the interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects
This past week, I watched Life Itself, the new documentary about the late film critic, Roger Ebert, who died last year. Ebert's original partner, Gene Siskel, died in 1999. As a team, they'd become multi-media celebrities, often more well-known than the movies, directors and actors they reviewed. On top of their own program, they were regulars on talk shows and were interviewed by all the entertainment outlets and major publications. But, when Life Itself looked at Siskel & Ebert’s career, it kept striking me as amazing that as their fame and influence grew, they remained movie critics. They continued to honestly critically evaluate the movies instead of Tina Brown-ifying themselves. If Martin Scorcese made a crap film, they called it a crap film, despite their admiration for his other work, and even more despite Scorcese’s particular vulnerability to their opinion thanks to a time he'd felt boosted by them when he’d been at a low point in his life. They respected a lot of Rob Reiner’s work, too, which didn’t stop Roger Ebert from saying this about Reiner’s movie, North.
I hated this movie. Hated hated hated hated hated this movie. Hated it. Hated every simpering stupid vacant audience-insulting moment of it. Hated the sensibility that thought anyone would like it. Hated the implied insult to the audience by its belief that anyone would be entertained by it.Imagine an era when somebody thought an audience could be insulted! Here’s the link:
Siskel & Ebert hobnobbed. Although both lived in Chicago, the job required they be in the thick of the show business scene. They were at the Oscars, the parties, in green rooms, at film festivals. They knew and regularly interacted with the people whose worked they critiqued. Despite this, if you were a movie-goer, you could rely upon Siskel & Ebert giving you their honest opinion about the merits and deficits of a film, without pandering. Jian Ghomeshi, they were not.
After watching Life Itself, I found this from an interview they gave in 1998:
We have tried to move beyond the mainstream, and review foreign, documentary, independent and restored films, but audiences are more than ever driven by marketing campaigns. "Siskel & Ebert" is one of the few shows left on television in which opinions are even actually expressed; the vast majority of entertainment "coverage" consists of vampirism, in which media outlets attempt to borrow the fame of celebrities without expressing an opinion on the worth of their work. There is more coverage of a major movie BEFORE it has been seen than after. Example. I was recently asked to "write 600 words on Armageddon movies," and append my own list of the "top 10 Armageddon films," for a national magazine, as part of its coverage of the upcoming movie "Armageddon." This movie is unseen by me and probably by the magazine. I declined. Would they be interested in what I thought after I saw it? No, by then the hype will have moved on.That was 15 years ago. Ebert called it Vampirism back then; today it's synergy. It’s about fame and self-promotion, for the journalists as much as for the subjects they cover. That’s it. Unlike with Siskel & Ebert, we, the public, don’t get anything out of it, certainly not enlightened discussion of the sport, definitely not any genuine insight into the skaters, not even into the skaters as athletes. The journalists are product, the athletes are product; we’re consumers, consumers are stooges, the end.
Although the Kaitlyn Lawes roll-out as Sham Girlfriend V.3 still appears to be in the early stages, upon review it mostly looks like a blatant attempt at a slicker level of execution, a semi-pro attempt at synergy. The curlers appear to want to enhance the profile of their sport, and when stars of "this" sport intersect with stars of "that" sport it's a good hook for instagram and twitter. That's the "Look how all grown up the sham has become!" part of it, but I think that’s only a piece of it. The other part is regular old sham. It's the curlers as burgeoning public personalities, or, as Tessa Virtue likes to put it, “personas.” It’s clear the curling team has launched a campaign to more widely disseminate and establish their public personas, and it stands to reason that, as individuals, they have varying levels of comfort with how real each wants to get with it. Should you want to get really really fake with it, Tessa and Scott are a natural, synergistic fit.Jessica Dube and Scott came off as if they were personally branded by Debbie “I’m a genius!” Wilkes – that sham had a parochial, self-congratulatory vibe. Cassandra seemed like a straight up quid pro quo – Virtue and Moir were casting for a hometown girlfriend to appear in their reality show, Cassandra was an aspiring model/star wannabe who belonged to their London/Ilderton crowd, and ergo. Neither sham promoted skating, or did much else other than tell us Scott's penis had a female exercise partner, and it wasn't Tessa.
This sham seems to have agreed to promote curling, and the curling team (the newly sophisticated, synergistic part), and Kaitlyn must have her reasons to want a fake boyfriend, reasons which would be connected with how her own profile grows along with the widening profile of the curling team at large.
Were I Kaitlyn, I’d find a better candidate than a married father who has been aggressively hoaxing the Canadian public for seven plus years, but I’m sure I’m out of touch. This is the new normal. When I think about it, Virtue and Moir have lowered the bar, and clearly, their approach is making inroads. The likes of the Kardashians are so old school. The Kardashians actually are a family. Although a lot of people thought Anna Wintour trashed up Vogue when she put a woman famous for a sex tape on the cover, I think maybe one day we’ll be nostalgic that Kim Kardashian marketed a sex tape where at least it could be said she was actually having sex with that guy. As of now, the Kardashian level of authenticity is quite a few notches above Virtue and Moir’s, and I think pretty soon the Kardashian way of doing things will be obsolete. That's the Scott and Tessa mark.