Maybe Sony's make believe critic ought to put out a book of reviews By CHUCK McFADDEN of TheColumnists.com
The Curious Case of
Mr. David Manning
"Good evening. My name is David Manning. There's a rumor going around that I don't exist. POPPYCOCK! And I do, too, work at the Ridgecrest Press...late at night when everyone else has gone home...and live in the catacombs under the building."
MOVIE CRITICDOM, not previously noted for existentialism, has been shaken by the revelation that one of their number doesnt exist.
No, its not a question of a bad, bad hangover. David Manning of the Ridgecrest Press isnt. In existence, that is.
Do you remember Dave? He was one of those critics we saw gushing in movie ads. A heartbreaking romance with a smash ending! - David Manning, the Ridgefield Press. A very funny picture! - David Manning, Ridgefield Press. Made me laugh out loud! - David Manning, Ridgefield Press.
But it turns out ol Dave was invented by someone in the Sony Corporation to produce movie-ad blurbs like the ones above in praise of Sony Pictures. Dave didnt actually write them since he was operating under the handicap of not existing. He probably didnt even take the trouble to see the pictures, come to think of it.
Daves sentences or sentence fragments praising Sony Pictures were produced by a so-far-anonymous corporate apparatchik whose philosophy was if you want something done right, do it yourself.
Some of Daves fellow critics say it doesnt make any difference that Dave isnt real, since the laudatory shouts favored by the movie ads are for the most part produced by journalistic prostitutes. Those fakers will say anything in return for a posh junket - or maybe even free movie tickets, were told. The so what crowd says that real, integrity-laden critics for papers like the New York Times, San Jose Mercury News and San Francisco Chronicle say nice things about a production only if they really like it, not because they are playing footsie with some starlet while they sip a tall drink with an umbrella in it. Pay attention to them, not some dimwit youve never heard of, or who works for something youve never heard of.
"Boy, I hope that critic Manning knows what he's talking about. Somehow a flick called 'Fire Maidens of Outer Space' doesn't sound like 'the roller coaster ride of a lifetime.'"
Others argue that you shouldnt pay attention to any critics. Go with your own instincts. Supporting that argument is the blithering idiot at Newsweek who criticized the movie version of Fiddler on the Roof because the soundtrack wasnt performed on authentic Russian peasant instruments instead of a full orchestra.
Well. What to make of it all?
I alternate between laughing and tsk-tsking. Its comforting to know that imagination and chutzpah exist in the corporate world outside of the energy companies. What would have been even more fun is if Daves creator had grown restless and started giving him thoughtful, insightful things to say you know, the kind of thing youre used to reading here at The columnists.com. Eventually he might have been quoted approvingly in film schools.
And bet on it: Concept-wise, the Manning franchise could have expanded.
Sen. Blatherspleen is a great servant of the people! - Travis Humperdink, the East Oakdale Trumpet, quoted in the senators re-election brochure.
The Oily Onion has wonderful food and a great family atmosphere! - Winslow Hepplewaite, the Morning Whoop, review posted in the Onions window.
Limitless, just limitless.
I await the arrival in bookstores of The Wit and Wisdom of David Manning. ($37.95). It will not be a very thick book (Dave only wrote short sentences, or sentence fragments, remember) but it will get at least one rave review. From someone.
Chuck McFadden says he is a former reporter. But have you ever met him in person?
© 2001 by Charles M. McFadden. The illustrations are from IMSI's Master/Clips Collection, 1895 Francisco Blvd. East, San Rafael, CA, 94901-5506, USA.
You can comment on this column or contact Chuck McFadden with an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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