Delenda Est Carthago

Why not delve into a twisted mind? Thoughts on the world, history, politics, entertainment, comics, and why all shall call me master!

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Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

I plan on being the supreme dictator of the country, if not the world. Therefore, you might want to stay on my good side. Just a hint: ABBA rules!

15.6.05

Omnia de pecunia obscena est

Hey, my rant on education is featured in this week's Education Carnival. Check it out for more horror stories from our schools!

Second, I must pimp my GuestMap when someone new signs it, so you will sign it too and be just like all the other cool kids! Dave Fiore is the latest to take the plunge. Dave is a ridiculously fascinating guy, and I'm happy that he seems to be back blogging, because I missed his loquacious posts.

Anyway, on to the point. Is my father right? I mentioned that he thinks everyone in the world is motivated by money, and how that depresses me. Well, I often get the sneaky suspicion that he's right, and that depresses me even more. Case in point, and what prompted this. I was watching Along Came Polly last night (please don't question my viewing habits - I just was, okay?) and I just kept wondering what the hell happened to Ben Stiller. Okay, everyone else's presence in the movie I can buy, sort of. Jennifer Aniston really hasn't made a name for herself in the movies yet, and although she's richer than the Pope, I can get her wanting to do something somewhat different than "Rachel." Alec Baldwin and Bryan Brown and Philip Seymour Hoffman were all playing caricatures of characters anyway, and having fun with it. But Ben Stiller? What is he doing in this movie?

Slumming, that's what. Cashing a paycheck. And that depresses me. I like Ben Stiller, but he has become a guy who simply shows up for the money playing the same character. Stiller isn't a bad actor. In Reality Bites, he did a fine job. He was very good in Zero Effect, which is a sadly neglected classic (and which Logan recently praised, which reminded Gordon of how great it was - see, the blogaxy is good for something!). In dramatic roles, he was quite good in Your Friends and Neighbors and Permanent Midnight. And Flirting With Disaster is, I would say, one of the brilliant movies of the 1990s. So what happened to Ben? He has decided to play pretty much the same character in his recent movies - he's either the strange "ugly cool attractive guy" (in Zoolander or Dodge Ball) or the nerdy, can't-do-anything-right guy (everything else). Was it Meet The Parents that did it? It's a good movie, but nothing you should base a career on. I don't know. He's phoning it in, though.

I don't mean this to be a Ben Stiller rant. I'm just not completely sure why actors and actresses make the choices they do. One would think Ben Stiller has more money than he knows what to do with, so he can pretty much act in anything he wants. He doesn't have to keep going to the well. It's the same thing with any actor. Aren't these people well off? Are they like Mike Tyson or MC Hammer, who threw away all their money? I can get De Niro slumming occasionally, just for a change of pace. But why doesn't someone like Sandler try to do more stuff like Punch-Drunk Love? Sure, it went nowhere at the box office, but did Sandler really need the money?

It's not just actors. It's anyone who is successful. It seems like they become more obsessed with taking the wealth they have and turning it into more wealth, instead of wondering if there is more to life. I have a lot of respect for people who continue to push the envelope, money be damned. That's why I have more respect for R.E.M. than U2, because Stipe and the boys said, "We're doing what we want, and we don't care who doesn't like it." It turns out no one liked it, but that didn't stop them. The minute Bono saw sales slip (on Pop), our Dublin boys went back to the future on All That You Can't Leave Behind. I liked that album, but was disappointed at the obvious pandering to their old audience that went along with it. Does Bono really need all that money? Considering he's applying for the job of Savior of Mankind, maybe he does.

I'm not saying I'm immune to this. I'm certainly not holding myself up to a higher standard than celebrities - I wouldn't do that, because everyone knows celebrities are better people than we are. I'm sure that these people didn't get into the business to make money. Bono and Mr. Edge didn't sit down in 1978 and say, "Let's make lots of money by forming a rock band." They may have said, "Let's score lots of girls by forming a rock band," but that's a perfectly noble reason for forming a rock band. If you want to make lots of money, you don't go into acting, because there are simply so many actors out there. I didn't go into teaching to make lots of money, because if I told anyone that's why I did it, they would justifiably laugh at me. I've never had to opportunity to make a crapload of money, so I can't say I wouldn't do this.

It's just sad. Here we have, in Stiller, a very talented comic actor who has also shown dramatic talent and a nice directing touch. He could be making the great comedies of our time. I'm serious. Instead he's making Starsky And Hutch and Meet The Fockers. Ultimately, is it all about money?

11 Comments:

Blogger Walker said...

Gezzzz another money thing. I dont tyhink money motivates us. I think the fact that we need it to survive.
We need it feed, cloth, house our families.
Before money farmers and merchants traded back and forth for what they needed. Money is just a tool to acuire what we need. For those who have more money than most do the same thing on a different level.
They way the rich and poor live is not so different outside of the quality of life.
They both feed their families. they both go on vacations, just at different hotels.

15/6/05 5:15 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

Zero Effect was, like, 25 kinds of cool, and one of the very few movies to ever make me say "Jeez, I hope there's a sequel."

15/6/05 5:39 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

True, Walker, and I don't think money motivates people to start a career. I'm just wondering why it becomes such an obsessive thing. Do these famous people say, "This is a truly good thing to do, and I don't care if it makes money," or do they say, "I need some cash. I'm doing this"? Sometimes they admit it's all about the money. But why does it always have to be? Krys makes enough to feed, clothe, and house our family. Would we like more? Sure. But would we do something that we didn't like or make others not respect us to make a lot more? I don't know.

Bill - you're right. Part of the reason I saw it was because it was filmed in Portland (part of it, at least), but it lent itself very well to sequels. It did nothing at the box office, however, and so died a sad death. It's a great movie.

15/6/05 6:17 PM  
Blogger Walker said...

Maybe they become addicted to the lifestyle . so the lifestyle in the drug and the money is the fix.

15/6/05 6:47 PM  
Anonymous Mike Loughlin said...

U2 vs. REM: I agree, even if (as indicated by album sales) most of the world doesn't.

U2 and REM were my favorite bands as a kid (along with Guns N Roses & Def Leppard, but we won't talk about that). I "lost" U2 around "Zooropa," and just can't get them back. "All That..." was a decent album, I guess, but I found it boring, and I just don't care about their new stuff.

Even though I found REM's "Up" & "Reveal" sub-par, they felt more honest than any latter-day U2 albums, and had a handful of good songs. I haven't heard the newest cd, but I want to. U2 will never go away, but I kind of wish they had stopped after "Achtung Baby."

16/6/05 5:13 AM  
Blogger Gordon said...

About the whole "money vs. art" thing...

I think Stiller has done some pretty decent work (like in Dodgeball); however, it reminds me of a line from Rod Serling's The Velvet Alley:

"First, they pay you $1,000 a week. Then, you begin living a lifestyle where you have to earn $1,000 a week"

Much of it may be cyclical - you start off "hot" (either creatively and/or in popularity), build an audience, reach a peak, and then decide whether 1) to keep trying to hit that peak; 2) to feel as if that's as far as you can go, or 3) to accept that peak and use it as a launching pad for further creativity.

As far as U2 and REM, I loved a lot of their stuff early on - U2 lost me with "Achtung Baby" (it seemed a little too self-aware) and REM's UP was the last album I was able to get into...which means I need to hit a record store pronto.

16/6/05 7:49 AM  
Blogger Greg said...

That's probably true, Gordon, about living the lifestyle. I'm really interested in how these people choose what to do, however. Some of them are making so much money that I doubt they could run out, but maybe not (look at Tyson or Hammer, as I mentioned). When Stiller (to continue to use him) gets a script, does he honestly think "This will show off my skills" or does he say, "Christine needs a new house in Maui"? I doubt if anyone is so self-aware they can answer that with total honesty, but it's fascinating to me. And I'm not even that obsessed with the celebrity lifestyle, just how they make decisions.

16/6/05 8:20 AM  
Blogger Lefty said...

I still like U2 better than REM, but you have a point.

Did you see the news a while back where Bono said they were thinking about going back and re-doing Pop making less electronica and more of the rock that they were known for.

16/6/05 10:18 AM  
Blogger Greg said...

Now that's ridiculous. Move on, men!

16/6/05 10:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your father is right. And the fact that you think Ben Stiller is funny really disturbs me. The two funniest movies I've ever seen have to be Citizen Kane and Barry Lyndon. Barry Lyndon also has the greatest opening scene of any movie. Check it out.

16/6/05 2:08 PM  
Anonymous Nathanial Babineau said...

Thanks so very much for taking your time to create your blog. Excellent work

22/11/05 11:51 AM  

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