Can music save your mortal soul?


It was 1971 when musician Don McLean posed the above question in one of my all time favourite songs, American Pie. Now, while I don’t believe in all of that mortal soul stuff, I do think that music can really help a person through some tough times.

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Don McLean

I met a young woman today named Sydney (I hope I spelled that correctly) who reminded me a lot of myself when I was her age (I am assuming she was in her mid-teens) She told me about several bands that she was into. She mentioned one, specifically called Escape the Fate that really helped her through a difficult bullying experience when she was in middle school.

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Escape the Fate

I too, was horribly bullied through junior high and high school and I too, turned to music for solace. This beautiful girl came alive when she spoke about her favourite bands, and her plan to start her own band in the coming year. It seems Sydney is into what she calls the new metal. As a child of the 70’s, I was into the old metal bands like Judas Priest, ACDC and Led Zeppelin.

Led Zeppelin

Jimmy Page and Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin

 I listened with excitement as she told me about this ‘new metal’ and how the lyrics really inspired her. It was encouraging to hear that she had found something to help her out of a dark place, something that touched her deeply and allowed her to channel her anger and teenage angst. Just when I was thinking that the music world had been entirely taken over by the boy bands and the Disney brigade, along comes this gorgeous, intelligent and sensitive young woman to tell me that all is not lost. That the youth of today is creating actual music with lyrics that explore real emotions as opposed to the insipid Baby, baby, baby crap that has deluged the radio for far too long. It is my sincere hope that there is new musical revolution on the horizon, one that will dilute the posers of the world (I’m looking at you Justin Bieber) and start a new and meaningful conversation… and hopefully these new bands will actually play their own instruments as opposed to the computer generated beats and melodies that has been passing for music for far too long.

Thanks for the great conversation and Rock On Sydney!

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Oh, and Sydney, if you’re reading this, I gave you the wrong email addy… it’s windupmyskirt1@aol.com (forgot the number 1)

Working Girl


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In my opinion Melanie Griffith is one of the most over rated actresses in the history of Hollywood. From her ditzy voice, to the scary plastic surgery she’s had done, there’s not one thing I like about her. Yet… I owe her a debt of gratitude. As regular readers know, I recently moved across country and have been looking for work for the past two months. The good news is I just got a great job that I really enjoy, in a gorgeous hotel setting. The bad news is the job requires me to stand all day and even in comfy flat shoes my dogs are not only barking, but howling by the end of a 9 hour day.  It doesn’t help that I am still carrying 30 extra ‘I quit smoking pounds’either. My co-workers tell me I will get used to it soon. I find myself wondering when the heck soon might be. I walk the 20 minutes to and from the hotel. I never in my life thought I would be one of those women made famous by Melanie Griffith in the movie Working Girl, who wears a skirt and sneakers to go to work (I mean, I own 3 pairs of Louboutins for crying out loud), but they are the only shoes in which I can make the trek home without wanting to cut my feet off after walking a measly block.

If anyone out there is looking for a great pair of walking shoes, get thee to a Payless Shoes and pick up a pair of Champion walkers (priced under $40). They have air pockets in the soles and they are like walking on two little clouds. I may just be investing in several more pairs in the not so distant future.

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The shoes that are saving my life!!

I’d love to write more, but if I don’t put my feet up soon, I’ll never make it through the day tomorrow. So I will leave with a doff of the hat to Ms. Griffith for making it socially acceptable to wear sneakers to work.

The age old question


Since the dawn of time there have been good girls and bad girls. Since the dawn of time, men have been asking each other which they prefer, virgins or sluts… or to put in terms of the complex, Madonna or Whore. This question has had many faces over the years. Two of the most famous are Ginger or Mary Ann.

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There have been magical choices like Samantha or her cousin Serena.

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There has even been a cartoon choice with Betty or Veronica.

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The faces may change but the question remains the same, would you rather be with a virgin or a slut? On its face, the question is highly insulting, as it only takes into account a woman’s sexuality (or lack thereof). As a feminist, the question is offensive… but it’s hard t be offended when… women are guilty of the very same behavior.

We choose between the nice guy and the Lothario. We have made this choice since the dawn of time. This question has had many faces over the years. One of the most famous examples is Danny or Tom.

Olivia Newton John and John Travolta in 1978  movie " Grease"

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A very young Lorenzo Lamas as Tom in the movie Grease.

Of course Sandy picked the bad boy, Lothario, Danny and she changed for him, even though he was willing to change for her. The better choice would have been Tom because neither of them would have had to change who they were… but it wouldn’t have been as entertaining. There is a correlation between a woman’s age and the choice she will make when faced with these two stereotypes. When a woman is under the age of 35 she will be much more likely to choose the bad boy. Some young women choose the bad boy because he represents danger and adventure, some will choose him because they have this delusion that they can change him or save him from himself. Once a woman is past the age of 35 she is far more likely to choose the nice guy because she has known nothing but heartache at the hands of the Lothario and she now sees what should have been obvious from the start, that a more quiet life with the nice guy who will treat you well is a better long-term bet. Excitement and danger is fun for a while, but you wouldn’t want to live there.

I wonder if the choice between virgin and slut also has an age correlation? Do younger men prefer the virgin because they too are inexperienced? Do older men prefer the slut because they are looking for someone with a more open mind, sexually? Or do men just like what they like from cradle to grave? I would be very interested to hear thoughts from some of my male readers on this topic. Please feel free to post a comment below.

How the letter N made me popular on Twitter


Logo-Twitter

I have had my twitter account for about as long as long as I have been writing this blog. I use it to post short little bon mots and, of course, to publicize my blog. I also like to participate in trending topics (hashtags) from time to time, if the subject is fun or interesting… or annoying. Such was the case last night when a trending topic appeared in my timeline. It should be noted that I am a grammar and spelling geek of the highest order, so when I saw this was trending, you can imagine how annoyed it made me.

#MentionAAttractiveFollower

 immediately took to my keyboard and fired off this little shot at whoever came up with the above bastardization of the English language.

#MentionAAttractiveFollower Any follower that I would consider attractive would know that there is an ‘n’ missing from this hashtag.

I didn’t think any more of it until I awoke this morning to see that I had an inordinate amount of email from twitter. It seems that, overnight, my little tweet had taken the top slot for that topic (or hashtag, if you will) and it had been the recipient of 114 retweets and 42 favourites. This is astonishing, as the majority of my tweets get no attention whatsoever. On any given day, I am lucky if more than one person decides to retweet anything I say and now this!

Alas it’s now a new day and this hashtag has disappeared from the trending list and I must slink back into obscurity, but I will always have the memory of that night fleeting fame and how great it felt to be at the top for one brief, shining moment.

Truly Iconic Swimsuits


Back in October, I wrote a post as a rebuttal of sorts to yahoo.com and their list of “the most iconic dresses of all time”. To this day, it is still one of my more popular posts. As spring is just around the corner, and soon it will be bathing suit weather, I thought I would do a follow-up to my Truly iconic dresses post and explore what I consider to be the most iconic swimsuits of all time. To be on this list, each swimsuit must be recognizable and spark a memory to be considered iconic.

So, without further ado, and in no particular order, here they are.

ursula andress in the james bond film doctor no

Ursula Andress in the first James Bond movie, Dr. No

This was a bikini so iconic that it spawned a sequel.

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Halle Berry in Die Another Day

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Raquel Welch in One Million Years BC. Need I say more?

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Betty Grable’s famous Pin Up kept more than just the morale up during WWII

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Hair, teeth and nipples made Farrah Fawcett a triple threat in the 70s

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Not to be outdone, Cheryl Tiegs gave us this other decade defining moment of the 1970s

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Fans of the Mickey Mouse club had their dreams come true when Annette sported this two piece number.

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Marilyn Monroe proved that you don’t have to put on a bikini if you want to know How to Marry a Millionaire

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Goldie Hawn before she went Overboard in this high cut, thong backed, one piece.

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Famous Pin Up, Bettie Page goes wild on the beach.

I found it to be rather eye-opening as I was collecting the images above that the majority of these women are curvy to say the least. Perhaps we should be re-thinking our definition what is sexy when it comes to the female form.

As a feminist and therefore equal opportunity exploiter, I would be remiss if I didn’t include some famous moments in male swimwear too.

From Here To Eternity

Burt Lancaster had all the girls swooning in From Here to Eternity.

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Miles O’Keefe may not have been the most famous Tarzan, but he sure did that loincloth justice.

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Speaking of loincloths, who can forget Christopher Atkins splashing around in the Blue Lagoon?

And then there’s this…

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Sacha Baron Cohen, as Borat in possibly the most iconic swimsuit of them all!

Argo-not


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Ken Taylor, the real life hero of the story.

By now you have likely heard all about how Ben Affleck has earned the ire of former Canadian ambassador to Iran, Ken Taylor for minimizing Canada’s contribution to the rescue of six US diplomats from Iran. Mr. Taylor has been quite vocal about his disapproval and rightly so. Even Former US President, Jimmy Carter (who was President at the time that this whole mission took place) has publicly said that it was 90 percent Canada and 10 percent CIA. Not to mention the fact that John Sheardown, who, along with Taylor masterminded the whole scheme, was left out of the movie entirely.What you may not know is that Canada isn’t the only country to get the fuzzy end of the lollipop in this movie. There is another country whose role in the film was not just minimized, but an outright lie

New-Zealand-flag

In the actual rescue mission, New Zealand offered to help. They even sent their ambassador, Chris Beeby to visit the hostages and rent a house that the hostages could hide in if they were discovered. In the movie, New Zealand is lumped in with several other countries who refuse to help, saying their reason was that Iran was one of their largest importers of New Zealand lamb.

The only thing I see wrong with all of this is that Argo is marketed as being “based on the true story” of this mission. The phrase ‘based on’ does not give you licence to tell half-truths and complete falsehoods about the true story, as Mr. Affleck seems to think. If you are going to make the true story of something/anything then, rule number one is, you had better get your facts straight and tell the truth the way it actually happened. Affleck had an advantage in that Ken Taylor was still alive and willing to help him. Sadly Affleck didn’t bother asking for Taylor’s help until the movie had been completed. The only input Ken Taylor had, was the change in the postscript of the film… a small concession at best. Affleck has been quoted as saying he loves Ken Taylor, he loves Canada, he loves New Zealand. I really don’t want to see how he would portray people he hates, if this is what he does to people he professes to ‘love’. Or perhaps he was just being a condescending Hollywood phony, lobbying for an Academy Award.

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Affleck could have just as easily done what Law and Order SVU and Criminal Intent frequently do and rip a story from the headlines and write a ‘what if’ kind of storyline about how it could have been and call it fiction… well, aside from calling it fiction, I suppose that’s what Affleck actually did do.

There is one question I still have about this whole debacle. Why did Michelle Obama present the award? Obviously the Academy got her to present because they knew that Argo (a film about American heroics) was going to win. I am all but certain she would not have been tapped to present the award if the winner was going to be Django Unchained, Beast of the Southern Wild or Lincoln. The fact that the First Lady presented the award, even via satellite, not only legitimizes the content of the movie, but effectively puts a presidential seal of approval on it as well.

You might be asking why the hack does any of this matter… it was a movie. Well, I will let Ken Taylor answer that in his own words. “As long as people realise that this isn’t the historical record. And that is difficult to do because movies leave an impression. Particularly with young people – they weren’t around when it happened.” Movies do have the ability to change a generation’s view of what actually happened, to water it down, or to change it entirely. The sad part is that unless you were old enough to remember what actually happened, you will likely see this movie and believe that everything in it happened the way Affleck said it did because it was marketed as ‘based on a true story’.

Distracted by a shiny gold object


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Last night I watched the Academy Awards for the first time in years. My usual routine for Oscar night is to watch a good movie or two) in the time that it takes Hollywood to pat itself on the back, front and anywhere else their hands will reach, then check out who won online saving myself 3 to 4 hours of complete and utter boredom.

85th Annual Academy Awards - Show

This year was different, however because, this year it was to be hosted by Seth MacFarlane with his dazzling smile, mellifluous voice and irreverent sense of humour… not to mention he is an out and proud atheist. Yes, I am a Seth MacFarlane fan. The opening monologue started off as a bit of a disappointment, with jokes that were marginally funny at best, that is until William Shatner (or should I say, Captain James Tiberius Kirk) showed up. It was at that point that the show really got going and MacFarlane got to do what he does best… sing. As a true lover of old Hollywood musicals MacFarlane was the perfect choice for host on a night where the theme was music in the movies. Seth sang silly songs like “We saw your boobs” and old standards like The Way You Look Tonight and High Hopes

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Charlize Theron and Channing Tatum dancing to The Way You Look Tonight

Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth MacFarlane, Daniel Radcliffe

MacFarlane with Joseph Gordon Levitt and Daniel Radcliff singing High Hopes

*I am sure you’ve noticed by now that I am not posting video of the night. There are video clips out there, but they are being taken down as fast as they are being put up, so I decided not to risk it.*

All in all, MacFarlane as host was a throwback to the days when Bob Hope hosted the show. The jokes were tame (for the most part), but he was an affable, dapper and welcoming host. If the Academy brought him in to wrangle a younger demographic, however, they failed miserably. Seth MacFarlane is an old soul in a young body and a real fan of old Hollywood that, I’m sure us over 45 viewers appreciated, but the under 30 crowd must have been left scratching their collective heads, wondering why he didn’t do Stewie’s voice or tell any poop jokes.

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Dame Shirley Bassey singing Goldfinger

Seeing that the theme was music in the movies, the night (as one would expect) was littered with some really wonderful musical performances. From Catherine Zeta Jones’s recreation of her Oscar-winning role in Chicago (I can’t believe that was 10 years ago already) and Jennifer Hudson singing her Oscar-winning song And I Am Telling You (Nice standing ovation. Even Jack Nicholson was impressed), to Adele and Norah Jones singing their nominated songs from Skyfall and Ted respectively, there was no shortage of talent on the stage. There were two spectacular surprises, however, that took my breath away. The first came at the end of the tribute to the 50th Anniversary of James Bond films, when Dame Shirley Bassey belted out Goldfinger, her voice just as strong as it was 49 years ago when she first sang the song. Then it was time for the in memoriam segment of the show. The last slide was a black and white photo of Marvin Hamlish, there was a pause and then… Barbra Streisand (looking younger more “well rested” than she has in decades. It’s sad to me that she was not vain enough to get her nose ‘fixed’ yet her forehead is as frozen as a glacier. Why Babs, why?) took the stage and honoured her friend and collaborator with a beautiful rendition of The Way We Were that actually brought tears to my eyes.

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Barbra Streisand singing The Way We Were

The awards themselves were predictable, as usual. They gave the Best Actress award to the pretty young starlet with the lovely dress and not the most deserving nominee… as usual. Though if they absolutely had to get a pretty young starlet in a pretty dress on stage, they should have given the award to this young beauty who actually deserved the award.

85th Annual Academy Awards - Arrivals

Quvenzahne Wallis and her puppy purse

Even the Best Supporting Actress award, which is traditionally given to the actress who actually deserves it, went to the pretty young star in the dress that showed side boob, instead of Sally Field. On that note, I don’t understand why Field was nominated as Best Supporting Actress for a role that was clearly a lead, but I digress.

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Even Hollywood royalty, Sally Field was reduced to a desperate sex object

Over all the show was entertaining. My one complaint (cause it wouldn’t be a windupmyskirt blog with out one) was all of the sexist ‘jokes’. There was the aforementioned musical number “We saw your boobs” which comes across as a teenaged boy giggling that he saw boobies (even the Gay Men’s Chorus couldn’t class that up) and the comedy sketch wherein Seth MacFarlane, dressed as the Flying Nun, successfully hits on and goes home with Sally Field because apparently, she has nothing better to do than go home with someone just because they are a fan who makes her feel bad about herself by telling her that she won’t win her category anyway. Even though the women seemed like they were “in on” the joke they also seemed like they did so rather grudgingly. Now if either of those examples were actually funny, I wouldn’t take such issue with them, because I believe that nowhere is off-limits for a joke that is truly funny. Unfortunately for Seth MacFarlane (and his team of hackneyed writers), while he was harkening back to the Bob Hope days of hosting, he forgot to update the jokes to reflect a little thing that happened in the interim called the women’s movement. Then there was Dustin Hoffman creepily coming on to Charlize Theron as they presented an award together. You could feel her discomfort. The whole show seemed hell bent on making sure that women were praised for how good they look rather than the fact that they are accomplished actors in their own right. But maybe that’s just me, as I mentioned earlier, I haven’t watched the show in years. Is this something that happens every year or was it more glaring this year?

**Edited to add-

My DVR stopped recording before the show was over, so I didn’t get to see the final musical number or Michelle Obama present the award for Best Picture. (WTF??? Doesn’t she have better things to do with her time?)

Bad Penny. The evolution of women in sitcom culture.


THE BIG BANG THEORY

Penny and Leonard from the Big Bang Theory

I was raised on sitcom culture. One thing I have noticed in the past decade or so is a shift in how women are portrayed. Unfortunately, it’s not for the better.

Women used to be shown as the subservient wife and mother who surreptitiously leads her husband from behind in order to get her way, like June Cleaver, Donna Stone, Samantha Stevens and Lucy Ricardo. There was always an unspoken (or even sometimes actually spoken “One of these days, right in the kisser.”) threat that she was risking violence if she were caught going behind the back of her husband in order to get what she wanted.

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The Ricardos

Then, in the 1970’s women were portrayed as feminists for the first time. Maude, Mary Richards, Margaret Houlihan and Emily Hartley to name but a few. These were women who are unconventional and ground breaking. Maude fought for women’s rights and raised an independent daughter. Mary was the ultimate working woman who, not only didn’t need a man, but refused to settle. Major Houlihan worked alongside her male counterparts in the most dangerous of settings. Emily Hartley was seen as a woman who chose to work and a true partner in her marriage with her husband. These women were much healthier role models then the women who came before and after them. These sitcoms are proof that female characters can be well written, fully actualized, real women who are also funny.

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An iconic symbol of feminism.

Now we’re seeing women who are perennially annoyed with their husbands, or single women who continually make bad choices in men. Take, for example the show Everybody Loves Raymond, featuring Debra Barone, a woman who gave up her career in order to raise her children (which is a luxury in today’s world and an admirable choice). She is shown as constantly finding fault with her husband, who is somewhat childish, but all in all, not a bad guy. One of Debra’s most frequent insults is to call him an idiot. Another example of the continually annoyed wife character is on the show Rules of Engagement. The character of Audrey Bingham who is a childless, married, working woman. Audrey is married to Jeff, a former frat boy, jock type who is an excellent provider, a bit childish and a tad oblivious at times, but again, all in all a good guy. Audrey’s default setting is mildly annoyed with her husband and it just gets worse from there. She seems generally disappointed with life for the most part. This type of character reminds me of a great quote from Bill Maher, “Women cannot complain about men anymore, until they start getting better taste in them” These women go around unfairly blaming their husbands for behavior that they were fully aware of when they said I do. I have zero sympathy for this type of woman. They have no one to blame but themselves.

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The bickering Binghams from Rules of Engagement.

Then there is the other prevalent female sitcom archetype, the single woman who makes bad choices. One of the most frustrating examples of this is Penny from the Big Bang Theory. Her father gives some examples of her previous boyfriends in the following clip.

She has dated white rappers, cow tippers, a guy who blogged about their sex life and a guy who cheated on her and had violent tendencies (Kurt). When faced with a relationship with Leonard, a genius physicist who is, admittedly, a little clingy, she pulls away thinking that she can do better. I will never understand why young women would rather be abused by the bad boys than have something real with an intelligent guy who will treat her well. Okay, maybe I do understand it… young women are inherently insecure and feel undeserving the majority of the time. What bothers me most about Penny is that she thinks that she is the catch in her relationship, when clearly the real catch is Leonard. Looks fade, but intelligence is forever.

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The cast of the HBO series, Girls

My final example of the single girl who makes bad choices is from the HBO hit, Girls. All four of the lead characters in this show are hot messes. Yes, they are young, insecure and still ‘finding their way’ but they all have absolutely no respect for themselves. These young women were raised by mothers who would have come of age during or after the feminist movement and yet every character is clueless and self sabotaging. I would have hoped that their mothers would have instilled in them, some sort of sense of self by the time they were out on their own. For me, the most disappointing thing about this show is the fact that it was created and written by a woman.

It seems that women can’t write good parts for women in Hollywood, so how can we have the audacity to expect men to write them for us?

A New Year’s Eve tradition


Recently, my mother told me about a New year’s Eve tradition in which my German relatives partake. At some point during the evening, they watch a sketch called Dinner For One (also known as The 90th Birthday) and laugh their collective asses off.  It seems that they are not the only ones enjoying this brilliantly done bit of British physical comedy. This sketch is known as a New Year’s Eve tradition in many countries other than Germany including, Australia, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, the Netherlands and South Africa to name but a few. Ironically, it never really took off in Britain. Sadly, it has yet to take off in North America, but I hope to remedy that, in some small way, by showing it here. Dinner For One was originally written for the theatre in the 1920’s and first filmed for television in 1963 as a one shot/take 18 minute sketch. That it was done in one take without an edit just serves to make it that much more brilliant. So, without further ado, may I present, Freddie Frinton and May Warden in the original black and white version of Dinner For One in English with introduction by Heinz Piper in German (the sketch begins at the 2 minute 23 second mark).

The sketch was so popular that there have been many versions performed along with several parodies, most notably (and recently) one in which the heads of Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy are superimposed upon those of the original actors’ and the dialogue deals with the Euro zone Debt Crisis. In 1999 German television station, NDR colorized it, presumable to bring it more up to date.

I hope you enjoyed this bit of proof that, yes Germans do have a sense of humour after all.

Here’s wishing you and yours a prosperous New Year with a picture from last year’s New Year’s blog.

baby-newyears1Same procedure as EVERY year.

Hollywood Part Three: The Sequel


BirthnationPoster for Birth of a Nation 1915

When author Thomas Dixon decided he wanted to cash in on the immense success of director, D.W Griffith’s filming of his novel the Clansmen which became the movie Birth of a Nation by writing and filming a follow-up called Fall of a Nation in 1916, he gave us perhaps the most prolific of film genres, the sequel. Even then, the sequel was far less successful than the original and was panned by critics and audiences alike. In fact, no prints of Fall of a Nation have survived and it is considered to be a lost film.

To me, the motive for filming a sequel has always been an obvious one… greed. After all we are talking about show BUSINESS and all too often the business part has far too big a say in what gets produced. There have been some very good movie franchises, like Star Wars (the first three), Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings and The Godfather. With the exception of the Star Wars trilogy (which were written by George Lucas expressly for film), the others were all based on a series of bestselling novels and each of the films were painstakingly made over a long period of time by filmmakers who genuinely loved the original texts.

The-Lord-Of-The-Rings-Trilogy

Then there have been the sequels that have been but a disappointing follow-up to a successful movie, which, sadly is the case with the vast majority of sequels. But love them or hate them, sequels are here to stay as long as movie makers still need investors to create their films. So, in the spirit of if you can’t beat them, join them, I am going to suggest a couple of movies that could use a sequel, if for no other reason than I would like to know what happens next.

AmericanGraffiti

Written and directed by George Lucas, American Graffiti is a classic film from my childhood. Set in 1962, in Modesto California, it takes place over the course of one night in the lives of a group of teenagers who have just graduated high school and are about to embark on the next phase in their lives. It remains one of my all time favourite movies. George Lucas did make a sequel to American Graffiti six years later in 1979 called More American Graffiti, which I have yet to see and therefore cannot comment on. The sequel I would like to see is one where all of the original characters now have children who are the same age as they were in the first film (perhaps even played by some of the original stars’ actual kids… Bryce Dallas Howard for example) on their last night of freedom. It would be a nice  way to come full circle on the story and perhaps give Ron Howard a vehicle in which he could direct his daughter.

bryce-dallas-and-ron-howardRon and Bryce Dallas Howard

The next movie I would like to suggest a sequel to is the Breakfast Club. John Hughes 1980’s teen classic about a group of highschoolers from different cliques who spend a Saturday in detention together and find out that they are all so much more than the sterotypes they represent.

breakfast-clubThe stars of the Breakfast Club (minus Emilio Estevez) then and now

I don’t know about you, but I would definitely go see a sequel to this movie (as long as it starred the original cast). Perhaps a highschool reunion brings them together for the first time since graduation and one by one they all end up in the library. It’s just too bad that John Hughes is no longer around to direct a sequel.

Those are my suggestions. I’m sure they’re not great, but they are a damned sight better than some of the sequels Hollywood has forced down our collective throat.

stayingalive_lPoster for Stayin’ Alive, the crappy sequel to Saturday Night Fever

What movie would you like to see a sequel to?