Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Terry Gilliam, Dr. Parnassus, and Statutory Rape

I am a HUGE Terry Gilliam fan. I got to see The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus early. I was really excited and was hoping this was going to be one of Gilliam’s best. Sure, there was the hype and mystery surrounding this film. It’s Heath Ledger’s last film and you always wonder if Terry Gilliam is even going to finish one. So with Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell stepping in for Ledger, I had no idea what to expect. Then again, you never know what to expect with a Terry Gilliam film. That’s kind of the point.

It’s the story (sort of) of Dr. Parnassus, an immortal mystic locked in combat with the devil via various bets. Up for grabs is in this and other various wagers is Dr. Parnassus’ own daughter, Valentina, when she reaches her 16th birthday and comes of age. If Dr. Parnassus loses, he loses his only daughter.

As I’m watching the movie it was a bit all over the place. This was not Ledger’s finest performance. How can you top the Dark Knight? You can’t. But I was still enjoying the movie since even a mediocre Terry Gilliam film is still really fun to watch. But then a scene took me WAY out of the movie.

There’s the little matter of statutory rape in the film. Shortly after her 16th birthday Dr. Parnassus’ daughter has sex with Colin Farrell on a boat. Now, I know the movie was made in England where the age of consent is 16. I checked Wikipedia. I hope nothing happens to me in the next few days where my computer is suddenly seized by a forensics team and they go over my internet history. That would be awkward.

But it was even more awkward to watch this unfold on film. OK, Colin’s hot, I get it ladies, but with a 16 year old? Come on. Also, the actress, Lily Cole, clearly looks (and is) older than 16 so why not just make her older and have your audience avoid a really icky feeling towards the end of the movie? Not really sure what the point of that was. Make her 21 or at least 18, on the verge of womanhood. Then after a clearly older man seduces her all the women in the audience would have just rolled their eyes and we would be done. Instead you get a real cringe worthy moment. And yes, I am aware that the age of consent in some states is 16 or in some cases even lower. Look how well that’s working out.

I suppose a few years ago this wouldn’t have bothered me as much, or at least I would not have fixated upon it. But now that I’m a father with a daughter, things change. Being the father of a young girl brings on a whole new and sometimes intrusively unwanted perspective. It’s hard to even look at strippers anymore without thinking “God, that girl’s parents must have really messed her up” Oh, don’t get me wrong, I can still do it and shut off parent mode while looking at a topless woman on cable but it just takes a little more effort every time.

So other than the rape part was The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus any good? Well, it was OK. Not my favorite of his films, but not his worst. But this is the first time I ever felt put off a bit by one. And while I’m pretty sure this situation will never arise, nevertheless I’m never letting Colin Farrell in a boat with my daughter.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Coupon and Some Holiday Inspiration

So, the holidays are upon us, bearing down like an unstable Christmas tree on an all too curious cat, and I thought I would give a little inspirational cheer as well as do a few plugs for gift giving, if you don’t mind.

First, I would like to invite everyone reading this to take 10% off EVERYTHING in the store. This is the site run by myself and fellow filmmaker/comedian Graham Elwood. We offer some really cool signed and personalized merchandise from comedians and filmmakers. Right now you can get my book Pacify Me and Stefanie Wilder-Taylor’s new book It’s Not Me It’s You both signed and personalized and sent wherever you want in time for Christmas. We also have T-shirts, DVDs and even short film downloads, although I’m not sure how great a gift downloads make. They’re hard to wrap. So please stop by. Use the coupon code “improv” Don’t use the quotes, though. Seriously.

Now, I have often wondered (and been asked) how many fans do you really need to support yourself creatively? That’s a great question, and I didn’t think there was an answer, until another comedian, David Feldman, told me. He said the answer is simple: It’s 5,000.

Wait, so 5,000? David explained to me that it was called something like catching the tail of the comet. You need 5,000 people who like your work enough to pay $20 a year for it. The math is very simple. That’s $100,000 a year. And your fan base will grow from that 5,000.

It has nothing to do with the medium. Writing, podcasting, blogging, sculpting, painting, music, etc. It doesn’t matter. It could even be something technical like a piece of software or a video game. Maybe even an iphone app… You just need 5,000 people to spend $20 a year on you. Whether they are buying a book, CD, or paying for a podcasting subscription.

At first it seems like a lot but then think about it. It’s not 5,000 people in your town. It’s not 5,000 in your state, or even in your country. 5,000 people in the WORLD. That’s all you need. Friends and family count, too. See? You’ve already started.

Sure, it won't happen overnight, and it may take a few years, but nothing worthwhile is easy. So get out there. Find your 5,000.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Tis the Season...

To be siiick, cough cough cough cough cough, cough cough cough cough. I never really noticed flu season before I had kids. Sure there was flu around, but I rarely got it and I also rarely got flu shots.

Now with a child in daycare and one at home with me it seems like from September to March we just have to buy $600 worth of tissues, Purell, and Claritin, which is not cheap by the way.

Remember when you could actually buy cold medicine over the counter? Now thanks to a few enterprising meth freaks and some media hype I need to show my driver’s license to buy Claritin or any cold medicine that actually works. Sure, you can still buy “reformulated” cold medicine on the shelf but you may as well be buying Pez. It doesn’t do anything for you.

So here we are and our 18 month old has ANOTHER cold. And now I have it. Now he’s getting better and I don’t have the energy to chase him around the house. Help me, television. Sometimes On Demand Sesame Street can actually help you keep your sanity. Thanks, PBS. While we like to limit television, let’s be honest: Exhaustion often trumps the danger of ADD.

A month ago he actually got sick going to get his flu vaccine. Not FROM the flu vaccine, but from being in the hot zone that is the pediatrician’s office when he got it. I know there is a lot of controversy about vaccines, but I'm not sure if it is warranted, to be honest. We got our children vaccinated. We listen to our doctors about what’s best medically for our children; not comedians, right wing loons, or playboy playmates. We decided that a good litmus test on who you should listen to would be: When your child gets sick or hurt, do you call your doctor or a celebrity?

A stomach virus recently went through our entire house, including through my visiting mother. Not pleasant. I however did not get it. When my wife asked me why, I explained to her that I am so anxious all the time about my career that the excess stomach acid flows so copiously that no virus or bacteria could survive in that kind of agitated environment.

So I’m hoping we’ll be through this “trial by virus” in the next few years and the kids’ software boots up a bit and we get a few less germs in the house. At this rate, the four year old seems to be doing pretty well. She’s been much healthier compared to previous years. All she’s doing now is surreptitiously carrying the daycare germs into the house for the rest of the family like she’s in some Michael Crichton novel.

Any way you can Purell the air?

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