Friday, July 15, 2016

Hollywood and Natalie Portman Demonstrate Commitment to Fundamental Values

Whenever we see a threatened community in this chaotic world stand fast and united in support of fundamental values I think it is important to celebrate the event. So many of our friends and institutions have thrown away everything that they used to stand for in order to make a fast buck.

Hollywood is not normally considered a shining pillar of integrity but I believe that is a misunderstanding on the part of outsiders.  Hollywood as a loosely-defined creative community has always had and continues to have a set of core values that are shared across the community and evolves with time.  These values have survived mergers and acquisitions,  new distribution technologies, government antitrust lawsuits, drought, war and pestilence. One of these core values is that there is always money to be made by the cheesy exploitation of women. Let us review a particularly creative use of this principle.

A few years ago, a well-known author of "weird fiction", Jeff VanderMeer, published three novels in a series called the "Southern Reach".  The first of those books, Annihilationwas optioned by Scott Rudin to turn into a movie. He hired the director of Ex Machina (2015), Alex Garland, to write the adaptation and direct the film. The book (and presumably the film) is unusual in many ways and one way that is important to us is that all the protagonists are women. The movie is the story of an expedition of scientists to an area where a strange event occurred many years ago that has cut this area off from the rest of the country.  There have been previous expeditions and they did not end well. So what we have here is a film where the four main characters are all strong and interesting women. The movie stars Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Tessa Thompson. The book is told from the point of view of one of the members of the expedition, the Biologist, played by Natalie Portman.

Nice posture, Natalie! 

As you know, Hollywood has often been accused of perpetuating demeaning stereotypes of women, and failing to provide serious roles for actresses who want to get their next academy award nomination.  So this movie provides an excellent opportunity to refute this sadly somewhat valid criticism of Hollywood.

This film, Annihilation (2017), has finished principal photography and still has a long way to go before it is released but Hollywood realizes it is never too early to start marketing a film. One time-honored way to do this is with interviews by various news media of the star(s) of the film.  And since the film is about four intelligent and adventurous women, it would make sense if that marketing also communicated some of these ideas.

And so an article/interview was created and placed in the New York Times Style Magazine.  It is an interview by email (that social media hook!)  with Natalie Portman by a writer in which they discuss the first short film that Natalie has directed.  They discuss many topics including Natalie's upbringing in Israel, the work of various eclectic authors of fiction, and so forth..

Now we get to the heartwarming, even inspirational, part of our story.  Ms. Portman discusses her movie and her childhood in very intelligent ways, certainly combating the stereotype of women in Hollywood. But I had not realized how financially challenged Ms. Portman was. You see, not everyone in Hollywood makes those multi-million dollar salaries.  Apparently, Ms Portman was or is so poor that she did not own any pants. Nevertheless they bravely went ahead and photographed this wonderful and talented person practically bare-assed naked.  Fortunately, Ms. Portman was able to hold up her part as these pictures clearly show.

It would have been easy for Hollywood to turn its back on a core value and portray Ms. Portman as a politically correct, bisexual, blue jean lesbian styled modern feminist and be acclaimed by one and all, but our producers and the studio are made of sterner stuff. The cheap exploitation of women and sex to sell a film is like "Motherhood and Apple Pie" to the rest of us. It is important. Hollywood did not let us down.

See this fabulous article here.

Are you going to just lounge around all day in your underwear?

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