The internet is a fascinating place, kids.
On the one hand, I’m bummed that there isn’t any truth to this rumor, because it would have given me an easy piece to write. The rumor that burned through the web yesterday was that Keanu Reeves had given a speech at the London International School of Performing Arts, and part of what he mentioned was that he’d had lunch with the Wachowski siblings and they’d talked about having treatments for a fourth and fifth Matrix film. I started an article about this, as it was being reported all over the place, and then… I stopped.
Here’s an interesting thing that I’ve learned in my time writing here: There’s a lot of bullshit out there. I mean, sure, you knew that. But the Hollywood rumor mill is kind of insane, and it turns out that movie websites, in their constant quest to break exclusives and beat each other to the hot topics, are always hungry for the newest of the new. The advantage to writing for Pajiba is that, Hollywood Cog exclusives aside, we don’t really get too deeply involved in that race. We run trade news because people find it interesting, but it isn’t really our bread and butter. So we can afford to be a little more discerning when it comes to stuff like this.
As everyone has since figured out, the story was bullshit. Not only did Reeves never say that, the London International School of Performing Arts verified that he’s never set foot on their campus. Which, I mean, duh. What the fuck would a prestigious acting school be doing having Keanu fucking Reeves giving speeches? That’s like hiring Andre the Giant to star in your midget porn. It just makes no sense.
Not to mention that (spoiler!) Keanu’s character fucking dies at the end of the trilogy.
But the rumor avalanche was swift and mighty. This isn’t the first time it’s happened. It really only takes one site to run a bullshit story (and I take great pleasure in the fact that this one originated over at Aintitcool). Someone sent them a letter saying they were at a special event at LISPA honoring Keanu Reeves (!) and he made the announcement, and they took the ball and ran with it. It’s a brilliant bit of hoodwinkery (note: not a word).
But this is why movies and trade news is so consistently fascinating. It’s not just that the sites and trade outlets are so obsessed with getting new news. It’s also that readers and consumers are so enamored of it. People are riveted by casting news. We had a brief but fascinating debate in one of yesterday’s posts about who would play the Black Panther in Marvel’s adaptation… an adaptation of a character no one other than avid comic readers has even heard of. When The Dark Knight came out, there was a vociferous and fairly aggressive argument over who made the better Rachel Dawes — Katie Holmes of Maggie Gyllenhaal (a debate that to this day mystifies me).
What is that? What drives us so? In an era where 90% of the movies that are released each year are absolute dreck, we continue to be fascinated with the inner workings of movies, with the castings and director choices and studios and all of those labyrinthine decisions that get made. Is it yet another in the ongoing fascination/obsession with celebrity? Is it a product of the information age, where there’s simply so much information available that we can’t stop devouring every little morsel? 15 years ago, I used to obsessively read Premiere magazine. I was getting my movie news once per month. Now, I get it roughly every fifteen minutes (on a slow day).
I know the whole concept of information overload in the modern age has been done to death, but it creates an interesting phenomenon in relation to this particular industry. Movie blogs aren’t radically different from each other. Sure, there are the outliers, ranging from the AICN’s of the world to the word-vomit Armond Whites of the world. But for the most part, we take a similar approach to the news. Which isn’t to say that I don’t think you should read Pajiba — you should, mainly because we fucking rule, but also because I’ll burn down your house if you don’t. OK, in addition to those things, I like to think that we bring a somewhat different bent to the concept.
But the question remains — what is it that makes people so obsessed with movies? Not just watching them — we all know what that’s about. But reading about every nuanced bit of minutia that’s involved. I’m sure that somewhere on the web there are hosts of sites dedicated to sound editing and key grips (well… maybe). This demand is what creates the mad scramble for news, for exclusivity, for getting the scoop first — all the more silly since it’s going to spread to 15 sites within the first 15 minutes, and then exponentially from there.
So, I posit the question to you, fair readers. Why? What is it about these things that fascinates you — I know why it fascinates me. But what creates this ravenous demand? Has it progressed to the point of the ridiculous? Do you feel overwhelmed by both the amount and the specificity of the content that’s available? Do you, in fact, believe everything you read? Do you even care about movie news and rumor and getting every factoid, or are you just here for the sex jokes and death threats?