Alex Chesbro's Blog

Better Than Sliced Bread

May 31, 2009
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I was having a conversation the other night, and something was said about interactive (YouTube) videos as being the next big thing, in agency websites, that is.  BooneOakley is the agency, and their website (website?) is very cool.  It was the 1st experience for me when I actually clicked something in a YouTube video. Now, it takes you to another YouTube page, but it’s just a continuation of their site.  Very cool, and very fresh, in my eyes.

But down to brass tacks.  What will be the next big thing?  I said in that aforementioned conversation that I don’t think there will ever be a “Next Big Thing.”  Don’t get me wrong, when the Large Hadron Collider finally starts up, there could be a NBT there.  Maybe harnessing some dark matter or some shit.  Either way it’s going to be really awesome.  There are all kinds of possibilities for a NBT to come out of ANYTHING BUT SOCIAL ANYthing.  

I’ll be proven wrong at some point.  But bear with me here.  You all remember Facebook right?  I don’t mean the new FB, but the FB that started about 5 years ago.  Little status updated, and they didn’t even let you get to pick the word after your name.  Then they changed it so you could put “is” or “wants” or really whatever the hell you wanted.  Jump back to the future, and woah, HOLY SHIT!  It’s TWITTER.  I’m Twittering you from the bathroom you twittering twats!  

All the crap I’m hearing about Twitter, it’s the Next Big Thing.  But it’s not, really.  Yes, it’s got a search function.  Yes, you can search for shit, real time news, all that jazz.  But what if all the news info is wrong (aka.  Swine Flu).  Oh, and it’s a Facebook status update, but on a separate website, so you have to leave Facebook, log into Shitter…you know the drill.

Then there’s Augmented Reality.  While I admit that it’s cool, and it has its uses, many of those are outside of the “creative” realm.  BMW has some sweet ass repair kits using AR.  And let us not forget that AR was first used, and is still used for that sweet yellow line on the football field.

I believe NBTs are something outside the realm of what we have.  Something that’s not built on things we’re already used to (hello, Twitter).  I do want a Next Big Thing.  But NBTs don’t come out of a reactionary process.  They come from a proactive process.  And until we stop thinking “Oh, how can we use _____ to get our message across,”  there won’t be another Next Big Thing for a while.

 

*rant over*

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Mad Men

May 22, 2009
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AdFreak, one of my favorite ad blogs, has a piece on some slutted-up Ad Guys.  The fashion spread was for AmEx’s fashion magazine, something called “Departures.”  Whatever the fuck that means.  I wouldn’t read it if I were forces to wipe my ass with it.  The title of the piece is “Today’s Real Mad Men.”  I take some issue with this.  First of all, let’s take a gander at a couple of the photos.

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Hey Jeff Goodby, how you doin’?  “Aw, yeahhh, just restin my arm on this non-existent shelf.  You know how I do.”

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Yo, Gerry Graf (Saatchi&Saatchi), why you smilin’ like a queer?  “Yo, my wrist bling costs more than a Junior’s yearly salary.  Fo Shizzle!”

So what do I take issue with?  Let’s start easy.  First of all, if your NAME IS THE AGENCY, and it’s over 40 years old, you’re probably not a Mad Man.  Being located off Madison Ave doesn’t really help either.  Second of all, if you’re an insolent dipshit, you’re probably not a Mad Man either.

Now, where’s the beef?  Basically, it’s this.  Mad Men (the show) isn’t about fashion.  It’s barely about advertising as it is (Trust Me did a much better job at that).  Don Draper, Roger Sterling, all of them, were more about their attitude, the way they carried themselves.  They were cool under pressure.  10am bourbons?  Check.  Cool demeanor?  Check.  Using words to kick ass and take names?  Check.  Oh, and Don is constantly out of bubblegum, so watch out.  

These “new” Mad Men are none of the above.  The attitudes and personalities in the advertising business are nothing like the so-called “Mad Men” of the 1960s.  Today, if you’re not a douche, don’t expect recognition.  That’s the way it seems, at least.  Check out Sterling Cooper’s agency.  Do they give a shit about awards?  Meh, Draper goes to the show and doesn’t give a rat’s ass.  Watch him during the presentations.  He wants to make advertising that will be beneficial for the clients revenue.  After all, if you increase the revenue of the client, they’ll come back next year and increase yours with a larger media buy.

This article should have included only one person out of the whole package.  Jeff Goodby.  And if they wanted to be creative, the title could’ve been “The Last of the Flock,” or something like that.  Because he’s the only person on that list that comes close to qualifying.


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Oh America, How I love Thee…

May 15, 2009
1 Comment

Oh Bogusky, how I defecate thee.

From Adfreak, a re-branding of America.  Read their post here, and see all the entries here.  The idea was to “re-brand” America, and Alex Bogusky, Kevin Roberts (of Saatchi & Saatchi) and W+K12, Weiden’s school, did just that.  I’ll post a few with my comments down below.  All in all, very creative, and very good.  Some more so than others.  And yes, I hate Bogusky’s with a passion, which I’ll explain why…and it has nothing to do with who he is as a person this time.  But I’ll start with the good shit first.

kevinroberts1 Kevin Roberts
“America’s Future.  It’s in our hands.”  Corny, yes.  But it rings true, especially with the balls of clay. Very simple, very good.

w+Kstudents2 W+K12

Not the best, but still really good.  I feel that the idea has been used before, but here the ingredients just mean something, well, More.

w+kstudents1W+K12

By far my favorite out of all.  Great execution, especially with the Aleutian Islands as the coccyx.  And the tagline to the visual?  Priceless.  Best creative thought out of the 12, including the professional work.

And now onto the best of the test(es). From Alex Bogusky;

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I get the idea dude.  But guess what?  16% of Americans don’t affiliate themselves with any religion.  A vast majority of those numbers are agnostics and unconfirmed atheists.  So you’re really only representing 84% of America here.  Not what the Founding Fathers were going for.  It’s creative, but…lacking.  Especially when you consider that some of those aren’t really religions (the Masonic G , T-square & Compass) , it doesn’t speak to the full diversity of America.  But, by far the most appealing of his 3.

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This masterpiece takes the award in the “What Can Piss You Off The Most In 10 Seconds” category.  I don’t know where to start, so I’ll ramble instead. 

As we all know, Che joined up with Castro to oust Batista.  We know how well that worked out…just ask the guys who fought in the Bay of Pigs how nice a guy Castro is.  Thanks Che.  Maybe Che’s wearing the Obama shirt because Obama will somehow portray him in a holy light for that.  Now, I don’t know enough of the history of Che to totally say that he did nothing good.  I’m sure he helped out some poor people or some shit like that, which in itself is good.  But then you look at Cuba now, and you’re like, “WTF, Mate,” and Che and Castro were all like “Socialism FTW!”

What I do know about Che is those fucking shirts.  They’re the symbol of counter-culture, the symbol of rebellion.  All the “cool” kids in college wore them.  Except these cool kids were the kids from the Hamptons or Manhattan who haven’t stepped inside a poverty-line county, and live off a trust fund set up by their parents.  Counter-culture, no.  Mainstream non-rebellion?  Of course.  The same kids who wear the Che shirts are the same kids who sit around talking about politics all day, spewing out the same tires rhetoric that will never see the light of day.  I call them Arm-Chair Liberals.  They’re the Monday-Morning Quarterbacks, or even better, the Back-Seat Drivers of politics and progressivism.  As it stands now, the iconic Che Shirts stand for nothing more but capitalism.  Especially when Trust Fund Babies wear them.  Gimmie a break.

 And in real life, I’m pretty sure Che wouldn’t be seen with Obama plastered on his chest.  But that’s just me

Voeckler on the attack

And a picture of Thomas Voeckler.  He’s got more facial expressions than gears on his bike.  This guy is the Al Pacino of cycling.  A lot of over-acting and bluster, but in the end it goes nowhere (thanks, BikeSnob NYC).


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Fuck You, Web 2.0

May 13, 2009
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I got the link to this off of AdScam/The Horror, George Parker’s blog.  It explains everything I hate about this whole Web 2.0/social media/self-masturbatory interactive multitasking togetherness bullshit.  Click the link after the jump, after a quick quote from the original post.

Fuck twitter. Here, I said it! Fuck twitter! Fuck it with all the buzz and the press it gets, with its followers and real-time updates, with the “What are you doing?” 140 characters microblogging shit and the fake celebrities’ accounts. Fuck @ and #, and DM. Fuck retweeting and tweetup, twitpic and twihrl. Fuck twitter’s revenue models and fuck their fund-raising rounds. So they’re going to make a whole lot of money one day, that’s really awesome, whoopy-fucking-do! Fuck the conversation about whether or not Google will buy twitter, if blogging is dead because of it, or if it’s the next search engine. No, really, is there anyone out there that really cares?”

JUMP!!!!  Click here.    

And a picture of Andy Hempstead riding over the Gavia Pass in the 1988 Giro d’Italia.  Because this month is Giro month.  And because Andy is the only American ever to win the whole kit ‘n kaboodle

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Oh, it snowed that day.


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Blog Promoting

May 13, 2009
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I added a new link, for those of you who are interested, to Bad Astronomy, one of my favorite blogs.  I’ve been fascinated with science and the universe since I was a little kid, and this blog just fosters and encourages my curiosity.

I implore anyone remotely interested in skepticism, astronomy, or science in general to check it out.  There are some amazing photos and great posts every day.  Thanks to the Bad Astronomer for helping me out on my quest to “learn something new every day!”


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The best Taxi ride

May 13, 2009
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Just a quickie here (as promised).  Just saw this on AdFreak, a great TV spot with AMAZING copywriting.  It’s a spot for MoMA.  Click here to see it on AdFreak’s site, but I’ll try to embed it here…bear with me, it’s my 1st time.

The ad is done  by Taxi, a Canadian agency with its lone US office in NYC.  I’m going to assume the ad was done by the NYC office.  Anyway, the copywriting is amazing in this, and I can only hope that it claims at least some sort of award.  They’re a smaller creative shop like Strawberry Frog, however without the lame-ass name.  They were named Canada’s best agency last year and a few years past, so yeah, they’re good.

Nothing left to say, let the words speak for me.


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I Miss My Bike

May 12, 2009
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So the Giro d’Italia started a few days ago.  It’s Lance Armstrong’s 1st time riding it, and he’s going to do well.  Probably won’t win, but hopefully his teammate Levi Leipheimer will.  Right now, after Stage 4, Armstrong is in 6th, and Levi is in 5th.  So far so good.  But it’s the Grand Tours that really get me thinking.  And missing.  My.  Bike.

See, I used to be in great shape.  I wasn’t always a rolling ball of Prosciutto.  I played soccer in high school, and somewhat dominated the 400 hurdles in my section (not state…those bastards were FAST!).  Then in college at American University, I discovered cycling.  I saw a poster on the wall for the team and was like, “hey, what the hell, how hard can it be?  I used to run for a quarter mile as fast as I possibly could while jumping over 3-foot-high planks of wood.”

Damn.  If I’ve ever been wrong in my life, it was then.  Racing bikes is by far the hardest sport I’ve ever done (soccer, rugby, track, bowling).  At that time, AU’s team was small…maybe 10 or 12 dedicated people who fostered and encouraged everyone, including me.  I was definitely not in “bike shape.”  I was in “soccer shape,” and those are 2 totalllllly different things.  But anyway, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank them from the bottom of my heart for encouraging me and helping me train for the season that I was able to race.  It’s an experience I’ll never forget.  And I’d like to take the time to say congratulations to the current team, which is even bigger and better than when I left.  

Sorry about the digression.  I got a great deal on a Cannondale R1000 (great entry race bike, btw) thanks to the partnership with Cannondale and City Bikes.  If you’re ever in DC and need a bike or a bike fixed…go to City Bikes.  It was then I fell in love.  The training rides were tough, because I wasn’t in bike fitness, but I persevered.  Then over spring break we went to Boone, NC to bike through the mountains for a training camp.  You can read about my time there here on my old blog.

It wasn’t until after the school year was over that I really got into training and riding a lot.  When I got home to Virginia at my parents house, in the 3 or 4 months before I left for study abroad, I would go out and ride just about every day.  Some people go to the gym.  I woke up and went on a 2 or 3 hour bike ride.  It was glorious.  The wind in your face, sun shining.  Hell, I didn’t let rain stop me either.  Sometimes, I would wait until 1pm to go for a ride, so I could improve my tan lines.  Yes, I shaved my legs.  I’ll admit…I grew to like them.  There’s nothing like putting on a freshly washed pair of jeans on freshly shaved legs.  Or crawling into bed with freshly washed sheets and freshly shaved legs. I had those horribly awesome tan lines.  It was amazing.

There’s absolutely nothing like biking up a mountain and pushing through the constant burning pain in your legs for an hour or so.  But the reward is waiting for you at the top.  Because the only thing better than loving the pain, is the ride back down. There’s nothing better than bombing down a descent at 40 or 50 mph with nothing between you and a bad case of road rash but a 25mm piece of rubber.  It’s heaven on earth.  I haven’t gone skydiving yet, but I’m going to assume going 50mph downhill on a bike ranks a close second to that.

I miss my bike.  I had to sell it to make it to Germany this winter.  I wish I could just saddle up and go out on a ride right now.  I know it would get me back into shape.  But I was spoiled by that bike.  I don’t have $2,000 to spend on a bike that I would ride every day, and I really don’t want to settle for anything less.  I want to sprint at 30mph on a nice flat road.  Draft behind cars.  Climb hills and mountains that I would never think I’d make it up.  I don’t care how long it would take me.  Because I would have accomplished that.  

So it’s with those discombobulated thoughts that I leave you with a plea.  Watch the Giro, or the Tour de France.  Those skinny guys in spandex riding their bikes, they’re working harder than you ever have at any sport.  They don’t ride for 3 hours and stop.  Some of the stages are pushing 200 miles.  And the Grand Tours last for a month, with only 2 or 3 rest days.  I mean, the Tour de France is almost 3,000 miles long.  You do the math.  Anyway, I love cycling, and thanks to the guys at AU, I always will.

I think I miss the tan lines the most.

I leave you finally with what seems to be the only picture I have from my racing days.  I’m behind the colossal Asian guy, getting ready to pull around him.  He had crashed early in the race, and we worked together to catch back up to the pack with 7 laps left.  We sat with the pack, and he crashed again, fuckin’ up our chances of placing in the top 10.  We shoulda just kept pounding it out.  Oh well.  Great times. Thanks for reading.

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P.S.    Sorry the last 2 posts have been really long.  I just can’t wrap up my love for cycling in a few paragraphs.  I promise I’ll have some shorter posts coming up.


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Touchy Subjects

May 11, 2009
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I read some unsettling news on Yahoo! today.  John Demjanjuk, the suspected Nazi guard at the Sobibor camp, could possibly be deported by Tuesday.  I think this is the wrong decision.  I will explain later, but now, let me clarify things. The Holocaust was a terrible time in history.  World War II defined the 20th centuries and the atrocities that could happen, lest people stop them.  I believe that the Nurnburg Trials were shoddy, almost a Kangaroo Court, but the outcome was the correct outcome.  Genocide is not something good, obviously, and in no way do I support any Nazi ideals, racism, or anything of that sort. 

That said, Demjanjuk got a raw deal.  Why?  The man is 89 years old. 

This may run long, but I’ll try to summarize as much as possible.  Demjanjuk arrived in the USA in 1952 and was granted citizenship 1958.  Then in 1977 evidence surfaced that he had been a guard at Sobibor and various other Nazi Death Camps.  He was identified by various Jewish survivors in group photos and such.  This alone should not have been hard evidence, but it was treated as such.  So in 1983 Israel issued an extradition request to put Demjanjuk on trial.  They had compiled legitimate evidence that he had served as a guard at Sobibor and Treblinka, where he was called “Ivan the Terrible.”  The prosecution provided written evidence of who he was and that he had, in fact, been a guard.

In 1988, Demjanjuk was found guilty of all charges and sentenced to death.  This verdict was obviously appealed and sent to the Supreme Court of Israel.  The Supreme Court overturned all guilty charges.  That ruling was an astounding 405 pages.  Quoting the ruling:   The main issue of the indictment sheet filed against the appellant was his identification as Ivan the Terrible, an operator of the gas chambers in the extermination camp at Treblinka … By virtue of this gnawing [new evidence indicating mistaken identity] … we restrained ourselves from convicting the appellant of the horrors of Treblinka. Ivan Demjanjuk has been acquitted by us, because of doubt, of the terrible charges attributed to Ivan the Terrible of Treblinka. This was the proper course for judges who cannot examine the heart and mind, but have only what their eyes see and read.”

So, a strong possibility that he wasn’t Ivan the Terrible.  Personally, I doubt that he was.  I think he was a collaborator, not a driving force.  

So, getting to the grindstone.  Whether or not this man was a guard is clear: he was.  Ok..that’s not a crime in itself, as there were many SS guards at Nazi camps, and many of them were never brought to trial.  Whether or not this man was Ivan the Terrible is still up for debate.  Whether or not this man is guilty of war crimes, however, should not be.  He was basically found NOT GUILTY by….Israel.  Since this was before the time of the ICC, they should have had the last say in the matter, as it was their people/race who were the focus of the genocide against them.

But now, with Demjanjuk pushing 90 years of age, Germany wants to put him on trial.  How this isn’t double-jeopardy is beyond me.  Besides the fact that it’s a separate country, you’d think international lawyers would just try to show an 89 year old man some respect in his last years of his life.  He’s more or less confined to a wheelchair and in constant pain.  What could there possibly be to gain from getting a guilty verdict against an old man.  There have to be some other criminals for them to go after, if you can even consider Demjanjuk a criminal, which I don’t.

I believe his case can be likened to that of Adolf Eichmann’s.  If you’ll remember, Eichmann was tried under the assumption that he was the “architect of the Holocaust.”  Wrong.  Eichmann was a bean counter, and he was only invited to the Wansee Conference to be a recorder of minutes.  At that meeting, Eichmann was given the job of “Transportation Administrator” of the Final Solution.  He was in charge of the trains.  

The psychology of Eichmann is far too deep to go into here, but he was a hard worker who joined the Nazi Party in order to build a career, and he was, in every sense of the word, a loyal person.  He was just loyal to the wrong side.  His final words were, “I had to obey the rules of war and my flag.”  And that’s possibly the greatest thing we can take away from his situation.  Hannah Arendt said he showed no trace of an antisemitic personality or of any psychological damage to his character. She called him the embodiment of the “Banality of Evil“, as he appeared at his trial to have an ordinary and common personality, displaying neither guilt nor hatred.  Stanley Milgram later said that if put in the right situation, even normal people will do terrible things.

2 normal people allegedly did horrible things.  We’ll never know because of the shadings of revisionist history.  

Back to Demjanjuk.  He was acquitted by the People who he was allegedly set out to eliminate.  Not guilty.  If he truly participated in running the ovens, instead of being just a guard, he’s had to live with that his whole life.  That in itself is punishment enough for this 89 year old man.  Nothing will be gained from trying him, or sentencing him to death this late in the game.  

In writing this, I lost my train of thought and forgot the conclusion I was going to write.  So I’ll let you draw your own, and maybe I’ll remember mine and edit it in here.  This could have been a lot longer, but hopefully the links help educate whoever reads this into exploring different alternatives to “everyone who did anything in Nazi Germany was an evil person.”  Because that’s just not the case.  

Thanks to whoever slogs through this.


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Divorces and Advertising

May 6, 2009
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How much would it cost an agency to divorce themselves from an advertising holding company?  It’s a financial conundrum.  What is the agency worth to the holding company (HC)?  Is that dependent on the cost of their billings?  The amount of their returns?  The revenue that they generate for their clients?  Or is it dependent on earning plus the debt load of the agency, or even a shared portion of the debt load of the holding company?

 

I ask because it bothers me that WPP is planning on eliminating around 6% of its workforce over the course of this year.  That’s around 7,200 people, according to the Financial Times article.  This new round of layoffs will occur mainly in the USA and Europe.  The 1st round of layoffs that happened in the first quarter of the year eliminated around 10% of WPP’s workforce across the board, while the upper management continues to shovel in the dough.  JWT even closed its Chicago office completely in the wake of the recession.

 

So what would it take?  More than a few people have their reservations about Ogilvy & Mather head Miles Young, but the man can make the big decisions.  How ballsy would he have to get to go to Martin Sorrell, the head of WPP, and tell him, “Hey, shove it up your ass, we’re going to go back to do what we used to do: Great Advertising.”  

 

Large agencies like Ogilvy have more than somewhat declined in their output since being acquired by holding companies like WPP.  It’s not that their output hasn’t decreased, or that they’re not winning awards (self-congratulating industry glitz), but many believe that large agencies are tending towards somewhat ineffective advertising.  

 

Isn’t that the reason ad agencies get hired in the 1st place?  To drive sales for their clients.  Isn’t that why we’re in this business? Because we have an inherent desire to be creative and helpful at the same time?  Or is it to make big money while producing mediocre work?

 

It’s not something to be taken lightly.  Clients can dispose of their agency whenever they want to, really.  It’s rare, yet not unheard of, for an agency to get rid of a client when they’re less than agreeable.  But an agency cutting itself off from a holding company?  That’d be something to watch.  

 

 

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Hey, I’ve Got a Great Idea for a Movie…

May 4, 2009
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(Scene opens on a full conference room of  Studio Execs)

Pitch Man:  Ok, so I’ve got this great idea for a new romantic comedy.  I know you’re really hurting for an infusion of that Rom-Com cash.  So we’re going to cast some hot people.  People that are really hot right now.  Matthew McConaughey and that fox Kate Beckinsale.  That should be some sticky action right there.  And to top it off, we’re going to bring in the talent of Gary Oldman and Patricia Arquette.

Studio Exec:  Hmm.  I like what I hear so far.  Those are some big names.  What’s the plot?

PM:  Ok, so Beckinsale is this famous painter, right?  But she’s really independent.  That’s something the women in the audience can relate to, ya know?  Gotta show some strength to these women.  So, right, she’s this talented painter.  Matthew walks into her studio one day and is just so taken with her that he wants to take her out, do all that Rom-Com crap that we all know.  And Beckinsale finds herself falling in love with him.

SE:  Ok, this could be good.  2 big names so far, sturdy plot.  Make it exciting. 

PM:  Right, so.  After a while, Beckinsale gets knocked up.  That throws a real wrench in the psyche of the audience.  Makes them connect with the characters a little more, because, y’know, they’ve gotta work to keep it together, all that good shit.  But there’s something, well, different about Matthew’s character that we just can’t get at.  Something nagging that we don’t get until his father shows up.

SE:  His father?  Would that be Oldman?

PM:  Correct.  Oldman walks in one day, and just surprises the hell outta Beckinsale.

SE:  Wait.  How can a father just show up and surprise someone that much?

PM:  Wait for it.  Matthew is the only regular-sized person in a family of dwarves.

SE:  Hold please.  Dwarves?  Like…little people?

PM:  Exactly.  Gary Oldman’s character is a dwarf.  Matthew is his son.  So you can imagine that this wreaks Pearl Harbor-level panic in Beckinsale when she starts to think about how her unborn child might be a dwarf.  So she grows apart from Matthew because she thinks he lied to her, and she starts to rely on Oldman more to come to grips and an understanding about the life her child might lead.  Then everything is Rom-Comish in the end, and it’s all hunky-dory.

SE:  Do we have to cast a dwarf for Oldman?

PM:  No, we’ll just have Oldman on his knees the whole time, and tie his arms behind his back.

SE:  Ah.  Greenlight that for a DVD.

 

(END SCENE)

And so it goes…for the upcoming movie review of an unnamed movie.  Although, I’m sure if you Googled “Gary Oldman, Dwarf,” you’d shit yourself in anticipation.

 

midgetwrestling