Latest ‘Game of Thrones’ Episode begs the question: When does Television go to far?

Sunday’s episode of the heavily watched and acclaimed HBO series ‘Game of Thrones’ sparked controversy early this week with its depiction of a particularly graphic rape scene featuring one of the shows female characters. For those of you who don’t watch the show, ‘Game of Thrones’ tells the story of warring families and factions in the medieval fantasy world of Westeros, which have been adapted from George R.R. Martin’s beloved book series.  While the show is no stranger to the headlines with its graphic scenes of violence and nudity, this past week’s episodes seemed to push the discussion towards the realm of ‘controversy’ among critics and fans alike who saw the rape of a character as being overly gratuitous. What’s more, many have taken to social media to display their disapproval, including Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri who described Sunday’s show as “disgusting” and “unacceptable”. While you can be sure that this isn’t the first time such words have been bestowed upon the series, it would seem the real issue is not so much the show itself but rather the fact that its current season has stopped following the plot of the source material. Unfortunately for fans, Season 5 of the show was the first time the length of the show had surpassed the length of the novels which are still being worked on by the book’s author, thus various changes have had to be made to the overall continuing plot much to the ire of some fans. But is this an example of ‘gratuitous sexual violence’ shoehorned in simply to generate controversy? Or is it simply another case of overreaction by audiences who aren’t comfortable with real world issues so blatantly making their way into entertainment media? The answer it would seem would depend on your definition of ‘gratuitousness’. Many shows in the past have received anger from audiences due to overt depictions of violent and sometimes shocking situations, one such example being the Season 4 ‘X-Files’ episode ‘Home’, which opens with a scene of a horribly disfigured newborn being buried alive. Other shows have been less obvious in their depictions of harsh realism, including ‘The Sopranos’, ‘Seinfeld’, and ‘Oz’. Programs like ‘Family Guy’ and ‘South Park’ have built their entire fanbases off being controversial, particularly when it comes to commenting on real world events and issues ranging from abortion and feminism to topics such as Scientology and racism. So where exactly do shows make the leap into ‘controversy’? The word itself has become somewhat overused as of late, especially when describing instances of someone simply trying to comment on an issue, thus my disgust with the media’s tendency to manufacture outrage from what amounts to little more than an individual’s opinion. I think the real issue we have is our habit of labeling dissent from conventional methods of storytelling as being something that’s ‘dirty’ or ‘sick’. It’s true there have been many instances of gratuitous violence in entertainment media, particularly when considering films like the ‘Saw’ series and cult flicks like ‘The Human Centipede’ and ‘A Serbian Film.’ Even shows like ‘Spartacus’ and ‘American Horror Story’ more often than not choose to delve into depictions of over sexualized situations and use of violence in the hopes of impressing the notion upon audiences that what they’re watching is truly ‘gritty’ and ‘mature’. However, having watched ‘Game of Thrones’, I can say that while the show is far from being PG-13 in nature, the violence is more often than not supported by character development and has a point beyond the spectacle of savagery. I can completely understand how depictions of rape upset people, particularly those who know someone who has or have themselves been victimized by sexual violence. It is indeed a terrible issue to discuss but to simply dismiss every depiction of such things as being ‘gratuitous’ seems rather close minded. The whole purpose of film as a storytelling medium is to provoke thought and use conflict to develop characters visually and emotionally. If a film or show decides to use hackneyed plot devices to get a cheap reaction out of an audience then that is gratuitous. However, if it’s done in a way that truly depicts the horror and emotional impact of a moment as life changing as rape beyond ‘shock value’ then in my mind, the writer has served their purpose as a storyteller. More often than not we try to escape into entertainment to try to forget everyday problems that plague us or maybe even use entertainment as a way of being able to cope and even laugh about them. But if a show wants to truly do justice by  commenting on the injustices of the world, it has to be done with some amount of control and be done with a greater purpose in mind.

Advertisements

Simon Pegg reflects on the impact of Big Budget Blockbusters

Simon Pegg

With the summer movie schedule well underway with the release of yet another post-apocalyptic film, ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’, the discussion about the impact of modern cinema has already kicked off as well. Simon Pegg, who you may know from comedy satire films such as ‘Hot Fuzz’ and ‘Shaun of the Dead’, and even more recently the Mission Impossible Series and Star Trek films; has more than enough to say about the state of the motion picture industry.

Early this week he spoke with the Radio Times and discussed what he viewed as the “dumbing down” of movies, citing films specifically in the superhero and comic book genres. He went on to say that in the past, films such as ‘Bonnie and Clyde’, ‘Taxi Driver’, and ‘The Godfather’ dominated the box-office due to their powerful narratives but now have been succeeded by pure “spectacle” and big-budget blockbusters.

Now many articles and such have delved into the territory of calling Pegg’s statements “controversial”; I’m not going to do that because to do so would feed into the zeitgeist of ‘manufactured controversy’ that we as a society seem to crave these days. What I will say is that it’s about time that someone in the industry made this observation, because I for one have been commenting on this growing trend in cinema for quite some time now.

The problem that Simon Pegg refers to is of course not isolated to science fiction on its own but rather the entire industry as a whole. Cash-cows like the Marvel films and franchise films eat up a lot of the budgets in film studios nowadays because they know that there’s a monumental number of people, young and old, who will run to see anything with the word ‘superhero’ attached to it. Modern cinema has taken a dive and forsaken powerful storytelling for the tedium of CGI-driven action and vomit inducing action films.

Simon Pegg is absolutely right to cite what we now refer to as ‘Classics’, because for a great period of time films such as ‘The Godfather’, ‘Doctor Zhivago’ and ‘Lawrence of Arabia’, used to rule the box-office with their zeal and ability to tell an epic story. Even today, films like ‘Gone with the Wind’ (adjusted for inflation) still hold the record for ‘highest-grossing films of all time’. If you were to do a quick ‘Google’ search of films that hold that mantle now, you’d find that almost all of them are either comic-book or fantasy/sci-fi related. Gone are the days of people crowding a theater to see character driven films with a sweeping soundtrack and thought provoking dialogue,  all of which have been trumped by films that Pegg describes as “childish”.

It’s a real shame that films of this caliber have been isolated to annual festivals and limited showings due to the fact that theaters simply don’t get the audiences they used to for such movies. I can understand how someone like Simon Pegg laments that his career has amounted to being considered, “the poster child for (geekdom)”. It’s very hard I imagine, to break out of the mold you’ve been put in and get your fan base to follow you into projects that stray away from the what they’ve come to expect of you.

Even science fiction, a genre that Pegg himself attests to loving, has been diminished by the ‘dime-a-dozen’ postapocalyptic and dystopian young adult fiction that get new installments every year; none of which even compare to films like ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ or even recent efforts like ‘Prometheus’ and ‘Predestination’. It’s true, the genre has fallen into convention, with less focus on telling an interesting story and more attention paid to casting choices and sheer extravaganza.

People don’t want to leave a movie theater and be confronted with varying interpretations of what they just saw. Audiences like to play things safe and be told exactly how and what they should feel with each scene. Movies have become overly passive forms of entertainment, where the audience isn’t forced to ask questions or left to wonder at the subtlety of a character interaction. Even worse, these films have created to some extent a movie going populace that is reliant on a steady diet of tripe and base forms of entertainment which discourage discussion of real issues by replacing them with tired cliches and quippy pop culture references. Big budget flicks are safe and do not engage an audience beyond the visual spectacle and as Pegg notes, have resulted in a “dumbing down” of what we’ve come to expect.

Films have a real ability to tell a visual and engaging story even without the use of special effects or conventional plot devices. Surrendering to mediocrity and simplicity does nothing for the genre other than to bolster ticket sales and it shouldn’t be controversial to expect more from an industry that has proven itself capable of more in the past.

So to Mr. Pegg I say, “Thank you for saying what many of us who aren’t sold on spectacle have been saying for quite some time now.”

SNL 40: An Ultimately Bizarre and Forced Tribute to Better Times

snl_at_40

So last night was the much talked about and heavily promoted ‘SNL 40th Anniversary Show’ which played less like a show and more like a bloated decathlon of self-congratulatory back patting. The usual suspects were all there as was immediately evident by the drawn out intro dance number featuring Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon and partner in crime, Justin Timberlake. What followed were various highlight reels from classic bits; that I’m surprised haven’t been completely worn out considering how frequently NBC airs them, appearances by legendary cast members of yore;  most notably but least interesting of all being Eddie Murphy, and a plethora of musical acts which ranged from the pleasantly nostalgic to the downright awful.

Among the many ‘tweeted’ about moments of the evening included the rather heartfelt tribute to the still recovering Tracy Morgan presented by fellow ’30-Rock’ cast members Alec Baldwin and Tiny Fey, witty revivals of ‘Wayne’s World’ and Weekend Update featuring past cast members Dana Carvey, Mike Myers and Jane Curtin respectively, and various cameos by celebrities who made their mark on the show over the past four decades.

Many critics and fans alike expressed their extreme disappointment that eighties darling Eddie Murphy in particular did not opt to revive the myriad of characters he made famous during his four years on the show but instead seemed to accept the thunderous applause after Chris Rock’s rousing tribute as worthy of his presence and go no further.

Other disappointments were the ridiculously overlong revived skits of the past 5 years like the head scratching ‘Californians’, which seemed to be little more than an extended set up for Bradley Cooper to comically make out with Betty White. It was also painful to see stars like Emma Stone attempt to pull of a dim impression of a Gilda Radner skit, which admittedly is an impossible task to begin with but ultimately was swiftly outshined by an appearance by Edward Norton doing his ‘Stefon’.

While it was certainly nice to see fan favorites like Kevin Nealon, Norm McDonald, Joe Piscopo, Steve Martin, Billy Crystal and a rather tired looking Chevy Chase keeping up appearances, those moments were so short lived that one can’t help but think that the current pool of writers for the show simply couldn’t be bothered to write new updated dialogue for such classic skits. Aside from the fact that the program lasted for what seemed like an eternity made ever longer by the nonstop chain of commercials, we were also “treated” to live performances by musical acts from both Miley Cyrus and Kanye West (doing his best Yoko Ono impression) who reminded nostalgic viewers everywhere just how low the pool of available talent has been whittled down to. On the more positive side of the show’s history of musical guests, Paul McCartney and Paul Simon made appearances with the former performing, ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’ and the latter doing, ‘Still Crazy After all These Years’.

Speaking of ‘crazy’; whose decision was it to let Miley Cyrus sing ’50 Ways to Leave your Lover’, and yet miss out on a golden opportunity to have Chevy Chase and Paul Simon do ‘You Can call me Al’ ? I suppose the answer lies in the mind of Lorne Michaels and NBC execs, who seemed to be more focused on trying to plug ‘more recent talent’ in exchange for the countless comic icons who brought the show initial fame and were ultimately just scenery for the camera to linger on for a few seconds.

Perhaps my personal ‘wow’ moment of the evening besides the chance to see audition tapes from past stars like Jan Hooks and Will Ferrell, was seeing Jack Nicholson show up and present a montage, although maybe this is just the ‘Chinatown’ fan in me talking.

In the end, I suppose the night could’ve been worse and for those long-time fans of the show who were lucky enough to watch it live during its better seasons, the chance to see old favorites was certainly a tasty treat among the many bits of tripe thrown in between. More importantly however, let’s remember those cast members who left too soon and even from beyond still manage to coax a smile out of the most cynical of us critics.

Taylor Swift ‘Shakes Off’ Spotify

Photo Courtesy of the DailyMail.co.uk

Photo Courtesy of the DailyMail.co.uk

Look, we all know that the music industry in the 21st century is based off of image, there’s no denying that. Every year it seems like there are new Award Shows popping up simply for the purpose of creating ‘tweet’ worthy moments which is admittedly not a bad way to get yourself out there to prospective fans. One has to agree that music acts (they’re acts not musicians okay) like Miley Cyrus, Pharrell, Kanye West and Iggy Azalea wouldn’t be nearly as notorious had they not made a point of being front and center at things like the VMA’s. Celebrity is all about image and image sells itself in the saturated cesspool we call ‘pop music.’

This past week country star turned pop-star Taylor Swift announced that she was pulling her music from streaming service Spotify in response to the growing piracy trend. Not only that she adamantly asserted that ‘music should not be free’ and stated that her work would only be available on pay services such as Rhapsody and  Beats Music. Big Machine, Swift’s label made the following statement, “We determined that her fan base is so in on her, let’s pull everything off of Spotify and any other service that doesn’t offer a premium service.” But wait, Spotify does offer a premium service at 9.99/mo and while it isn’t exclusively pay to play, it does serve as a gateway for many an artist to get their stuff out to the public and encourage subsequent purchase. However, Borchetta (Big Machine’s CEO) feels that artists are being taken advantage of by not making their music exclusive to those who are essentially ‘superfans’. I guess the message that Swift and co. are trying to get across is that real fans don’t listen to music for free and if you have been you’re not worthy of their product. This differs grealy from NIN front man Trent Reznor’s views, who in 2007 famously urged fans to steal his albums due to the corporate greed in the music industry. Now, I’m not saying that Reznor and Swift aren’t allowed differences in opinion but only one of them has won an Oscar for their work and kept up consistently with their fans while the other feels her time is best spent twerking for youtube hits.

Therein lies my issue. The music industry hasn’t been about record sales in ages if you pay any attention to the growing trend of listening services such as Pandora and Spotify. Musicians for the most part are more than happy to put on a good show for a few minutes in elaborate costumes just for the sake of trending on the inter webs. Taylor Swift became the 3rd highest paid woman in showbiz last year making $57 million, putting her behind Oprah Winfrey and Britney Spears. Thus I find it hard to believe she’s really suffering from shoddy record sales. Again the message for musicians in past decade has been ‘image, image, image’ and getting your face out there by seeking any attention you can get. Scandals and controversy at the VMA’s only help record sales and only aim to make artists popular via word of mouth. Twerking is this generations guitar on fire, and has been a go-to for many an ‘artist’ who wishes to make a quick buck off their image. Nevermind that this sort of thing degrades the music industry to the brink of prostitution and never mind that millions of young people are now trying to replicate that success by doing the same thing, because at the end of the day sex sells. For years Taylor Swift marketed herself as the plucky every-girl who just wanted to play her guitar and sing about love and teen plight. Fast forward to 2014 where she’s scrapped the guitar act and can now be seen twerking and prancing around in a leotard in the ‘Shake it Off’ music video which sits comfortably at a quarter of a billion views. So what do I think of her decision? I say ‘who the fuck cares’ because when you’re making more money than any working class professional in this country simply by dancing around and singing about boys, I can’t say I feel too sorry for you.

So in the end for those of you heart broken over the fact that Taylor Swift has turned her back on her fans in favor of cash just remember that she wouldn’t be anywhere without your loyalty in the first place.

The Evolution of Christopher Nolan

christopher-nolan-interstellar-production-date

Disclaimer: I will only be discussing Nolan films I’ve seen personally, so that leaves out his debut film (Following). *SPOILER ALERT*

As Interstellar sweeps the box-office in its first week, polarizing sci-fi fans and critics alike, I can’t help but look back on the career of one of the most innovative directors of the past fifty years. While admittedly many Nolan fans found themselves a little late to the party with the release of the Dark Knight Trilogy garnering much attention and catapulting Nolan into mainstream notoriety, his earlier films are easily his best.

Why do I say that? I guess a lot of it comes from the fact that his earlier films are extremely low on visual effects and thus reliant purely on performance and script writing. Looking at films like Memento and Insomnia which showcased the acting chops of both Guy Pearce and Robin Williams respectively; the latter in one of his best dramatic roles since Good Will Hunting, it’s hard not to admire the talent of the writers. Unfortunately this period was so short lived with Batman Begins released only 3 years after Insomnia thus beginning the era of the Christopher Nolan that the world has embraced so enthusiastically. Am I saying that everything after 2002 is shit? No. But what I am saying is that there is a clear evolution of the type of films that Nolan sought to make. ‘Mainstream’ is a word that comes to mind but I don’t want to seem to hipster in the presentation of my thesis, however it’s obvious that Nolan became very enamored with special effects and cinematography as of 2005. The Prestige was a fine film for sure, being released between the Dark Knight and Batman Begins to mostly positive reviews. What I liked about it was that it had a great onscreen rivalry that is rarely seen in such a convincing way, not to mention the turn by David Bowie as the inventor Nikola Tesla. Jonathan Nolan weaves a very intriguing tale of passion, obsession and the extent that some are willing to go to fulfill those obsessions. And while the ending might’ve split audiences I think it was less twisty per say, than what you get in films like Inception and Interstellar and seemed to fit with the tone of the film rather than tacked on.

Now onto The Dark Knight Trilogy which is easily the most lucrative and well received trilogies, comic book or otherwise and engrained the name Nolan into modern nomenclature. Personally I think the movies are shit, but that’s an article for another day. Essentially my argument for this standpoint goes as follows, between the massive plot holes, complete miscasting of Christian Bale and Morgan Freeman; the latter seeming to pop up in every movie under the sun since the late nineties, and the irritating fact that Nolan seems to think that Gotham should be a combination of every metropolitan city in the US instead of exactly what it is: a fantasy location. Look, I can agree with two things A. The Dark Knight is the best of the three and B. Ledger gives a very good modern take on the Joker, aside from that I cannot hang any more laurels upon its already weighed down shoulders via critics universally. Nolan really sold out with the Dark Knight Trilogy he stopped caring about his characters and focused more the visual spectacle and contribution he could make to his trophy case. It became less about decent script writing and more about set pieces, and for comic book fans who swear by the ‘realistic’ Frank Miller Batman, the films just don’t measure up and don’t even come close to animated series greatness which is saying something.

When it comes to Inception I think Nolan was getting a little back to his routes in terms of innovative screenwriting while also owing a lot of success to the power of modern film making technology and practical effects. I thought the casting was great and it was nice to see a story daring to try something that many might’ve thought to be un-filmable. My only issue was the ending which for those handful of you that haven’t seen the film *SPOILER ALERT*: It just seemed like Nolan wanted us to be so sucked into the universe he created for his characters that he thought a little added twist at the end was the only thing separating it from greatness. It doesn’t make sense in retrospect and seems to only seek to confuse its audience and sell DVD’s, it’s as if Nolan felt that the film couldn’t be carried alone on it’s previous 2 and a half hours and needed that extra kick to leave a lasting impression, which is the same trap he falls into with Interstellar. It’d be like JK Rowling making the entire seven book Harry Potter experience be the result of a massive dream sequence and call it quits; it just felt contrived when all was said and done.

Again, as previously stated Interstellar chooses to go with the same sort of evolution of its plot and while not nearly as narratively strong as his previous sci-fi effort it teeters on some good ideas but falls short of greatness. The plot goes as follows: In the somewhere near future the earth is ravaged by issues, alluded to be the result of climate change and follows a family in the midwest lead by former test pilot Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) who is tasked by now underground NASA to travel into outer space with a makeshift crew to seek out two pairs of expeditions who were searching for habitable planets via a wormhole. What follows is a nearly 3-hour hamfest that brings to mind McConaughey’s shit performance in Contact and seeks to hit its audience over the head with the ‘love transcends time and space’ message. In the end it just felt like the Nolan was desperately trying to force this over-arching theme upon its audience rather than provide a coherent story. Admittedly, much like Gravity, the visuals are spectacular and best seen in IMAX or in the theater as it is more about the experience than the actual journey that takes place on screen. The chemistry between Anne Hathaway (who is devilishly miscast) and our hero is very forced and felt very unnatural, and while I’m no fan of Miss Hathaway I felt her presence was especially irritating. Again, like Inception Nolan places his audience on a roller coaster of an amazing visual feast of technical feats and set pieces but ultimately exploits its universe to circumvent its shortcomings. Nolan ends up focusing too much on visuals and a rather odd cameo but Matt Damon and sells his work short with these contrivances. Such works pale in comparison to the mystery and brooding melancholy we see in Memento and to a lesser extent Insomnia which focus on the fragility of the mind of its leads rather than what sets they live and interact with.

There’s no denying that Christopher Nolan is an amazing director and he has easily crafted some of the most visually awe-inspiring set pieces in film history. However, his true legacy lies in his ability on rare occasion to present his audience with an unorthodox look at the human mind and the tragedy of that fragility. His talent to bring out the best in his lead actors and present their struggles in an uncomfortable yet nuanced manner is unparalleled and brings to mind some of the works of Philip K Dick and Poe. I only hope that he is able to trade in some of the fanfare he is so good at creating for deeper stories that ask more of his audience, rather than pulling a Shymalan-esque rabbit out of his hat to wow those moviegoers who go for the ‘wtf moment’, which isn’t nearly as powerful.

My problem with Hollywood

83rd+Annual+Academy+Awards+Red+Carpet+Preview+YiP_FqySa0ql

With Oscar season not too far away and the fall being the time of the year when contenders start to rear their head, I figured it’d be only natural to post something that I’ve wanted to for quite some time.

Here’s the thing; everybody knows that Hollywood and moreover award shows are no stranger to controversy particularly when they get it ‘wrong’. Now I’m not saying that this prevents some of us who choose to nitpick over the ins and outs of mainstream entertainment from enjoying the movie, I guess it’s just more indicative of our irritation with how society rewards its darlings.

The past 8 years I’ve tried to watch the Oscars for at least the better part of an hour either because I have a dog I’m rooting for or mainly because I hope to see the Academy get something right without having to be shilled into doing so. Now, it’s no secret that a big part of winning Oscars is self-marketing and making yourself look like you really don’t want the award but not so much that you give your award away to someone else. Jennifer Lawrence is a pro at this as it’s been awhile since someone her age was given the Best Actress statue, let alone in contention for it two years in a row. My contention however is that the Academy and the film industry as a whole, are so desperate to have someone marketable enough under the age of 30 that they’d probably give Justin Bieber an award if he threw on a pair of buck teeth and gained 50 pounds. The problem with this is that Award shows are reduced to making its main criteria be: who makes themselves look the ugliest or gains the most weight. Charlize Theron most famously ran with this in the film Monster and while I find her to be a capable actress outside of playing murderous prostitutes, I can’t say that I mark my calendar every time a new film featuring her drops. More recently, Anne Hatahway got away with an Oscar nab for her rather short and exhausting performance in Tom Hooper’s Les Miserables, which is a film that was overrated to begin with and has been driven into the ground with both it’s stage revival and now motion picture and makes me question whether anybody as actually heard of the book anymore.

What I find so nauseating about her Oscar in particular was the fact that it was based entirely on one scene she had in the film rather than an over arching performance. Yes, Tom Hooper (regrettably) made his actors sing live as opposed to overdubbing it with a studio version and yes Anne Hathaway looked sweaty and dingy, which I believe is more credit to the makeup people but is that alone really deserving of lauding? After seeing her performance I can agree with the critics on two things A. Anne Hathaway can carry a tune & B. She certainly does a good job at looking like she’s in pain but that could’ve been due to hearing Russell Crowe belt out a few tunes. I guess my issue overall is with the film as a whole which was just so unnecessary and self indulgent that it looks like less of an homage to the stage play and more of a desperate way of getting Oscar nominations. Now I’m not going to be one of those critics who gives Anne Hathaway shit for looking like a 10 year old on Christmas when she received her Oscar but I will say this; she’s lucky Meryl Streep wasn’t up for an award that year or else she would’ve been a seat filler. Because if there’s nothing the Academy loves more than giving actors who beat themselves up for their roles, it’s giving Oscars to veteran actors for impersonating other famous people.

Now obviously I picked on Anne Hathaway a little but mostly because it was the most recent example of self indulgent ‘pats on the back’ per say. However, I think it should be made clear that the Academy has been getting things wrong a lot farther back than a few years ago mainly in it’s mind boggling decision to give Gregory Peck the Actor Award for To Kill a Mockingbird over Peter O’ Toole in Lawrence of Arabia. Here’s an example of the academy siding with a portrayal of a popular fiction character over someone like T.E Lawrence whose experiences during the Arab Revolt were depicted in the film. My issue is that while Peck gave a perfectly fine performance in the film adaptation of Harper Lee’s magnum (and only) opus, it stops at being fine as he didn’t have a whole lot to do. People tend to confuse the film and moreso the novel as being about Atticus Finch which it really isn’t but rather a view of Southern racial injustice from the p,o.v of a child who grows to see her father as a beacon of courage in the face of oppressive race relations. Thus for this reason I always view Atticus Finch as less of a character but more of a symbol for a much larger theme. That doesn’t take away from the film but it doesn’t mean that his Oscar was worthy of anything more than a ‘bravo’. O’ Toole’s performance is so nuanced, we see him change from the self assured cocky young officer on a mission to a man forced to struggle with inner demons on his relationship with the Arab tribes and torture at the hands of the Ottoman military. It’s an amazing performance that asks deep questions of its audience not only of Lawrence himself but of the British role in occupied Arabia. In other words, the Academy really dropped the ball but doing something very predictable and very easy, opting to reward a fine performance rather than one that might’ve been out of some peoples comfort zone.

In the end I suppose Hollywood has always played it safe, choosing to spend billions of dollars yearly on comic book adaptations and remakes than spend anytime creating original screenplays. It should also be noted that the Academy has yet to give out a Best Picture award to a Science Fiction film. Instead every year we get the usual line of box-office suspects: the superhero film, the annual sequel to some franchise (usually involving cars or some voluptuous babes), and finally somewhere around fall, the biographical films where veteran actors pull out all the stops to give their best impression of some famous politician or social activist. It’s all very predictable ,with the only real innovation being in what I suppose would be called the ‘indie’ film where there seems to be no shortage of ideas, good or bad, but dammit at least they try! I doubt Hollywood will ever really put those films front and center particularly since there is no foreseeable end to comic book films which now account for perhaps the largest amount of revenue (thanks Disney!) on a yearly basis. But hey, that’s what this country is about right?