Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Second Victim of Ferguson: Business and Jobs

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The Second Victim of Ferguson: Business and Jobs
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Saturday, August 16, 2014

Morphicon Convention next weekend!

Okay Power Rangers fans...who am I going to see next weekend in Pasadena at Power Morphicon 4?

Friday, December 13, 2013

Geena Davis's Two Easy Steps to Make Hollywood Less Sexist

Always love what Geena Davis is up to at her Institute on Gender in Media. Here's her simple, free and effective plan that could be enacted now and would do a great deal of good.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Pantene #WhipIt | Labels Against Women

I'm always leery of corporations adopting rebellions. advertisement was extremely well done, and I 'd thank them for making it if it was a short film. But it's not. And I'm not going to now buy Pantene in solidarity, or whatever, and whip my hair for equality. The problem with counterprogramming commercials like Whip It and the Dove campaigns is, it's still a big corporation trying to get you to buy their products because without them you're smelly, wrinkly, and have listless hair. I'm glad it's not a commercial about women being reduced to their sexuality, or being put down, or abused...but when it's still a COMMERCIAL what good does the content really do?

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Star Trek: TNG christmas song "Make It So"

"That's delightful." - Sheldon Cooper
"Shut up, Wesley!" - the Internet

Pssst!! Hey Kids! Want to know who wins Crash the Super Bowl VIII?!

  • These two are so happy because they already know...
    The Doritos Crash the Super Bowl contest is in year eight of its groundbreaking search for the best amateur 30 second Doritos commercial. The winner airs during the Super Bowl to an audience of 110 million people, and receives 1 million dollars, and the chance to work on the set of "Marvel's Avengers: Age of Ultron"!
    The 24 semi-finalists have been announced, and voting is open. You don't need a time machine to know who is going to win February 2, 2014. My early pick for the winning entry is now in first place with a 4.2 rating from viewers around the world!

    "Time Machine" is a clever short story about a naive man with a bag of Doritos who stumbles upon a cute little kid's time machine and...well here, you've got 30 seconds to be entertained and laugh out loud:  
    Time Machine - Watch, then click the red stars at the bottom left to rate it a 5! 
    This entry is by far my favorite of the 24 semi-finalists, some of which are mediocre, and some of which are hateful (see Dan L.'s terrific article here). I always root for the underdog, but this year the underdog also happens to be the clear, deserving winner.
    I also think this entry is the one that has the spirit of the Marvel brand, and don't forget Stan Lee himself will be one of the judges!
    Filmmaker Ryan Thomas Andersen read my articles analyzing the semifinalists and tracked me down to say hello. Luckily for us all, he graciously agreed to an interview!  
    Ryan is a self-made filmmaker, but a family man first. As you'll see, family is an integral part of this All-American's filmmaking process...
    This year's forerunner is an unstoppable One-Man Production House!
    Lis: Tell us about yourself and your filmmaking beginnings. Where do you live, where did you study?
    Ryan: My name is Ryan Thomas Andersen. I am a single dad, and my filmmaking beginnings started in my 2nd semester (2004) of community college. I was going for architecture then thought..."never-mind I want to make films instead!" I joined a class and ever since have been in love with it! I live in Scottsdale Az, and I am a film student DropOut from Scottsdale Community College.
  • Lis: And now you'll be on the cover of their brochures as their latest success story, haha...You are the CEO of AndersenCrine Productions and have already directed commercials for big names like Netflix, Tide, Dannon, and WalMart. What made you decide to enter Crash the Super Bowl? Who is Crine, and was he/she a part of Time Machine?
    Ryan: I have always entered this contest as something fun to do and a chance to win some serious money to fund my feature film! Of course the exposure would be amazing as well. "Crine" is my mothers maiden name. I took my dad's last name "Andersen". When I created my company I wanted to cary on my moms last name somehow, and also as a child My name "crine" was used to make fun of me daily..."cryin' Ryan" They would say! hahahah So I wanted to wear it proudly!
    Cryin' Ryan Redux is a millionaire...
    Lis: That's so cool. I love that you took back your name, and I'm sure your mom is proud! Plus you know some of those schoolyard bullies are going to send friend requests now. 
    Is this your first year entering Crash the Super Bowl? If not, which other entries have you made?
    Ryan: This is my 4th year entering. here they are: Year 1: "Par For the Crunch" Year 2: "Oh man oh man oh man" Year 3: "There Goes Brutus Again"
    Lis: Wow, those entries are all really strong! I particularly like Year 1's setup, delivery, and punchline with the older woman. It's refreshing to hear that you've entered many times and grown as a contestant. I think people like seeing skill mastery rewarded, and you've clearly worked hard.
    How did you develop the script for Time Machine? Did you spend all year thinking about it, have a brainstorm session and picked this idea? What's your creative process, and how important is the teleplay to you?
    Ryan: I was actually thinking of ideas for another company that had hired me, and I came up with this spot randomly within seconds... I wish I could explain it better but that's how my mind works (VERY RANDOMLY) it all just poured into my head. I held onto the idea for 8 Months and thought I HAVE TO DO THIS FOR DORITOS. I immediately thought "This is the winning idea." Got together with my producer Raj Suri and told him the idea. He loved it, and then we collaborated and made it into what you see now! My creative process is pretty "by the seat of my pants". I'm not proud of that but its true. I have self diagnosed myself with ADHD and I feed myself that excuse daily hahahha! This is a very important script to me because It was the most thought out and most original idea I have ever had. Plus it allowed me to cast my adorable son in it!
    The All-Americans
    Lis: What was the production like? What camera, how many crew members? Did your main character improv, or stick to the script?
    Ryan: The production was very minimal hahahah. There was our sound guy (Tommy shaeffer), me, our 3 actors (Daved Wilkins, Jim Coates, Gavin Andersen), a good friend that acted as a PA (Steve Gresser), and our producer (Raj Suri) and my mom ( Brenda Andersen )....and of course Hogan the dog! I set designed/shot/directed/edited/sound designed/colored. lol I'm kind of a one man Production House. We shot it all in about 7 hours, and it took about 80+ hours in the editing room! I shot on the Black Magic Cinema Camera with some Prime Cinema Lenses. Our main character Daved Wilkins Did a lot of improv but the final cut is almost EXACTLY what the script said!
    Lis: I love that it's a family affair, and a minimalist set. Yours is one of the rare semifinalist entries that doesn't use professional crews. Also, you may have just sold me on the Black Magic camera. I've been thinking of trading in my Canon 5D.
    You have the key ingredients to be the 2014 Doritos Winner (Can we skip past the pretense and just hand you the crown already?). You have an arresting and funny idea, told with precise set up/delivery/punchline, set in a domestic location, starring a white man who is the butt of the joke, co-starring an adorable kid and a dog. That's the very definition of the Doritos Crash the Super Bowl brand. We already know the kid is your now we want to know: is that your dog?
    Gavin and Hogan Andersen
    Ryan: Yes it is my dog...and my parents house hahahaha. I found the refrigerator box on the side of the road...painted it brown with my producer and poked christmas lights into it and decorated it with my sons markers and toys!!! lol I did this all in their front yard while the whole neighborhood drove by and looked at me like I was a nut job. My mom was the "dog wrangler". Haha he's not even a trained dog. My son's first commercial with dialogue, too. I think he did great. I wanted my son to be as natural as possible and he loves his dog "Hogan" so i knew they would have good chemistry on it was a no brainer.

    AndersenCrine Productions!
    Lis: Your son was awesome; methinks he'll start his acting resume with winning Crash the Super Bowl. And way to make your mom earn "Crine" Productions!
    What is the craziest thing that's happened since making the Semi-Finalists out of over 4,000 entires?
    Ryan: The craziest thing isn't really that crazy but My Facebook friend requests SKY ROCKETED... lol. My phone has been non-stop with notifications, and messages, phone calls etc.
    Lis: I'm picturing Malcolm McDowell and James Earl Jones narrating your phone notifications. Actually, I know you're being modest. The coolest thing I've seen happen to you is you've already booked your next commercial directorial gig, and for a major corporation. Congrats!
    You have some terrific award-winning shorts up at, including "The Fall," which won Best Picture at IFP's prestigious Masterpiece Film Challenge. Is directing commercials your goal, or is your endgame making feature films?
    The big check! Okay, maybe not so big. But IFP!!
    Ryan:  I do short films from time to time to stay fresh and to practice my craft. And that is honestly why I did commercials as practice! But then someone said hey you're good at this, you should get paid for it! SOOO now that has pretty much become my full time job! I haven't "clocked in" anywhere in a very long time and have been running my own show since 2008. I am very grateful as well because it allows me to spend enormous amounts of time with my son! But my endgame is feature films.
    I'm making my first feature film at the end of 2014, and it's a visceral drama about second chances in life. We all do things or have things done to us that we cannot take back, and should not be the things that define us. ("Eyes Wide Shut" meets "Love Me If You Dare.") I also have two more feature screenplays I'm currently writing. The first one I acquired life rights to. It is based on a true story and will make for a fantastic story! The other I WOULD REALLY LOVE TO DO. It is an idea that is the most realistic thing that has ever been done in film. I know that is saying a lot, but it is an idea that I have only told three other people! It will change the way people look at films, and will be talked about for years. I have never felt this cray strong about anything creatively I have ever done.
    Lis: Can't wait to see those feature films! Nothing Hollywood loves more than a confident under thirty filmmaker with a ton of ideas and drive! Thanks for the interview Ryan.
    Isn't he cool, folks? Since it's supposed to be an amateur contest, it's so refreshing to see a semi-finalist who doesn't already work in Hollywood, didn't spend thousands of dollars, or have a suspicious advantage
    Considering last year's finalists got CAA agents and select meetings around town, sounds like some lucky Hollywood executives will soon be hearing this top secret idea! Count me on the record as saying someone is going to credit for starting this young filmmaker's Hollywood career! 'Nuff said!
    Don't forget to go to Doritos to watch and rate "Time Machine." Best we can tell, you are allowed to rate it every day! The five finalists will be announced in 27 days, and we're Team Ryan! You can also "like" the official Facebook page here, and Tweet about it: @DoritosTimeMach #VoteTimeMachine '

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Can the Hunger Games ignite a real revolution?

"From now on your job is to be a distraction so people forget what the real problems are."
Haymitch, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Eyes bright, chins up, smiles on!

Did you see those freaky CoverGirl ads begging you to become a Capitol clown? 12 Districts. 1 Exquisite Collection. Choose your District. 

The models look exotic and alien as District Tributes, but the message sends a shiver down my spine. Is this not the opposite meaning we were supposed to take away from The Hunger Games: Catching Fire? Do we really want to be the horribly immoral and clueless yet colorful pawns living in the Capitol?

It's a steal!

I complained to my Best Gay that this type of commercial brainwashing was exactly the mind control Suzanne Collins was trying to wake us all up from in her stellar trilogy The Hunger Games. And then we dissolved again into an impassioned discussion about the epic miscasting of Peeta and how it effects plot points, rewatched Peter K. Rosenthal’s hysterical "hotness" review for The Onion, and I quickly forgot all about the Capitol shilling fail.

"All things considered, not that hot."

Until I read web backlash a proposed theme park ride was generating. 

The second happiest place on Earth!

In the comments section, people argued distractedly over the nuances: it’s just a roller coaster ride silly, not an actual reenactment theme park of the unthinkable Hunger Games depicted in the books and movies; of course there’s a corporate tie-in and what’s wrong with that it’s the Capitalist way? Anonymous posters aimed their flaming arrows at each other, on a website owned by one of the six corporations controlling 90% of American media.

Now my spider sense was tingling. Sure, everyone has a right to make money, blah blah Capitalism is always awesome or you aren't American. But at what point has The Hunger Games sold out? Perhaps Lionsgate, the studio behind everyone’s favorite Girl On Fire, was as duplicitous as President Coin?

Is that CEO Jon Feltheimer at the console?  

So my best gay and I did an internet search to see if we were the only ones hearing the call of the mockingjay. We discovered…we are not alone.

There’s a real life Hunger Games media rebellion happening right now.

Protesting the icky corporate marketing tie-ins to the smash hit The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, The Harry Potter Alliance has created an easy way for you to take a stand while other citizens volunteer for the real-life district battles known to us as Black Friday.

To join the resistance and hack the Hunger Games advertising, simply take a selfie. Sporting the signature three finger salute of District 11, natch.

Rebels allianced at Odds In Our

The Harry Potter Alliance has a history of using fictional worlds to bring together activist partners who want an empowered world. A video on The HPA website implores “Enough with the distractions; The Hunger Games are real” before taking the real-life comparisons to Panem deeper. Lest you dismiss them as progressive crackpots, the Los Angeles Times found them substantial enough to publish an op ed piece by HPA’s Executive Director Andrew Slack points out the disturbing cracks in the movie tie-ins, and calls for citizens to hack the multimillion dollar ad campaigns by sending salute photos into Odds In Our 

The HPA isn't the only one hoping Catching Fire will light a fire in viewers' bellies. In an article in The Guardian titled "Donald Sutherland: I want Hunger Games to stir up a revolution" the veteran actor who portrays evil President Snow states "I hope that they [youths] will take action because it's getting drastic in this country.” The infamous rabble rouser knows that movies are political activism, and made the film hoping the Millennials would wake up from their passive sleep and do something. 

"They might create a third party. They might change the electoral process, they might be able to take over the government, change the tax system."

Author Suzanne Collins has weighed in at Variety on the overall effect of the marketing campaign by Tim Palen, and given the Lionsgate team a surprising thumbs up. “It’s appropriately disturbing and thought-provoking how the campaign promotes ‘Catching Fire’ while simultaneously promoting the Capitol’s punitive forms of entertainment…That dualistic approach is very much in keeping with the books.” 

Santa, can you bring me the ironic Effie Barbie doll for Christmas?

Over at Women in Hollywood, producer Nina Jacobsen dodges Melissa Silverstein's question of whether the target audience actually can grasp this dualistic approach. I think Nina doesn't answer because we all know the answer is a resounding NO. We live in a country where most adults think reality TV is real, but kids whose brains haven't even stopped growing yet should be able to sort through the shiny propaganda without falling for it? You know, the same kids we don't teach media literacy to, which is why Suzanne Collins wrote the novels in the first place?

Actual licensed merchandise. Really, Suzanne? Still fine by you?


These official responses about the offensive marketing disappoint me, as we know advertising  works. That's why corporations spend a half trillion dollars on it annually. 

When commercials prey on our primal needs, our brains switch into primal monkey mode where there is no higher functionality like empathy. Do we really believe that the fourteen-year-old girls who scrimped and saved to pay $60 to attend the Arclight's Capitol Bash in full costume and CoverGirl warpaint were full of compassion and sympathy for the poor Career Tributes? Or is it more likely that there was gleeful cheering akin to the coliseum stadiums of yore? 

Free popcorn, costume contest, and I get to pretend to be a sociopath?  Sold!

In my heart of hearts I can't really believe that Suzanne Collins doesn't see the misuse of her anti-totalitarian tomes against teens to place their focus on frippery. There has to be some corporate concern the little bastards might actually absorb the content of The Hunger Games and start Sutherland's longed-for rebellion. 

Actual licensed merchandise. I just...can't.

Isn't change what Collins wanted? Or has she gone Establishment from diving into her Scrooge McDuck swimming pool of cash? I suppose this should be expected of an anti-estabilishment smash hit. That's what happens to all rebellions...they're absorbed and assimilated into the corporate machine and spit back out as more mind control. The odds are never in our favor.

Unlicensed fan-made merchandise

Luckily, I can think of no better time than during the gluttony and materialism of the Christmas holiday to take stock of our participation in the media machine. Are you going to raise your hand to purchase an officially licensed Capitol Couture lipstick so that you look your best for the Quarter Quell? Or, like defiant Katniss, will you be a hero who raises your hand in protest?


What do you think? Has the The Hunger Games franchise sold out and lost the message through glib marketing tie-ins? Do you think young adults get the irony of the advertisingOr are they getting off on being Capitol Cuties embodying the fashion and fakeness of the richest District? Are you going to post a protest photo? Comment and tell us what’s happening in your District!