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Your Thanksgiving Moron: Ben Shapiro

Ben Shapiro, once America’s dumbest young right-wing pundit, is now America’s dumbest movie critic:  no one will hire him as a lawyer, so lately he’s been bumming around Andrew Breitbart’s Big Hollywood site pretending to be a movie critic.  His latest column is a seen-it-a-million-times rant about how there are no real men left in movies, but the hilarity devils are in the getting-everything-completely-wrong details.  Some choice excerpts:

- After praising the virtues of slender, smooth, immaculately preened Christopher Reeve, he praises Superman by saying “he doesn’t wax his chest”.

- He praises Marlon Brando and Errol Flynn, both of whom fucked a lot of dudes, as paragons of manliness, and then calls epic pussy-hound Jack Nicholson “testosterone-free”.

- In the most hilarious dopey section of the article, he jumps through statistical hoops to ‘prove’ that America actually likes rugged, hairy-chested old manly men and not prissy fagmo metrosexuals.  Since this is patently untrue, he has to either distort or ignore actual box-office numbers and pretend that America’s taste in movies is still decided by people like him and John Milius, and not by millions of 14-year-old girls.  So we get:

And yet these so-called stars can’t bring in audiences.  Four of Depp’s last five films not involving pirates have underperformed at the box office (the lone exception was Alice In Wonderland, in which Depp played Jack Sparrow with red hair and slightly less coherence).

It takes a lot of dancing to establish that Johnny Depp, arguably the biggest movie star in the world, is a box office failure, and dancing Ben does.  He first excludes the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise with a wave of his hand — not because Depp is super-macho in them; in fact, he plays a sort of Rip Taylor of the high seas — but because otherwise he would have to admit that the movies made almost three billion dollars.  He allows that of Depp’s last five movies, Alice in Wonderland was a success ($1.02 billion, a mild success, but one that Shapiro graciously permits), but insists the other four “underperformed at the box office”.  Those would be The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus (cost $30 million, made $48 million, resulting in a measly $18 million in profit), Public Enemies ($114 million in profit), Sweeney Todd ($102 million in profit), and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory ($324 million in profit).  So, with those four movies having made a mere $559 million, you can see how they “underperformed”.  In fact, if you discount video rentals and sales, and only count US box office and not international totals, one of the movies (Parnassus) actually LOST money!  It’s a miracle this Depp character isn’t out washing cars or flipping burgers!

Jude Law hasn’t headlined a hit in his entire career (Sherlock Holmes was Robert Downey Jr.’s show, start-to-finish).

This is cute in that it blames Law for not being able to carry a movie of which he is not the star.  It’s also, unsurprisingly, not true:  My Blueberry Nights, The Holiday, Closer, Enemy at the Gates, and Cold Mountain all made money, and of those, Closer, Cold Mountain and The Holiday were considered hits because they made back well over twice their budgets at the box office.

Leonardo DiCaprio makes hits because he works with directors who are more famous than he is – Christopher Nolan and Martin Scorcese and James Cameron don’t need DiCaprio, he needs them.

Or maybe big directors cast him because he’s a popular, famous movie star.  At any rate, he’s made hit movies without Nolan, Scorsese or Cameron, including Romeo + Juliet, Catch Me If You Can, The Beach, Blood Diamond, Body of Lies, Revolutionary Road, and The Man in the Iron Mask.  Unless Ben wants to argue that Randall Wallace is more famous than Leonardo DiCaprio.

And that’s not even looking at the worst of the lot: Ashton Kutcher, Robert Pattinson, Hayden Christiansen, to name a few.

Yes, America certainly hates Ashton Kutcher (movies with him in the lead role have made a total of $621 million in profit), Robert Pattinson ($1,722 million in profit) and Hayden Christiansen ($1,242 million in profit).

The solution is right before their faces.  Sylvester Stallone rolls out of bed after making virtually nothing for almost a decade, then churns out Rocky Balboa ($155 million), Rambo ($154 million), and The Expendables ($257 million).

The “making virtually nothing for almost a decade” is only accurate if you mean in terms of money — Stallone made 14 films in the decade preceding Rocky Balboa and most were duds.  Unsurprisingly, he’s also being deceptive with the numbers, even though he doesn’t have to be.  No one denies these movies were hits, but he’s using their total gross revenue, not their profits, which is the true measure of a movie’s success.  Rocky Balboa made $131 million in profit, Rambo made $104 million, and The Expendables made $218 million.  All great big hits, indeed,  but hardly leaving Depp, Pattinson, DiCaprio, etc. in the dust.

Bruce Willis strolls through Red and Live Free, Die Hard, and the movies pick up a fortune.

Red:  $64 million in profit.  Decent, but hardly a fortune considering its cost.  Live Free, Die Hard was a huge success ($282 million in profit), but in between that and Red, he made Assassination of a High School President, a dud which lost $11 million, Surrogates (which made $40 million in profit, but against an $82 million budget, making it a success but hardly a huge hit), and Cop Out ($18 million in profit over a $55 million budget). Willis is a perfect mid-level draw these days; he usually makes a reliable amount of money, but he’s, again, nowhere near the level of the faggy pretty boys that Ben claims the country so despises.

Clint Eastwood is still an enormous draw.

Gran Torino was a huge hit, making $230 million in profit, as was Million Dollar Baby ($186 million).  Blood Work was a colossal failure, losing $26 million, as was True Crime by right-wing favorite Andrew Klavan (lost $39 million).  Absolute Power barely made its budget.  Space Cowboys was a middling success. And that’s it for Clint in the last 15 years, making “enormous draw” a bit of a stretch.

America’s newest action star is Liam Neeson, who is 58 years young.

Here Ben is getting so selective I’m hesitant to even do the math to call him a liar.  Ben ignores the three decades Neeson spent doing artsy British movies and then suddenly claims him as a paragon of macho-ness based on two recent action flicks (one of which, The A-Team, didn’t even perform that well given its gargantuan $110 million budget).  And I assume he’s just deliberately choosing to ignore money-losers like Chloe, After.life, The Other Man, Seraphim Falls, and K-19:  The Widowmaker.

This next (and gratefully final) section is such an explosion of bullshit that I’m gonna have to break it into sections.

More people will still shell out bucks to see Harrison Ford (as long as he stops the metrosexual post-Calista Flockhart crap)

Hey, speaking of K-19:  The Widowmaker!  I’m not exactly sure what Ben means by “post-Calista Flockhart crap”, because he’s only made one movie since they got married.  If Ben means since they started dating, that seems like a bit of a cheat, since that allows him to ignore eight years worth of duds.  But let’s give him the benefit of the doubt.  In the eight years since he met Calista Flockhart, he’s made six bombs (Morning Glory, lost $21 million; Extraordinary Measures, lost $19 million; Crossing Over, lost $12 million; Firewall, lost $32 million; Hollywood Homicide, lost $24 million; and K-19:  The Widowmaker, lost $35 million) and one huge hit (Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, made $611 million).  But the “metrosexual post-Calista Flockhart crap” argument is still inherently deceptive, because of the six duds, four were traditional manly-man action movies.  Really, it just allows him to blame a decade of bad movies on a woman instead of that Ford is getting increasingly old and irrelevant. (He conveniently ignores the fact that pre-Flockhart, at the end of Ford’s super-profitable ’90s, two of his movies were the money-losers Sabrina and Random Hearts.)

and Sean Connery

Will people still shell out money to see Sean Connery?  It’s hard to say, give that he hasn’t made a movie in eight years.  (Eight years seems to be an important benchmark for Ben, perhaps because the last time someone called him promising was in 2002.)  But I guess since we’re now operating on a purely theoretical plane, it’s safe to say that he’s a big box office draw, as long as you ignore that in the eight years before THAT, he made three big hits, three modest hits and five total bombs.

than they will to see Robert Pattinson sans fangs.

Here we reach the nadir of Shapiro’s un-analysis.  Realizing he’s stuck his foot in it by saying Pattinson isn’t a box office draw — you know, considering that the Twilight movies have made almost two billion dollars — he decides to qualify it, as per the Johnny Depp non-pirate movies feint, by saying America has no interest in seeing Pattinson not playing a vampire.  And, like the Johnny Depp dodge, he’s still wrong.  Pattinson has only played the lead in two movies other than the Twilight series; one was a Spanish move that didn’t even play in theaters in the U.S., and the other of which — Remember Me — was a big hit that made $50 million over a modest budget!  Shapiro can’t even win his arguments when he deliberately stacks them in his own favor.   Now that’s talent.  No wonder he can’t get a lawyering job.

It’s not because they’re old.  It’s because they’re dudes.  Men want to be them.  Women want to be with them.  They kick ass, take names, and don’t shave their chests.

Whatever you say, Ben.

Mirrored from LEONARD PIERCE DOT COM.

Comments

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happinesstogo
Nov. 25th, 2010 10:54 pm (UTC)
I'd just like to go on the record to say that should Johnny Depp ever decide to leave the film business to start flipping burgers and/or washing cars, I intend to be one of his best customers.
ladyuranus
Nov. 26th, 2010 03:41 am (UTC)
I am as equally tired off the macho BS they throw into theaters as I am of the sappy Katherine Heigle romcoms. I don't care who's in it (though you can trust Downey Jr. and DiCaprio to give good performances) as long as the movie is worth watching. I can name two movies I've recently seen and enjoyed, and they were pretty far apart chronologically-- Scott Pilgrim and Inception.

Forget this guy-- if the over-advertised A-Team can't top the box office, the days of 80s punch-em-out movies are over.
roseyv
Nov. 30th, 2010 10:49 pm (UTC)
This is probably a stupid question, but why would a skinny, out-of-shape mama's boy-looking little squirrel of a man even want to believe that only rugged manly-men are attractive?

These people make my common sense hurt.
justincognito
Dec. 3rd, 2010 02:45 am (UTC)
Probably late by LJ standards, but God, I love all those examples where the writer is like "Sure, this contravenes my point, but it doesn't count because I say so." Like when Christopher Hitchens was writing about how women who aren't just funny, and said that certain comediennes were funny only because they had "masculine elements."
( 4 SHOTS LICKED — LICK A SHOT )

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Leonard Pierce is a freelance writer wandering around Texas with no sleep or sense of direction. If you give him money he will write something for you. If you are nice to him he may come to your house and get drunk.

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