The Strange World Of Celebrity Hero Worship
I have decided to write a piece on perceptions and pre-conceived ideas that the general public has on people in the spotlight, from hero worship to hatred. Is it rational to not watch a film just because Jack Black is in it, or do you wear your rose-tinted glasses whenever news breaks of a new Julia Roberts film? Does it go further than that, where do fantasy and reality end?
Before I go any further, I am not a Psychologist and everything that follows will be merely my opinion. Secondly, I have not really ever met any famous people, I met Benedict Wong (Wong in Dr Strange) at Em-Con last year, he was a decent bloke, from Salford (kind of my neck of the woods) no less……..I’m sure he kept the photo. I certainly don’t know any famous people personally so my opinion of any of them is based purely on their public persona or the impressions I have built upon them through their work or interviews etc.
Now take my friend Benedict for example. He was at a fan convention in Nottingham, signing autographs and taking selfies (for a small charge of course), but basically he was being paid to be nice and for my two minute chat with him and the photo he took with me and my son, he seemed a perfectly normal bloke, who just happened to have what is perceived as a glamourous and exciting job. Now for all I know when I walked away, he may have turned to his agent and said “don’t let anyone like that loser come near me again, bloody Mancunians thinking they know me….” etc. I’m sure he didn’t, but how do I know?
As anyone who knows me will tell you, I’m a bit of a fan of Steven Spielberg, I think the guy is the Greatest Living Film Director, and possibly the greatest ever, if reading this, you don’t need to agree with that, it is a subjective opinion. I have not, sadly ever had the opportunity to meet Mr Spielberg, and quite frankly, I’m 99% sure that I never will. Spielberg makes films that have connected with me, they have comforted me when feeling low, they have excited me and made me marvel at the sheer audacity and wonder of them. There is a tendency to think therefore, we must like the same things, ergo, I reckon we’d get on really well if we met for dinner. Now before anyone starts filing restraining orders, the truth is he is just doing a job, when he finishes his work for that day, he goes home to his wife and family, they may even stop on the way for Pukka Pie and Chips because they can’t be bothered to cook that night. Does he ever wake up on a Saturday and lounge around in his joggers watching Saturday kitchen whilst aimlessly scrolling through Twitter (basically my Saturday mornings)? Ok, he probably doesn’t but neither is he likely to be being carried around on a velvet throne waiting for today’s fresh catch of the day to be served to him on a silver platter by harp-playing cherubs.
No matter how much some fans would like to think about it, he cannot walk on water. Here’s the thing, whenever you read an interview from anyone who has ever worked with Steven Spielberg they all gush about how wonderful and generous he is as a man, a director and an overall human being. You could argue, who in Hollywood would not want to work on the next Steven Spielberg film, they’re hardly going to bad mouth him are they? But overall his public persona means we have no reason to doubt that he is in fact an all-round decent guy, but who reading this can honestly know for sure?
I try not to live my life cynically, but we live in a Social Media driven world these days where it appears everyone is fair game for shots to be aimed at. There is always someone willing to sling the mud, anonymous keyboard warriors who chase the likes, the ticks, the retweets. Why say nice things about somebody who is already venerated globally, that’s not interesting? Let’s find some dirt on them, and if we can’t do that, well we shall make it up, and with each passing day, we are faced with questions around what is true about individuals, individuals who apparently gave up their right to any kind of private life the moment they decided to display their talent to the World. I’m sure they all do normal things
Tom Cruise is maybe as reviled as he is revered. Everyone has an opinion on him, from ultra focused professional to crazy religious nut. The truth is only a handful of people will really know the real Tom, but fans and detractors will claim they do know him, based on the work he presents and the public persona he has put out to the World. You hear it quite often on Internet forums “Oh Tom Cruise is proper weird”, oh, know him personally do you? The flip side to this is that there will be fans of Mr. Cruise who will not have a bad word said about him.
Famous people often don’t help themselves here, occasionally making ill-advised comments or declaring undying love for someone, using a talk show sofa as a trampoline to emphasize one’s love. Granted this is not normal behavior, but how much is artificial, how much is rehearsed, we are not at liberty to know. Cruise is a big enough star to be able to deal with flack that will have come from what at the time was probably a calculated risky move, he has a loyal fanbase who would pretty much forgive him anything.
I’m not for one minute suggesting that all “stars” are clean as a whistle, they wouldn’t be human if they didn’t have flaws, but the fact is we don’t know them personally and probably never will, so should we have them on these unreasonable pedestals, would the reality only disappoint us?
Many years ago I read an interview with Harrison Ford who had just been voted “World’s Sexiest Man” by a magazine. He was asked by the interviewer how he felt about that. Ford responded by saying that it meant nothing, as none of the people who voted for him knew him personally and if they did they probably wouldn’t find him particularly sexy at all. Harrison Ford has a reputation for being a bit of a grumpy old man, how about the fact that he might just be an incredibly guarded, private man, who sees his profession as a job as opposed to someone who expects the world to worship at his feet. He actually might be the life and soul of the party, we will probably never know, in fact, the only thing we know about Ford for sure is that he is pretty bad at landing planes.
When evidence is clearly more than idle internet gossip, where do you as the consumer draw the line? In the last few years, and not before time, the #Metoo movement has moved into the public arena, some established stars with huge followings have pretty much seen their careers ended (and rightly so) as a result of allegations. Do we as the public have to make a stand against this by not watching a film, that’s a success or access to us is largely down to money that Harvey Weinstein invested? Do we throw our copies of American Beauty into the bin because Kevin Spacey starred, or do we appreciate that thousands of good people put their hearts and souls into making that film, and Spacey was just a small element of it?
The 21st Century so far with the birth of social media and reality TV has led to enough manipulation of the psyche to make one imagine that George Orwell is still operating things from a distance as an omnipotent puppet master. Reality TV is designed primarily to be as far away from reality as possible, whilst creating the illusion that it is entirely attainable for the average person. Win X-Factor and you will have a pop career that will make you a global superstar with the longevity of the Beatles when in reality the fame in most cases lasts slightly less than Andy Warhol will have predicted. Big Brother was initially realized as a social experiment, now a freak show designed to have 10 strangers argue and come to blows in an unescapable TV set, nobody wants to see people getting along.
Social Media is a different animal itself. People need to keep very much at arms length, what is reality and what is being shown as the norm. I am a regular Twitter user, and through it, I have had many fantastic and inspiring discussions about movies and the power and the sense of wellbeing that movies and cinema bring to these people. Bizarrely I am quite a private person and the majority of people I interact regularly with on Twitter I don’t know personally and with respect, I have no real desire to meet and get to know personally. There are obviously some people on Social Media that I don’t fully understand, like the guy who hated ALL of the Marvel movies but had seen every one of them (you would have thought they would get the point after the first few) or the guy who saw The Last Jedi 10 times just to be sure he hated it as much as he thought he did. I’m glad to say I don’t have the time, energy or desire to spend that much time and money on things that didn’t agree with me, which is probably one of the reasons why I only have about 400 followers on Twitter despite over 10 years of hilarious and knowledgeable tweeting (tsk tsk).
That’s the whole point though, nobody anymore wants to hear nice things, or the things that you enjoy, where is the fun in that? Get out there and be the bigger person, what the world needs more of now, is some guys refusing to watch an all female Ghostbusters (brilliant by the way) because it ruined their childhood, but then telling their Twitter followers why it ruined their childhood. They don’t need to actually watch the film to state that opinion, it’s an all female Ghostbusters, it’s bound to be rubbish, women aren’t funny, they certainly can’t catch ghosts………….
I am writing this piece a couple of weeks after it was announced that Steven Spielberg’s upcoming West Side Story has (alongside many other films) been delayed until at least December 2021 due to the ongoing impacts of COVID 19. Now this is a film I am obviously extremely excited about, one of my favorite musicals being directed by my favorite director, so the delay is a disappointing but to be fair understandable setback. This is a film, however that is designed almost by its very inception, to be destroyed on social media before anyone has even seen a trailer. I am big enough and long enough in the tooth to admit if the film, when I eventually see it, doesn’t land, I will say so, but we live in a world where even if it is the greatest film ever made there will be naysayers who probably won’t even watch it but hate it anyway. I’m not one of those who feel Spielberg can’t do any wrong, 1941 anyone, but I will at least reserve judgment until I’ve seen it.
Which brings me full circle to this idea of hero worship. If I was ever fortunate enough to meet Mr. Spielberg, I think I would say thank you. That thank you would be for the hours of entertainment he has provided through his imagination and skills as film maker. I am a fan, I’ve described myself, as a devoted Spielbergian, but he is not a hero. He is a man who is very, very talented at what he does, but he’s not physically saving lives, he is trying to make the World a slightly happier place by putting his abilities to good use. He, along with the majority of celebrities (I like to think) have what is seen as an unusual profession but deep down are normal people.
I remember last year returning home from watching Avengers Endgame with my son, it was a Sunday and we sat down to our weekly Sunday roast dinner, and my son asked me “hey, do you think Robert Downey Jr is sat having a Sunday roast with his family?” My answer was “Well, why would he not be?” He is by all sense and purpose a family man who probably when not filming has a fair bit of time on his hands so why would they not do the “normal” things in life.
Maybe it’s time for us all to take a step back and just enjoy the art, just appreciate that for those 2 hours they are attempting to entertain. That in itself is a gift and I’m truly grateful for it. If I was to ever meet Mr Spielberg that is what I would thank him for.
My name is Dominic Holder and I like to promote the beauty and wonder of Cinema in my writing. I spend a lot of time promoting the power of Cinema as a tool of wellbeing to anyone and everyone. I love all kinds of films but in particular, I am a devoted fan of Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, John Williams, Star Wars, Disney and Marvel. My love of Cinema stems from a trip as a 4-year-old to local cinema in Bolton to watch a Star Wars/Empire Strikes Back double bill, it was the first in a series of life-changing moments, I knew from the moment the Imperial Star Destroyer engulfed the screen at the start of A New Hope I was hooked. Thankfully nearly 40 years later I still get excited and still find escapism and happiness within this wonderful medium.
You can follow me on Twitter @DomHolder and read some of my reviews on Letterboxd at letterboxd.com/DomH
You can read more of my blogs on Film at www.dominicholder.wordpress.com
Three Things Todd Phillips’ Joker Sequel Can Do To Surpass The First
By now, we all know that Todd Phillips is helming the sequel to the Oscar-winning comic-book adaptation Joker. It was reported that Joaquin Phoenix will be reprising his role as the menacing clown prince of crime known as Arthur Fleck while , in a shocking twist, Lady Gaga will be playing Harley Quinn instead of Margot Robbie coming back as the Joker’s favorite love interest.
People are still somewhat in shock that the sequel to the 2019 smash hit is going to be a musical that will actually feature our lead character singing, which is already something new for a DC film. Despite all of that, fans are understandably worried that this sequel will not perform on the same level as its predecessor.
Here is how it can be great:
Technically, we already saw Batman in the last movie. Many people don’t count it because it was just a young Bruce Wayne up until he lost his parents. However, if fans want to be truly satisfied with the outcome of the film, Todd Phillips needs to have Batman come into his Caped Crusading glory once again. Whether they use Robert Pattinson, or decide to bring Ben Affleck back again, it would be so amazing so see the two go at it in this universe.
Fans might groan and roll their eyes at the prospect of these two characters duking it out yet again, but, whether we like it or not, Joker is the greatest Batman villain in his rogues gallery and a Joker without a Batman, especially in this sequel, does not look like it would bode well with audiences.
Joker must kill Robin
In the comics, Jason Todd’s Robin is kidnapped and held captive by the Joker only to be ultimately killed by the clown prince of crime. To really make this movie compelling, there has to be some sort of stakes. Robin may be the equalizer in those stakes and up the ante in the film to make it more heartfelt and poetic if the Joker were to kill him.
This would most likely culminate into an ultimate showdown of blood, justice and vengeance between Joker and Batman.
Kill the Musical Numbers
It might be impossible at this point but if the filmmakers want this film to succeed, it makes only sense to get the musical genre clear out of the film. DC comic-book films and musicals don’t sound like they mix well together. WIth that being said, it only makes sense that the two remain separate.
To be honest, could you imagine seeing Joker singing a power ballad with Harley Quinn in a DC film, or better yet, singing it with Batman? Moreover, could you imagine Joker looming over Robin as he belts out a villain song? I couldn’t imagine that either.
Why ‘Return to Oz’ is one of my favorite films now
I have said it once and I’ll say it again. Nothing could match the sheer brilliance of the 1939 Judy Garland-led film The Wizard of Oz, but there is another film that was flown under the radar that was forgotten by many Oz fans after its release. That film was Return to Oz.
The movie is the unofficial sequel to the 1939 classic film. It follows a young Dorothy Gale six months after she came back from the Land of Oz. She is sent a key by the scarecrow via a shooting star and gets back to the magical land of Oz using a raft on a floating river. She is accompanied by a talking chicken, a metalhead named Tik-Tok, a Gump and Jack Pumpkinhead.
The gang battles the evil Princess Mombi and her boss the Nome King. They must find the Scarecrow and unfreeze all of the inhabitants of the Emerald City.
The film bombed at the box-office and only received mixed reviews, but, over the years, it has gained popularity, thanks to the internet and other Oz fans.
As a child, I have always been fascinated with the idea of a person or a group of people traveling to a distant and fantastical land of wonder and amazement. That’s why I love movies like Alice In Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz and The Chronicles of Narnia but this Walter Murch film from 1985 seems to capture my attention whenever I’m on Disney+ trying to kill some time.
The story is so simple that it takes the journey of the hero and breathes new life into the marvelous land of Oz and the films that inspired it. It has a certain kinship to the nostalgic movies that I previously watched as a child in the 2000s.
Another reason that I love this film so much is because of the magnificent score by David Shire. His music is so beautifully crafted that it makes one weak in the knees and the heart. Each note is a transformative thrill into Murch’s vision of what L. Frank Baum’s Oz was. The film uses every single strand of filmmaking techniques that the 1939 film originally hosted.
Since its release, it has been acclaimed as a cult classic and its nostalgic charm is what makes it so likable and watchworthy.
Why ‘Joker’ Is Better Than ‘Captain Marvel’
The 2010s proved to be the age of the comic-book movies and I’m not just talking about the Avengers movies, although they certainly changed the game for superhero movies, today I will be discussing are two of the most divided comic-book films of the 2010s and they are Captain Marvel and Joker or better yet, why ‘Joker’ proves to be a much better film than ‘Captain Marvel’.
I will start with what makes the ‘Joker’ movie better than Captain Marvel. For those that have not seen the ‘Joker’ movie, major spoilers ahead. Although, if you haven’t seen it by now, shame on you. It made over a billion dollars at the box office and became Joaquin Phoenix’s most successful film.
But anyway, the joker is about a struggling stand up comedian named Arthur Fleck who is constantly bullied and disregarded by society. Fleck lives with his mother Penny working as a party clown until he is fired from his job for bringing a gun into a children’s hospital.
Afterwards, Fleck is beaten by three businessmen on a train. Fleck draws his gun and kills all three men, beginning his dark descent as one of the greatest comic book villains of all time. Now, let’s talk about Captain Marvel. Yeah I know, but it’s still part of the essay.
Captain Marvel is about a young US Fighter Pilot named Carol Danvers who is the victim of a terrible crash that gives her immeasurable powers after a Kree causes her plane engine to explode. And I’m only saying this not because I remember exactly what happened but because I’m reading that from Wikipedia.
Now, before I break down anymore differences, let me break down how both of these movies are similar. Both movies address a character that is looking for more purpose in life. I understand that that seems like a very broad explanation but that is the case in these films. Both characters have something or a series of traumatic events occur in their lives, both characters go up against a powerful group. In the Joker, Arthur Fleck goes up against the Waynes and in Captain Marvel Carol Danvers goes up against the Kree, both characters find out who they truly are: It’s revealed in Joker that Fleck was adopted and abused as a child and in Captain Marvel Danvers figures out that she was captured by the Kree after she gained her powers and lost her memory and after discovering their true selves, they decide to use their newfound persona for either evil or for good.
Now the reason audiences loved the Joker movie could be surrounded in the fact that the filmmakers brought light to a comic book villain that was never shown in a film until now, while Captain Marvel was divided amongst fans because in my opinion it seemed more like a filler in between avengers infinity war and endgame.
And that brings me to my first point. Unlike Captain Marvel, Joker was designed to be a standalone film and not be part of a cinematic universe, despite the fact that a sequel is possible. But anyway, one of the reasons that makes the Joker movie so much better than Captain Marvel is the fact that it was meant to be a standalone film, which makes it unique.
Captain Marvel on the other side of the Marvel spectrum is a movie within a collection of movies, which means that if it wants to really stand out among the comic book film genre, it needs to do something new that hasn’t been seen before and I don’t want to use these guys as a source, but rotten tomatoes consensus sounds like Captain Marvel just recycles old material.
The consensus reads: “Packed with action, humor, and visual thrills, Captain Marvel introduces the MCU’s latest hero with an origin story that makes effective use of the franchise’s signature formula”.
Did you guys hear that last part? It makes effective use of the franchise’s signature formula. It never said that Captain Marvel adds anything new in the Marvel Pantheon, it just makes effective use of an already done-before formula.
Joker’s consensus reads: “Joker gives its infamous central character a chillingly plausible origin story that serves as a brilliant showcase for its star — and a dark evolution for comics-inspired cinema”.
The consensus says that it is an evolution for the comic book film genre….and it is. It changed the game for comic book films and it did it with simplicity. It didn’t need to use extended CGI battles and epic fight scenes and that’s what made it so special. It was a departure from other superhero or villain films that rely on special effects to draw a crowd and that is what brings me to my second point as to what makes Joker better than Captain Marvel.
Joker is grounded in reality. Joker doesn’t reference any other superheroes with the exception of young Bruce Wayne, because it’s a film that attempts to tell a story about a mentally ill man that has been ignored, abused and disregarded by society and critics have been taken aback by the results. Many liberal critics are triggered by the fact that director Todd Phillips is shedding a light on a white male character that becomes a supervillain and ends up killing many people in the future. In fact, it’s so stirring for moviegoers that people have claimed it would incite violence or more mass shootings…and it didn’t. With that logic you could say the same thing about Tom Hardy’s Venom or Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool, but I won’t get into that.
Anyway, when you compare the plausibility–and that’s what Joker’s consensus says. Plausibility.–when you compare it to that of Captain Marvel, you realize that Captain Marvel by comparison is a fairy tale compared to the Joker because in reality you don’t get powers from a plane crash, you don’t have women fall out of the sky get chased by aliens and later on in the film blast an entire spaceship armada effortlessly. It….does….not….happen.
The Joker however is more plausible. It addresses the fact that there are people with mental illness, which is a real thing. It addresses neighborhood poverty, which is a real thing. It addresses the poor protesting the rich, which is a real thing and it addresses people inciting violence which is a real thing.
Had Todd Phillips taken a different direction to the origin story, like the Joker falling in a vat of acid, we would be having a very différent conversation because it would be a lot less plausible. In Detective Comics #168 in 1951, and revised in Tim Burton’s Batman in 1989, where the Joker, before he became the joker, fell into a vat of acid after a scuffle with Batman, giving him a white complexion, red scarred lips, green hair and a frightening cackle and that explanation is so lazy. It doesn’t cut deep within the motivations of why this character is the way he is.
Captain Marvel’s origin is just as implausible, except with aliens, spaceships and devices that allow you to look inside a person’s mind. I’m actually hoping that there isn’t a sequel to the Joker because if there’s a sequel and/or cinematic universe based on this one movie, Joker would lose its uniqueness and end up being lost in a slew of movies that are only being made to make money, because the best things in life must always come to an end….you know what I’m talking about Star Wars.
Three Things Todd Phillips’ Joker Sequel Can Do To Surpass The First
By now, we all know that Todd Phillips is helming the sequel to the Oscar-winning comic-book adaptation Joker. It was...
Why ‘Return to Oz’ is one of my favorite films now
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Why ‘Joker’ Is Better Than ‘Captain Marvel’
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