Friday, August 12, 2011


A week ago, or maybe more I was beyond flabbergasted and gobsmacked, and to top off the list of adjectives-- disgusted. Better yet, I'll use  the phrase I came up with a bit ago to express just how massive the amount of disgust I felt (and still kind of feel if I'm honest),  it was a Crater Lake of disgust.
     Alexander Ludwig; a young fledgling actor I can only describe to resemble Rolf from The Sound of Music, however only if he was 6'2, modeled for Abercrombie, and most definitely wasn't interested in joining the NAZI Jugend-- has a Twitter following.  It's not a massive following, but it's sizable (that's what she said)  and this following is populated by a majority of teenage girls.  Note: Teenage girls who are by my assessment and a few others, mostly underage.  Alexander, tall, seemingly naive, 19 year-old Alexander is lapping up the attention that is being poured over him en masse, much like the water must've been doused on him for this photo.

   But where's the Crater Lake of disgust?  Easy, it's in the tweets, the deluge of inappropriate tweets that by a fair amount are unsolicited, however that doesn't mean that Mr. Ludwig does anything to discourage them at all.
   Tweets are part of a public forum; especially if an account is open and not set to private, secure or locked, and I hope you who are are reading this know that it's believable that an exponential amount of the Twitter using population are either blissfully unaware that if their accounts are set up to be viewable to the public, their tweets, private, sexually explicit, mean, petty are otherwise, are there for the world to see, or ignorantly stupid-- take your pick.  Twitter's been around for awhile though, so those who flout the evidence of Twitter's public-ness, are simply asking for it.  I can't say I'm entirely innocent in this little public forum business though, because even I've said some things in Twitter conversations that can easily be construed and seen as mean spirited or judgmental, but at least I'm owning up to that fact, these girls sadly are not owning up to their deplorable behavior in my opinion.  I'll be brief, the gist of the tweets are platitudes of sexual favors, including such lovely gems using phrases such as, "suck you dry."  Or this beauty, which I grabbed off of one girls Twitter time line, and blocked out her Twitter handle as to protect her virtue.

    And then there's more semi serious riffs.

   I know she means it as a joke, but that's the problem -- it's not a joke, it's just not. I've spent too much time scratching my head, and doing my best to ignore the nagging fear that this entire situation could blow up in their faces, but that's just the tip of it, and not even the base (yeah, yeah, that's what she said).  I'm even more disturbed by the fact that some of the time Ludwig himself initiates some of these interactions, but I'll save my self the time and energy of searching out the tweets, 'cause frankly most of the people I've seen participating in these explicit tweet-fests, tweet too damn much (Ludwig is partially exempt, as he doesn't tweet near as much as many of his brethren).  I'm serious, it's almost as if they have Twitter OCD and it's focused seemingly entirely around Ludwig, Ludwig, Ludwig, everything Ludwig.
   Let me reiterate-- Ludwig is 19, and majority of his followers are underage, and I can't help but judge them especially since I'm not that far removed from these people's ages.  However, I just can't stop my brain from jumping to the very loud or mature (whatever),  exclamation of "where the hell are your parents!?" And then the just as important, "where the fuck is your publicist, agent, manager, best friend!? Why aren't they stopping you from doing this!?"  Obviously if these girls' parents had the sense to check their daughters internet histories, they'd probably rip their Smart Phones out of their hot little pervy hands, and then lock their computers in a trunk later to be tossed into a large body of water.  I know that's what I would do, maybe also give them a firm talking to as well.  As for Ludwig, I don't know where his people are, but they're obviously not doing a very good job.
    Selfishly, as an adamant and involved fan of the book Ludwig is currently taking part in the film adaptation of, I worry-- lots actually.

   He can't though, he just cannot say whatever he wants in this situation, because at this time although he's only a minor celebrity; his one liners, his notes and promises of going to some girls prom, homecoming dance, invitations to come to his movie set and hang out, not to mention the tweets that have (and I'm not exaggerating),  are out right suggestions that they have sex-- those things can ruin his career.  Honestly, I just keep flashing on what happened to Rob Lowe in his early 20s, getting caught having sex with a 16 year-old girl on tape, that destroyed his reputation for years.  At least for Lowe that was his rock bottom, and it woke him up to going to rehab and living a sober life.  Ludwig though, he's not an addict, he hasn't been caught with his pants around his ankles, but from where I'm sitting, oh man... is he on his way, and I do not want that to happen.  I don't want that to happen for him, because he's so damn young, and yes, acting decidedly very stupid, but also because if his internet history becomes tabloid fodder, or a double whammy of him getting caught with a questionable internet history and having sex with a minor or a fan he's met through the internet hits the news-- that information will become synonymous with The Hunger Games.  I'm aware that his role is minute in comparison to the story and the subject matter, but scandal bleeds, it stains, it permeates-- and I fucking do not want scandal surrounding this story that so many, including myself,  have grown to love and hold in high regard.
    Like I said before, I know those participating in the fodder that could become a cash cow for the tabloids, think it's all fun and games when they get that little thrill from getting a tweet back from him, or have video chat sessions, or get a phone call from him, or a promises of more things yet to come -- it's not a joke when lives are ruined and careers are put on hold, because people are in jail developing their yard time social skills.  Or they're on probation having to clean up trash on the side of the road in an orange jumpsuit.  Having an internet history that's spotty (blemished),  can ruin a career, bottom line the internet is not a safe happy playground, and those that are perpetuating this behavior (Ludwig included),  need to literally "check them selves before they wreck them selves."  If any of those girls, or Alexander Ludwig get wind of these worries, I hope they heed the warnings, because they are serious. 

   I just got officially old, I think I need cake.

   Added on the 14th of August. Let me say this, I hold no ill will towards Alexander Ludwig. I can only hope that at this time while he's making The Hunger Games he's going through a very steep learning process/curve, and as he's not used to this kind of attention, I have to give him the benefit of the doubt. I just hope beyond anything that as he's going through this he becomes humbled and not corrupted. However, as he's the legal adult in many of the interactions, by law he'd be the one at fault if anything else goes amiss. I hate saying this, but I think his best role model might be Taylor Launter, whose public image remains unblemished even in the face of being lusted after by so many people. The bottom line however, when I step back and examine things, is his acting performance which I have no way of judging at this moment in time.

Monday, June 13, 2011

When Dreams Come True - You Scream

A few months ago when I learned that The Hunger Games was being made into a film, even before I thought of actors or a director who I thought would satisfy my then fledgling rabidness for the series, I thought of two people who I believed would be fantastic additions to work on the music for the film. This morning news broke that one of those people is in fact on board, and has reportedly taken the helm as their music supervisor, T-Bone Burnett.
    I was in high school when Burnett produced and released the Grammy winning soundtrack to the Cohen Brother’s reinvention of The Odyssey by Homer, O Brother Where Art Thou? I distinctly remember buying my copy of the album that’s still snugly tucked away in a faux leather CD case in the massive bookcase in my bedroom. I searched all over Music Millennium in my hometown of Portland, Oregon, finally finding it and getting a little thrill. At that point I had just seen the film a matter of days before, and was itching to hear what I heard in the theatre again, also the album was already getting buzz in music magazines as being one of the best soundtracks to be compiled in a very long time. Months later the buzz paid off, and it won the Grammy I mentioned above, but was also nominated for a BAFTA, and a Chicago Film Critics Association Award. Needless to say, it’s a damn good album of music.
    Years later, 2003 to be precise I became enthralled with yet another album that Burnett took part in, the soundtrack to Anthony Mingella's adaptation of Charles Frazier's American Civil War Odyssey, Cold Mountain. Many people seem to despise this film, which I really don’t understand, but that’s something to write about on another day. Cold Mountain’s soundtrack boasts tracks featuring Jack White, Sting and Allison Krause, as well as a bevy of folk singers specialising in Appalachian style singing and music as well 19th century style Quaker singers. It’s a very stylised gathering of music, that very much so reflects the era in which the film takes place.
    What the hell do these two albums I’m obviously a little attached to, have to do with The Hunger Games though?! Easy, The Hunger Games partially takes place in what’s remaining of Appalachia some time in the future, and Burnett with his attention to detail and previous knowledge of folk, blue grass, gospel, blues, rock and roll and country music, is in my opinion the perfect person to compile, arrange and possibly even write songs for The Hunger Games which already has Appalachian style folk songs peppering its pages.
    On another note, I literally screamed when I read that he was on board for this job, because it meant that a very far fetched dream of mine had come true.

Other work Mr. Burnett has worked on, Counting Crows August and Everything After, Jakob Dylan's Women and Country, Elvis Costello's King of America, The soundtrack to Crazy Heart as well as the soundtrack to Walk The Line.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Murder(in four parts)

It’s safe to say that I’m kind of obsessed with The Hunger Games trilogy right now, so when news breaks like it did a matter of days ago that the trilogy(meaning three parts of a whole), is potentially being split into four separate feature films, I was skeptical, a little pissed actually if I’m really being honest.
    Yes, I was pissed, and the reason I was pissed was and still kind of am a little, is because of what I well know, and what I hope many well know, is that the bottom line nine times out of ten in the big studio film sector is to make the most money as humanly possible out of the material. This is why initially I believe The Hunger Games is being split into four parts as apposed to the uneven three. However, after much thought and some back and forth debate and exchanges with several different people who are just as passionate and/or obsessed with the the trilogy as I am, some of my negativity has been assuaged or abated... sort of.
    Suzanne Collins, the author of the trilogy, and Gary Ross the man directing the first instalment of the series, as well as hopefully the next three, are working very closely together to ensure what I hope will be accurate adaptations of the novels. The fact that the author of the series is so closely involved is unprecedented to say the least, because what I know about the treatment of writers in the film industry is that they’re not treated very well at all. Although, with all the articles about the collaboration between the director and the author, as well as the letters from the author herself being released on the process of making the film, I’m three fourths reassured that the integrity of the story will stay intact in all four parts, but also one forth thinking they’re trying to pull the wool over peoples eyes. I’m an innately pessimistic person, and when so much love is going back and forth and between a director and an author, I think they’re hiding something. I have no proof of that though, just my horrible horrible tendency to think the worst, which I constantly try and talk myself out of, believe you me. Anyway, even if the wool is being pulled taught, I still have an immense amount of hope where it comes to this on going project, and seemingly solely because the author is so closely involved in the process. Seriously, that does not happen, most of the time in the film industry a novel or a screenplay is bought and everything within the buyers power is done to disallow the original idea maker anywhere near the writing room or even the set. This is why so many people end up being writer/directors, because they want to make sure that if anybody’s going to screw up their work, it’s going to be them them selves.
    One of my other biggest problems and somehow my simultaneous confidence booster I have with splitting the trilogy in four, is the fact that according to preliminary reports the last novel in the series Mockingjay, is going to be the novel that will be split in two. My problem with this doctoring so-to-speak, is that out of the entire series it’s the shortest in length, my digital copy clocks it at 158 pages actually, which by my English major standards, as well as avid reader standards, is a short novel, especially when you compare it to other monster Y. A. last editions like, J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows. I hate bringing up other Y. A. series' that have been adapted to film, but the splitting of the last book of a popular series has become sort of a trend in the film industry, and where all the franchises differ I feel is the genuine desire of the film makers to tell a good story, as apposed to just milking the material for all its worth. I say this, because I wholly believe that splitting Deathly Hallows in two was a very smart move, and ensured and ensures that many details will stay true to the novel. Sadly, I don’t think this is the case with Twilight: Breaking Dawn. My faith in the adaptation and editing of Mockingjay into two separate films is bolstered however, because even though it’s the shortest in length there is still so much that can be explored outside the perspective of the novels original narrator.
    All of this speculation and concern over three other films coming to fruition is frankly unfounded though, because even though the rights to the series are bought and paid for, there is nothing finite to prove that the franchise will continue after the first instalment is released. Like I said before, the bottom line is money, and if the the first film doesn’t make a satisfying amount according to industry standards, nothing could happen, and the series could possibly stall out after just one film. I honestly don’t think that will happen though, because the buzz for the first film is so so loud, and in this new age of near constant connection with fans via the internet, momentum and excitement for a series like this could very well sustain its self for the possible four to five years it could take for all the chapters of the story to be put on film.

As I like to say, fingers, toes and eyes my friends. Fingers, toes and eyes.

Title of this entry is taken from someone I deadly hope becomes part of the film series family.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

If You See This - You Will Buy This

With the onset of one of my favourite young adult novel series The Hunger Games, being adapted to film, a thought came to my mind. No, nothing about the casting, or the locations they’re shooting at, or costume design -- but how the hell are they going to use the tried and true method of product placement?
    For those of you who don’t know, The Hunger Games is a novel series that takes place in a dystopian future, where North America as we know it has crumbled, and out of the ashes a dictatorship run country called Panem has risen. Each year for 74 years to commemorate a past rebellion against the all controlling capitol; two children aged 12 to 18 are randomly chosen from each of the twelve districts that surround the backwards utopian Emerald City, dubbed only The Capitol, to fight to the death on a televised reality program called the Hunger Games, that the entire country is forced to watch and/or endure. The main protagonist is a 16 year-old girl called Katniss, she is from one of the poorer districts called District 12, which is thought to be what remains of Appalachia. It’s a hard place to live, and the only revenue is seemingly from either being a trades person like a baker, or working in the coal mines. Panem as a whole, minus The Capitol and District 1 and 2 which are considered upper class and middle class by our standards, is hell on earth, where state sanctioned work forces are run like slaves, and starvation and dying of illnesses we’d now consider easily curable is the norm.
    Now everyone is thinking, why the hell is this series so popular, again? And my answer to that is simple, the characters. They’re rich and well thought out, and they endear them selves to the reader like Anne Shirley or Huckleberry Finn did 100 + years ago. However, the allure isn’t just attributed to the characters, but the scenarios they are forced to be in. Yes, it’s dystopic, and unpleasant, and something we hope never happens to our family, or country, or to us personally, but that’s the draw in and of its self, it could happen. Product placement is my kick though, and I wonder quite keenly how a story that takes place in a world that does not exist as we know it can put contemporary products into the mix?
    The first film I know of that deliberately used product placement was Steven Speilberg’s E.T The Extraterrestrial, and they did it well, and they did it right. Reese’s Pieces was the product prominently used in the film, and Hershey’s following the films release had a disputed report of a 65% to 85% sales increase. Not so bad a bad deal at all, and to think they originally approached M&M's and were rebuffed? It's also believed that once those numbers broke that the sometimes strange practice of product placement became the everyday for Hollywood. However, with a story like The Hunger Games, where the world as we know it is gone, how does Hollywood plan to place contemporary products your average person can recognise, and then think they might want to buy? The answer to me is this, The Capitol.
    The Capitol is a stylised mess of product whores, and style mongers, hell bent on having the latest, the best, the most popular things in their hot little, sometimes strangely coloured hands. It is conceivable, and to me also may prove to be a great sight gag, if while Katniss is in The Capitol, that the people she’s surrounded by are adorned with electronic gizmos that have familiar logos like Apple, Sony, or Nokia. To really break it down, considering how influential companies like the ones I just named are now a-day, it wouldn’t be so much of a stretch for some of the most name brand and popular products to still be around even in a dystopian future. Just imagine the sight of seeing Katniss being plied with Cover Girl or Chanel makeup, while she’s getting ready for her initial appearances on television before the Hunger Games begin. Or the trademark red soles of a classic pair of Jimmy Choo shoes, are seen on the feet of one of her style team members. A soft drink company could even get on board, like Pepsi did for the Back to the Future trilogy, where when Marty McFly travels from 1985 to 2015, he orders a stylised futuristic bottle of Pepsi at a cafe. It can be done, and it can be done in a way that would be almost comforting and thrilling for people to see.
    There’s a discomforting and depressing way that product placement can be used in these films though, and not in the sense that they can do it badly. Because The Hunger Games does take place in a dystopic future, contemporary products or logos can be aged and grimed up, and placed strategically in camera shots taken in Katniss’ home district. Envision the sight of children kicking an old glass bottle or can of Coke down a road, or someone having taken the aluminium casing from an Apple Macbook and welding it to the side of their home to patch up a hole. Simply taking the familiar things we use every day, and showing the audience what could happen if the world ends and they have no use anymore, it would be a great tool and a visual shake up and shock for many people.
    I am greatly looking forward to seeing how they use product placement in the films, but mostly I’m just looking forward to seeing how this amazing story is going to be visualised.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

It Isn't Funny- But It Kind Of Is

When I was 12 I lost my sister, she was 15 years-old, there was no funeral, there were no condolence cards, or flowers, or casseroles stuffing the shelves of my families fridge. I say lost, but what I mean is that the person my family and I knew wasn’t gone in body, but was gone in mind.
    Mental illness is a funny, cruel thing, unpredictable in some, inevitable in others, and sadly only preventable by simply not having children. My sister, Lizzie as I will always think of her, has been dubbed Manic Depressive, Bipolar, A.D.D, Schizoaffective, Borderline Personality Disorder, oh... and difficult. All of these diagnosis’ have held water at one time or another in her 31 years, right now however, we’re sticking with Borderline Personality Disorder.
    I am 94 pages into a book one of my closest friends gave me last year for my birthday. 233 pages of non-fiction that I was reluctant to pick up, because it hit too close to home. The book is called Hurry Down Sunshine By Michael Greenberg; and like I said before, it’s non-fiction, non-fiction about a father going through the trials and tribulations of the onset of his then youngest child's severe mental illness. A couple of weeks ago I was propelled to read it, because my laptop was in the shop, and I’ve become a slave to reading digital copies of books in place of real life printed paper. Don’t get me wrong, I love books, the smell, the feel of them, I even like shopping for them, and I don’t like shopping. So, I picked up the book and started in on it. Immediately I was nodding my head with the authors words, mentally checking off a list, that basically went like this.

* Yep, seen that.
* Totally heard that before.
* Uh huh.
* Yeah!
* Pshhh, totally!

And so on and so forth.

    I know mental illness isn’t some newfangled thing, it’s been with the human race since there was a human race. I’ve just never sought out other peoples stories where it comes to the secondary experiences with mental illness, i.e. the families perspective. Face it, almost all the best stories we hear about people with severe mental illness don’t always include their families points of view, and if there is one, it’s fairly minute, however they’re hardly demonised, but they’re certainly not glorified. I’m thinking of famous cases such as Dostoevsky, Dali, Pollock, Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald, Sylvia Plath, Hemingway. I truly believe that the lack of the families experience being reported on, is because mental illness is all about the Me, and the Me is the person with the mental illness.
    My sister is the most selfish person I have ever met in my life. I’m not being mean, I’m being honest when I say that, because my sister literally cannot see things from another persons perspective, she has no empathetic intuition and can only see things through her experiences, and through the cloud her illness lets her see through, or sometimes not see through. It’s cold, it’s flaccid, and it’s not pretty, but my sister cannot think of any body but her self and how things affect her. I don’t know if it’s always been that way, she wasn’t exactly a bossy person when we were growing up, but I can’t honestly say that I can remember her comforting me, consoling me, doing things solely for me or for someone in my families benefit. Scratch that, she made me breakfast once when we were kids, cold scrambled eggs on a plate, that she brought up to my room at 7 or so in the morning on a Saturday. It’s sad and funny to think, but the only time I can remember her doing something for me, it was a cold plate of eggs at a very inconvenient time in the morning.
    Lizzie’s been in mental hospitals off an on since she was 15 years-old. That’s when she first went in; 15 years-old, just got kicked out of school, raging at the world, riddled with insecurities and an ever present rebellious nature, yet she somehow yearned to be part of the in-crowd, always vying for acceptance, but my sister was always weird, always. My mother told me that she was the only one of her children, who could occupy herself with one toy for hours  However, despite her remarkable ability to play solitarily and quietly, she was just fucking weird. She came up with names for imaginary creatures, she had fanciful ideas and games she’d invent. Now, yes, on the surface that’s quaint or cute, or whatever, but at many times these fantasies become all consuming, and disruptive at home and at school.
    I’m 94 pages into this book that made all of these thoughts spring to my mind. Do I recommend reading the book? Yes, I do, because it's compelling, heartfelt, well written and honest. The friend who gave me my copy told me that it was one of her favourites, I understand why she would want to share a favourite, but I wonder if she knows how much of my experiences were mirrored in Mr. Greenberg's. I guess I’ll have to ask her soon, otherwise I may go crazy.