Hooray for (the) Hollywood (Sign)
Thank goodness Hugh Hefner came in at the last minute to save the Hollywood Sign. At least for the sake of the tourism industry, which would have been left with an enormous supply of worthless redundantly captioned postcards and snow globes. I'm reminded of the poor stereotypical Italian guy in Superman III who has to make new models of the Tower of Pisa after Evil Superman straightens it.
But seriously, the Sign is little more than a relic of some ancient real estate scheme, so it would have been fitting for a modern real estate venture to do away with it. Just as it would be appropriate for the Chinese to demolish parts of the Great Wall as a sign of its willingness to let in certain foreign
invaders influences so long as they contribute to the nation's rise as a global economic superpower.
No, but seriously, the Hollywood Sign is a necessary landmark, like the Statue of Liberty or Mount Rushmore, no matter what it was initially built for or what it currently represents. In a way, it's a landmark solely because it's a landmark. Do you know what the Eiffel Tower is all about? I have no idea, but I know it equals France. And the Taj Mahal equals India. And Big Ben equals England.
As you think about what your city or nation's most representational landmark is, and why, here's some gratitude and commentary from around the blogosphere:
- Dan Hopper at Best Week Ever:
Hugh Hefner donated the final $900,000 necessary to preserve the Hollywood sign. Thank God - without that, we'd never know where characters in movies were arriving during their "whoaaa you're in Hollywood now!" montages.
- Chodin at FilmDrunk:
Take note that Hefner also previously helped rebuild the Hollywood sign back in 1978, when he held a fundraiser at the Playboy Mansion and auctioned off individual letters from the sign for $27,700 a piece. So class, what has today's history lesson helped us all anticipate for the future? That's right, in another forty-two years, Hollywood will be relying on the cryogenically frozen head and penis of Hugh Hefner to rescue its sign.
- Brent Lang at The Wrap:
Anyone with even a cursory knowledge of Hefner and his venerable adult entertainment magazine, knows that he has a healthy appreciation for celluloid history. Not for nothing, the inaugural issue of Playboy featured nude pictures of another Hollywood icon Marilyn Monroe.
- Vadim Rizov at The Independent Eye:
As a direct patron of the cinematic arts, Hefner's record is sporadically impressive. Playboy Productions did give the world Roman Polanski's impressively violent "Macbeth" and Peter Bogdanovich's high-water mark "Saint Jack," two seriously worthwhile movies. If Dino de Laurentiis is an unlikely patron of the arts for letting David Lynch have complete control on "Blue Velvet," we must give Hef credit where credit's due. Elsewhere, Hefner's dream of conveying the Playboy philosophy of thoughtful hedonism and erudition via non-softcore-porn movies never came to fruition. He's had two perfectly dreadful cameos in the last few years as himself: in "The House Bunny," where he unconvincingly falls for Anna Faris' charms, and in "Miss March," where he delivers a rote, uninspired monologue about the nature of true love.
- Krystal Clark at ScreenCrave:
See, the Hollywood sign isn't a superficial piece of merchandise that's just a part of L.A. life it's also a part of the American landscape. [...] talk sprung up that the land could possibly be used for something more. A move that would take away from its historical significance and people just couldn't have that. In your face random developers who like to destroy history.
- Katey Rich at Cinema Blend:
Other individual donors included Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall, Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson and Norman Lear, along with organizations ranging from The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to The Walt Disney Company Foundation. None of these peoople may be able to agree on anything normally, but it's charming that they banded together to save a symbol so important.
- Mark Lisanti at Movieline (from an open letter to Hef):
Thank you also, Mr. Hefner, for not canceling your check when our esteemed Governor Schwarzenegger, the former action hero who compulsively hijacks the gubernatorial pulpit to reference his onetime cinematic superstardom, not only failed to note at today's press conference that yours was the attention-grabbing donation that helped seal last-minute victory for the cause, but for making another lame quip that he did "what a Terminator is supposed to do, which is jump into action." Technically, what a "Terminator is supposed to do" is travel back in time and murder anyone that would eventually interfere with the parcel's rightful use as landmark-adjacent parkland, preventing this tense situation in the first place. Under these circumstances, it would've been perfectly understandable if you'd rethought your contribution to teach the Governor an overdue lesson about humility in civil service. You, sir, though obscuring a much frailer frame in several protective layers of plush velvet bathrobe, are the bigger man.
- Josh Wigler at MTV Movies Blog (from a list of other catastrophes Hefner should divert):
Let's face it, guys -- John Connor is going to die. The odds are just stacked too high against him. If mankind is to survive the robot apocalypse, we're going to need a new leader. I humbly nominate Hefner, the best choice to introduce cybernetic pornography to the Terminators. A Skynet-authorized porn industry would have the machines so distracted by their own carnal desires that humanity wouldn't even need to rely on time travel to win the war.
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