Tag Archives: GQ

The Dilution of the Film Industry

By: Miriam Fry

When a movie idea is pitched to a studio executive, one thought is running through her mind: “Will this movie make money?” And while yes, making money is important, is it the most important part of the industry? To what lengths do we go to make money? What do we sacrifice?

In a recent GQ article written by Mark Harris titled “The Day the Movies Died,” Harris detailed the negative implications of focusing too much on marketing/PR and making money. He said instead of making a great movie, directors are focused on the bottom line. Today’s studio executives have decided that making a drama is too risky and that filmmakers and others involved should instead go with their best bet to make money. That, of course, is to make a movie based on something that is already a brand.

“Everyone has cut back on not just ‘Oscar-worthy’ movies, but on dramas, period,” said Jan Dinks, the producer of Milk and American Beauty. “Caution has made them pull away. It’s infected the entire business.”

Harris pointed out that movies in the works for 2011 include a long list of sequels (conveniently, they already have a brand) and four adaptations of comic books, which also already have a brand! June 10 is the set release date of Fast Five, the fifth movie in the series of The Fast and the Furious.

You’ll see a trend here, and it does not stop. There is nothing in the line-up that is intriguing and different like Inception was in 2010, Harris argues.

What does this say about the film industry? Producers and studio executives are not willing to take a risk with a movie idea, for fear that it will need an original marketing plan or that the movie/plan might fail. Most movies today are being made from a marketing and PR standpoint instead of a film standpoint.

Harris also said that one demographic dominates the Hollywood marketing strategy, the “ADD-addled, short-term-memory-lacking, easily excitable testosterone junkie.” Categories left out of the mix are women and those born before 1985. According to Harris, women are not worth taking the time to figure out, and if you were born before 1985 you are old because you have developed taste. A taste that is obviously not for sequels or remakes.

What does this say about PR? Luckily for us, that it’s important. Perhaps the most important factor aside from the profit made. The PR person has an influential voice at the table and a distinguishing role in the whole process of movie production. Too often people think that PR practitioners are only good for party planning and tweeting. As we see in the movie industry, we’re good for much more than that. And a movie pitch does not get the green light until producers know that it can be marketed positively.

Although it’s comforting that PR is important, today what we’re seeing is an over-reliance on PR and marketing that dictates what kind of movies are made: bad ones. Movie makers are sacrificing content just to make money. They are producing the “safest bet” in terms of money and results at the box office, while leaving us with mediocre entertainment that we’ll most likely waste our money and time on… ultimately diluting the film industry.

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Glee’s GQ Photo Shoot

Many parents are concerned about their children being desensitized by programs airing on MTV or E! because of their reputation for risqué content. We expect to see scantily-clad clothing and explicit behavior when tuning in for “Keeping up with the Kardashians,” but the same conduct on Fox’s light-hearted musical focused around students at William McKinley High School raised some eyebrows last week.

When word got out about GQ’s November issue featuring a sexually-suggestive photo spread of three Glee cast members (Lea Michelle, Dianna Agron and Cory Monteith), the Parents Television Council spoke out, calling the shoot a “near-pornographic display.”

“It is disturbing that GQ, which is explicitly written for adult men, is sexualizing the actresses who play high school-aged characters on ‘Glee’ in this way,” said PTC President Tim Winter. “It borders on pedophilia.”

Compared to shows such as “Family Guy,” “Married with Children” and “The O.C.” which have shared the same prime-time slot on the network, do “Glee” cast members and producers really deserve the backlash they’re receiving? Anyone who believes this is a kid’s show evidently has not been watching. If parents are already allowing their children to be exposed to mature issues such as homosexuality, marijuana use and teen pregnancy, then images featured in an adult men’s magazine should be the least of their worries.

“If you are hurt or these photos make you uncomfortable, it was never our intention,” said Glee actress Dianna Agron on her blog. “And if your eight-year-old has a copy of our GQ cover in hand, again I am sorry … but I would have to ask, how on earth did it get there?”

The show is no “High School Musical” and it has definitely gotten that point across with this tactic. As a “Gleek,” I applaud producers for pushing the envelope and allowing Michelle and Agron, 24, and Monteith, 28, to break away from the image portrayed by their teenage characters. Therefore, viewers now see that these stars can contend with entertainers like Miley Cyrus, Justin Timberlake and Rhianna.

We’ve seen stars born from shows such as “Lizzie McGuire” and “Even Stevens,” and “Glee” is no exception. The racy photo shoot may be the end of the show’s so-called “wholesome” image, but I have a strong indication it is just the beginning of these up-and-coming celebrity’s careers.

By Jessica West

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