Tag Archives: Hollywood

Therefore I Geek Podcast, Episode 79 Gene Wilder’s Passing And Hollywood

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In which, the gang decides that they are just going to wing it.  We mourn the loss of Gene Wilder and Jon Polito, and then launch into a rousing discussion of whether or not Hollywood is doomed!!  In a stunning turn of events, Dude concedes a great point to Tracy–the reason?  Astounding!

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Around the Web August 2, 2013

There are casual Star Trek fans, there are Trekkies, and then there are these folks. I always wanted to see Shakespeare in the Park when I lived in New York, but this sounds like a great backup option.

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And they chose to end their careers with the best Original Series episode ever. Well played.

Anyone who has studied pre-WWII history knows that for a long time prior to the invasion of Poland, many people in America were supporters of Hitler and the Nazi party. This week The Hollywood Reporter published an article describing the extreme measures that Hollywood took to keep Nazi Germany happy, all the way up through 1940. Although hindsight is 20/20, it is still disturbing that so many people were still so eager to work with the Nazis, even that late in history.

all quiet

It also saddens me to know that the classic film All Quiet on the Western Front was the catalyst for all of this.

The controversial app Bang with Friends has run into a new problem that has nothing to do with awkward silences. Bang with Friends is being sued by Zynga for copyright infringment, over the use of the phrase “with friends”. Turns out you can copyright just about everything, which is exactly what Zynga has done and from the looks of it Zynga has a pretty strong case.

Bang-With-Friends

And by the way, the founders of Bang with Friends are completely clueless about the whole thing. Not the best way to run a business.

Netflix has introduced a new feature to allow multiple profiles on one account. This feature makes it possible for 5 different people to have unique profiles on the same account. Initially, profiles will be supported on Apple devices, Xbox, Playstation, and select smart TV models with other platforms to follow over the next several months.

netflix

I am a huge fan of this option. Now my roommate’s viewing choices won’t generate weird recommendations on my account. Instead, the weird recommendations will be based on my own viewing history, as it should be.

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Around the Web July 20, 2013

Hollywood is taking a pretty considerable beating in the later half high. Four major budget movies have flopped in recent weeks, derailing what was on track to be a record breaking summer.

Kind of like this, only the sign isn't taking the beating this time.

Kind of like this, only the sign isn’t taking the beating this time.

I’ll admit to being part of this problem, but then again a few of those movies just didn’t look any good. I also have an awesome couch and it’s tough to get off it.

The founder of Amazon has announced that he has recovered one of the rocket engines from Apollo 11. The engine was positively identified by a part serial number. This announcement also comes with pretty good timing as tomorrow is the 44th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing (yes it really happened).

For once government bureaucracy pays off.

For once government bureaucracy pays off.

I can’t wait for this stuff to go on the museum tour. I just hope it comes near me, though there are few places more deserving than Hampton, VA (where the original astronauts trained, look it up).

And to wrap up this week, we have cute baby pandas. They even have a PandaCam.

pandaLook, the internet is 49% porn, 49% cute animals (mostly cats, lets be honest) and 2% everything else. Therefore I Geek is gonna put up cute animals every now and again.

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Editorial | History and Hollywood: the academic irresponsibility of making big box entertainment based on historical time periods & events

I walk into my office almost twenty minutes early, cursing traffic.  If I leave at 8:00 a.m., I arrive fifteen to twenty minutes early, but if I leave at 8:05 a.m., I will inevitably be five minutes late.  Several of my coworkers are already in the office booting up their computers, getting coffee, and chatting about their weekends.  Amy* wanders over to my cubicle.  “So… I saw that movie Lincoln this weekend,” she says, smiling mysteriously into the coffee she is stirring (That has nothing to do with the story. Amy always tries to smile mysteriously.  No one at work is sure why.).  I give her the obligatory response, “Oh really?  What did you think?”

“It was really good!” she answers, “It really made me think about that time in history.  How brave they were, you know?  Also that one black soldier guy at the beginning was hot.”

Steam begins to pour from my ears.  “It was a terrible movie,” I reply, because I cannot help myself, “Historically it was wildly inaccurate, from the attitudes and behavior of the characters and the details on the uniforms right down to the actual vote by the state representatives.  I almost walked out of the theater.”

Black soldiers in the Union army as depicted in "Lincoln."

Black soldiers in the Union army as depicted in “Lincoln.”

Amy’s eyes widen and she shakes her head.  “Well, I enjoyed it…” she says, her voice trailing off, and she heads back to her desk.

Yes, I’m the office history geek, and I bristle whenever Hollywood decides to make a movie supposedly based on a historical event or even just a story based within a particular historical time period.  For me, going to see a historical movie is almost always just an opportunity to point out the ridiculous details that the movie gets wrong.  However, the problem is that very few people who see these movies realize that there are any errors at all, meaning that they walk away from the theater with a false understanding of history and no motivation to seek out the truth.

Actual black soldiers in the Union army.

Actual black soldiers in the Union army.

Hollywood has built an empire on storytelling, not on truth telling.  As a general rule, movies have no problems bending the truth or even snapping it in half altogether, as in the 1955 release of The Far Horizons, which pitted Meriwether Lewis and his purported love interest Sacagawea against the nefarious French trapper Charbonneau.  If this had been accurate in the slightest, it would have made for a very awkward road trip, as Sacagawea was, in fact, married to Charbonneau.

Not only are filmmakers unconcerned about the accuracy of their storylines, but they also add modern behavior and attitudes to period roles, presumably to allow modern viewers to identify with the characters.  My least favorite trope is the “independent woman” set in a time period when women were not given political rights or even much of a say in anything.  A great example of this is Cate Blanchett’s role as Marion Loxley in the 2010 film Robin Hood.  If the entertainment industry were to be believed, in every historical era (or at least, in every historical era that makes for good screenplay) there have been hundreds of women not only protesting their downtroddenness verbally, but actually taking up arms, or sneaking into lecture halls and mocking the intellectuals there—presumably to make them see that all women are intelligent, sensible, and mature.

However, all the blame for these awful movies cannot be placed at the feet of the movie industry.  The average consumer is also culpable.  At their very best, the uninformed public is simply lazy, preferring to have their facts served up with a disproportional serving of sugary entertainment.  For proof, one need only look at 2001’s Pearl Harbor.  The deaths of almost 2,500 Americans were, apparently, not dramatic enough, so the writers added a creepy love triangle to both thrill and disturb their audience.

At worst, deliberate ignorance on all levels is at epidemic proportions.  As a former high school tutor, I was aghast at the lack of historical knowledge that I found in tenth and eleventh grade students.  In college history classes the ignorance is even more appalling.  By one’s second year in undergraduate education here in the US, it can be expected that a student will have a decent grasp of United States history, but such is not the case.  Students have plenty to say about the Peace Corps and Habitat for Humanity, but not do even know the name Nathan Hale or John Jay.

While I have heard the argument that these movies and TV shows inspire people to research the history that is presented, I must say that as a whole, the entertainment industry doesn’t point out how far their narrative is from the truth; nor does it make the true stories readily available, and the average person is too lazy to dig for them.  Even if someone were to hear Lincoln’s issues corrected (probably from me!), first impressions generally stick.  It’s much easier to remember the vivid pictures on a 70’ IMAX screen than it is the dry details in black ink on a white page.

I cannot blame the entertainment industry alone for the pitiful lack of historical knowledge in the United States, but I can and will say that it is irresponsible to make so many deliberately inaccurate movies without doing more to make sure the audiences knows that they are not seeing what actually happened.  I also hold each individual responsible for educating themselves about the fascinating subject that is the history of the human race.  Lastly, I put the obligation on those true students of history to speak up when they see inconsistencies and inaccuracies in entertainment.

We have a society that is, as a whole, woefully ill-informed and too lazy to do anything about it; and Hollywood is feeding the problem.  Perhaps with a concerted effort, entertainment can become more accurate, and entertainees can be better educated.

*Name has been changed to protect the not-so-innocent.

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