rich and whorish. I certainly hope she doesn't think she's a gem because of that. She's rich and famous because her daddy's rich and (therefore) famous. For God's sake, she doesn't even know the name of her own video game! You'd think she cares about that sort of thing. And don't try to bring up her stints of reality TV. There is no talent required for reality TV.

And poor Lindsay Lohan. Ah, how far you've sunk since The Parent Trap. She was adorable and good in that movie! In Just My Luck? Not a chance. Besides, she was way to young for that part. But I digress. Because she became friends with Paris and that crowd, even with the catfights and perhaps especially so, she's still become a complete void. Everything about her is bad - her looks, her skills, her modeling (ever see "Lindsay Lohan Doesn't Change Facial Expressions"? Classic!). And her hair? Do you know how many people would kill for that red hair? How I would? She should spend an eternity in Hell just for dying it.

And what's sadder than these people? The ones that adore them. Why? Well, really I just think it's those who have issues in their own life. Why do guys think they're hot? Because they're probably lonely in real life for wanting people like Paris. No taste! Girls who wish they were skinnier, or richer, or just plain hate themselves. And honestly? I can't stand people who can't be happy with who they are because of stupid reasons like weight or wealth, so I can't even talk about them anymore.

What about people who can't stand them, like (obviously) me? Why are we just as obsessed? Well, we probably want all the stuff they have, the same as the admirers. Who doesn't? They have the coolest shit! Blackberries, and pink motorcycles, and home movie theatres. I'll admit it: I'm a consumer whore. I want stuff. They have stuff, and I like looking at it. I'd be just as happy looking at a catalogue of random cool shit as I would looking at a tabloid. Would I rather look at the pink RAZR in a Motorola booklet or in the hands of Lindsay?


Why? Because at the same time I get to drool over spiffy electronics, I can get a self-esteem boost knowing that I'm not her. It's schadenfreude, plain and simple. I feel better about myself by looking at those trainwrecks. Just look at them! They're obviously miserable! And if they're not, it's only because they're ignorant of the shallowness of the life they live. And personally, I'd rather not be an ignoramus myself. And despite them being famous, across the country, and treated as if they're some sort of gods, they're still people. And people are fascinating. We love reality TV because unlike sitcoms or dramas, these are real people being directly affected by the circumstances that they're in. These celebrities, along with every other celebrity, is like a real-life reality TV show. I know, I know. The horror! But it's true. Stephen Johnson, in his book Everything Bad Is Good For You, talks for a great deal about this.

And I won't. Because Anastasia is on HBO Family, and that is a high quality movie. Oh! And an inspiration for my next blog entry:

The Disney Renaissance and Carwreck: What the Hell Went Wrong, and Why We Can Blame Everything Bad In This World On Michael Eisner.

Perhaps this entry will be a nice blend between essay and rant, and sound a lot less like a term paper.

Until tomorrow!

The Devil in the Details
Taylor Lauren Amato

12 July 2006


To make up for the extra early post Monday, I'm posting an extra late one Tuesday (so late it's already past!). Because it's my blog, and I say so.

Now I’ve got another confusing one for those not Internet-savvy. If Snakes on a Plane didn’t make you scratch your head, then the Numa Numa guy or Lazy Sunday will have you running for the door. Except that the world of “viral videos” is actually really interesting AND hysterical. But I’m not limiting this post simply to videos, but to all of the different types of Internet memes.

Instead of posing as a Wikipedia entry, I’ll actually quote one:

“The term "meme,” coined in 1976 by Richard Dawkins, refers to a replicator of cultural information that one mind transmits (verbally or by demonstration) to another mind. Dawkins said, Examples of memes are tunes, ideas, catchphrases, clothes fashions, ways of making pots or of building arches. Other examples include deities, concepts, ideas, theories, opinions, beliefs, practices, habits, dances and moods which propagate within a culture.”

In actual English, a meme another name for a trend. Those songs, dances, and fashions that you JUST CANNOT GET RID OF (See the macarena, My Heart Will Go On, and leggings) are memes. Reality TV is a meme. The term isn’t used anymore, replaced by trend, as well as “that damn (insert annoying trend)", and it isn’t always used negatively. The word “meme,” however, is starting to be used in regard to Internet trends.

As long as there has been Internet, there has been Internet memes. I wonder if Al Gore invented those, too...Anyway, from the rise of l33tsp33k to The Juggernaut Bitch!!, these short videos have a long history of getting trapped in our Bookmarks and watched repeatedly until they die a horrible, groan-inducing death. Two of the earliest and most famous of the Internet memes are the Dancing Baby and the Hamster Dance.

How do these videos, websites, and unclassifiable become famous on and even off the Internet? First, it’s a simple matter of quality. Only the very best and the absolute worst rise to fame. For example, there is the series Red vs. Blue, based off of the extremely popular (and really fun!) video game Halo. The videos are short, although there are about 80 of them, and are well made (using actual game footage) and actually quite funny. Alternatively, there’s the truly horrible and ridiculous, such as - hold back your moans, please - William Hung. Yes, anybody or anything, regardless or origins, can end up on the Internet. It's a potluck, really. Just be extremely weird.

Memes are spread mostly by word of mouth - or, really, just word. They're sent in chain e-mails, posted onto blogs, or seen peering over shoulders at screens. There are plenty of websites more than willing to host these memes, even steal them - EBaum's World, I'm looking at you. One of the biggest causes of the rise of videos, particularly, is the website YouTube. YouTube is basically a site that hosts any type of video imaginable, short of the pornographic. Any short video that gains in popularity on the Internet is almost surely got its big start on YouTube. And...Well, that's really all there is to it.

One of the reasons memes have become so prevalent in our popular culture, on and off the Internet, is because of the ease of creating your own videos. Back in the olden days, when dinosaurs and Nazis roamed the earth, filmmaking was expensive and editing was extremely tedious and difficult. But now, thanks to digital technology (no, really, thanks), it's now cheap and easy to create and edit your own films. And thanks to websites such as YouTube, it's easier than ever to share them.

Why is filmmaking so appealing to so many people? While an entire library can be written on it, there are a few easily explained reasons. Well, the opportunity to express yourself is certainly an appeal. It's a chance to be creative and crazy that many people don't have the opportunity to be in real life. Also, it can be a chance to become famous, whether in Hollywood or the Indie film circuit or on the Internet. The Internet is certainly the cheapest, but is it the easiest to become famous on? There are so many people trying, and unlike Hollywood, everybody has an opportunity. Really, I think that it comes down to the same thing as in Hollywood: quality and the publicity it gets.

Why is the subject so often something already established? Well, to go back to the producer/consumer thing yet again, it' because it provides the fan an opportunity to create his own version of what already exists. Don't like that Kirk and Spock never hooked up, even though you knew that they were madly in love? Well, you can easily fix that now. Tribute films, or machinima for those made by video game footage, provide already-available material (like clips, characters, plot, and many other things), as well as something that everybody already knows about.

Because this post has been delayed all night (real life had a chance to be much better than blogging, and it was), I can't really remember what else I had to write on this. So now, if this post wasn't long enough yet, I'd like to simultaneously recommend my favorite memes, with a short - well, we'll see how short - explanation of why I think it became so popular.

Lazy Sunday - One of the rare jewels recently to grace Saturday Night Live's presence, Lazy Sunday is actually a digital short, not a sketch. It's a rap by Chris Parnell and Andy Samberg about the duo's lazy Sunday day going to see The Chronicles of Narnia. There are LOADS of reasons why this video is so popular. First, it's one of the few good things to come out of SNL since Will Ferrell left. Second of all, it's quality rap, and much better than half the stuff out today. For those few who really, really research it, this video is also very reminiscent of the very first rap video. Another thing is, is this perhaps a commentary on middle- and upper class white people trying to act like rappers and pimps (something that really, really pisses me off)? It would certainly seem so. Snacking on cupcakes and going to see The Chronic(What?)cles of Narnia hardly seem hardcore.

The Juggernaut Bitch!! - A dubbing of an episode of X-Men, where one of the villains, the Juggernaut, seems to think of himself as a pimp. It's really just funny because of the dialogue, which is deliciously inappropriate, especially for a children's show. One of the best things about this video, and probably something that greatly helps its popularity, is that somebody actually important appreciates it. Bryan Singer, the director of X-Men 3: The Last Stand put the most famous line of the parody ("I'm the Juggernaut, bitch!") in the movie. The character was almost certainly already in the movie when the video came out.

Trailer Mashups - Trailer mashups involve the splicing of film footage to create a trailer for a movie that already exists, except make it appear to be in a drastically different genre. The first of these was a trailer for Shining (obviously, The Shining), which makes the classic horror flick appear to be a funny father/son coming of age sort of movie. Many of these began to crop up, and unofficial rules were even created (such as that the film could not be altered, i.e. made black-and-white, or stretched, or have effects added in the background). The most famous of all of these were the numerous Brokeback Mountain trailer parodies, the most famous of those being Brokeback to the Future. It's really simple to explain: everybody loves good gay subtext, really. It's so funny. And most movies actually do have some sort of subtext, which in these trailers is shamelessly exploited. And why Brokeback? Because it takes itself so seriously, it's funny! Honestly, "I wish I knew how to quit you!" and all of those doe-eyed stares? Come on!

There were more, but I'm so tired I can't even see. I'm not sure what I'll write about tomorrow, but it’ll probably be on the Teen Queens. It'll be different, too, because a subject like that allows me to vent so much more and be nasty. So, until later today!

The Devil in the Details
Taylor Lauren Amato

10 July 2006

What can I say except 'Snakes! On a Plane!'?

My computer has royally died on me, so I found that there’s no better thing to do than composing my next blog post! Today, ladies and gentlemen, we shall be discussing the phenomenon known as Snakes on a Plane! It’s Snakes! On a Plane! Is there anything that can be better than that?

Snakes on a Plane, or SoaP (or SoaMFP, if you’re a, excuse my language, badass motherfucker [BAMF]), for those of you who don’t know, is a movie coming out this August. It has a very simple plot: there are snakes on a (mother…nevermind) plane. By some miracle, which I hope to dissect here, it has achieved cult B-movie status long before filming even completed. It is perhaps one of the first films to be almost completely advertised by internet word-of-mouth. It has gained some media attention, mostly by entertainment magazines listing summer releases, as well as a few mentions in weekly publications. It’s starting to hit mainstream culture with Samuel L. (mother…okay, now it’s old) Jackson presenting the award for Best Movie in a SoaP tee-shirt.

It’s been blogged to death, I know, and that’s one of the things that are interesting about it. The Snakes on a Plane movement started with a simple blog named, creatively, Snakes on a Blog. It was first created by Josh Friedman, a screenwriter who was asked to work on the script. The blog gained Internet fame, and so did the movie

I sound like a Wikipedia Entry.

Anyway, why am I so fascinated with this movie? Alright, I can admit it; I’m freaking loving the idea of Samuel L. Jackson going medieval on some snakes on a plane in a movie filled with corny dramatic music, cornier lines, and gratuitous violence and nudity. But really, at the heart of it, I find Snakes on a Plane to be one of the most fascinating things to happen in the media world, academically. It finally bridges the gap between producer and consumer.

Producer and Consumer is one of the most basic ideas in Media Studies. The producer creates media (such as movies, books, television, music, etc.) based on what the consumer wants. The consumer knows what it wants because of what the producer created. The way it remained, for ALL TIME, was that the two were strictly separated. Naturally, producers look for inspiration from the consumer, but that was it.

Focusing strictly on film (and possibly straying into television), it remained that way up until the late 20th century. It was when editing became easy and inexpensive that consumers were able to become the producers, and often they worked with what they had. Thus, tribute videos were born. Blah, blah, blah, Red vs. Blue, moving on through the Media Studies lesson.

Anyway, the thing I really love about Snakes on a Plane is that the producer/consumer relationship has been completely dissolved. Fans on the Internet created their own trailers for SoaP, or their own versions of the movie entirely. The videos are especially fascinating to me, mostly having to do with the rise of websites such as YouTube (which I can also talk about at great length). These videos circulate the Internet, gathering almost as much fame as the movie itself. Tee-shirts were sold (I myself own one inspired by Jackson’s shirt at the MTV Movie Awards).

The producers of the movie went to the Internet, asking fans to create a real music video. And, impressing me the most, the filmmakers actually went back for reshoots of the film, upping the rating to an R (a rarity in the business, because it limits the potential audience). Lines suggested by fans made their way into the movie, and lots of extra sex and violence was put in. is truly a movie made by both producers and consumers.

But WHY did this phenomenon happen? Why is this movie so special? Really, it’s just a matter of personal preference. I’ve tried to explain SoaP to many people, and I get nothing but blank stares. People don’t like snakes, and people don’t like planes. That’s understandable. It sounds like a horrible movie, many of them have told me.

Well, that’s exactly it. The idea of a movie about snakes on a plane named Snakes on a Plane is so ludicrous it couldn’t be true. But it was. In fact, the idea is so simple the plot could probably very easily spread across different cultures. Then after thinking about it for a while, the idea of SoaP evoked many beloved movies of the past, the prime example being Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. It’s classic B-Movie fodder! By name alone, it’s so bad it’s good. But perhaps most of all, it’s just plain fun. People can talk about it’s significance in film (yes, me), or why it’s going to be THE MOST AMAZING MOVIE TO COME OUT THIS SUMMER OHMIGAWD!, but everybody can agree that it’s going to be a hell of a fun movie.

Everything about it is, when you think about it. The story of how a BAMF like Samuel L. Jackson got on board a movie is enough to make anybody laugh. He didn’t even look at the script! He just saw the title and signed on. How often does that happen to movies of this caliber? And when the filmmakers were going to change the name of the movie? Samuel Jackson said “NO WAI,” and that was that. Chuck Norris would be proud of him.

I could go on and on about how amazing this movie is, but really, you just have to find out for yourself. I suggest going to the Wikipedia entry for Snakes on a Plane, as well as Snakes on a Blog and the Snakes on a Plane entry on IMDb. I especially recommend taking a look at the forum’s list of possible SoaP sequels, with 1,100 posts and climbing (registration required). My favorite? Snakes on a Plane 3: Snanes on a Plake – “A non-sensical charming romp through the coma induced dreams of a 12 year old retarded boy. It could have a shocking twist towards the end revealing that the boy became retarded after watching Snakes on a Plane and it's sequels. And he's in a coma because he got hit by a truck... full of snakes...”

Next time? Hm. I think I’ll talk about Internet Memes: Chuck Norris, Lazy Sunday, and the Internet Wars.

Until next time!

The Devil in the Details
Taylor Lauren Amato

09 July 2006

My Super Sweet Cup O' Crack

It's a show that has mercilessly burned its way into society. It's a show that you feel ashamed to admit that you love, but so many of us love to admit! It's on my sacred MySpace and Facebook profile lists of favorite shows, along with other intellectual stimuli such as Family Guy, 24, House, and South Park. My father loves it, and your father would too, if he doesn't already watch it. If it wasn't obvious from the picture, which it is, I'm talking about My Super Sweet Sixteen, airing every waking minute of the day on MTV, MTV2, and in teenage minds across the country. Just what the hell is it about this show that we love so much?

There really are so many things, and I don't know which to list first. Well, I do. It's a show that makes you feel good about yourself. Sure, you don't have that $1500 Fendi bag, and it's not your $100,000 party. But watching these girls and occassional guy, you're cheered up by the thought that it's not you. A person's self-esteem goes up tenfold. You revel in the fact that you've never had a bitchfit in front of your friends, crying that your boyfriend is paying attention to somebody other than you. You've never burst into tears on Rodeo Drive, mortifying your mother and everybody within a 10-foot radius. I'm an only child, and I went through an especially vicious phase when I was in middle school. It disappeared, however, when I spent a month with my cousins. I don't wish their tantrums on even my worst enemies (not that I have any). Seeing my cousin dissolve into hysterical tears and screams upon discovering McDonald's had gotten her order wrong, I knew right at that second that that was the type of person I never wanted to be, and I don't think I am. Luckily my cousins have improved with age, except my older one who is a force to be reckoned with when she has a drink or two in her. But that is another post for another day.

One of the obvious highlights of this show is the selfish, childish meltdowns these teenagers have. But why air them, and more importantly, why the hell do these teenagers act like that in front of the camera. When initally thinking about it, it seems as if the show and MTV are glamorizing actions like these, but perhaps there's some subtle plea ingrained in the show. Perhaps the creators are begging the audience not to become these poor, most likely unsalvagable petty people. More likely, they do it because we love it. Which, as I said, is probably because it makes us feel damn good about ourself. Oh, and schadenfreude. We love seeing these priveledged people absolutely miserable.

Is it seeing the money being dropped in a way that most Americans could only dream about? The ability to spend money the way people do on this show is something most of us only dream about. Is this show a twisted type of wish fufillment? There are so many shows like this. All reality shows, and more or less all television shows period are like this, but especially those such as MTV CRIBS, and others. They show us a life that we dream about, where the beautiful people are rich and happy and live the perfect life. Then there are shows such as While You Were Out, Pimp My Ride, and Extreme Makeover where we actually become one of those lucky few, at least in a small way. We get the nice wardrobe, we get the awesome car, and we get the movie star look. While the shows aren't going to be nominated for Emmy's anytime soon (has it?) - and by the way, how the hell did House get nominated and Hugh Laurie didn't? - it certainly makes for juicy television.

Back to Sweet Sixteen. At the same time it's fun to watch, the show's like a horror movie. Is this what all teenage girls are like today? Of course not, but it's certainly looking like that more and more. I'm certain that despite how the rest of the world sees us, our country is not that fat and spoilt. But it's because of shows like this where I can understand why other countries are revolted at us. Though really, if people are judging our country based on this show, then they're not exactly brilliant in the first place, are they? I'd say that a country cannot be judged based on the television that airs, but that's probably not true. It's quite similar to the cinema that the country produces. Movies such as The Battleship Potemkin were created because of political crises in Russia, and it's reflective of the political and social atmosphere of the time. It brought attention to the changes needed for a better world - even though Communism is totally evil and bad. Right. (In Soviet Russia...) Perhaps the same thing could be said for television. People should pay attention to the media, because there is no better and easier way to see ourselves.

Did I just compare My Super Sweet Sixteen to one of the most important works in cinema history? YOU BET I JUST DID! I'M HARDCORE LIKE THAT.

There's still a frightening obsession with wealth and brands that while not new, is more prevalent than ever. It's got a lot to do with the circle caused by advertisers and coolhunters (which, despite being perhaps one of the coolest jobs ever, is sadly being eliminated). Items such as designer purses, high-end electronics, and luxury cars are only owned by the very rich and famous. Advertisers and magazines create publicity and desire for the objects, more of them are bought, and the cycle goes on. The cycle of advertising and consuming, and public relations, was first touched on by Sigmund Freud's nephew, Edward Bernays. It's actually really interesting to look at, because the same techniques he came up with for advertising, Hitler used in Nazi Germany. But I think it's a stretch to compare Nazi Germany to My Super Sweet Sixteen. I was going somewhere else with this, I know, but I can't remember. But connected to this is the Paris Hilton/Lindsay Lohan phenomenon, which I will talk about (and believe me, I will talk about it) another time, so maybe I'll remember by then.

I don't think I've talked about anything people didn't already know, but I hope I have come up with some ideas of my own. That's really the goal of this blog, after all. I can't reference an obscure sociologist from a 1994 paper written in Germany, but hopefully I sound somewhat educated. Hopefully I'll have another post tomorrow, if I ever get off my lazy bum to just do it. Hey, it's only my first post. They can't all be stunners.

The Devil in the Details
Taylor Lauren Amato