Evil Gal Productions

Mere Smith
is a recovering Southerner,
longtime TV writer,
author and blogger.
January 27th, 2011 by Mere Smith

Hype and Loathing in L.A.

So.  Last night my fiancé — or as I call him when I’m not currently staffed, “The Finance” — and I settled in to watch one of the most freakishly-over-promoted Oscar contenders of the year: “The King’s Speech,” produced by The Weinstein Company — a copy of which was distributed with every Daily Variety one day this week.  (I think it was Monday, but since I’m a blogger, accuracy isn’t my strong suit — and according to The Blogger Code, I’m not actually required to care.  Sorry.)

The Finance and I had discussed this unusual marketing scheme at length — didn’t that mean that Variety’s readers would be consuming The Weinstein Company’s product for free?  And weren’t these Variety readers (i.e., Hollywood insiders and Academy voters, one of said voters being The Finance) — the very same core consumers The Weinstein Company was betting on to pay hard cash money to see their movie?  Not to encourage Hollywood’s idea of Real People stereotypes, but I doubt very highly that the surfnecks I grew up with have “The King’s Speech” ranked above “The Green Hornet” on their Hot-Flix-To-See-At-The-Googolplex List.

Nonetheless, it all seemed like a classic Weinsteinian gambit — innovative, interesting, and risky; which in me always stirs a profound affinity — “innovative,” “interesting,” and “risky” being three of the most underused words in Hollywood — and, I confess, it made me want to watch the movie right away.  (However, after learning Variety’s daily circulation hovers around 27,000, it started to seem less risky and more calculated.  From Harvey Weinstein.  Imagine!)  Yet despite all the movie’s clever ADHD hype — and despite knowing there are companies hired to create said ADHD hype — I totally bought in.  I figured there had to be something — something — about the film to make it so veddy-veddy-Oscar-worthy.

I mean, for one thing, it has Geoffrey Rush in it — one of those actors with whom you fall in love after seeing him in a single movie — which for me was “Elizabeth,” where I was also introduced to Cate Blanchett — thus making it a kind of double-falling-in-love experience: a cinematic menage-a-trois. (Which in my head sounded classy and French, but just now came out sounding creepy and stalkerish.  Give me half-credit and put it somewhere in the middle.)

I was equally excited about “The King’s Speech” because it also stars Colin Firth — with whom I fell in love after seeing him as Mr. Darcy in “Pride and Prejudice” — though that may have more to do with my enjoyment of long, drawn-out courtships in which finally holding hands at the end of the movie is the Victorian equivalent of a scene from “Last Tango In Paris,” only without all the nekkidness and bodily fluids.  Believe me, I have nothing against nekkidness and bodily fluids, but when a furtive, longing glance across a dinner table can give you the absolute girly wig-wags — who needs boobies?  Hell, I can see those in the mirror every day.  When I choose to look.  And deliberately block out what sort of perkiness they may have possessed 15 years ago.

In fact, I love Pride and Prejudice so much, I even read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, the mash-up written by Seth Grahame-Smith — and damned if he didn’t do a fantastic job of turning Elizabeth Bennett into an ass-kicking ninja killer of the undead.  This led me to reading Grahame-Smith’s Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, which I liked even more, and yes, I also read Jane Slayre, by Sherri Browning-Erwin.  (Apparently you must have a hyphenated name in order to write mash-ups — ironic, no?  In a Canadian chanteuse kind of way?)  I haven’t managed to tackle Android Karenina yet, but that’s only ’cause I haven’t read the original — and how can you truly appreciate a mash-up if you aren’t familiar with the source material?

(Yeah, yeah, I can feel my former professors scowling from here.  Hasn’t read Anna Karenina?  Plebe! But back off, punks.  I read all your frickin’ Derridas, didn’t I?)

Digressions aside, there we are, The Finance and Me, all pumped up and primed on the couch (in a strictly non-bodily-fluids sense), pressing Play on the DVD remote control… and what comes on?

More goddamn hype!  It’s like the PR guys have been mainlining cocaine cut with stupid.  Right into their carotids.  And possibly directly into their heart muscles.  (If they still have them, that is.  Or when they get hired, do they have to sign those over, too, along with their souls?  Just asking.)

As the hype played on…

Finance: Oh for Chrissake.

Me: Don’t worry, honey, we’ll just skip over this part and get to the movie.

…except…

…fast-forward, fast-forward…

There was no movie.

…fast-forward, fast-forward…

Still nothing.  All the disc was was a fucking promotional DVD — the movie was nowhere to be found on it.

Finance: Oh for Chrissake.

Me: SONNA-A-BITCH!  SONNA-A-BITCH!  WHERE’S THE MOVIE?  THIS SUCKS!  SCREW THESE GUYS!

And that’s where the ADHD hype backfired.

I now have no urge to see “The King’s Speech,” and in fact have a very strong urge to snap in half every DVD of it that comes my way.

Understand, after a dozen years in Hollywood, I’m not usually a dumbass moron (oh, stop the yapping, the point’s debatable), but nowhere on the DVD envelope did it say, “Oh, and by the way, this is just one really long fucking commercial,” or, “If you think you’re actually going to see the movie on this disc, then you are definitely a dumbass moron.”

It was only after pulling out the disc that we noticed the fine print on it: “TRT: 23: 06”.

Now honestly, I wouldn’t even have minded being called a dumbass moron — as long as they were upfront about it — y’know, spelled it out on the cover.  Instead I got hoodwinked — bamboozled, I tell you — and this does not leave me with a warm glow in my heart for “The King’s Speech.”  In truth it makes me want to walk up to the PR guys or Harvey Weinstein and kick ’em in the slats (which in Weinstein’s case would most likely be ineffectual, I’ll admit; the guy’s probably more insensitive to pain than Rasputin).

See there?  Taking a shot at Harvey Weinstein?  I can be a dumbass moron — but at least I know when I’m doing it.

Thus fair warning to all the heartless, soulless, mainlining-cocaine-cut-with-stupid PR folk:

DO NOT GIVE OUT DVD’S OF “MOVIES” IF THERE ARE NO ACTUAL “MOVIES” ON THEM.

Backlash is a sonna-a-bitch.

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