Monthly Archives: January 2011

The Book Was Great, But The Movie Stunk – Why?

Sports stories are nearly all the same. They all have that David verses Goliath story line to them. Just before the great victory is the moment of truth. It may be the visit to the place of competition the night before when all is quiet and no one is around. No one believes in me (or us), but at least I’ve (or we’ve) made it this far. The little people believe in you, all of them. Just believe in yourself. It is for all the little people. They need a hero and it is you (or us). If you win the people can believe again. The big money fat cats don’t want you to win (the ones who are producing, distributing, and financing the movie).

One of my favorite sports movies was Hoosiers, although it used the same old formula. The game footage from the movie was authentic and very close to the style of play from the mid fifties.  The one hand set-shots with the knee pump were prevalent for that period. The dialogue was realistic. In the movie when one player was injured someone said he was “racked-up,” an expression not heard in maybe fifty years.

Much of the rest of the movie was fluff; the love story, Jimmy Chitwood deciding to play for Hickory High at the last moment and lending his support for the tough, but misunderstood coach, and the alcoholic father who was drying out during the State finals. The fighting against all odds story line gets worn out.

The real story is much more compelling. The real Hoosiers was, in fact, tiny. It was Milan High School in Indiana, who already had a winning tradition. The real story is hard work and dedication and not just a set of circumstance that collided at a certain place and time to create a great high school basketball team. Those players played together for years and worked hard. They did not sit around and wait for someone to come along to believe in them. The message is ‘all that is needed is someone to believe in them.’ The reality is that sometimes no matter what, you just don’t have it. No matter who believes in you. Sometimes the message should be: live with disappointment. The real story of Milan High School is much more compelling than Hickory High from Hoosiers that leaves one with the impression that things just happen because you are the underdog. God wasn’t on the side of David because he was the underdog.

It is as if the real story is not good enough. The writer, because of ego or uncertainty feels he must display his abilities to create rather than let the story tell itself. Granted, sometimes several real characters must be rolled into one and what, in reality, might take weeks to play out must be done in a way that it seems days or moments. Certain elements, becuase of time restraints, must be discarded, but when plots and sub plots are added the integrity of the story is forever lost.

Some may argue; that is what documentaries are for – to set the real story to film. Documentaries use the real people, not the actors. If one is willing to barrow every aspect of the real event and package it as based upon the real event, why not tell the real story? What is creative about taking a real story and adding the same old formula used in scores of other sports stories and then say you are taking creative license? There is absolutely nothing creative about it.

The same treatment happens to books that become movies.

Many years ago I watched the movie, The Old Man and the Sea. It was so good that I read the book. To my delight the book and movie were very close. Later I read that Ernest Hemingway made a nuisance of himself on the set, demanding they stay true to the book. The Old Man and the Sea was remade in the 80’s. The writer of the screenplay decided to ‘spruce’ it up a bit. The movie was a piece of cinematic tripe. They added more adventure and love interest. It took away from the simplicity of a compelling piece of art. It was like putting a Dolly Parton wig on the Mona Lisa.

How many times have you heard, “The book was better than the movie?” Dah! I wonder why? Stay true to the book or the real story. It is the simple honest creative element that draws people to a story. It’s not the ribbon or the wrapping, it is what is inside.

Here is a link to another treatment of the same theme.

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You Should Fear People With COEXIST Bumper Stickers

Have you ever noticed those bumper stickers with “COEXIST” represented by various religious symbols? The irony is that there is usually only one person in the car. Could it be those people have a hard time ‘cohabiting’ the same car with others? It may be a lack of deodorant or maybe they are not as tolerant as they want people to think they are.

There is this premise that applies. A tolerant person never has to say they are tolerant, just as an honest person never has to say they are honest. If a person has to declare “I swear to god it’s the truth” after making a statement, ninety-nine chances out of a hundred they just lied. A person who declares they are tolerant of others on a bumper sticker likely refuses to drink with the light beer crowd, thinks Walmart is a discount store for wallpaper, and would freak-out if someone wearing a burka asked for directions to the nearest mosque.

Recently I posted a bumper sticker on my online shop that read, “Why do people who have a COEXIST bumper sticker drive alone?” I did not use the symbols, only the word. That word existed long before “COEXIST” was a catchy new age feel good concept. The company that prints my bumper stickers was contacted by the “COEXIST” people and said that the use of “COEXIST” was a licensing infringement. My company pulled the product. At the threat of a possible law suit. I would have also. Who wants the hassle from those small-minded intolerant do-gooder snobs any way?

Those small-minded intolerant do-gooder snobs have been in a snit with another small-minded intolerant do-gooder snob, Bono. It seems he has used the same word with the religious symbols. There is nothing like two self-proclaimed tolerant-types who can’t tolerate each other’s intolerance ripping at each other’s throat. You did not see Sonny and Cher running to sue Bono.

This proves they are the epitome of intolerance not to mention hypocrisy. If ‘coexistence’ were all that important to them they wouldn’t get in a snit for someone else using it. Their real concern is ‘co-pay’ or ‘commission.’

Frankly, those people who drive around with those bumper stickers are preaching to the choir. Try a bumper sticker like that pasted on your blue Volvo on the streets of Mecca, Baghdad, and Tehran.

This goes back to the premise that often the people who crow the loudest about the intolerance of others are actually the most intolerant themselves. They advocate and even teach that tolerance is good and the only way to live an emotionally and a spiritually healthy life. Tolerance has its limits. Those limits end when one insists on thinking a certain way.

Drawing on my thirty years as a UAW member, they advocated tolerance of races, religion, gender, national backgrounds, and so on. What they did not tolerate is anyone who thought differently. They wanted to control the thinking of its members. At contract time if they said the contact the company offered was good, then the membership was duty-bound to agree. It made no difference what the membership thought and there was to be no dissension. It was even more so if the union proclaimed the contract was bad and the membership thought it was good.

Religions also claim to be tolerant and they prove it by accepting a variety of adherents even if those ones whom they accept do not advocate or practice their tenants. A religion that does that is a religion in trouble. Tolerance has its limits. It ceases becoming a religion when it lowers it standards to allow those who don’t advocate or practice its tenants as full-fledged members. A religion demonstrates its tolerance by not lowering its principles, but by recognizing others’ right of free will and choice. Once a religion becomes so large because of its acceptance of many different backgrounds and ideologies it begins to ostracize those who are not as tolerant as they appear to be. In a sense, it goes back to control. They want to control as many as possible and those not under their control are looked upon with suspicion.

Thus those who have the “COEXIST” on their bumper stickers may some day become an intolerant mob of peasants with pitchforks looking to test out suspected witches at the dunking-chair of public isolation and persecution. The day may come when that bumper sticker might read “COERCE.”

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