Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Fantasy,Reality and Their Gradations

It finally came to me. The first time we saw the latest Nutrisystem ad, my wife and I both thought the woman (not Marie Osmond, the other one) looked, well, unusual somehow. The other day I realized….the long torso…..the hard face…..the relatively narrow hips…..she looks like she used to be a man. More evidence that of all the advantages of losing excess weight – and she seems to have derived many benefits – appearance is the most uncertain. Perhaps she looks better in person.

I happened upon G4 TV’s coverage of the Adult Entertainment Expo, at least what they could show; unsurprisingly the image-blurring was extensive. I haven’t contributed to that industry’s profit margin since before most of its current stars were born, but if I were already in Las Vegas at the right time the convention looks like it might be fun to attend just to see what it’s like. I could see that advances in plastic surgery have enabled adult film makers to have the same advantage Playboy has always had with pictures, just with the women themselves touched up instead of the images. I could tell who the veterans of the business were by the extent and obviousness of the alterations. I have often heard that pornography demeans women by presenting a distorted view of them to men. I tend to think that anyone who would confuse those productions with reality is the type who has to learn just about everything the hard way, sad as that may be for all involved.

That train of thought brings to mind an accelerating trend in movie making in general, the mingling of the technologies of representing fantasy and reality. For the first few decades of film making the struggle was for realism, to accurately replicate actual people/places/things and to make imaginary people/places/things seem real. Naturally reality was easier to handle, so fantasy tended to resemble it; aliens and monsters and their worlds were modeled around what was actually available. Even as the special effects got better they were still largely used as improved versions of what had always been done, and dropped into the film as a largely separate entity.

Now the technology developed to make fantasy seem real is being used to make reality seem fantastic. The upcoming Alice in Wonderland movie is a prime example. Actual people are not just voicing characters but providing their image, and they are recognizable, but they are being digitally altered into fantastic shapes and are integrated into the semi-animated form of the film. It makes me wonder what other movies will be remade this way, or what other stories will be done. I can imagine Disney trying this with some of their animated catalog, and someone redoing some of the old sci-fi flicks. It also could bring up conflicts between acting and animation. At what point does a performance like that go from contention for an award for Best Actor to Best Special Effects?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Whither Conan?

Thoughts while putting off yet another bout of snow shoveling.......

I see the markets are tanking again. Frankly, I didn't quite understand why there had been any optimism. It seems as though the markets had been acting largely on theory, i.e. "things are bound to get better, so now is the time to get in on the ground floor". Then after they get pounded by enough bad news they finally cave in to reality, at least for a little while. I think the fact that traders make money no matter which way things go factors in as well.

Some headlines just draw you in.

"Ill Lt. Gov. nominee denies putting knife to girlfriend's throat, admits past steroid use."

A little checking just added to it.
Six months before the October 2005 incident, the woman had been arrested after a police investigation of a Glenview massage parlor. She later pleaded guilty to a charge of prostitution.

Is it really that hard to find a relatively clean politician in Illinois?
Now that the NBC talk show fiasco has been more or less settled, I've been wondering what Conan's next move should be. I see rumors of an NBC TV series pilot and a talk show on Fox. I think NBC should put him in charge of Saturday Night Live (where he once worked). Let him do the opening monologue and perhaps the Weekend Update segment, and participate in sketches if desirable. They could still have guest stars as they do now, but Conan would provide a steady center around which the show could swirl. It could be a different take on the old variety shows.