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Kristin Devine

Kristin is a geek, a libertarian, and a domestic goddess. She lives in a wildlife refuge in rural Washington state with too many children and way too many animals and works with women around the world as a fertility counselor. There's also a blog which most people would very much disapprove of

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49 Responses

  1. Avatar pillsy says:

    Good piece, Kristin.

    One thing that jumped out right at the end is that the fact that we don’t live in this world…

    I just wished we lived in a world where this was self-evident and understood rather than having to rely on the culture vultures who are always circling overhead to point it out to us, since the culture vultures tend to err on the side of calling everything carrion and devouring it.

    …also has a lot to do with the circling. It creates a lot of incentives for further circling. And sometimes they clean up actual stinky messes that nobody else wants to deal with.[1]

    Now, you may be wondering about me being a libertarian and making this argument. But just because I don’t think the government should be involved in enforcing morality doesn’t mean I am opposed to morality.

    Also, even though I am Not A Libertarian, this is one of those points that I think just can’t be made often enough. I don’t care if you’re a liberal, a conservative, a libertarian, or a socialist: you really do not want to live in a world where every moral judgement is a call for state action, nor one where we place the same constraints on moral judgement that we place on state action.

    [1] I think I’m gonna roll with, “Vultures are Good, Actually!” on this one.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

      Vultures are good, unless they forget that they are vultures and start thinking they are eagles.Report

    • on the one hand I’ve certainly learned from people pointing out and explaining why things might be hurtful to others. But on the other, it has really gotten so no one can even share their basic human experience without opening themselves up for criticism from people who are in some cases really not even marginalized people at all.

      Calling people out has gotten way out of hand and there’s something to be said for erring on the side of assuming good intentions from others.Report

      • Avatar pillsy says:

        I do deliberately avoid a lot of the The Discourse [tm], because it can be so exhausting, even when the people engaging in it have a pretty good point.

        Some people would argue that it’s a sign of my privilege that it’s so easy for me to disengage like that because I’m straight, white, cis, and male, and they have a point… but maybe not the one they intend to make about the value of The Discourse.Report

  2. Avatar George Turner says:

    Clint Eastwood approves this essay.Report

  3. Avatar Dark Matter says:

    The moment Scarlett takes her fame for granted and decides she doesn’t need it, Hollywood will realize she’s 34 and being casted into roles that a cheaper 20-something could do.Report

    • Avatar Dark Matter says:

      Another question is does this movie get made, AT ALL, if an unknown is the lead?

      The financial backers aren’t interested in art-for-art’s-sake. They’re also not interested in telling-a-story. They’re interested in making money off of the movie, and they’re willing to pay for an A-List actor to increase the odds of that. Are they still willing to bankroll the project if an unknown-but-politically-correct actor with no drawing power is the lead?Report

      • The attitude of Hollywood seems to me like the tragedy of the commons. They may be making money NOW but they’re basically polluting the market with a glut of lousy product that will turn people off in the foreseeable future. There are too many entertainment options available and if 8 out of every 10 movies is unwatchably bad and marketed to us because it’s got ScarJo or whoever, it’s a losing strategy in the long term.Report

        • Avatar Dark Matter says:

          unwatchably bad and marketed to us because it’s got ScarJo or whoever, it’s a losing strategy in the long term.

          Polluting a stars brand hurts the star long before it hurts all of Hollywood in general. Thankfully the stars seem to be somewhat aware of this.Report

          • Avatar InMD says:

            I think most major stars vet their projects pretty thoroughly or in a handful of exceptions (Nicholas Cage comes to mind) have made willingness to do big budget idiocy part of the brand. Everyone else seems to have taken to heart George Clooney’s comments on Batman and Robin. Doesn’t mean you never see big stars in a flop but it’s unusual for one to do a career destroying string of them.Report

  4. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    A few years from now, every single movie is going to star Tom Cruise and Scarlett Johanssen as Peter Parker and Mary Jane.Report

  5. Avatar InMD says:

    I chock a lot of this up to the economics of 21st century movie making. We’ve talked before here about the death of the mid-tier movie, or really the move of what once would have been mid-tier movies to cable and streaming services.

    Big blockbuster and Oscar bait movies are high risk high reward ventures. They take huge amounts of money to make and market and there’s therefore a certain known-quantity conservatism to them. One thing people also forget is that the Chinese box office is now just as important as the American, maybe moreso. To do well it needs to easily translate and have stars known to be appealing not only here but there as well.

    I suspect that the fact that the industry strata don’t bleed into each other as much makes it harder to break from one to another. Which is kind of interesting when you think about Johansen herself. My first recollection of her is seeing Ghost World in some old indie theater in DC. I wonder if her career was starting now if that kind of transition would still be possible.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

      The first I ever saw her was as the injured girl in The Horse Whisperer, which was a pretty major film.Report

      • Avatar InMD says:

        You know I never actually saw that movie, but agreed it was a major film. Granted I wonder if the subject matter wouldn’t make it more of an indie now? I could see arguments both ways, even with some pretty well known actors.Report

        • The horse stuff was unusual for a mainstream film, but essentially it was a story of two star-crossed lovers played by extraordinarily attractive people, so …

          (By the way, the first thing I ever saw Kristin Scott Thomas in was a British movie based on an Evelyn Waugh novel. *That’s* indie. Marchmaine, if you’re about, did you ever see A Handful of Dust? )Report

    • Avatar George Turner says:

      There are also forces at play similar to the ones that, over time, turn all major trust funds liberal, because of who is attracted to the idea of running charities. However, in Hollywood’s case, I think the trend is that all studios are eventually run by bean counters who took a couple courses on film making, catering to investors who majored in accounting and finance.

      This happens in a lot of mature industries, where the founders were visionaries and dreamers who eventually pass the reins to competent underlings who then pass the reins to money managers and investment bankers who focus on managing the company as an asset, no different from any firm that offered peanut butter, tires, detergent, or mortgages. When you watch a movie or TV franchise and think “Who made this, General Electric?” the answer is “Yes.”

      Ironically, the same think happened to GE when they picked a CEO who, instead of focusing on their core business of jet engines, appliances, and technical innovations, focused them on finance (his background), with devastating consequences.

      There’s a huge difference between having a CEO who wants to make movies that people will remember and one who wants to make the financials look good through things like stock options, mergers, and acquisitions.Report

    • But why are the economics the way they are?

      It’s at least in part because the studios have kind of gamed the system to grant themselves a huge advantage (not only via government, but partly through government). And it’s even more so that the people involved in creating the system also gamed the system to keep themselves in power and have no incentive to shake things up.

      Even if it’s “just how it is” I still don’t think it’s moral.Report

      • Avatar InMD says:

        Why? Not being an industry insider I don’t know for sure but my guess is that George’s assessment is about right. The bean counters have determined that to make billions you need to spend hundreds of millions and to make hundreds of millions you need to spend tens of millions. I’d start the math at whatever it costs to advertise on prime time television. Anyone spending that kind of money to make money is going to want as much certainty as they can get on a positive return on such a huge, risky investment. Known stars are part necessary investment and part insurance policy.

        I get this probably sounds blase but expecting morality from capitalism is kind of a fool’s errand. These people aren’t there to help anyone or advance any cause except to the extent doing do makes them money.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq says:

      I think the movie strata were always very separate. Similarly, tv, and movies, and theater were more separate in the United States than they were in other countries. While other film industries looked for professional trained actors to become stars, American movie producers just couldn’t resist the lure of finding the next big thing and cultivating him or her.Report

    • Avatar North says:

      We might also need to note that between home entertainment systems and internet piracy the theater film business is under incredible financial stress right now.Report

  6. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    I googled Tex Gil and he wasn’t remotely physically attractive. He seems to be short and have a very rough, working class appearance. The type of look one would expect from a 1970s criminal in a working class metropolis that is suffering from de-industralization. Scarlett Johansson is way too glamorous and pretty to pull it off. Since the lead isn’t a male, Hollywood isn’t going to put her in the Christian Bale treatment a la American Hustle, where tall dark and handsome Christian Bale was made to look like a shrubby New York Jew, down to the accent. I think that is a bigger problem with casting a Hollywood actress as a transman. They don’t look remotely masculine, which might kind of be important for a transman.Report

    • Avatar atomickristin says:

      They did manage to make Charlize Theron look entirely different in “Monster” but today’s Hollywood feels like a different thing than the Hollywood who was willing to take a chance on that. Thanks for reading.Report

  7. Avatar Murali says:

    Like McDonalds and Burger King, the choice between Natalie Portman and Keira Knightley is really not that much of a choice at all.

    Fun fact: Keira Knightley acted as Queen Amidala’s (Portman’s) body double in the Phantom Menace*

    *Maybe you knew this already and used this pair of actresses for that reason.Report

  8. Avatar George Turner says:

    I ran across a complaint about recent Netflix offering.

    PJMedia/Netflix: Another Life – Review: Kill It With Fire

    While not exactly an original premise, Another Life has promise. Its promise is immediately dashed once we meet the Salvare’s crew. The actors have apparently been pulled from the B actor diversity catalog. They have been written to be the most annoying, grating, nails-on-chalkboard crew ever assembled. No one would trust this crew to plan a paddle board trip, much less a trek to a possibly hostile alien world.

    Star Trek: Discovery had more than a few characters that fit the same mold. People you’d toss out of an airlock before they got everyone else killed with their stupidity, lack of discipline, lack of any adult interpersonal skills, and lack of basic common sense.

    The 100 is very popular, but also features a group of young people who don’t realize that humans self-organize with almost trivial ease, and without resorting to constant mutiny and murder.

    All of these “young adult” stories come off like they were written by maladjusted junior high school students or stoner college roommates who’ve never really observed adult behavior. Fun flicks like Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Bill and Ted, and Animal House are great, but Bill and Ted Become Test PIlots just doesn’t work at all.

    Most everyone in the TV audience over the age of 25 has seen competence and discipline at work, and although casting a bunch of young, unlikable, infuriatingly irritating misfits might make for easy drama, it’s just not plausible that anybody would purposely choose such a group for any important task.Report

    • Avatar InMD says:

      The most basic distinction between good and bad screen writing is the ability to drive a plot without relying on implausible character shallowness/stupidity.Report

      • Avatar Dark Matter says:

        Making a movie has GOT to be REALLY HARD because the end product is often bad but there’s also huge amounts of money at stake. No one has it in their best interests for there to be seriously bad writing, but it’s common.Report

        • Avatar InMD says:

          For the big money makers I think it’s kind of a goldilocks challenge. You want it to be just smart enough that the average adult can enjoy it but without totally going over the head of (or being generally deemed unacceptable for) a preteen.Report

          • Avatar Dark Matter says:

            It feels like a “diseconomies of scale” thing and/or individual incentives aren’t well aligned with the collective.

            Another Huge problem is most movies are one shot projects. Everyone drops everything they’re doing, make a movie for however many weeks/months, then everyone leaves and gets on with their lives. So there’s close to zero experience in working together as a team.Report

    • Star Trek: Discovery had more than a few characters that fit the same mold. People you’d toss out of an airlock before they got everyone else killed with their stupidity, lack of discipline, lack of any adult interpersonal skills, and lack of basic common sense.

      Like Poe Dameron in the Star Wars movies? Hot-headed, self-righteous, insubordinate, never plans anything more than five minutes out?Report

      • Avatar veronica d says:

        Well compared with the stunning displays of mature adulting in such teen classics as Apocalypse Now and Catch 22…Report

        • Avatar George Turner says:

          What do you mean? I don’t recall anyone in Apocalypse Now who was immature. Crazy maybe, but not immature.

          The question is whether characters come off as junior high kids or high school freshman and sophomores in adult bodies, who by their behavior make it immediately obvious that they have no idea how adults interact or behave.

          I don’t know if it’s still true, but in my day there was a vast gulf even between how high school seniors acted, interacted, and presented themselves and how the freshman acted.Report