Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
especially welcome to extensive readers

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

The Social Network is not the only pop culture shock jock on the block

On top of the box office heap this past weekend was the film known to many as "The Facebook movie"-The Social Network received about 23 million on it's opening weekend and a variety pack of reviews from critics,who mostly liked it.

The star of this true life tale is Jesse Eisenberg,who plays Mark Zuckerberg,the founder of Facebook who took his idea of expanding collegiate connections online and made a vast fortune,along with a few enemies who sued him over the rights to the website. The impact upon society at large that Facebook had and still has is more than enough reason for folks to want to check this movie out.

Whether or not you have any interest in Facebook,seeing this phenomenon reenacted onscreen can be intriguing. Some say that it's far too soon to take a truly critical look at this subject yet others contend that when it comes to the internet,too soon is a quaint notion:

However novel The Social Network may seem,it is not the first movie to depict the rise and repercussions of a fresh new influence on the pop culture scene and beyond. The true test of it's mettle is if it can stand up amongst other films that have covered this waterfront from other moments in time and place,where hubris got the best of folks who thought they could have it all at any price.

A fine example of this genre is Quiz Show,directed by Robert Redford and starring Ralph Finnes as Charles Van Doren,the celebrated star contestant of the popular game show "Twenty-One" back in the 1950s who got caught up in the infamous scandal that exposed the rigging of questions by the TV networks.

For many in the viewing audience of that time,it was a real shock to the system to discover that TV execs and contestants conspired to boost ratings by molding the show to what they thought people wanted to see. For Van Doren,it was a chance to make his own claim to fame and get out from the shadow of academic glory his father had achieved. A sad business,all the way round:

An even earlier stunner for America was the "Black Sox " baseball scandal that had several members of the Chicago White Sox agree to throw the 1919 World Series for more money that they had ever been paid to play a honest game.

Director John Sayles made one of the better versions of this sports story in Eight Men Out,which not only included actors like John Cusack and David Straithairn but writer Studs Terkel and even Sayles himself as journalists Hugh Fullerton and Ring Lardner,who suspected the scam early on.

The ultimate victim of this sorry affair was the exceptionally talented player "Shoeless" Joe Jackson,an illiterate young man who was easily lead into this conspiracy and was held the most responsible by the fans who once adored him. While the other players also suffered from being banned for life from baseball,it was Shoeless Joe who had the most to lose:

American Hot Wax told the story of 1950's radio DJ Alan Freed,who is credited with coining the term "rock and roll". Freed helped to spread the good word and music of such artists as Chuck Berry,Buddy Holly and Little Richard to mainstream audiences,facing the wrath of many activist groups in the process.

However,it was later revealed that Freed partook in the payola deals that gave some music more airplay than others and tried to claim co-writing credits for certain songs that he heavily promoted on his radio show,with the incentive of making his cut from those tunes' royalties bigger.

The 1978 film had cameo appearances and performances from some of the musicians Freed worked with like Jerry Lee Lewis,Screaming Jay Hawkins and the legendary Chuck Berry,whose song "Maybelline" was one of the contested tunes in question. Guess he had no hard feelings about that deal there:

Author Clifford Irving was so desparate to keep his contract alive with his publisher that he pulled off a nonfiction scam even more daring than James Frey's Million Little Pieces.

Irving claimed to have the rights to writing Howard Hughes' autobiography and went to great lengths to forging his sources,which passed inspection and got him a tidy sum before eventually being exposed as a fraud by Hughes' investigative team and a ghostwriter who was working on the memoirs of a Hughes associate whose writings were cribbed for Irving's phony book as well.

Richard Gere played Clifford Irving in The Hoax,a movie about the entire literary scandal that has been accused by Irving to be just as fake as his Howard Hughes project was. My suspicion is that perhaps this fictionalized retelling hit too close to home for it's subject to handle:

I guess the main lesson of movies like these are to warn us about not buying into the hype about any major pop culture sensation and refusing to check out the man behind the curtain,who may be playing a crooked game with our minds and money. That may seem too cynical an approach to life,but sometimes hero worship can blind you to what's really the driving force for the so-called cool people to share their services with you,as well as the price you really have to pay:

No comments: