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Hollywood Master Plan #84:Dead People, Computers and Shake and Bake (And I Helped!) March 11, 2007

Posted by doctorolove in Movies, Pop Culture Rants, TV.

The big debate rolling through Hollywood like food poisoning at a Taco Bell is just when will we reach the point that we don’t need actors anymore. Computer science in film has reached a point that we can recreate blades of grass, hair sweat, even an inflated ego that causes an actor’s brow to over furrow when he’s trying to win his People’s Choice Award. The past five computer-generated films have grossed combined more than the GNPs of all of Africa (Please note, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, made a grand total of $86.10 and does not count in this example since it falls victim to the Video Game Corollary that states no video game movie would be successful.) Hollywood is soon to be in the hands of several thousand geeks who know more about the inner workings of Klingon verb conjugation than actual filmmaking. When will we see the death of real live people in film and TV?

Well, I have to tell you, it’s happening now. Hollywood has already started prepping us for it now. And it’s not in the way you’d expect. Let me explain…No, there is too much…let me sum up.

There was a time in the seventies when all you needed to solve a crime on Television was one of several things. You needed intuition and dumb luck (Columbo), you needed a cool car (Magnum P.I.), you needed a partner or sidekick (Cagney and Lacey) or even in some cases an AARP card and a penchant for 8.95 spaghetti dinners at the local Italian joint if you get in before 5 (Murder She Wrote.) It also didn’t hurt to have a moustache (Again Magnum P.I. and in some episodes of Murder She Wrote, Angela Lansbury didn’t hit the electrolysis that day.) These things got the crimes solved in just under an hour and sometimes two if there was a huge guest star for Sweeps Week. The bad guys were caught, people got their money back and there was always a blond girl to fall in love with you for forty minutes (Though in Colombo’s case, she was always at home.) TV was teaching us that crime was being solved and we had nothing to worry about.

But Hollywood knew our belief in pithy sayings and colorful characters wouldn’t last, so they decided that we needed to see real people solving crimes. So they decided the one way to keep America’s belief in their legal and judicial system is to make things as real as possible. And they had to go deep and real. And if that meant Dennis Franz’s ass, than America would just have to accept it. So they bombarded us with the early nineties realism of gritty, salt talking lifers on the police force. We had the realism of Baltimore in Homicide, the realism of NYPD Blue’s New York. They even moved it to the big screen. There was the dark conflicted police officers of Rush, Narc and even the dark underbelly of local forces of New England in Super Troopers (syrup is a one way ticket to the gutter…just ask Susan ‘Mrs.” Butterworth, currently serving 8 years in Leavenworth for prostitution and “sweetening” men cross the country)

Yet it was the next move in crime fighting in Hollywood that is the major plan behind the computer’s takeover of the actors in Hollywood. With all of us thoroughly believing that Hollywood was giving us an honest to goodness representation of the men, women and chimps (both literal and interpretational) keeping us safe, they had us hooked. So what trend would be next? Dead people. People coming back from the great beyond and aiding people in all sorts of conundrums and fingering their killers to their spiritual guides (kind of like Snufflupagus with vendettas…imaginary friends with issues)

At first they’d sneak in to shows now and then. In very special episodes (Again, Sweeps Week-Allowing Shows to Jump The Shark since 75). They’d appear at the operating table or at dinner and solve the big crime for Magnum or Columbo or one of the Simons and then the show would resume its regularly scheduled attempt at reality. But nobody batted an eyelash. Nobody hemmed and hawed and said, “Hey, this doesn’t follow the rules and parameters set for this show.” Hollywood had it’s medium. And so the dead people kept coming.

They started small. First, they inserted a dead partners soul into a member of the K9 unit to see if we’d really go for the idea. And we did (Thanks Tequila and Bonetti! No really, thanks.) So soon they added characters that appeared several times during the course of the shows run (kind of like The Great Gazoo for Fred Flintstone, but in hospital scrubs and with a huge gash across their forehead and usually played by an aging cast member from 90210.) And when we still did not flinch, they based shows around it. Medium. That upcoming Jeff Goldblum series. Barney Miller. (Okay, so Abe Vigoda wasn’t really dead but the man still looks like a corpse on a few strings.) And the shows weren’t enough. They put the Helpful Dead in movies, in ads, and even in that bastion of nineties reality: the tabloid talk show. (Don’t think so? Sylvia Browne, the Montel! Psychic, is a Hollywood shill. You can’t tell me she’s not the little woman from Poltergeist after a few packs of Luckys and some expensive trips to a Nail Salon on Park and 125th.) Dead people are huge right now. They’re solving crimes. They’re reuniting marriages. They’re keeping Jennifer Love Hewitt’s bank account in the black. They’re everywhere. How did we ever LIVE without them?

Which is just how Hollywood wants it. If we believe that the dead are roaming our entertainment landscape and making things better for our characters, then surely a computer generated sidekick could do the same. By making us believe in the powers of the dead and non-living, there are prepping us for the inevitability of us getting our safety, comfort and entertainment from something that doesn’t exist at all (except on somebody’s hard drive, sandwiched in between Minesweeper and half naked pics of Antonella Barba.)

We need to fight now. We need as a people to cry “Bullshit” to all these dead people making the living lives better. Because it’s all just one step away. We are this close to putting actors out of work for non-existent beings. Look at what MP3 downloading has done to the music industry. Car customization shops are only putting 3 TV’s in people’s Hummers now. The monetary ramifications are staggering. I see through your ruse, Hollywood. Your attempt to use these dead people as the KY jelly to lube me up before the great “RAM” is not getting by this watchful eye. Kill the dead people now before all hell breaks lose. Actors out of work, star’s children forced to have their pictures in albums and not on magazine covers, Jim Carrey delivering your pizza.

Actually, I saw The Number 23, so that last one won’t be entirely your fault.



1. Lola - March 12, 2007

You saw 23?!?!? For God’s sake why?

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