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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Setting Hollywood to rights

Wandering through the main street of Bright yesterday, I came upon a poster which made me sit up (or would have done so, if I had not already been standing up, making sitting up rather difficult). A movie poster, which informed me that Ashton Kutcher starred in JOBS, a movie of the life and times of Apple company founder Steve Jobs.

This fact, of an actor (presumably alive) playing the role of a company founder (recently dead) would not have caused me quite so much wonderment but for the fact that a whole lot of actors seem to be doing similar things lately. The lives of the famous have become so cheap that shortly after they are dead - sometimes before they are dead - though not, the producers of these films must hope, while they are dying - it is almost inevitable that an actor will manifest in a film about their life playing the part of, well, them. Naomi Watts plays Princess Diana in Diana, Helen Mirren plays the Queen in The Queen, Michael Sheen plays David Frost and Frank Langella plays Richard Nixon in Frost/Nixon, Jesse Eisenberg plays Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network, Will Smith plays Chris Gardner in The Pursuit of Happyness, and there we have a whole host of famous actors playing famous non-actors in famous films about famous existences that in many cases are continuing to exist. 

It is not so much the unethicality of this, the fact that moviemakers are now in the habit of co-opting the lives and the histories of others for mere entertainment purposes often while the lives and histories are still occurring - though there's that too - that gets me so much as the sheer absurdity. Can it be long before there is a film starring famous actor A playing famous person B, including a part in which famous person B meets famous actor A (played by famous actor C) to discuss a film in which famous actor A will be playing the role of famous person B? Is there any escape from this inevitable endless spiral of self-reference? I notice this actually almost happens in a film coming out just recently, in which Emma Watson plays P L Travers meeting Tom Hanks playing Walt Disney in a film produced by Walt Disney studios about the making of a former film produced by Walt Disney studios starring Julie Andrews playing a character written by P L Travers called Mary Poppins (and if you're not following me, I'm not either). The film, mystifyingly, is called Saving Mr Banks, though it is clearly about famous people meeting other famous people being played by more famous people while making a famous film about the making of another famous film by a famous film studio based on a previous famous book, and Mr Banks is definitely not a famous person, film, studio, or book, otherwise we'd have heard of him by now. Apart from in the title of this film now, I mean, although I suppose that would make it a famous....

(Excuse me while I rub my temples for a second...)

Anyway, take home message is this: I am Somewhat Disturbed by This Relatively Minor Development That Is Possible of No Consequence Whatsoever In Our Culture And Demand That It Be Stopped Immediately. Thank you for your time.

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