Two men are having lunch at Adriano’s, an expensive Bel-Air restaurant. While they are eating, Frank Sinatra and his entourage enter the restaurant and are seated at a large table in the corner. Seeing this, one man says to the other, “I’ll bet you fifty bucks that I know Frank Sinatra.” (He doesn’t.) His friend, thinking the bet would be easy money, smugly agrees. The man gets up and walks across the restaurant to Sinatra’s table. He puts one hand on Sinatra’s shoulder and offers the other for a warm shaking. “Frank!” he exclaims. “How you doing? Good to see you again.”

Sinatra rises, shakes the man’s hand heartily, and asks how he is doing. He and the man spend a few more moments in cheerful conversation before the man comes back to his table to collect his winnings from the awestruck friend.

This is a true story, and the diner’s skillful manipulation of Frank Sinatra is a classic example of the value of shmoozing. Shmoozing is the most important skill there is for a Hollywood nobody (and let’s face it — that’s what we are, those of us who fantasize about seeing our name on the credits or our faces on the screen).

In Hollywood, a résumé or a degree mean nothing. Some argue that skills and talent mean nothing. Deals do not get made because X has an MFA in screenwriting and got an A+ on her thesis, or because Y starred in I Hate Hamlet at the Winesburg Playhouse and his performance was lauded by the local papers.

Deals get made because Z is a friend of Michael Eisner. It was through his friendship with Robert De Niro that Joe Pesci secured his first film role, in Martin Scorsese’s Raging Bull. Oscar-winning screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects) attended college with Usual Suspects director Bryan Singer, and was asked by Singer to write the script.

It was Quiz Show screenwriter Paul Attanasio’s friendship with director Barry Levinson (Rain Man, Sleepers and the Attanasio-scripted Disclosure) that got him into the industry.

But what about the rest of us? Those who have high Industry ambitions but lack high Industry friends? Are we without hope?

Perhaps not. Perhaps there are ways to make Industry friends and influence Industry people — the skill which the man in Adriano’s had perfected. You have to strike up a conversation, make a solid impression, be straightforward. And above all, you have to talk to your subject (the shmoozee) in a way that will put the two of you on friendly terms. The key lies in the shmoozing.

Last summer, I had the good fortune to come across tickets to the MTV Movie Awards. Kevin Spacey, fresh from his Oscar for The Usual Suspects, was there and won the MTV award Best Villain for Seven. Let’s say you are in attendance, and after the ceremony you have a chance to talk to him. Spacey, now that he is rather famous, is serious player in Hollywood and can do wonders for your career, if he wants to. So what do you say to him? How do you act?

Don’t panic. Just remember these items:

— Hollywood does not make bad movies. Despite what the box office grosses were, despite what the critics said, despite even what you think of a particular film, you must always sing its praises. You never know what film your shmoozee might have been involved with. As far as you’re concerned, Spacey’s film The Ref is, in some ways (though you needn’t be specific about what those are), on the same level as Citizen Kane.

— Your shmoozee has no last name. When congratulating Kevin Spacey on his award and his performance, never say, “Congratulations, Mr. Spacey. Very well deserved.” There is no greater heresy. You always say, “Congratulations, Kevin. Very well deserved.” (Note: It doesn’t matter whether or not Kevin actually deserves his award. As far as you’re concerned, he deserves the award he got, as well as the ones he didn’t.)

— If you are fortunate enough to actually be employed by a firm with some involvement in the industry, then, as the shmoozer, your last name is extended to include your company’s name. Having worked for Premiere magazine for a time, I had the luxury of introducing myself to Kevin Spacey in the following way: “Kevin. Good to meet you. Alex Lewinpremieremagazine.” (You may wish to rehearse this in front of a mirror, as it can be quite a mouthful, particularly if you work for Bresler, Kelly, Kipperman or Donner/Shuler-Donner.) This informed Kevin that I was almost somebody — and therefore worth talking to — without my having to say so.

— Never underestimate the importance of the word “over,” as in, “I’ve been over at Premiere for two months now.” It may sound trivial, but it helps to convince Kevin that, despite the geographical largesse of Los Angeles, every company remotely involved with Hollywood is located on the same happy block, and you’re all the best of neighbors.

— If you are acquainted with person A, who is nobody, and person A is acquainted with person B, who is somebody, you are, by default, a good friend of person B. A woman I worked with at Premiere, for example, told me one day that she knew screenwriter Paul Attanasio. An admirer of his work, I eagerly asked if there was any way she might introduce the two of us. At this point, she buckled, and explained that she, in fact, did not know Paul Attanasio — she knew his brother.

“Who’s his brother?” I asked. “Anybody?”

“No, he’s nobody. But I did meet Paul once.”

A more skillful shmoozer would not have admitted so quickly that her connection to Paul was a shmoozer’s connection and not a real one. For example, when I was chatting with Kevin Spacey and the topic of Seven director David Fincher came up, I was free to say, “David did a great job with the mood of that film.” I don’t know David Fincher, but I have a friend who does. I could conceivably get in touch with Fincher if I absolutely had to, and that is what’s important. (It also helps, in talking with your shmoozee about a particular film, to refer to some vague aspect like “mood” or “tone” — terms which make you sound intellectual, but really don’t mean anything.)

I met Kevin Spacey because my good friend, Wall Street Journal film critic John Lippman, had tickets to the MTV Movie Awards and wasn’t using them. (Lippman’s actually a friend of a friend and I’ve never met him, but that’s not important.) At the party afterwards, Kevin stood at a crowded blackjack table, waiting for a space to open up. I saw my opportunity, took a deep breath, and went in for the kill.
“Kevin [offering my hand]. Alex Lewinpremieremagazine. Good to meet you.”

“Nice to meet you,” said Kevin, shaking my hand.

“Congratulations on the award. Very well deserved.”

“Thank you.”

“I enjoyed Seven a lot. Great film. Did you have a good time working on it?” (For the record, I find Seven a rather depressing and self-indulgent film, but Kevin didn’t need to know that.)

“Well,” Kevin told me, “I didn’t have a lot of screen time, so they didn’t need me around much for shooting.
Not as much as Brad or Morgan, anyway. So that was easy to fit into my schedule.”

And just like that we were having a conversation. Not the type of conversation that a gushy and excited fan typically has with his film idol, but a real conversation. Of course, one has to ask, “what is real?” if everything that came out of my mouth was based on strategy and a level of honesty that was tenuous at best. It’s all part of Hollywood. If you want to make it — if you want friends in high places — you’ve got to fit in. Just ask Kevin; he’ll tell you the same thing. Oh, and when you talk to him, be sure to mention that you’re a friend of mine.

[this was a GREAT article by Alex Lewin posted to the net a few years back. Paul Attanasio is actually a harvard classmate of mine, and we actually have the same name, I’m Athanasios Kyriazis, he’s Paul Attanasio, we’re named for the same saint, St. Athanasius….however, I’ve never been nominated for an emmy or an academy award. Disclosure was a rocking good movie, to name only one of Paul’s great screenplays, he’s a prolific, brilliant writer/producer. –art kyriazis, philly/south jersey, home of the world champion phillies]

Most of you probably know this already, but one of the main theorists of semiotics and deconstruction, the French theorist Baudrillard, and his famous 1985 (published in the 1990s in english) work SIMULACRA AND SIMULATION is a key reference point for both the movie and the shooting script of both the film THE MATRIX, and many of the underlying ideas of THE MATRIX.

I’ll just reprint what the wikipedia has to say, but just note that many of Baudrillard’s ideas are not too different from Susan Sontag’s ideas–Sontag thinks that the proliferation of images and signs in modern culture obscure reality, while Baudrillard feels that they obliterate it. THE MATRIX of course presents a science fiction allegory in which reality is a computer generated fiction present only in our minds, which is somewhat different than what Baudrillard is saying, leading to paths of noumenalism and idealism and radical Rorty-ism, but it is worth noting that in the very first scene of the MATRIX, when Neo is holding a book that is hollowed out, and pulling out some disks to give to the folks knocking on his door in the middle of the night, that book is in fact, a copy of Baudrillard’s SIMULACRA AND SIMULATION. One small step for neo, one giant step for semiotics.

I note here specifically that I am anti-marxist and anti-communist, and pro-capitalist, and dissassociate myself from those aspects of the deconstructionist critique which are plainly recycled and rehashed marxism. The failures of that system and that philosophy are too numerous to mention here, except to say that the Gulag Archipelago documented hundreds of millions of deaths in the Soviet system, including 500,000 priests who died in 1937-39 for the crime of being priests. Nonetheless, this is an interesting way of looking at the world, so here goes.

so here’s the wiki entry;

Simulacra and Simulation
Cover of English translation
Author Jean Baudrillard
Original title Simulacres et Simulation
Translator Sheila Glaser
Country France
Language French
Subject(s) Philosophy
Genre(s) Non-fiction
Publisher
Galilée (Editions) (French) & University of Michigan Press (English)
Publication date 2 April 1985
Published in
English February, 1996
Media type print (paperback)
Pages 164 pp
ISBN
ISBN 2718602104 (French) & ISBN 0472065211 (English)

Simulacra and Simulation (Simulacres et Simulation in French) is a philosophical treatise by Jean Baudrillard that discusses the interaction between reality, symbols and society.

Contents

• 1 Overview
• 2 Criticism
• 3 The Matrix
• 4 Footnotes

[edit] Overview
“ The simulacrum is never that which conceals the truth–it is the truth which conceals that there is none. The simulacrum is true.[1]

Simulacra and Simulation is most known for its discussion of images, signs, and how they relate to the present day. Baudrillard claims that modern society has replaced all reality and meaning with symbols and signs, and that the human experience is of a simulation of reality rather than reality itself. The simulacra that Baudrillard refers to are signs of culture and media that create the perceived reality; Baudrillard believed that society has become so reliant on simulacra that it has lost contact with the real world on which the simulacra are based.

Simulacra and Simulation identifies three types of simulacra and identifies each with a historical period:

1. First order, associated with the pre-modern period, where the image is clearly an artificial placemarker for the real item.

2. Second order, associated with the industrial Revolution, where distinctions between image and reality breaks down due to the proliferation of mass-produced copies. The items’ ability to imitate reality threaten to replace the original version.

3. Third order, associated with the postmodern age, where the simulacrum precedes the original and the distinction between reality and representation break down. There is only the simulacrum.[2]
Baudrillard theorizes the lack of distinctions between reality and simulacra originates in several phenomenon:

1. Contemporary media including television, film, print and the Internet, which are responsible for blurring the line between goods that are needed and goods for which a need is created by commercial images.

2. Exchange value, in which the value of goods is based on money rather than usefulness.

3. Multinational capitalism, which separates produced goods from the plants, minerals and other original materials and the process used to create them.

4. Urbanization, which separates humans from the natural world.

5. Language and ideology, in which language is used to obscure rather than reveal reality when used by dominant, politically powerful groups.

A specific analogy that Baudrillard uses is a fable derived from On Exactitude in Science by Jorge Luis Borges. In it, a great Empire created a map that was so detailed it was as large as the Empire itself. The actual map grew and decayed as the Empire itself conquered or lost territory. When the Empire crumbled, all that was left was the map. In Baudrillard’s rendition, it is the map that people live in, the simulation of reality, and it is reality that is crumbling away from disuse.

The transition from signs which dissimulate something to signs which dissimulate that there is nothing, marks the decisive turning point. The first implies a theology of truth and secrecy (to which the notion of ideology still belongs). The second inaugurates an age of simulacra and simulation, in which there is no longer any God to recognize his own, nor any last judgement to separate truth from false, the real from its artificial resurrection, since everything is already dead and risen in advance. [3]

Thus, Baudrillard further distinguishes three orders of simulacra associated with three historical periods: first order simulacra belong to the pre-modern era in which images were clearly copies or representations of some original; second order simulacra arise with the industrial revolution, photography and mass reproduction technologies in the nineteenth century – the image obscures (dissimulates) and threatens to displace the real; third order simulacra are part of our postmodern era; the image is said to completely precede and determine the real, such that it is no longer possible to peel away layers of representation to arrive at some original.

It is important to note that when Baudrillard refers to the “precession of simulacra” in Simulacra and Simulations, he is referring to the way simulacra have come to precede the real in the sense mentioned above, rather than to any succession of historical phases of the image. Referring to “On Exactitude in Science”, a fable written by Borges, he argued that just as for contemporary society the simulated copy had superseded the original object, so, too, the map had come to precede the geographic territory (c.f. Map–territory relation), e.g. the first Gulf War (see below): the image of war preceded real war.

Henceforth, it is the map that precedes the territory – precession of simulacra – it is the map that engenders the territory and if we were to revive the fable today, it would be the territory whose shreds are slowly rotting across the map. [4]

[edit] Criticism

With such reasoning, he characterised the present age — following Ludwig Feuerbach and Guy Debord — as one of “hyperreality” where the real object has been effaced or superseded, by the signs of its existence.

Such an assertion — the one for which he is most criticised — is typical of his “fatal strategy” of attempting to push his theories of society beyond themselves. Rather than saying, that our hysteria surrounding pedophilia is such that we no longer really understand what childhood is anymore, Baudrillard argued that “the Child no longer exists”.[5]

Similarly, rather than arguing — as did Susan Sontag in her book On Photography — that the notion of reality has been complicated by the profusion of images of it, Baudrillard asserted: “the real no longer exists”. In so saying, he characterised his philosophical challenge as no longer being the Heidiggerian/Leibnizian question of: “Why is there something, rather than nothing?”, but, instead: “Why is there nothing, rather than something?”[6]

[edit] The Matrix
The Matrix makes many connections to Simulacra and Simulation. In an early scene, the original French Simulacres et Simulation is the book in which Neo hides his illicit software. In the film, the chapter ‘On Nihilism’ is in the middle, rather than the end of the book.

Morpheus also refers to the real world outside of the Matrix as the “desert of the real”, which was directly referenced in the Slavoj Žižek work, Welcome to the Desert of the Real. In the original script, Morpheus referenced Baudrillard’s book specifically.

Keanu Reeves was asked by the directors to read the book, as well as Out of Control and Evolution Psychology, before being cast as Neo.[7]

In an interview, Baudrillard claimed that The Matrix misunderstands and distorts his work.[8]

[edit] Footnotes
1. ^ Poster, Mark; Baudrillard, Jean (1988). Selected writings. Cambridge, UK: Polity. ISBN 0-7456-0586-9.
2. ^ Hegarty, Paul (2004). Jean Baudrillard: live theory. London: Continuum. ISBN 0-8264-6283-9.
3. ^ Ibid.
4. ^ Ibid.
5. ^ In the essay “The Dark Continent of Childhood” in the essay collection Screened Out, 2002.
6. ^ In The Perfect Crime.
7. ^ Oreck J (director). (2001). The Matrix Revisited [DVD]. Warner Home Video.
8. ^ “Le Nouvel Observateur with Baudrillard”. Le Nouvel Observateur. 2004-10-15.

http://www.empyree.org/divers/Matrix-Baudrillard_english.html. Retrieved on 2007-12-07.

Retrieved from “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simulacra_and_Simulation”

Categories: Postmodernism | Publications about hyperreality | Philosophy books | Metaphysics literature

–art kyriazis, philly south jersey
home of the world champion phillies

In honor of Valentine’s Day, a list of greatest love films of all time:

top ten:

1) Body Heat (1981)
2) The Postman Always Rings Twice (1944)
3) The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981)
4) Laurel Canyon (2003)
5) Basic Instinct (1992)
6) The Seven Year Itch (1955)
7) Cat People (1941)
8) Cat People (1982)
9) The Last Seduction (1994)
10) Ghost (1990)

next ten:

11) The Thomas Crown Affair (2005)
12) Sex Lies and Videotape (1989)
13) The English Patient (1996)
14) Unfaithful (2002)
15) Titanic (1997)
16) Love Affair (1939)
17) Casablanca (1942)
18) The Thin Man (1934)
19) Rebecca (1940)
20) The Notebook (2004)

next ten:

21) American Gigolo (1980)
22) The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989)
23) Dorothy Dandridge (2001)
24) After Sunset (1994)
25) Before Sunset (2004)
26) The Matrix (1999)
27) True Romance (1986)
28) Diamonds Are a Girls Best Friend (1956)
29) Mulholland Drive (2001)
30) 9 1/2 Weeks (1986)

There’s probably about fifty more or a hundred more films that could go on this list, but these are certainly all fine films. What’s good about these is usually there’s something more than just the love story going on and that makes the film even better.

I forgot Love Story (1969), which of course was a terrific film and really did great box office at the time. Required viewing for all harvard freshmen. Bonus points for terrific footage of Harvard Hockey circa 1969, and additional bonus points for having a young and beautiful Ali McGraw in the movie. I had an acquaintance once from New York who actually grew up next door to Ali McGraw and Steve McQueen in Malibu in the 1970s, and was friends with their son/stepson Josh Evans (the son of Robert Evans and Ali McGraw) growing up, and apparently, it was very interesting growing up next to those folks.

Ali McGraw and Candace Bergen might have been the most beautiful actresses of the 1960s/1970s. A lot of people in Hollywood used to fight over them, that’s for sure. I guess this is where I add “The Getaway” (1973) to my list of films, except that it’s not so much a love flick as a classic action flick. It’s a good flick, no matter how you cut it.

–art kyriazis philly/south jersey
home of the world champion philadelphia phillies