by Matt Paley
Earlier today, Paul passed me an article by Bill Simmons (for ESPN’s grantland.com) concerning Hollywood, entitled “The Movie Star.” Now, Simmons might be the most famous contemporary sportswriter – he certainly is in Boston – but (to my knowledge) he is not also a film industry expert. But I do very much like his writing, and I’ll read anything recommended to me by Paul. Still, I wasn’t immediately sold when I read this paragraph early on:
Any sports fan knows he or she will be in situations (at a wedding, at a bar, at work, wherever) in which they’ll get into friendly arguments about things like “The Lakers should trade everyone but Kobe for Dwight Howard” and [you'll] sound like a fool if you aren’t prepared. That’s the real reason we suffer through talking-head shows, sports radio and all the crap online — not just because we’re addicted to being sports fans, but because we’re trying to learn material to use later for our own benefit. Being a movie fan doesn’t work that way.
Spoken like a sportswriter, no? I, surrounded by movie buffs, constantly read up on Hollywood and the film industry from as many perspectives as I can (in large part to avoid sounding like an idiot). Isn’t that why, after all, I was reading this article? But the larger point made was actually a good one: competitive sports, particularly with today’s complex (bordering on ridiculous) analysis, offer pretty good answers to questions of comparative success, or whether someone’s work is improving or declining, or which players are most essential to a successful outcome. Hollywood – particularly because many would argue that good and successful (using box-office return as the barometer) aren’t one in the same – offers much more spin and far fewer answers.
But here’s where Simmons got me: (more…)