“There were a total of 674 passengers, not counting crew or the terrorists themselves, on the flights on which these incidents occurred. By contrast, there have been 7,015,630,000 passenger enplanements over the past decade. Therefore, the odds of being on given departure which is the subject of a terrorist incident have been 1 in 10,408,947 over the past decade. By contrast, the odds of being struck by lightning in a given year are about 1 in 500,000. This means that you could board 20 flights per year and still be less likely to be the subject of an attempted terrorist attack than to be struck by lightning.”—FiveThirtyEight: Politics Done Right: The Odds of Airborne Terror (via mikehudack)
A couple of days ago I was pointed to a video on TMZ.com that featured “Avatar” director James Cameron involved in a verbal scuffle with who the gossip website would have you believe was a “fan.” The question is implicit in the video and write-up: “Why would a wealthy Hollywood director be so rude as not to sign an autograph for someone going out of his way to meet his hero?” Having been in these situations, and knowing very well what actually goes down before the video they show you begins and how the game is played within what you see, I’m going to break it down for you. (Watch video above and then read on.)
The first order of business is to understand how people with cameras (and paraphernalia to be signed) end up at the airport to begin with. American Airlines has long been known to have at least one person in their organization selling flight manifests to the paparazzi. I’d imagine it’s not hard to find a gate agent or a skycap willing to trade a well-known name or two for a couple hundred dollars. This may raise the question as to why celebrities would continue to fly with American, but the answer is long and includes phrases like “great customer service” and “extremely delicious cookies upon landing.” (While I can’t speak for others, I certainly would rather not be photographed before or after a cross-country flight.)
The fact that passenger lists are not available to the general public means that anyone waiting at the airport with any more than the CD from the passenger seat of their car has gotten word of which celebrities will be traveling through the terminal in the same way the paparazzi do. In some cases, these “fans” are working in concert with them. After all, it’s a great way to get a celebrity to interact with you on video if you can ask them impolite questions while they’re stopping to sign a few items for someone. If they decline, it’s time to switch to plan B: paint them as shallow Hollywood types that only care about the “little people” when it best serves them. This logic doesn’t really hold water since everyone now knows that being videotaped at LAX is regarded as one of the most high profile appearances one can make, especially during the release of a film. If James Cameron was an arrogant, calculating fraud who had little care for his fans on a personal level, he’d still be smart enough to know that signing a few posters on the way to his car would be an excellent PR move.
But James Cameron doesn’t think about Public Relations at the airport. He’s a movie director, a puzzle freak. His brain works by way of iron clad logic. He’s spent four years in an editing bay trying to make the wingspan of an imaginary flying creature long enough to be able to sustain flight, factoring the weight of the body and the atmospheric pressure on a planet five light years away. He doesn’t understand the media shuffle, and I’m glad he hasn’t given any thought to it. It’s actually a waste of brain matter, and a slippery slope of compromise.
While I can’t speak to what happened before the segment of video on TMZ, I can tell you that the man in the tiny hat with the Avatar poster had probably engaged Cameron for at least 30 seconds before the director responded (note the video edit.) That’s how it goes down; they walk alongside you. They bark requests at you, trying to get your pulse to quicken. If you give in and sign, the guy with the poster gets to sell it and make a few bucks. If you don’t give in, as it gets harder to acquiesce with each successive yelp, then the stench of cash really starts to waft in as Video Camera Guy gets the goods while you explain in no uncertain terms to Obnoxious E-bay Poster Guy that he’s not going to get what he’s asking for tonight.
The end of the video is the most telling: when Cameron gets into his car, the man with the tiny hat abandons his “average man, son of a farmer” story and begins to shout insults at the director, tufts of sheep’s wool falling to the ground as the wolf finally appears. This should validate every last word chosen by Cameron, but the fact is, of the 245,432 votes on TMZ’s website weighing in on who the “a-hole” was, 81% of readers side with “The Fan,” calling out the director. (That’s what pushed me over the edge in writing this. I don’t like being made to come up with more than 140 characters at a time, you know.)
Movie stars know how this game is played, and therefore sign a few items they know will end up in the bootleg ether in exchange for not getting caught in the snares of being called ungrateful (the worst thing you can call a grateful human being) and that’s why you don’t see this type of video all that often. But James Cameron is not a movie star. He directs them, but he doesn’t think like them, and he’s not supposed to. He’s working off the logical, the quantifiable math of a situation. He doesn’t have media training, and he should never seek it. James Cameron has wired his brain to consider the cause and effect of his reality, one where anything is achievable if you think long enough about it, and where being rude will get you nowhere, no matter how many people will see you in an unsavory light. Even in live action, two-dimensional 640x480 VGA standard definition web video, I’m willing to bet that James Cameron’s reality was the only believable one that evening.
Time to start planning my caffeine intake more tightly! In short: if you’re a creative/maker type (as opposed to a strictly regimented type that doesn’t need peek concentration to do the job right), take your caffeine when you’re already concentrating highest.
Planned schedule? Coffee in the morning, nap in the early after noon, and coffee in the late afternoon.
Toronto company i4i successful in suing MSFT for $290m due to patent infringement involving custom xml editing patent. In the Eastern District of Texas, of course. I’m not crying over it, but what does this mean for other applications that allow editing of custom XML? I’m not savvy in patentese, so I can’t really parse the patent in question.
Freakin’ great post-rock groove. Traditional instrumentation, unlike Godspeed! You Black Emperor, but heavier than the mediocre mellowness of Explosions in the Sky. Reference track: A Three-Legged Work Horse