Tag Archives: Brad Pitt

.02.01 Some Thoughts Whilst Conducting Research at the David Foster Wallace Archive (2016) Whilst Also Coping with a Beach-balling Apple Mac (which is more than just a tad annoying)

Re my last. Here’s a quote from Michael Lewis’ article in Vanity Fair on his book’s surprise success as a film, The Big Short:

"The Big Short" New York Premiere - Outside Arrivals

NEW YORK, NY – NOVEMBER 23: Actor Brad Pitt, writer Michael Lewis, actor Ryan Gosling, chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures Brad Grey and actor Steve Carell attend the “The Big Short” New York premiere at Ziegfeld Theater on November 23, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)

The behavior of our money people is still treated as a subject for specialists. This is a huge cultural mistake. High finance touches—ruins—the lives of ordinary people in a way that, say, baseball does not, unless you are a Cubs fan. And yet, ordinary people, even those who have been most violated, are never left with a clear sense of how they’ve been touched or by whom. Wall Street, like a clever pervert, is often suspected but seldom understood and never convicted.

It is my hope that Adam McKay’s The Big Short might actually help change this situation. The very material I would have thought would frighten away a movie director McKay embraces. He lucidly explains credit-default swaps and collateralized debt obligations! He captures the essence of the behavior that led to the recent financial catastrophe, and of the main characters of my book—in ways that I suspect will haunt their real-life loved ones. The Big Short is just a movie, but it’s also an invitation, to a huge popular audience, to have a smart and interesting discussion about the place of money and finance in all our lives.

It is an invitation – to keep your wallet/purse open a touch longer so that you can be relieved of just a little bit more money, assuming that you have any to spare following the financial crisis. Are we all now having interesting discussions as Lewis imagines we are? Or is that metaphorical dick blocking our mouths?

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.02 Some Thoughts Whilst Conducting Research at the David Foster Wallace Archive (2016) Whilst Also Coping with a Beach-balling Apple Mac (which is more than just a tad annoying)

Here’s a question: How is it that a film like The Big Short can be made without there being a huge backlash of the really-miffed sort from the general viewing public who are presumably paying to be entertained, but who in the very recent past have had their lives affected in the most profound way by the very events that this film depicts? I sat stupefied through the whole thing, wondering if this was the Hollywood equivalent of having someone (here comes a Wallace reference – well, being at the archive and all it feels like the right thing to do) waggle his or her dick (making sure to be inclusive here, as it may be a real or synthetic dick for our purposes) in my face (dick waggling thought courtesy of Brief Interviews, “Signifying Nothing”). I mean, it felt, whilst watching, as if a whole bunch of Hollywood execs, and maybe even Pitt and Carell, et al, and even the author guy, Michael Lewis, had clubbed together to combine their not inconsiderable might in order to produce a huge metaphorical dick with which to smear, repeatedly, across the faces of the viewing public, mine included.

"The Big Short" New York Premiere - Outside Arrivals

NEW YORK, NY – NOVEMBER 23: Actor Brad Pitt, writer Michael Lewis, actor Ryan Gosling, chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures Brad Grey and actor Steve Carell attend the “The Big Short” New York premiere at Ziegfeld Theater on November 23, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)

And this is entertainment? Being given an explanation of the events that led to the greatest financial meltdown of all time, in a really dumbed-down way just so that we actually understand it, which in itself relies on humour and irony so that we won’t mind being talked down to, and that we might even laugh along at the film’s laughing at us, ironically? Events that have brought about so much pain and misery to millions of people across the globe – we’re supposed to be entertained by this (whilst raising huge sums of money for the actors, producers, distributors, etc., through the process of paying to watch the film)? It makes me wonder what it would take to raise the masses from their slumber, if films such as The Big Short can be made, and can then go on to be a “box office hit,” a vehicle of popular culture filmmaking that taunts its intended audience with a kind of “look-at-you-you-dumb-shits” (pause that doesn’t work with conventional punctuation because I’ve taken liberties with hyphen usage here) “we-even-have-to-explain-your-miserable-lives-to-you-in-the-simplest-of-terms-because-you’ll-pay-to-watch-the-story-of-how-your-lives-got-to-be-so-miserable-whilst-we-rub-our-giant-metaphorical-dick-in-your-face” way. I, for one, want a refund, and although I didn’t exactly pay for the movie (it was provided as a form of “free” entertainment because I’d paid for something else), I will be writing to the film company and demanding that they refund me the cost, whatever that may be.


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