Sunday, June 24, 2012

Lazy Sunday # 226: The Deconstructors

Mcdonalds Advertising

It’s always easier to tear something down than build it up. Easier to take apart what’s been made than figure out how to create from nothing in the first place.

The work of hundreds making what they hope millions might enjoy is undone by one who likely has never made anything but knows how to knock it down –- or maybe just knock it.

And often this deconstruction isn’t based on what’s desired by those millions awaiting satiation. But because it just isn’t what that one guy, the deconstructionist, thought it would be.

In other words, in this age of entitlement, we’ve reached a stage where some people assume that everything must meet what they anticipated regardless of its original intent.

All needs must be subservient to my need.

This week, three deconstructions crossed my path involving actor Tom Cruise, writer Aaron Sorkin and a cheeseburger.

Cruise and his new movie “Rock of Ages” were lambasted by a TV critic because while it purported to be about music of the 80’s, it didn’t include the music of the 80’s this guy preferred and also didn’t include those big production numbers he’s used to seeing in movie musicals.

Oh yeah, and even though he’s a movie star, what made Tom Cruise think he could portray a rock star!

Short message: Movie wasn’t what I thought it should be, so don’t you go see it.

Nearby, esteemed TV critics were taking apart Aaron Sorkin’s new HBO series “The Newsroom” because while Sorkin is a well known advocate of the Left, he let the side down this time by missing some of the bases on what should’ve been a home run.

Okay. Not exactly sure when story structure had to align with ideology. But it seems we’ve gotten there.

Short message: Series isn’t what I thought it should be. So don’t you watch it.

Meanwhile, the fact that a McDonald’s Cheeseburger doesn’t look exactly as it does in its ads upset somebody else somewhere.

Short message: McDonald’s is putting lipstick on a McRib.

One of the elements essential to consensus media is that we all share the same cultural touchstones. It’s the only way sound bites and surface analysis can succeed.

Therefore, we’re supposed to come to the discussion accepting the settled cultural science.Tom Cruise is weird. Aaron Sorkin thinks he’s the smartest guy in the room. McDonald’s ethics are as empty as their calories.

And there may be some truth in all of those things. But what that shorthand also does is make it possible to simply dismiss the work by pushing one overused button.

When I was coming up through the theatre, I was taught that critics were a necessary evil, guiding the public to what was best for them. But over time I learned to eliminate “necessary” as a descriptor.

Because there’s increasing proof that more and more critics consider their own needs above that of the intended audience.

The other night, I went to see “Rock of Ages” and I had a blast. Basically, if you’ve ever been eighteen years old, had a hot girlfriend/boyfriend and dreamt of being a rock star, you’ll get what it’s about.

And not being able to notch two of those three points likely illustrates how you become a film critic.

Now don’t get me wrong. “Rock of Ages” is no “Citizen Kane”. And it’s not even trying to be. It’s a movie about “sweat, ear-shattering music and puke”.

And at its core is a spectacular performance from Cruise. At times drop dead funny, at others moving and insightful. Maybe he’s not Jon Bon Jovi, but he’s close enough for Rock ‘n Roll.

After the movie, I grabbed a McDonald’s cheeseburger. The thought of comparing it to the poster at the counter before devouring it never even crossed my mind. And you know what? It tasted great.

And tonight, despite all the naysayers, I’ll be hunkered in front of the tube watching “The Newsroom”. Because even if it sucks donkey balls, the craft behind it will be superior to about 99% of everything else on television.

Score for the weekend:

Me & The Creatives: 3 Deconstructors: 0

From here on, I’m only taking guidance from people who’ve laced up the boots and gotten in the ring. The ones who’ve been there and know; as opposed to those sitting on the curb, making a list of what it’ll have to be before they’re anywhere close to happy.

Maybe you should do the same. Enjoy Your Sunday.




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