Iâ€™ve been amused by two recent political ads, one including Gossip Girl stars/adverbs Blake Lively (Serena) and Penn Badgely (Dan), and the other with Heroesâ€™ Hayden Pannetiere. Celebrities making political appeals is hardly anything new, but both ads play quite cleverly off the shows and the characters to aid their cause.
Lively and Badgelyâ€™s ad mocks the â€œtalk to your kids about drugsâ€ PSAs by imploring young viewers to talk to their parents about voting McCain. Lively and Badgely are Gossip Girlâ€™s resident good kids (well, as good as one could be in that show, I guess), and their make-believe school suffers from substance abuse aplenty. Thus, one can imagine them to be called upon to deliver the â€œdonâ€™t do drugsâ€ message; instead, a more sinister behavior concerns them â€“ voting McCain. One could imagine a more conflicted ad if the stars were replaced with Gossip Girlâ€™s resident bad kids, Leighton Meester (Blair) and Ed Westwick (Chuck).
Hayden Pannetiereâ€™s piece also plays with her character. In Heroes, sheâ€™s invincible, and fighting to save the world. Moreover, as anyone aware of this thing called â€œpopular cultureâ€ knows, Heroesâ€™ catch-phrase in Season One was â€œSave the Cheerleader, Save the World,â€ and Pannetiere was the cheerleader in question. So, when she warns of how â€œweâ€™ll all probably die,â€ thereâ€™s a (playful) added level of horror, as if the only thing worse than Sylar, Adam, or another Ali Larter character is McCain.
I realize now that my last post was also about stars using their characters to add weight to a political message. And, of course, the obvious other example is Martin Sheen, who got many years worth of political rallies and stump speeches out of being the beloved Jed Bartlet. All are interesting examples of how to use oneâ€™s stardom as para/inter/extratext.
Two more posts on the DMS, this one about set and studio visits, next about the thin line between content and promotion.
On the third day, they gave us a tour of the lot, which was reasonably interesting. This included a whirl around the Brothers and Sisters set. Iâ€™ve only seen the show a few times, which produced the weird feeling of recognizing some spaces, only part-recognizing others, and not knowing others at all. Whatâ€™s more, though, is that the main house seems definitively of television, being a huge, immaculately tidy, extravagantly decked-out house, the kind that they give people on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, yet that youâ€™ve never seen off the screen. Television kitchens in particular are always so fantastic, too, with huge islands, glass jars full of tasty looking things and infused olive oils, and modern appliances. Kind of like an Ikea showroom on steroids. So I didnâ€™t feel as though I was â€œreally there,â€ partly because Iâ€™m not fully aware of the â€œthere,â€ through lack of exposure to the show, and partly because the â€œthereâ€ seems so unreal to begin with.
That said, there are so many wires and ropes on a set when you look up, and the size of the place is so huge, with sets wrapped around each other in interesting, labyrinthine ways, that it also holds the fun of being in a massive maze. We tried to get some juicy set gossip out of our guide, but all she offered was that Sally Field rides around the lot on her bike all the time, an amusing image, and that Calista Flockhart (whose picture adorns most sets, cult figure-like) doesnâ€™t seem as skinny in person.
It gets more fun, with pics, after the fold … Read more…
Recently, I saw both Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (funny how a sequel allows you the right to such a long title, eh?) and Iron Man. I was interested by how both dealt with the prospect of a sequel, and it got me thinking about how films announce a forthcoming sequel, and how sequels work. (NO SPOILERS YET, BUT Iâ€™LL WARN YOU LATER OF A COUPLE, IN CAPS).
To start, Iâ€™d argue that if sequels so often stink, or are at least very silly and fluffy, itâ€™s because many sequels arenâ€™t really about the hero who supposedly started the franchise.