Friday, January 20, 2017

Classic Tonight Show Clip Reveals a Prepackaged Nation that’s Never put to the Test


Before he retired in May, David Letterman revealed on his show the code phrase that has allowed him to be truthfully ambiguous about the movies he doesn’t like, all while sitting face to face with the star promoting said film. “Yeah, this movie is really something,” he coyly informed Oprah in an effort to get to the global television icon to designate hers. But apparently it wasn’t always the case in which the narrative had to remain in accordance with the party line – be it cultural, economic or political.
Forgetting such a time existed myself, I was actually able to bear witness to this in a clip of Johnny Carson on Turner Classic Movies. Chevy Chase was talking up Three Amigos, and remarkably, it didn’t occur to anyone that sitting Gene Siskel and Robert Ebert next to Chase afterwards might make for an embarrassing moment. You know as the year’s films were freely discussed.
“What films this summer have failed to live up to the potential you expected going in,” asked the long time Tonight Show host of the critical duo.  As such, Roger Ebert showed no hesitation in asserting that Three Amigos was squarely among them.
Sort of caught in the middle, Johnny – for once – didn’t have a response to smooth over the obviously awkward moment.  Obviously better equipped in a more spontaneous world than we now live in, Chevy expressed the deriding look he perfected in looking down  Jane Curtain on Saturday Night Live.
Absolutely priceless, and as it turned out, the honest unabridged slight by Ebert didn’t shake Hollywood or its global marketing strategies to their core. Grossing over $39 million that year and turning a $14 million profit, it overcame the mixed reviews of the time and would go on in 2012 to rank number 79 in Bravos top 100 comedies all time.
So much fuss and for what? Our whole prepackaged society is running from the thing that brings out our best – the ability to shine when things don’t go as planned.
Is it any wonder we can’t even balance a budget in this country, and our whole future is on loan from China? 

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