Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Finding Wall Street Funny - Part 7

SJ + JG = BS

Scarlett Johansson graces the cover of my latest greatest punching bag, the April edition of the Wall Street Journal Magazine. “Scarlett Johansson does it her way” reads the trite teaser down in the corner. I suspect the cadre of writers who became the billionth entity to use that one were trying to set a certain tone for their feature article: Scarlett’s supposed no-nonsense, to hell with societal expectations, Look you middle-class low-life, go pay your taxes style of straight shooting.

It also seems meant to imply that Miss Johansson’s accomplishments have all come of that damn-the-torpedoes attitude we’d all love to emulate if only it didn’t mean ending up at the unemployment office. Yet we learn – if we do our research – that dear Scarlett’s skin was too thin for rejection at those TV commercial auditions so her mommy agreed to drag her only to movie casting tryouts.

If you’ve been following this bonfire of vanity (and who hasn’t?) you are already well-aware that WSJ is clearly bent on feeding its readers page after stultifying page of bull turds, and Jason Gay, who picks up the pen for this feature on Miss Scarlett, wastes no time in exchanging that pen for a shovel.


“From big-budget blockbusters to acclaimed independent films, Scarlett Johansson’s path to success…”

Hold the cow chips, Jason. You’ve got that ‘path’ backwards - that is, if you believe your own reporting. And if you are calling a film directed by Francis Ford Coppola’s daughter independent you’ve earned negative credibility and your wingtips are barely even out of the gate.

“…she opens up about the next challenge on the horizon: balancing family and career.”

Why is “balancing family and career” made out to be such a daunting endeavor, such a godly accomplishment for celebrities? These people can jet off to wherever and leave the kids with an army of nannies and not have to even remember they have a family until the dust finally settles after the post-production gala and it's time to find their pilot and go home. Where did Jason Gay grow up, on the set of MTV’s The Real World?

Mr. Gay (no, not Simon Doonan, he’s in this post) starts his piece on “Scar-J” with an eloquent mix of romance, nostalgia and humor. I actually like him for an entire third of a page. But when he calls Lost in Translation “a subdued comedy” my respect begins to slide like noodles off my chopsticks. Subdued comedy? What the hell does that mean? Not very funny? Funny but in a pointless way wherein you don’t realize it’s funny? I saw the movie. I also lived in Japan for ten years. I laughed out loud exactly once through the entire film. This was not a ‘subdued comedy’, it was a not-very-good idea by someone who went to Tokyo, had a superficially good time and then used Daddy’s connections to turn her oh-so-clever insights into a movie. Put Sofia Coppola in the same category as Julian Lennon, George W. Bush and Bunny Marley. You are no one without your name.

J-Gay also calls Lost in Translation ‘critically-acclaimed’. Kind of like a jury called O.J. Simpson ‘innocent’. (And a lot like I call my self a ‘writer’.)

“…her success owes itself less to any kind of star-making algorithm than it does a willingness to step outside expectations and experiment.”

Read: her success came from trying whatever Mother pushed her into – until she just couldn’t stand those awful commercial audition rejections and cried loud enough to make Mother stop taking her to them.

“She is not the kind of person or actress who has a master plan,” says Rob Ashford, who was told to let her perform in his Broadway version of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Rob-Ash then goes on to say that “Her master plan is to keep working on projects that interest her…”

Robert. Does she or does she not have a master plan?

Jason Gay furthers his downward credibility spiral by calling Scar-Jo’s latest movie a “moodily sweet romance” not to mention a “success”. The movie in question was directed by Spike Jonze who, besides not being able to spell his own last name, happens to be – surprise of surprises – married to Sofia Coppola. Spike’s awesome movie idea was to have a guy fall in love with his computer’s operating system.

Dude. That is not moodily sweet, that is geekily psychotic.

So our girl Scarlett stars as a computer’s voice and is thus never seen on screen. “The performance ended up being one of the most celebrated of her career,” Jay-Gay tells us.

Honestly, I don’t know what to make of that. I do know that she was not the first woman chosen for the role. Someone named Samantha Morton came first – and probably caught on to how stupid a movie this was and bailed to save her dignity. Scarlett had no such issues.

Jason is really fired up now, running from her “auter credibility and collaboration” to calling her Broadway performance in A View From a Bridge (whatever) “stunningly well-received”. Which, if you think clearly rather than let yourself be blinded and dumbed by the ongoing turd fest, means that she wasn’t very good but, stunningly, some people loved her enough to award her a Tony. Which, I believe, is an Italian name. Like Coppola. And maybe Jonze.
Attributions for the picture above, in which
Scarlett's hands can not be seen.

Well after all her years of hard work making friends in all the right places Scar-Joh’n says she wanted a role
in a juicy blockbuster. (Yes, her commitment to not selling out is astounding.) “I want to be in a really successful, huge film that’s good and works,” she says.

Really. Successful. Huge. Good. Works.

Obviously it is only a matter of time before she starts winning awards as a screenwriter.

After gushing about the prepubescent smash Avengers and Scar-Jo’h’n’s ongoing involvement in the inevitable superhero movie franchise (based on society’s inevitable lowest common denominator), Jason Gayson Bigfake Face-Un describes another upcoming project as “striking, occasionally terrifying and hauntingly beautiful” and, then, “unlike anything Johansson has ever done”.

Not really reading between your own lines, are you Jason?

Scarlett J’son tells Jason G “I don’t want to be the ingĂ©nue anymore.” Her explanation: “I don’t want to always have to be trendy and glamorous and an object of desire.”

Wait one torpedo-damning minute there, Scarlett! You're supposed to be doing it your way, what happened?

“I don’t want to be stuck in that forever. Because it doesn’t last.”

Well actually Miss Really Huge Good, logically you can’t be stuck forever in something that doesn’t last because that means it’s going to end, and forever would be…

“That level-headedness is a Johansson trademark,” Jason tries to tell us.

And that celebration of idiotic superficiality is a WSJ Magazine trademark.

And what about that terrifying specter of work-family balance? “There must exist a world in which I can balance those things,” Scar-son whines (but since she’s a celebrity it is not whining it is deep philosophizing). “Be able to raise a family and still make a film a year, or work on my own, develop things, do theater. I want to be able to have it all (insert a laugh), selfishly.”

Yes, Scarlett, that world exists. But that’s the same world where your kids end up snorting coke in the bathroom of the first-class cabin.

“I know that with that (work-family circus) there will be some sacrifices.”

You have no flipping idea, Scarlett. For now just understand the bright side of parenthood: you will get your wish of not having to be trendy.

In the meantime you might want to work on being intelligible.

Near the end of this two-page spray of sycophantic vomit we learn that S’hansson was recently caught in a conflict of interests involving her eight-year involvement with the charitable relief organization Oxfam and her paid relationship with SodaStream, an Israeli company with a facility in a West Bank settlement. The spotlight of celebrity shines brightest on what is darkest, and when push came to shove and it came time to show that trademark levelheadedness she chose capitalism over humanitarianism, money over charity, selling home soda machines over alleviating poverty, and cut ties with Oxfam.

“I never intended on being the face of any social or political movement…as part of my affiliation with SodaStream,” she wrote (rather poorly) in a Huffington Post piece.

Of course not. You were there for the money. Oxfam was your social movement, and, selfishly, you decided to drop them in order to keep that RevenueStream flowing.

Scar goes on to claim that her SS friends are committed to “building a bridge to peace between Israel and Palestine.”

Kind of like China building a train to peace with Tibet? Not much for reading about the people giving you money for nothing, are you? You absolutely will not have to worry about being glamorous forever, Scarlett. If anyone else is paying attention you’re already on your way out in that respect. But at least your kids will be able to get the highest quality coke on the black market.

And Jason?

You had a good thing going for a third of a page.