#TBT: Jim Webb’s Video Team

omg when will it end

Jim Webb has, it seems, decided that the Democratic Party is aching for a middle aged white guy to be their standard bearer in 2016. Good for him! I wish him all the best.

But if he truly wants to enter the Oval Office, he’s got to hire a better video team. Just look at this … thing.

Studios Spend a Ton on Ads Because You People Have No Idea What You Want

'Casablanca'? Is that the one with Marky Mark? No, I bet it's the new Denzel. (Image via Flickr user daniel)

Movies are really, really expensive to make. Just look at the budgets* of a few flicks released this year: Transformers: Age of Extinction, X-Men: Days of Future Past, and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 all had a production budget of $200 million or more; Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Maleficent, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and Edge of Tomorrow had budgets between $170 and $180 million; and Interstellar and Godzilla were relative bargains, at $165 and $160 million, respectively.

Common sense would suggest that movie studios tying up so much capital in so few products is an extremely risky proposition. The films above represent some $1.8 billion in production costs. For just 10 movies. “Diversify!” I can hear you yelling at your smartphone. “Spread out the risk!”

And, of course, the studios do make some more modestly budgeted flicks, comedies like Neighbors, dramas like Gone Girl, etc. But as Ross Douthat and plenty of others have argued, the mid-budget film aimed at adults is something of a dying breed. Studios are investing in micro-budgeted flicks and giant tentpoles and not a ton in the middle. But why?

Why You’re a Terrible Screenwriter, Explained

Image by Flickr user Matt-Richards

There’s a really interesting* piece over at FiveThirtyEight looking at the ways in which amateur screenwriters fail. Using data collated from The Black List, a site to which writers submit their work in the hopes of winning the attention of Hollywood studios, Walt Hickey helps would-be screenwriters determine what types of scripts are most likely to fail and what problems most commonly plague their efforts.

Turns out, most amateur screenwriters are good at neither creating believable characters nor writing believable dialogue. Shocking, I’m sure. Here’s Hickey:

‘The Dudleys’ Was the Best SNL Skit All Season

SNL The Dudleys

I know, I know. Saturday Night Live used to be better! Specifically, SNL was at its best when you were between the ages of 15 and 20 and started watching it for the first time. You’ll never forget that magical era when Will Ferrell and Chris Kattan (OR Mike Myers and Dana Carvey OR Eddie Murphy and Joe Piscopo OR Bill Murray and Gilda Radner) were anchoring the action. And, eventually, when you hear your kids in 10 years talking about how the Kate McKinnon and Beck Bennett era was the real golden age of SNL, you’ll sadly chuckle and tell them about the magic of the Night at the Roxbury guys (OR Wayne’s World OR Mr. Robinson’s Neighborhood OR Nick the Lounge Singer).

Because everything new is terrible and everything was better when you were younger.

That being said, sometimes SNL captures some of that old magic, deftly skewering some absurd grotesquerie of modern culture for the entertainment of all. For instance, this week the show perfectly captured the idiocy of Twitter outrage culture and the silly smallness of identity politics. Check it:

‘Dumb and Dumber To’ Review

AP

As a 12-year-old boy when the original Dumb and Dumber was released during the 1994 Oscar season, I was more or less the target demographic. And while the Farrelly Brothers, Jim Carrey, and Jeff Daniels were snubbed at that year’s ceremony—thanks, Forrest Gump—my fondness for the picture has only grown in the subsequent 20 years.

Decline

jupiter08

Humans fired a probe from Earth onto a comet hurtling through space at unimaginable speed. Human beings did this:

The landing, first envisaged more than 20 years ago, marks the crowning moment of Rosetta’s decadelong cruise through the solar system to get up close and personal with a comet. During its 4 billion mile journey on a track to meet the comet, Rosetta bounced around the inner solar system like a cosmic billiard ball, circling the sun almost four times. … Philae appears to have settled on its three legs in the center of the target zone, a relatively flat elliptical landing area about 550 yards in diameter, away from deep crevices, large boulders and sharp peaks.

Human beings did this! Pretty impressive! And how did humanity respond to this remarkable triumph of human engineering, of unprecedented exploration, of new greatness?

Seth MacFarlane Doesn’t Grok the Politics of the Keystone XL Pipeline

This guy doesn't quite understand the politics of the Keystone Pipeline

Following last week’s GOPin’ 2: Electric Shellackaloo, depressed Democrats everywhere were forced to come to grips with Republican control of Congress. A Million Ways to Die in the West director Seth MacFarlane expressed annoyance that the Keystone Pipeline was getting so much play:

Of course, it’s not just Republicans who are in favor of getting the Keystone Pipeline underway.

Repeat After Me: Amazon Is Not a Monopoly

Amazon-Logo-

Earlier this week, I wanted to buy a book. So I went to Amazon.com, which is where I do most of my book shopping, and searched for the book. I was shocked to find the following message about the book I wanted to buy: