Archive | January, 2014

A Stupid Opinion About Tanking

29 Jan

It’s been a while since there’s been a basketball related post on this mother. If someone just started reading this blog they’d think that our poorly written stupid opinions only spanned the realm of movies, but dabbled in television, music and made-up internal monologues of economists born in New Delhi. Well, it’s not. There is a rich tradition of having stupid opinions about basketball too. One of the reasons for the drop off in stupid basketball coverage is all the talk of tanking. Not actual tanking, it’s just the constant talk of tanking has become a bore. Tanking is considered the mortal enemy of the gamesmanship of professional basketball. Tanking is the most heinous crime and teams that practice it should have advertisements for Tampax on their jerseys because, obviously, the team has no scruples or respect for the game of basketball. But here’s the thing; tanking isn’t a real thing. It’s more manufactured than pop music marketed to teens. Every conversation about tanking is nothing more than an elaborate ploy to separate a fan from their money. Well, every conversation about it except for this one because this is a Woodward and Bernstein-esque exposé on conspiracy of tanking.

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First off, let me say that tanking simply doesn’t work. The lottery is set up that even the very worst team only has a twenty-five percent chance of winning the number one pick. These aren’t steal-money-from-the-poor-state-lotto odds, but there isn’t a whole lot of incentive to be bad when there is only a slim chance it will lead to a proper draft pick. Teams rarely pick at their position because there is a 75% chance the worst team will move down from the number one spot. Being the worst team has the best chance to get the number one pick, but it is three times more likely to pick lower than their “earned” position. This is a statistics lesson every Nuggets fan knows by heart without ever opening a statistics book. The Nuggets have never had the top pick, but have more than once had the worst record. Unfairness is only one facet of proof that the current lottery system is not broken, and tanking is not a thing.

The next falsehood about “tanking” is that it is a good way to build a team. That it’s good business to be bad in order to become good. Well, this doesn’t hold up either because gone are the days when basketball teams are run by former professional players without a strong sense of business planning or strategy, armed mostly with heavy helpings of pride and playing day nostalgia. Now, teams are run like businesses. Team building requires more hard data and less gut intuition, assets are properly valued instead of being seen as intangible draft picks or holdovers from the previous regime. The NBA Draft is such a crap shoot where by the mid-season of every year the draft mistakes are obvious. So, even if there is a sure-fire, can’t-miss prospect in the draft it doesn’t mean they’ll pan out. Even with advanced statistics and analytics, players go to the wrong franchise, butt heads with their coach or teammates or can’t handle the responsibility or speed of the pro game. A lot of unknown factors negate the luck of winning the lottery. So, even if it is beneficial to draft high in lottery, actively losing games on purpose is not worth the twenty-five percent chance of getting into the top three. But then why is tanking always on the tongues of reporters, analysts, fans and every Tom, Dick and Jane who follows basketball?

It’s because professional sports are in the business of selling hope. It’s the main commodity every franchise from the lowliest indoor lacrosse team to professional team in a destination city with a roster full of superstars is peddling. The second a fan steps in the arena or puts their eyes on the event of the game they are buying the hope that their team will be victorious. The better the business model the larger view of hope the franchise is selling. Well run, successful franchises sell hope for a championship at the end of the season. But these odds are even worse than the lottery, only one team can be champions every other team in the league ends their season in disappointment. The reason tanking is such a constant talking point is because it’s the most efficient way of building hope for the franchises with nothing to be hopeful about. These bad franchises love the idea of tanking. On one hand it suggests that the team is going to get better in the near future, but it also builds hope under the guise that the team could be winning games but it is better for the long term goal that they lose games. Fans get their cake and eat it too. They are fed the narrative that the team is bad, but not because they lack talent to be good, they’re choosing to be worse than they are because they want to be better. When in reality bad teams lose games. Every year there are bad teams, and these teams are going to lose games simply because they don’t have the talent to make it happen. They aren’t tanking, they just aren’t good. And if a team is bad, does that automatically mean the team is immune to injuries? or fatigue? Every professional athlete thrives in competitive situations. It’s their job, and in many cases, they’ve been in competitive situations since they were old enough to walk. But for the good of the team, which happens to also mean less job security for them, they will be hunky-dory with knowingly losing games? Bullshit. Competition is in their blood.

Tanking does not exist. It is nothing more than an elaborate manipulation designed to separate fans from their money even when the product isn’t worth paying for.

-C. Charles

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Webbed Prose

23 Jan

The goal with Webbed Prose is to stretch the old creative muscles and tendons a little bit and share interesting/inspiring articles. Fingers crossed this becomes more than a one-off entry and develops a life on par with Carl Well’s on-going Pop Gods posts.

Here’s the article. Feel free to read it now or after main course of the prose.

Here’s the Prose:

Deepak’s Dilema or The Other Deepak:

An Free-Flowing Essay by Deepak Nayyar About Having the 2nd Coolest Name on the Planet

Gawddamnit, Deepak Chopra, can you go forty-five minutes without releasing a book!? It’s is like all you do is meditate and publish books. And go on talk shows. Can’t forget the talk shows. If half the people in the world who know his face from talk shows knew about even the simplest compound interest, any economic stress on the middle class would be completely alleviated. But, noooooo, everyone’s willing to put their spiritual well-being on high interest credit cards!

Now, settle down, Nayyar, I never thought it was going to be easy having this name in a Western society. Think of all the great things his fame has allowed; I only have to tell people my name twice now, instead of politely correcting them as they butcher it for sixth or seventh time in a row. And really, what does it matter? He’s a Deepak, I’m a Deepak. It’s not like the world doesn’t have room for two Deepaks, even the publishing world is big enough for two Deepaks. Listen, nobody got George Harrison confused with George Jones. And fuck the meditation stuff, I would totally be the George Harrison of that analogy. The Book of Secrets? More like The Book of She Stopped Loving Him Today, amiright? Plus, I have the same quality and pride in my work, and dare I say, I’m just as influential in world of academic economics as the former Beatle. It wasn’t even four years back at the INTCESS conference that Doug Diamond and I sang Silly Little Love Songs as to reference the economic implications of Nicolas Sarkozy’s pop star marriage. I know, it was a bit of stretch, but we both had a few and then Doug quoted the slight rise in GDP right after the line “What’s wrong with that? I’d like to know?” We all had a good laugh at that one.

But, really, another motherfucking cookbook!? Has so much happened to your culinary skills that need a completely new book to share it? I mean, you’re a vegetarian. I get it people want to lose weight, people want to be spiritually enlightened. The sweet spot of desperate, lonely, book readers just fell into your lap. You’d be stupid not write that book. Even if the book is just a hundred and twenty pages of you listing things that aren’t vegetables, it will still spend at least eight months on the New York Times Bestseller List. But just try to write one little book about the economic landscape that spans beyond the McDonald’s at end of the church parking lot and see if you even get a thousand printed.

Whoa, whoa, whoa, I didn’t get into the economics game to sell books, and I certainly didn’t write the book to get on the New York Times Bestseller List. I mean, if I did, I would’ve taken advice from Malcolm Gladwell. No, I wrote this book to shed some light on my passion, my life’s work, the thing that makes the world turn; the economies of developing nations. I’m the enlightened one here, Chopra. Sure, you’ve got that “pure being” mumbo-jumbo, but let’s just see you measure Brazil’s or China’s Gross National Pure Being. Not in a bahjillion years.

So, you sell your blind-to-the-world, introspective brand of self-realization to a quarter of a million people who won’t even get past chapter four.  I’m quite content knowing that nearly all of my 38 grad students will read every last chapter of my book, and mostly likely not because it is required reading, but because they have the same passion for the tangible, measurable world of economic.

But, it sure would have been great to be referenced on Yeezus.

-C. Charles

Much Needed Additinal Categories To The Oscars

18 Jan

Oscar nominations for 2014 are out and Oscar Buzz is in full gear these next couple months. With people rushing out to watch movies just because they’re nominated. We’re all going to talk about who and what got snubbed and how awesome we are because we saw (Insert movie) when it first came out before it got recognition. Now we know there’s problems with the Oscars, like how it’s just millionaires congratulating themselves. Or how they are all vying for the dollars of the average consumer. While at the same time are so out of touch with the general public, since nominations are mostly underdog movies that most people skipped. Also that they have categories 98% of people ignore. Seriously when was the last time anyone watched a “Documentary Short Subject”? I can’t even go into how many things are wrong with the Oscars, it would take all day, but in spite of that I still get caught up in the hysteria.

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If they made just a few small changes it would ripple out, ultimately leading to better movies or even just get the public interested in smaller movies before they’re nominated for anything. At the very least it would add variety to the show. Here are some additional categories I think the Oscars could easily adopt that aren’t also recognized by other award shows like The MTV Movies Awards or The Razzies.

Best Vocal Performance – This is long overdue and the need to honor the vital necessity of a human voice in a film is becoming more relevant in modern times. As computer graphics continue to become better and cheaper they’re being used more and more to generate entire characters visually. While there may come a point where computers can flawlessly replicate every visual detail of a character, they will never be able to replicate their voice, only an actor can provide that. This award doesn’t just nominate voice acting in animated movies (CG or otherwise) but anytime someone’s voice is the only presence they have in that movie, this includes narration in a movie or documentary, and cases like the movie Her. I find it ironic that a movie which asks “Can you date a conscience that isn’t really a person?” had the Academy asking “Can you nominate an person who isn’t ever on screen?”. Of course you can! and should’ve, Oscar people. But since you won’t,  just make a whole new category and award Scarlett Johansson Best Vocal Performance for her Role as the A.I. Samantha in the movie Her.

Best End Credits – They already award “Original Song” which most of the time isn’t heard in full until the end credits anyway, might as well award a movie for having good end credits too. It’s becoming more common for movies to have something other than a list as their end credits. Maybe honoring this extra effort will get more movies to elevate their end credits into something that’s more entertaining than a telephone book. Pixar has always been pretty good about this and it is catching on. Popular options are outtakes, additional scenes, great graphics and concept art, short films, epilogues, Argo even had Jimmy Carter talking about the Iranian escape operation over news photos. But this year best end credits goes to Saving Mr. Banks which played the actual 1964 audio recordings of author P.L. Travers dictating notes to Disney executives on what she expected from the Mary Poppins movie. It was cute, funny, and fascinating.

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Best Alternate Format – Increasingly movies are being released in IMAX and 3D formats this is partially due to technological advancement  and partially an attempt to combat online piracy. Most people are just fine watching a standard movie on a computer screen but you can’t pirate a movie and watch it in IMAX or 3D (3D TVs are stupid and irrelevant and I don’t acknowledge them). So Hollywood is trying to get less movies illegally downloaded and more money at the box office by using these high quality formats. However too many movies are just shitty upconverts, and look terrible. If we want better 3D/IMAX movies and want filmmakers to use these formats to their full potential, rather than just a gimmick, they need to get recognized for quality 3D or shooting in IMAX. I’d even nominate movies that were all in Black and White or very stylized like Sin City. The winner would be the movie that used the alternative format in the best narrative way it could, it can’t just be the best looking IMAX3D it has to be the movie that uses the advantages of IMAX 3D to communicate it’s story. This year It’d go to Gravity.

Best Trailer  – Even trailers are hyped now and online viewings of trailers get more views than some Oscar winning movies and there are multiple youtube channels devoted to trailers. The Best Trailer award has nothing to do with how good that movie is and this is why any movie has a chance to win it. I would judge a trailer, not by how it teased the plot, maybe how interested did it make you about the movie it was advertising. But what would trump everything is just if the trailer is entertaining on its own. I want to live in a universe where Gothic Lolita Battle Bear wins for Best Trailer.

Once seen you’ll never forget it…Enjoy.

 

Carl Wells

Movie and TV Wishes For 2014

16 Jan

There’s new movies and TV shows coming in 2014 that are good enough to distract us from the important things in life. But there’s sure to be plenty more formulaic, meaningless, media produced which elicits sheer disappointment when viewed by me. Here’s one movie and one TV series that I wish I could look forward to in 2014. Since I’m still waiting for the movies I want from last year, this is just wishful thinking…for now.

RINGWORLD the series – Last year SYFY channel stated they’re going to make a 4 part series based on the Ringworld book(s). There’s been scant information about the project and it’s not the first time SYFY has announced they were going to do this series, similar announcements were made a decade ago, there’s also been a failed movie attempt. My hopes aren’t high that it’s going to ever happen, even if it does, it won’t be done right.

Allow me to briefly explain the premise of Ringworld. While reviewing long range scans of deep space a very strange object turns up in the data, a star with what looks like a blue green ribbon encircling it. It’s an artificial structure erected on a scale impossible to comprehend. The “ribbon” is a million miles wide and has a circumference similar to Earth’s orbit around the sun. It whirls around its star fast enough to generate centrifugal force along its interior similar to Earth’s gravity. A smaller ring of shadow squares spins closer in toward the star providing day and night cycles. All this creates an Earth-like habitat that’s 3 million times larger than the surface area of our planet. A small group of explorers is sent out to discover the secrets of this brogdingnagian object and some unexpected surprises await them.

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To say Ringworld sounds weird is an understatement and that’s what makes it good. It’s very imaginative with plenty of opportunity to create some epic visuals. This would pose a challenge with a smaller budget, but great CG is required to get the scope and majesty of the setting and the characters. One of the main characters “Nessus” would have to be totally CG to be portrayed right and not that crappy CG either. Nessus is an alien called a Pierson’s Puppeteer and they’re one of the coolest aliens in literature, imagine a 3 legged gazelle with 2 heads but the heads are also its hands, they deserve quality CG representation. But SYFY channel will probably cut that character out cause it’s simpler/cheaper that way. You see SYFY doesn’t do Sci-fi, they do miserably bad TV movies and “reality” shows about ghosts. The last thing I watched on SYFY was Sharknado, so I don’t see a good Ringworld coming from this channel.

JACKSON the movie – Did anyone think that Lincoln movie was as good as they thought it would be? I didn’t, it was long, boring, and missed an opportunity to show interesting facts about Lincoln’s life. Sure it had great costumes, sets and awesome facial hair but it was a movie about parliamentary procedure and not the biography I expected. So let’s see a real presidential biography and the Andrew Jackson movie needs to happen. He was an insane, violent man and would make a crazy entertaining movie. Some historical facts about Andrew Jackson. At age 13 he joined a militia in the Revolutionary War. The Red Coats held him as a P.O.W. where he nearly starved and contracted small pox. By 14 he was an Orphan, blaming the British for the deaths of his family thus beginning a lifelong loathing for the English. His nickname “Old Hickory” was a reference to his cane, that he often beat people senseless with. He also fought in the war of 1812, commanding a militia that wanted to mutiny he threatened “If you mutiny, I will kill all of you”. And they didn’t mutiny, because they knew he wasn’t bluffing. In addition to shooting people in military conflicts he also shot people in duels. There are at least 13 duels that Jackson participated in and that number may climb above 100. That’s 100 times that Jackson hated someone so much he decided one of them needed to die.

Jackson

After being inaugurated as the 7th U.S. President, Jackson threw a huge party and invited the public to celebrate, turning the white house into a frat house. White house guards were overpowered by the ensuing crowd and 20,000 drunks proceeded to trash the property. White house dishes were broken, artwork was ruined, furniture stained, this part of the movie could have Will Ferrell cameo “We’re going streaking!”. Jackson snuck out through a window and only after tubs of liquor were placed on The White House lawn to lure people outside was Jackson able to return inside and actually start being President. His presidency marks the first assassination attempt of a U.S. head of state. The assassin was clearly a lunatic and not because he thought he was the rightful king of England but because he thought he could kill Andrew Jackson. At point-blank range his pistol misfired, having planned for this he pulled out his backup pistol and defying mechanical sense it also misfired. Jackson proceeded to beat the man with his cane nearly to death. Then erected a statue of himself right where that happened. After serving 8 years as President Jackson said his only regret was that he didn’t shoot his vice president and hang the speaker of the house. Jackson also had a pet parrot that outlived him and attended his funeral, until it had to be removed from the ceremony because it wouldn’t stop cursing. I really want to see this movie. It should be directed by Quentin Tarantino and I want Andrew Jackson to be played by Samuel L. Jackson, and Jackson’s pet parrot should be voiced by Samuel Motherfucking Jackson.

Carl Wells

A Stupid Opinion about Cinematography

16 Jan

In the year that this blog has been around there have been plenty of stupid opinions written poorly and converted to digital ones and zeros, but this is going to be the stupidest opinion to date: Cinematographers are the most important artists on the set of any movie. The better the cinematography, the better the film. PERIOD!

To show this example I’m going to use zero example pictures, GIFs and only a few descriptions of actual shots in films. Instead I’m going to use the rhythm of my fingers on the keys. Hopefully, this will produce many run-on sentences, grammar errors and missed words to give further justification on this, the most stupidest of opinions.

Now, I have never directed a feature-length film, nor been on the set of one, but I thanks to my cursory knowledge of filmmaking, highly enlightened sense of beauty and ego big enough to have its own blog and two different twitter accounts I feel overly qualified to talk about the importance of cinematography in films. Last weekend, I spent the majority of my time consuming films that have been sprinkled on end-of-the-year lists. I decided in the middle of the watching Her (to clear the palate of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, which was meant to be a sort of moral grounding from watching The Wolf of Wall Street*) that cinematography is the most important thing in the world . . . of cinema.  If films were judged without sound and solely on the images on the screen, both Her and The Wolf of Wall Street would suffer greatly, due to relying a lot on voiceover elements. While Walter Mitty would pretty much be the same movie with a handful of confusing scenes of Walter Mitty talking on a cell phone. But not the case, both Her and The Wolf of Wall Street are clearly superior, even with out their very vital voice over elements and that is because the filmmakers behind those films fucking respect the camera.

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Walter Mitty, while having some beautiful scenery, some helicopter shots, silhouettes and wide shots does not have good cinematography. It is a great example of how NOT to shoot a film. All the pretty things make a slick-looking trailer, but the beautiful shots and exotic elements do nothing to complement the story or themes of the film. I like David Fincher films and I like Ben Stiller comedies, but the two should never meet. The cinematography of this film distracted from the humor of the film and detracts from the elements meant to build depth in the Mitty-man.

Her, on the other hand, is a story where the actor and not action is the key to the film, it could easily become a visual nightmare, but instead it is a visually appealing film that fully creates the world, compliments the character and elevates every scene where a dude is just talking to himself to the level of art. The film opens and within the first minute of the film the filmmakers have already established the world of the film, much more than a thousand helicopter shots and silhouettes against the setting sun. We see Theodore Twombly face speaking tender, revealing words, the same shot that will be repeated throughout the whole film, but the opening shot is revealed to be faux-tender and insincere. The shot is designed to reflects that mis-information, the space surrounding his head is empty and drab, while later in the film the same space surrounding Twombly is illuminated with warm abstract lights and echo the new complexities the character has acquired throughout the film.

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The film looks beautiful, and in a visual medium, this is hands down the most important part. The thing that separates a the movies that are remembered from the films that just look beautiful is the intertwining of the cinematography and story. The best films weave the two so tightly together that the look of the film is the film. In the memorable films the camera perfectly conveys the words of the writer, the emotions of the actors, the sounds and melodies of musicians, the texture, color, mood of frame and the vision of the director into a perfect melding of every art form. There is no writer, actor, composer, director or cinematographer, only filmmakers working in perfect harmony for the means of cinema.

-C. Charles

*A more focused stupid opinion about The Wolf of Wall Street is forth coming.

Fan Workload

8 Jan

It is hard for me to believe the latest Hobbit movie has earned so much money. I’m scratching my head. Under the guise of making a complete story, these films are exploiting all the goodwill and wonder of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Then I remember the themes of the film and see that it makes perfect sense. Obsession killed Gollum, nearly killed Frodo and surely it will kill any sense of magic left in Middle Earth.

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It’s easy to point fingers at the death of Middle Earth, Peter Jackson’s obsession with cementing his filmmaking pedigree after stumbling in non-Tolken projects is a possible culprit, or New Line and their by-their-corporate-personhood-nature obsession with money. But I think what it really comes down to is the fans. Peter Jackson and New Line are only giving the people what they want, and not only that, but they are giving it to them in exactly the right way to make everyone who’s watched the films feel that they’ve earned it. Let me explain; Society is increasingly getting worse at delayed gratification and the satisfaction of waiting for a reward instead of the gimmie-gimmie-gimmies we can easily satisfy from switching tabs in our internet browser or scrolling down our timeline/feed in our social media poison of choice, but what the marketing gurus at New Line have done is make The Hobbit films feel as if they are the actual reward for a the fan’s artificial work.

The work is just: forgetting and remembering, consuming and sharing, and waiting. Just imagine how quickly humans would have become extinct if our ancestors called that work instead of say, hunting and gathering. Fans are given enough time to let their memory of the film fade, good and bad aspects, and when it’s mostly forgotten they’re asked to remember all the good parts. Which as I said before are tied to the very calculated release date and the magic that comes from the holiday season. Then they consume the free promotion for the standard release of the Blu-ray, share their fond memories with all their friends causing people too discerning to view the film in the theaters to give the film a chance in the comfort of their own home. Then comes the waiting. More waiting and more forgetting, but just before the whole thing is forgotten again, BOOM! Special Extended Edition Blu-ray, which adds even more time to the already over blown Blu-ray, and 900 hours of special features. This Blu-ray release makes these films 100% critic proof. People that watch the extended edition have invested a minimum of 3 and half hours in the film, if they’ve only watched that version. But more likely they’ve seen it in theaters, watched the Blu-ray release in Spring and with the Extended Edition have another viewing under their belts. Spending upwards of 15-20 hours of “work” consuming the franchise. In a society where hobbies involved with creating and community have been replaced with blind, mindless consuming, a fifteen plus hour investment can drum up some feelings of familiarity that can easily be mistaken for fondness. Add the countless hours of bonus features, production dairies, rumor mill, fan fiction and other things at the bottom of the slippery slope known as fantasy fandom and fans must feel exhausted from all the hard consumption they done. After all this “work” fans feel they’ve earned the right to spend their money on more. They are rewarding themselves for the studio manufactured delayed gratification they can’t produce in themselves.

The modern era of Blockbusters and Franchises is only going to get worse with the a new Star Wars line and every other studio looking to duplicate the success of The Avengers, and the reason all of this happening is because Peter Jackson and New Line learned how to efficiently exploit fans by giving them a steady stream of something they can’t produce on their own; will power.

Rest in Peace, Middle Earth.

-C.Charles

Some Rules For Magic Romanticism Films

2 Jan

Every year it is hard to come down from the magic of the Christmas season. For a solid month and half it seems we are forced to live in this world where magic could be real. Partly because of the religious roots of a divine (read: magical) virgin birth, guiding star and some heavy angel and human interaction, and partly because tis the season where all the ad executives break out their year-end go-for-broke magic is real, intangible and on sale ad campaigns designed solely to separate people from their money, but it still seems Christmas has a sort of magic filter on it. With all of the good cheer and warm fuzzies winding down, it is the perfect time to look at the holiday trope of Magic Romanticism.

Magic Romanticism is key in most holiday specials where there is a miracle snow storm in LA or Santa turns out to be real or Ernest gets a magic pair of basketball shoes from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar that allows him to keep his job as a mall custodian. But it isn’t exclusive to holiday films, any film with heavy handed romantic plots helped along the way with a touch of magic can qualify. I noticed this during the holiday season when I spent a Saturday watching About Time at a cinema and then following that up with It’s a Wonderful Life on my personal home moviebox. Both films have magic elements which are a little more developed than magic basketball shoes from a ghost of someone who isn’t even dead yet. About Time’s holiday relationship is its was released early in the holiday season and the New Year’s Eve party inciting incident, and It’s a Wonderful Life is a Christmas institution, which make these films a good way to explore some of the rules for the trope.

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The first rule is that the introduction of the magic elements of the film has to be introduced early in the film. Telling compelling stories already requires a lot of audience manipulation, but the limits of that manipulation fall apart when magic is unjustly added. Magic Romanticism relies a lot on the emotional investment of the audience in the characters on the screen, and a lot of the elements on the rational side of the coin may require more effort to swallow than if they are present in a film without the magical elements. For example, if there was just a straight story of George Bailey’s life without the Pottersville noir-inspired dystopia or guardian angels it would be way too sentimental to ever be produced. The same goes for the falling in love and having kids story of About Time, not even the Hallmark channel would consider running a story that simple. But both of the films work because of the added supernatural element. In both films it is introduced with in the first five minutes of the story. Twinkling angels discuss George’s life before we even have a chance to meet George, and Tim is told by his father seconds after the opening credits conclude that he can travel through time. The sooner the audience knows the rules for the film, the sooner the emotional baiting can begin. The magic elements trick the brain into forgetting everything it knows about emotional manipulation and allows itself to go along for the ride.

Speaking of emotional manipulations, another element of Magic Romanticism is the just how much it is involved in making it work. It seems that the cheaper the emotion, the better. If the list of events that happen in each film were broken down into simplified elements, (saves brother from drowning, meets beautiful girl, stands up for the memory of beloved father, father gives a moving toast at a wedding) it would be thrown out of a freshman script writing class for being too easy of a set up, a cliché with the inventiveness of a second grader. But the thing is the magic aspect doesn’t just allow for the sappy, it absolutely requires it. Heavy, heady themes wouldn’t get the attention they deserve in the world of Magic Romanticism because the audience is too busy suspending their disbelief to consider loftier themes. It is that suspension of disbelief that allows for the hokier of the elements to fly under the radar. The majority of the time we’re too busy listening to angels make jokes or day dreaming about how we’d use the power of time travel to realize what massive eye rolls we give if we saw this exact same setup in a trailer for an Adam Sandler movie. Which is a nice segue into the next rule of Magic Romanticism.

A MR film absolutely needs a motherfucking charmer in the lead role. The actors need to be accessible as well as be fully committed to the silly concepts of magic. Both Jimmy Stewart and the red-headed kid in About Time are great at that. They’re charming and have great taste in women. The women in the films have to be beautiful and fully committed to the leads as seen in the both of these films. That is about all they do since neither are allowed to be anywhere near the magic elements of the films. Who knows there is probably a whole doctorate thesis about the inaccessibility of magic to female characters on screen, but I’ll just leave it at solid, relatable leading men, beautiful leading ladies with blind devotion and you’ll be a-okay.

Finally, this kind of film almost certainly has to take place or be consumed near the holiday season. The holidays have some sort of magic. It may be just placebo magic sold to us by church, state and greed, but either way the public is already in this head space that allows for a touch a magic. This is why the About Time people released it just before the holiday season. Which happens to be the same team that made Love Actually if you didn’t catch that at every turn of their marketing strategy. Love Actually has all the emotional silliness of Magic Romanticism but instead of actual magic just piggybacks on magic romanticism of Christmas. The film is now widely regarded as a favorite film of the majority of a specific gender. About Time piggybacks on Love Actually’s piggybacking of Christmas, and surely any film released within a three-month window of Christmas and has the words “Love Actually” on the majority of the promotion would be a hit. Christmas, magic, Love Actually and watching the film before or after Christmas shopping is a recipe for a successful Magic Romanticism film. Then It’s a Wonderful Life on the other hand is so synonymous with Christmas. It’s so ingrained it’s difficult to separate the film from the pop culture recreations of it. People put their guards down a little during the holidays and that is the green light for studio executives to start shoveling romantic sap down our throats.

Here’s wishing you a belated Stupid Christmas and a Poorly written New Year.

-C.Charles