#neilarmstrong

“Houston, we have a problem” (with Hillary)

Poor Hillary! NASA (founded in 1958), back in the late 1950s & 1960s, probably weren’t rejecting applications based on gender as a form of sexism but because to be an astronaut in those days meant one had to be at the elite end of an exceptionally high pool of candidates that were invariably drafted from US Navy, Marine or Air Force jet-fighter corps where no women were serving in such roles at the time. John Glenn served as a fighter pilot in WWII, as well as Korea. Moonwalkers, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were Korean War fighter pilots. Michael Collins, the spring chicken in that group was a USAF fighter pilot. Noticing a pattern Hillary?

Back then, spaceships weren’t as automated as today. The space programme 70 odd years ago required pilots with in-depth flight experience, as technology back then was very much in its infancy. Exploring the flight envelope was properly in the danger zone. Perhaps the mood at NASA back then was one of chivalry, not gender bias. Maybe they believed in keeping women out of harm’s way after the war, rather than acting like a cabal of white male supremacist misogynists?

Although if Hillary bothered to check her history it shows us that Sally Ride became the first American woman in space back in 1983. 36 years ago. Diversity and inclusion in the rocketship have been around for almost 4 decades!

Did Hillary forget the brave souls including Christa McAulliffe who lost their lives in 1986 on the space shuttle Challenger?

CM once wrote to BMW Motorsport racing as a clueless 16yo car fanatic with dreams to become a racing driver. Sadly, CM’s dimensions (6’2″ and 100kg at the time… err hem even worse now) were not the stuff that would have been suitable for anything other than semi-trailer rigs which BMW didn’t make. Sometimes, at the pinnacle of certain professions, physical attributes, unfortunately, rule certain folk out.

It is none-the-less amazing to witness the oppression Hillary Clinton has faced during her life. Doesn’t your heart bleed? CM thinks many Americans would gladly see Hillary as an astronaut with a one-way ticket. Jettisoned as space junk. Can you imagine if Apollo 13 had Clinton on board during that rescue mission? She would undoubtedly be arguing with Mission Control on how things should be done, not the other way around. At least now, she would have made up for the weight deficit that ill-fated mission required to get the module safely back to earth!

Cinematic Correctness

Sir Ian Fleming and Cubby Broccoli are probably rolling over in their graves. James Bond 007 has been a formula that has worked. It created a franchise around a suave, sophisticated, educated, debonair and witty womanizing British spy. Whether the dashing Sean Connery, the corny Sir Roger Moore, the rigid Jeremy Dalton, the one-trick pony George Lazenby, the slick Pierce Brosnan or the moody Daniel Craig – the formula has been a massive winner. The Bond franchise has grossed $14.7bn inflation-adjusted.

There are suggestions that James Bond will be replaced by actress Lashana Lynch. The first female Bond. There is probably absolutely nothing wrong with her acting at all. The question is will the producers flunk at the box office by ripping up the script of what has always worked? It is 100% their decision to toy with the tried and tested formula but as ever, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

To be honest, Idris Elba would make a good Bond. He fits all the stereotypes of the role and fans would watch it on his ability rather than his skin tone. The producers could celebrate being woke and the franchise would retain its (relative) believability quotient.

Political correctness seems to dominate Hollywood of late. Whether complaints that not enough actors of colour were represented in Dunkirk or JK Rowling copping flak from LGBT activists because Albus Dumbledore wasn’t openly gay enough in the Fantastic Beasts film, it seems there is a push to make writers and producers conform. Why can’t films just be those made as their writers intended without enforcing politically correct overtones? Surely if there is a market for “politically correct” movies, the champagne socialists of Hollywood will be the first to jump all over it.

Sadly, many of the Best Picture winners selected at the Oscars (with elements of political correctness) in the past decade have been flops with the paying customers. It is interesting that $100m+ box offices were a cert for an Oscar Best Picture award til 2004. Since 2004 it has been hit and miss. 10 films in the last 14 have failed to breach $75mn. Real-life stories – Argo, A Beautiful Mind, Titanic and The King’s Speech – all cleared $100m at the box office. Maybe audiences can gel to the real-life aspects?

Brokeback Mountain grossed $178m because it didn’t propose to be anything other than a story set around gay cowboys. Milk, grossed $55m because it was a factual story about known gay activist, Harvey Milk. A good film by the way. Bohemian Rhapsody, the story about Freddie Mercury, has raked in over $900m at the box office. It was a factual tale and representative of a period in time.

To keep up with the times, perhaps we should demand that Meryl Streep become the next Shaft and Samuel L. Jackson portray Hillary Clinton in a movie about the 2016 election? How about Jackie Chan portray Michael Jordan in a basketball film about the Chicago Bulls? Why not cast Charlize Theron as Adolf Hitler in the next WWII film and have Arnold Schwarzenegger roleplay her wife. At least he won’t struggle with language? Perhaps do a rerun of Star Trek with Capt. Jane T Kirk? The options to rewrite history or fantasy are endless.

Why did Apollo 13 with Tom Hanks, Gary Sinese and Bill Paxton rake in $350m but First Man starring Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong draw in only $45m in North America? Same space theme – two different results. Apollo 13 celebrated the pride in failure as American ingenuity was able to rescue the damaged spacecraft. Maybe home audiences repudiated Gosling’s film for deleting the pivotal moment the US flag was planted on the moon. Small stuff? Don’t play with audiences. They bite.

The lack of political correctness is a drawcard to the Bond franchise. We can laugh at the double entendre and innuendo. We can marvel at the spectacular car chases, death cheating moves, his Casanova-like charm and underdog victories against evil henchmen. Will audiences believe that a woman will be able to knock out a monster of a man 3 times her size with her fists? Will we want to see a poor defenseless woman stripped naked while tied to a chair while her privates are belted with a shipping rope by a Le Chiffre type character? Or will she be promiscuous to extract information from would-be villains? Perhaps she confronts Graham Norton as the villain this time?

Perhaps the new Mr. Moneypenny will have his heart skip a beat every time the new 007 tosses her Philip Treacy on the hatstand outside M’s office. Maybe Q will design a machine gun in a Hermes Kelly handbag? Perhaps a dart firing pump from Manolo Blahnik? Perhaps the Aston Martin will be replaced by a pink Tesla so we can tackle environmental issues as half of London is set ablaze?

People fell in love with Star Wars because it was all about lasers and space ships. Not because it ticked the diversity (although the Star Wars Bar was as diverse as one could imagine) and inclusion boxes. How dare the poor harmless Jawas or Ewoks be murdered by white supremacists aboard Imperial Battlecruisers. Were the Sand People just misunderstood? What about the animal cruelty that was inflicted on the poor tauntauns on Hoth?

Maybe the franchise is testing the waters by proposing Lynch. We’ve already had Halle Berry play Jinx, the NSA agent in Die Another Day. There have been countless female villains throughout the franchise too – Rosa Kleb, Xenia Onnatop, Miranda Frost, Elektra King, Fiona Volpe, Helga Brandt, Mayday, Bambi & Thumper. All added their own spice. Yet it was always James Bond that was the drawcard.

Ultimately the box office will tell the story. Die-hard Bond fans will likely be cringing at the thought. Maybe CM is just too much of a purist and detests change for the sake of it, especially if it is just about appeasing activism.

Nike & Colin Kaepernick

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Ultimately consumers will vote with their feet (no pun intended) after Nike’s use of original kneeler Colin Kaepernick as its latest “Just do it.” campaign face. Arguing over who is right or wrong over this has become somewhat irrelevant. The kneeling debate is over 12 months old.

Nike is free to market how it chooses but must bear full responsibility for the firestorm it creates for itself. There is no doubt the social media impact will be huge and the marketing department might wax lyrical at the attention gained all it wants but the question is will the majority of it be positive? Virtue signaling for corporates is a dangerous game. More often than not it backfires.

CM has always held that corporations should stay out of politics because as much as they might profess a united face on certain issues, there is no way they speak on behalf of all those that work for them. The risk is creating an unfair working environment to those who do not wish to participate in the manner the corporate desires, even if they might privately agree. Coercing staff to openly tow the party line is tantamount to making them slaves if forced against their will for fear of repercussions in the workplace.

Don’t think for a second it doesn’t happen. Think of the same sex marriage (SSM) debate. If you had a rainbow flag screen saver you would have been cheered by the internal apparatchiks. Had you a “Vote NO for SSM” screen saver it is likely you would have been hauled in front of your manager and HR to explain your inappropriate workplace behaviour. The matter was a vote of democracy. What place is it for corporates to enforce one type of opinion on changes to the Marriage Act? Let’s not forget the results of the 2011 Census where 0.03% of the population identified with being husband and wife in a same sex relationship. Yes. 1,338 people only. All that fanfare for less than 1,400 people.

We are already seeing people in the US burn Nike products to protest the company’s move.

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In much the same vein as Democrat Party activists boycotting In-N-Out burgers for donating to the GOP, there is no real sense in die-hard NFL fans pushing to #boycottNike. What is the obsession with boycotts? Surely disgruntled fans can make up their own minds whether they’ll choose to buy Nike products or not. It is just more of the oppression obsession.

Nike will ultimately survive. The NFL has already seen ratings take a proper beating. The question is does this help? Probably not but Nike want to make a statement.

Knee jerk reactions where people burn football jerseys, season tickets, Superbowl pennants or Nike sneakers have become less and less about the subject protested about (Black Lives Matter) but more about people getting sick and tired of political correctness and social justice rammed down their throats on an almost daily basis. Even Buzz Aldrin is sick of the politically correct overtones in ‘First Man’ that went out of its way to delete scenes of an epic moment in America’s history – planting an American flag on the moon. Don’t forget Buzz punched a reporter who disparaged him in public. He said he is a “proud American

Sadly, many Americans feel their patriotism is under fire. That they should feel guilty for displaying Old Glory outside their homes. Maybe those loyal fans want to go and watch a NFL match to leave the financial, relationship, work, marital stresses behind. They pay money to unwind, not have political messaging paraded in front of them. Even if they think Black Lives Matter is a worthy cause, kneeling every match won’t make it sink in any deeper but dilute the message, as has been displayed by making Kaepernick the poster child.

Not all NRA members are cold blooded murderers. Those people that voted Republican in the last election aren’t all white supremacist, bigoted, racist Nazis any more than all those people that voted Democrat aren’t all whining, virtue signaling liberals.

Open debate is what is needed. Kicking people out of restaurants through open harassment, burning runners or boycotting businesses won’t fix a thing. Listening and debating the issues based on logical reason is the only way forward.  The only thing worth boycotting is the boycotters themselves. Sadly the lesson is unlikely to be learnt.

If you’re going to do it then stop the damn subtlety

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What is the obsession Hollywood has of trying to either wipe history or work to overlay irrelevance to rewrite it? Quit the subtle overtones. Just explicitly state your intent and let the free market box office judge it. When it comes to factual recreations like Dunkirk what is the point of wailing there were not enough people of colour in it when history shows us 99% of those that served were white? What does this achieve? Why not complain that 50% of the cast weren’t women waiting for the boats in the film? Probably because 99.9% on Dunkirk were men.

The latest Star Wars film was all about social justice, equality and identity. It has been a flop. Why can’t we just see a movie with lasers and goodies vs baddies? Should we fear alienating the LGBT Ewok community? Perhaps the sand people are really misunderstood minorities not terrorists? Shouldn’t Jabba the Hut seek compensation for decades of fat shaming? It is insane. Funnily enough when studying the box office takings we don’t need to look far to see the winners of the “Best Picture” selected by Hollywood in recent times have far undershot records. $100m box offices were a cert for an Oscar Best Picture award til 2004 after which it has been hit and miss since. 9 films in the last 13 have failed to breach $75mn. So instead of Hollywood being so preoccupied with espousing politics, perhaps it should look to the audience it ‘preaches’ to and starts ‘reaching’ them instead.

These are the Oscar stats. A 40% decline in viewers over 5 years. Is this a sign of a format that is no longer sustainable? Is the disintermediation/disruption caused by video on demand such that making a ‘date’ to go to the cinema is no longer a priority? Cinema attendance in the domestic US market is back at 1993 levels. In the 1990s Hollywood made 400-500 films annually. It now pumps out more than 700. The average revenue per film continues to head south.

So Man on the Moon depicts the story of Neil Armstrong. The film leaves out the historic and defining moment of planting the flag (a sign of American exceptionalism) some 50 years ago in beating arch enemy Russia in the space race. In 1969, had a straw poll of Americans (and much of the world) been taken at that moment it would have undoubtedly reflected unbridled pride in achievement. Many around the world must have looked at America in awe. What on earth is wrong with that? It was a stunning achievement and feat of ingenuity, science and invention.

Canadian actor Ryan Gosling, who plays Armstrong, said the moon landing “transcended countries and borders.” To a degree he is right. The world stood still on that day. Walter Cronkite had tears in his eyes. Yert should Jamaicans feel guilty that Usain Bolt won the 100m & 200m finals in three consecutive Olympics? There is no doubt the world looked in awe of him grinning with shoelaces untied as he jogged to the finish line. Yet for Jamaicans it was an extra dollop of pride. Great!

However Gosling’s defence of leaving out the flag scene was to cast aspersions on America. It is part of this new breed of Hollywood loathing of everything good. Where globalism trumps national pride. If the producers of this film hate America so much why not make the movie about a conspiracy theory that the moon landing was faked? Alternatively make Armstrong a disabled, black, transgender Muslim to ensure enough PC boxes are ticked to please the apparatchiks?

CM only requests Hollywood quits with subtle jabs at success and openly embraces its quest for shared misery and the rewriting of history. Only then will they see their box office numbers judge their stupidity. Grow up! Understand that pride in one’s country, flag, job, study or whatever else is to be encouraged. We need more of it not Hollywood’s obsession with oppression.