about Hollywood

  Why don't Hollywood actors dance?

Regarding the omission of musical numbers, see Question 2 (Why are their movies so short and simple?). Regarding the dancing talent of Hollywood actors... well, arguments have gone on for years, in classrooms and coffee houses alike, about the bewildering inability of Hollywood stars to dance well or at all. The only thing we're all certain of is that at one point, they did know how: just consider Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, the famous duo whose flashy prancing shot them to fame. Bewildered Hollyfans who expect more of their highly-paid stars did feel encouraged by the announcement that Moulin Rouge and Chicago would include dance numbers, but the hyperactive cuts during said dance numbers made it clear that even those Hollywood actors who would *like* to be able to dance can't manage to do so for periods any longer than two to three seconds. Happily, Hollywood has finally come to terms with its own ineptitude; Farah Khan, Bollywood dance master extraordinare, has been hired to choreograph a number in the Reese Witherspoon vehicle Vanity Fair. Perhaps this marks a new era for Hollywood, in which it will demand that its actors actually do something in return for their multi-million dollar paychecks.


  Why are their movies so short and simple?

Two reasons. First, understand that the chief modes of entertainment for many Hollywood viewers are playing video games and watching half-hour television sitcoms. Thus most of these people have regrettably short attention spans. This makes it difficult for them to read a newspaper or book, much less concentrate for more than ninety minutes on a film! Now, add in multiple plots and characters, as most of Bollywood's masala films do, and you'll have completely lost them! Realizing this, Hollywood directors like to keep their films very simple. They usually stick to two plots at the most. Unrelated comedy subplots (such as those helmed by Johnny Lever in Bollywood films) as well as dance numbers that do not advance the narrative are strictly frowned upon. They distract viewers who are trying to keep track of the main story. They're just too confusing.

Second, it appears that although Hollywood directors enjoy film budgets far larger than those of Bollywood, they lack the canny financial sense exhibited by our favorite desi directors. (Hollywood fans who monitor trade papers know this; they're constantly reading articles about how such-and-such director is running way over budget!)  So, although the wardrobes seen in Hollywood films are not nearly as beautiful and ornate as those used in Bollywood films -- and despite the fact that the shooting locations for Hollywood films are usually confined to just one country, rather than switching between, say, America and Switzerland and Austria -- they still cannot manage to stay within budget! Thus they cannot afford to make longer films.

   Why do they starve their actresses?

Actually, the actresses starve themselves. Why, you ask? Well, the grass is always greener on the other side, right?  Food is extremely plentiful in America, so it's considered very beautiful to look as if you might not have enough. This exotically skinny look is also very hard to attain, since it means turning down readily available food even when you're very hungry. People in America love this, because they really admire hard workers.


  What's up with all the sequels?

Because Hollywood audiences' attention spans are so short, it's sometimes not possible to finish a story within the ninety minutes in which you've got their undivided attention -- so you just continue the story in a sequel! Also, Hollywood is a very nepotistic place.  People have a difficult time breaking into the industry unless they're already connected to someone within it. This means most movies are thought up, written and made by people who also socialize together, so it's not like there's much room for fresh new ideas; they all get their ideas from talking to each other! Hence the slew of sequels. People just can't think of a new (and better) story.

One other big reason for all the sequels: if a film does really well, a sequel is considered a safe financial bet. Why is that such an important factor for Hollywood, but not for a cinema like Bollywood, which continues to make films even when none are making any money? Because apparently Hollywood lacks the financial security which would allow them to take risks the way, say, Indian or Iranian directors do.


  Why are the soundtracks mostly compilations of songs that have already been released?

If the songs in a Hollywood film were composed specifically for that movie, chances are they wouldn't be popular enough to sell the soundtrack in large numbers. Unlike Bollywood fans, most fans of Hollywood will only buy music that they've already heard on their local radio station at least fifty-five times. (Actually, this is a clever ploy, since often buyers' motive for purchasing these songs is simply to learn the words of some chorus that has gotten stuck in their heads. This way they won't have to wander around like idiots singing, "It's like rain, on your wedding day. It's a blah blah, when you blah blah blah.")


  Why can't they find any clothes that fit them?

Indeed, it does seem as if the material for women's clothing is in short supply, while the makers of male garments inaccurately assume their customers are twice as large as they actually are. This is never more apparent than in the popular 1990s teen flick Clueless, in which the men's jeans are at least ten sizes too big, and the women's skirts are roughly five sizes too small. It seems as if Hollywood directors and actors fear the size of their paychecks might alienate fans. Thus they choose to appear in the guise of less fortunate sorts who cannot afford to purchase well-fitting clothes.


  Do women die very young in America?

No, of course not. Older women just do not exist in Hollywood! That way older men can still get lead roles as the love interests of beautiful young actresses.


  Do orchestras routinely hide behind trees, or inside walls, or by the sides of freeways?

We at BollyWHAT? have never personally seen an orchestra crouched behind a retaining wall at the side of an on-ramp (or, for that matter, any famous singers crouched beside them). Nevertheless, we must conclude that this is a common practice, since, after all, Hollywood is a "realist cinema" which scorns the unrealistic musical interludes of Bollywood films. Therefore Hollywood films would not include these swelling musical backdrops to scenes like "Hero cruises freeway to Vivaldi's Four Seasons/ Heroine emerges from makeover session to Shania Twain's Feel Like a Woman" unless there were, indeed, a real orchestra or singer serenading these characters from just around the corner.


   What does it mean when they have sex on the first date?

It means they like each other and they want to get to know each other better.


   What does it mean when they say they have commitment issues?

It usually means that the fictional parents who gave birth to the character annoy him or her terribly, and that the character will punish these two people by being rude and irresponsible with everyone else s/he meets. Said character may have been fed, clothed, sheltered and protected by these two people for the first eighteen to twenty years of his or her life, but these acts mean nothing in comparison to the immense aggravation the two of them cause him or her.


   What does it mean when they complain about having to talk about their feelings?

Most often this complaint is voiced by a male character who is being harrassed by the unreasonable demands of the woman with whom he is sexually involved. Either a) she wants to hear his opinions about her, or b) she wants to hear his opinions about them as a couple. Do remember that before two people can fall in love in Hollywood films, they must at least have had sex once; what they cannot do if they wish to continue in the relationship is to mention the word 'love.' Therefore the above complaint should not be interpreted as a wish for the powers of mental telepathy; it is merely an admirable indication of the character's masculinity, and his sane, suspicious approach to the prospect of voicing his private thoughts to a woman with whom he regularly gets naked.


What does it mean when they drink a very large amount of alcohol at one sitting?

It means they're very intelligent people who feel deeply about the world, but unlike Bollywood heroes (Devdas, for instance), they know better than to analyze or talk about their feelings. Instead, they will poison themselves until these impulses pass, and the audience will find this both glamorous and admirable.

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