Across a crowded room…

Years ago, when I first heard of a new web-based social media service called Twitter, a friend of mine tried to get me on board, and explained it thus: It’s a conversation.
So simple…yet so impenetrable, at least for me, who has historically a very slow uptake to new media. The only way I could come to understand it was to envision an immense function hall, with countless people attending a party thrown by the Internet. Everyone gathered is talking; all at once; all over the top of one another; most at the top of their lungs.

Imagine my surprise when my friend responded to my illustration by saying: “Well yeah, that’s pretty much it”

I have watched, carefully, since then, and come to understand that such an image could be applied to the entire online experience. Everyone’s talking, and every now and then we hear someone respond to something we say, or we engage with others on something. While, as something of an introvert, the prospect of such fills me with apprehension, I have to acknowledge the wonder of it all – people from all over the world, given equal voice, equal volume, equal time, equal platform. This very column may not quite be the place to discuss how such an endeavour can turn very, very human, but when we’re all of one accord The Conversation is a beautiful thing.

Interesting, given that movies have been aiming for such a dialogue from the beginning.
Oh sure, initially it may just have been giving everyone a common subject to talk about, but those who pioneered, experimented, defined and refined filmmaking have gone on to create not just a dialogue between audience members, but between the audience and the films themselves. Who hasn’t had the experience of entering into a new social group – be it at school, work, church or a friends party where said friend is too caught up to actually hang with you – and felt the awkward pang of being outside the conversation…UNTIL someone says “What did you all think of Game of
Thones?” Our shows and movies become ultimate icebreakers – some of them are so universal that they can put a whole group of strangers at ease with one another (thank you Marvel Studios), while others are so idiosyncratic – so esoteric – that they function like some sort of secret social code. When did you find your kindred spirit at that party? Was it when someone referred to “finding Mr. Darcey”? How about when someone revealed their Scud: The Disposable Assassin t-shirt? Or perhaps you were thinking about leaving when you heard someone say: “Shop smart…shop…S-Mart…YOU GOT IT!?!?”
At its best, cinema causes us to engage with film itself, and examine our beliefs, our assumptions, our notions of right and wrong, good and evil…all the metaphysical stuff. I hold no truck with the view that people’s actions or behaviours are overly influenced by what they see (this does happen to some extent, but it is far from “monkey see, monkey do” mentality), but when approached openly – as a dialogue with a new acquaintance – film, television, literature, comics, music, art…ALL OF IT, can get us asking questions of ourselves, and our efforts to answer may just make us into better people.

I think that’s the best we might be able to hope for.

So come on…join the conversation.

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A Call to Madness…or just a break to the Monotony of Man.

To my fellow grinders of the work week; to the homies I pass in the street; and to the wild, the mild and the meek – my name is Splendiferous Rex, and I’m here to make to think a little deeper about the shallower things in life; to make the question of monotony of the mundane; and to (hopefully) make you smile while you read this on the can.

With introductions aside, I have a question, that I will also answer…because that is the kind of guy I am. What do the first and only Emperor of the United States (and defender of Mexico) and the director of the “Worst Movie Ever Made” have in common?
Both were eccentric (and probably interesting) weirdos who you either loved or hated.
Both showed how the power of personality could influence the world around them.
Both had a terrible experience that made them re-evaluate their situations and strive to strike out on their own and shape the world around them as they wanted it.

Joshua Edward Norton before he acquired the title of “Emperor of the United States and Defender of Mexico” was left destitute after a bad business deal and the ensuing lawsuit he pursued in order to recoup some of his losses. Right after this he issued his first proclamation declaring himself emperor of the United States.

Emperor-Norton-1870s-cI’d be on board with this guy 

Tommy Wiseau – before he directed “The Room” (2003) and after he arrived in America from “parts unknown, Europe” – worked a variety of mercantile jobs before he was in a near fatal crash that made him re-evaluate the circumstances of his life and pursue his dream of acting and directing in Hollywood.

"The Disaster Artist" Premiere - 2017 SXSW Conference and Festivals
I think he was the Monty Python “Dancing Teeth” Guy

Both these tumultuous tribulations were necessary for these men to pursue their higher calling of being the most eccentric wierdos they could possibly be. But this then forces me to ask if the sudden destitution, and near fatal collision, knocked the madness into these men required to undertake their monumental tasks that allowed them to
transcend mortality, OR were these men mad to begin with, but too mild not to be monotonous, only to be awoken by the sudden slap that is the awareness of the fragility of the human condition also known as Existence, OR did the sudden break of monotony in their life awaken the latent strange that lurked like a hibernating beast in the deepest recesses of their mind?

If any of this first is true, that leads me to the heart-breaking conclusion that we as people don’t appreciate the fragility of our collective condition that we call existence and the complicated yet of so beautiful dance of the day to day, that we call life, until they’re jeopardised. Or even worse…

…we are too afraid too fail to be the weirdest and best we that we can be.

The Room is famously among the most widely enjoyed “Terrible” films of all time. For greater insight into the story behind that film, check out “The Disaster Artist”. If you are keen for a whole new Tommy Wiseau experience, take a look at his upcoming project: Spaceworld.