Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Outsourcing Hollywood...

Thomas Friedman today mentions the woeful state of technology in the US...he's right of course (but the fact that defense sucks up so much talent isn't mentioned) usual... Friedman misses the mark when he gets to:

The technological model coming next - which Howard Dean accidentally uncovered but never fully developed - will revolve around the power of networks and blogging. The public official or candidate will no longer just be the one who talks to the many or tries to listen to the many. Rather, he or she will be a hub of connectivity for the many to work with the many - creating networks of public advocates to identify and solve problems and get behind politicians who get it.

Dean's working on it - and the near win by Paul Hackett in one of the most Republican districts in the country shows how it can work.

But I digress a bit...

I rented House of Flying Daggers last night. The movie has its flaws... a shot or two where a foreshadowing is expected but never delivered, a loose end of the plot here and there, a couple of shots on horesback a few seconds too long, and about one too many plot convolutions.

But... it is probably the best movie of its genre I've ever seen. It has something for everyone over the age of about 10 or so - with the exception of an abundance of profanity, gore, and explicit nudity. Its special effects blend with surrealism; its character developments are superb, it shows the effects of people who know how to capture an image. They guy who directed this knows about good moviemaking. (For other viewpoints, Rotten tomatoes is a good starting point.)

I've been amazed at the state of Chinese cinema- anybody who's seen The King of Masks, or Shadow Magic, for example knows that Chinese cinema does things that Hollywood for some reason can't or won't do. In a country that admittedly doesn't have a great reputation for civil liberties in the US, they are producing better content than the US, which, for all its vaunted Hollywood muscle, can't produce anything better this summer than a movie about penguins.

I suspect that it's only a matter of time before China gets the hang of making movies for an explictly American audience- and then Hollywood will be doomed. Or irrelevant, if China makes movies that the rest of the world likes better than American movies about TV shows ... I mean, really, a movie based on the Dukes of Hazard???

Is it any wonder that the world is turning its back on brand America?

The US is increasingly viewed as a “culture-free zone” inhabited by arrogant and unfriendly people, according to study of 25 countries' brand reputation.

The findings, published online on Monday, will add to concerns that anti-Americanism is hurting companies whose products are considered to be distinctly “American”. The Anholt-GMI Nation Brands Index found that although US foreign policy remained a key driver of hostility, dissatisfaction with the world's sole superpower might run deeper.

“The US is still recognised as a leading place to do business, the home of desirable brands and popular culture,” said Simon Anholt, author of the survey. “But its governance, its cultural heritage and its people are no longer widely respected or admired by the world.”...

“Right now the US government is not a credible messenger,” said Mr Reinhard, chairman of DDB Worldwide, the advertising group. “We must work to build bridges of understanding and co-operation and respect through business-to-business activities.”...

That the world takes a dim view of the US people will surprise most Americans themselves: the study's American respondents consistently placed the US at the top of all six categories polled.

HT: Atrios on the Friedman article...

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