Friday, July 23, 2010

Comic Con 2010 - Sylvester Stallone target of Twitter attack for The Expendables


While Sylvester Stallone's new movie The Expendables has many at Comic Con 2010 in the USA excited, the movie's unofficial debut at Comic Con created enough buzz to upset South Americans. As of this writing, Sylvester Stallone represents not one, but three trending topics on Twitter. In order, "CALA BOCA SYLVESTER STALLONE", "Stallone", and just plain old "SYLVESTER" appear on Twitter.

Why? Many tweets are like this "top tweet":

nataliagoficial - CALA BOCA SYLVESTER STALLONE is a brazilian campaign to protest the actor Sylvester Stallone, for trying to denigrate the Brazilian image.
about 2 hours ago via web

But the problem is The Expendables isn't out yet, so the people launching the campaign haven't seen the movie. Plus, at Comic Con 2010, Stallone said to me that it wasn't a political message movie. OK, he was referring to mercenaries at the time, but if you think about it, mercenaries should take offense, too.

In developing a war story, which The Expendables is to a degree, it's almost impossible not to come up with a political message, even if the movie's not about delivering one. In writing The Expendables, Stallone's 63-years of World view has accidentally bumped up against the hypersensitive 21st Century consumers of Internet news.

I'm not calling Mr. Stallone old, just making a point that you have to remember, he played a man in John Rambo who embodies the American soldier's "us versus "them" view at a time, the early 80s, when America was sending hired killers to upend political revolutions in Central and South America.

Perhaps The Expendables would have had even more impact if the focus were North Korea and not a fictional country in South America. But it's too late for that now. The Expendables is set for release on August 13th, and will undoubtedly be helped by this buzz.

Stay tuned.

BP's Deepwater Horizon warning system was disabled

An article in today's Washington Post highlights disgusting, disgraceful business practices at BP. The profit-motive places pressure to pivot risk-analysis decisions on the short term bottom line numbers, particularly when the people making the decision are driven by personal gain.

The Post has video of Deepwater chief engineer Michael Williams, an ex-Marine who survived the April 20th explosion and fire, telling a government panel that "warning systems on the drilling rig were inhibited because the crew did not want to be disturbed in the middle of the night."

Williams told the panel that he understood that the rig had been operating with the gas alarm system in "inhibited" mode for a year to prevent false alarms from disturbing the crew.
Washington Post, 22 July 2010

The profit motive accomplishes certain things very well. It's driven the price of medical equipment in Japan well below what similar products produced in North America costs, for instance, and it obviously drives creative innovation across the business sector.

But the mortgage-lending and Wall Street crises that are still hampering our economy years after they surfaced demonstrate that without regulation and enforcement business owners can, and all too often do, become focused only on money. To balance that greed is one of the ways that governments can, and should, "promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity..."

Special interest money has entirely too much influence in Washington. It's time that our leaders stopped talking about small businesses while voting to enable big business to ruin our planet, our standard of living, and our future. That's a bankrupt ideology - that's the real threat to our children.

Thomas Hayes
is an entrepreneur, Democratic Campaign Manager, journalist, and photographer who contributes regularly to a host of web sites on topics ranging from economics and politics to culture and community.

Comic Con 2010 - Sylvester Stallone and The Expendables cast has red carpet fun (video)

Thursday at Comic Con 2010 was a big day, both for San Diego and for Sylvester Stallone and The Expendables cast that arrived for Comic Con (and this blogger's trip was sponsored by The Kings Inn Hotel in San Diego).

The Expendables is Sylvester Stallone's new movie is about a band of mercenaries led by Barney Ross (Stallone), who are led on what they're told is a covert, CIA-funded mission to overthrow the dictator of a South American country. In reality, it's a trick; they were sent on a suicide mission.

The Expendables stars Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Jet Li, Jason Statham, Eric Roberts, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Steve Austin, Terry Crews, Mickey Rourke, and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in what is the greatest collection of action movie heros in Hollywood's history. Of the cast, four arrived at the red carpet press conference held at Comic Con and just before their The Expendables panel in Hall H.

From the way Stallone, Lundgren, Crews, Couture, and Austin got along on the Comic Con red carpet, the movie had to be fun to make. But that aside, what is it about Stallone's movies - his formula, if you will - that has made them so popular for so long?

"It's about redemption," Stallone says, before he laid out a big set of words. "My theme is 'epistemological taxonomy,' which means 'spiritual signifiers.' In this movie, or in Rocky, or in Rambo, it's always about something, some mission. Like, in the last Rambo it was about The Burmies, and you had Christianity against Atheism. And in Rocky it's about just having some recognition in your lifetime; the last one was about loneliness. But the main thing I think, in all (of his) films is about redeeming your soul. Mercenaries, by in large are cold-blooded killers for money. And Mickey Rourke in this scene (in The Expendables) says 'Don't be like me. I did that, and I'm cursed. I have no soul left.' So these guys go back to save this person, not for money, but for themselves. They're saving themselves."

With all that, Stallone says he's not trying to make a political statement about mercenaries, even though the focus on a South American dictatorship may ruffle some feathers. But political issues weren't on the plate at The Expendables red carpet, fun was. From Terry Crews bragging about his muscles and saying "The gun show has come to Comic Con," to Stallone, Crews, Lundgren, and Couture, giving muscle poses before the cameras, and just a lot of laughing in general, it's clear these guys really like each other and had a lot of fun making The Expendables.

Where was Bruce Willis?

As Dolph Lundgren noted in the video, a number of cast members didn't show up for the red carpet event, one of them being the legendary Bruce Willis. Later, after the press event ended and the stars rushed to Hall H for the Comic Con panel, I walked outside of room 28 CD to get some air and exit, talked to a security worker, and was pointed to an elevator to take. That elevator went down to a dark driveway dotted with more security people. As I walked, I realized the back entrance to Hall H and where The Expendables cast was, was on my right, so, realizing I could have walked into the event and on stage, but not wanting to make trouble, I walked to my left and as I did, a tall, bald white guy in a dark blue suit walked toward me. As he did, he pointed, gave a smile and nodded; I returned the action. Then I realized it was Bruce Willis, giving me the "bald brother" nod.

Of course, it's hard to miss a bald black guy in a mustard colored blazer.

Stay tuned.

Will the RNC replace Michael Steele with a hockey-mom?

GOP strategists are surely already considering who can best replace their controversy-laden RNC Chair - their principle questions are the timing and who will be able to insure the media spotlight stays on the party's message while inspiring both donors and voters, particularly the vocal, visible Teabaggers. Perhaps this time they'll turn to a woman?

After all, the most recent crop of Naval "Sailors of the Year" were all female, and women make up more than 50% of the U.S. population while turning out to vote more consistently than men.  In fact, if Representative Bachmann weren't seeking re-election she'd surely be in the running, but she'll have to wait her turn as elite GOP strategists have to be aware of the looming November election as they consider their "short list."

Who can inspire big donors? Who can keep the media focused on the GOP's talking points? Who has a photogenic face and comfort in front of the cameras?  Who has the balance of national recognition and all these other elements, and is available to step up and step in when the next gaffe strikes Michael Steele down?

The Thrilla from Wasilla.

It's what she's been waiting for. It won't matter that she's blown any credibility on international affairs, or quit her post as Governor --  the chair doesn't direct policy or even write speeches; the job responsibilities are largely smiling for the cameras and memorizing scripted phrases while insuring a good turn-out for fund-raising events.

I'm sure there are other possibile choices, not to mention that the GOP loves how she distracts the rest of the pundits already pondering future presidential hopefuls.  But the GOP still has Romney and Huckabee, plus Pawlenty and Coleman coming out of "middle America" with records they can ostensibly run on to work with  thus leaving the hockey mom free to court publicity without anybody questioning her readiness or suitability to be

Thomas Hayes
is an entrepreneur, Democratic Campaign Manager, journalist, and photographer who contributes regularly to a host of web sites on topics ranging from economics and politics to culture and community.