How to Teach a Donkey

My normal routine in the morning is to eat breakfast and watch the news. I switch between CNN, MSNBC, and Good Morning America. This morning, I was derailed and accidentally tuned into How to Stuff a Wild Bikini. How to Stuff a Wild Bikini is one of the teenage movies from American International Pictures, also responsible for Bikini Beach, Beach Blanket Bingo, etc. In the 1950s, AIP was the studio behind the teenage science fiction and horror movies such as I Was a Teenage Werewolf, I Was a Teenage Frankenstein, and Teenage Cave Man. As a side note, the original title for Clueless was I Was a Teenage Teenager. In the 1960s, they focused on beach movies. The 1970s saw drugs, gangs, and blaxploitation films.

The Beach movies are awful, but hypnotic. How can they not be? They have Annette Funicello, Frankie Avalon, teenagers is very scanty bathing suits, bad musical numbers, motorcycle gangs, fake surfing, and slapstick comedy with Buster Keaton. The posters follow the same less than subtle approach. Albert Kallis designed many of the remarkable 1950s AIP posters. I often say the right way to communicate is like teaching a donkey; first hit it over the head with a two-by-four. Then give it the message. These posters do this in spades.

I understand good taste movie campaigns like Lincoln. The poster is minimal and states, “This is a serious masterpiece, and this is an Academy Award movie.” The other side of the coin is the blunt approach.

Good marketing and advertising typically works when the viewer is given a command: Just do it, Enjoy Coke, Think Different. The Kallis posters do this and more. Often they listed the commands on terms of seeing: See strangest of all rites in the temple of love! See earth attacked by flying saucers! AIP posters in the 1970s were never subtle, but I’ll watch a film that promises, “Shamelessly loaded with sex and violence,” and “She’s brown sugar and spice, but if you don’t treat her nice, she’ll put you on ice.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Young at Heart, but not with Clothing, Please

One of my least favorite things about living in Los Angeles is the problem of age inappropriate dressing. Last week I was at dinner at Jar (best filet in Los Angeles) and a table of young Hollywood starlet types was at a big table behind me. They all had the same light blonde, shoulder length hair, and tight short skirts. Now if you’ve seen Clueless you know what I mean when I say it was a real Monet moment. From the distance of the door everything looked good, but as I got closer to their table, whoa, it all fell apart. They were, in fact, not young starlets but older Hollywood wives who had visited the plastic surgeon far too often.

I have never considered doing a reality show. People are always telling me, “You and Noreen should have your own reality show. I bet it would be hilarious.” It wouldn’t be. It would be very dull moments of people working on their computers with occasional profane outbursts. I would like to do a reality show, though, where I help people who dress age inappropriately with makeovers. We would shop at Brooks Brothers, J. Press, Chanel, and other sensible brands.

Now don’t get caught up with this being “Preppy” or any other such nonsense. This is just plain good sense that would make the world a nicer place to live.

There are many benefits of growing older: you can yell at people, you sleep less, and you can wear certain clothing items previously inappropriate. These are some of my rules:

1.     Men may wear seersucker before the age of 12, or after 45. Between those ages makes one look foolish.

2.     Men may wear white bucks in the summer, or all year after age 45.

3.     Madras jackets work if a man is over 45, but younger people look like a horses ass in them.

4.     Men can wear bow ties over 45, unless you are a southern politician or Ivy League professor, in which case any age is appropriate.

5.     Ponytails are wrong, wrong, and wrong for anyone over 45.

6.     There is nothing wrong with a sensible bob haircut for women over 45.

7.     Skinny jeans are wrong for anyone, especially people over 45.

More specific rules are listed below. But the point is to stop the madness. When you see an elderly person on the street in tight jeans and a groovy t-shirt, stop them and ask if you can help them to the nearest age appropriate store. Unfortunately, I don’t think my reality show idea will work. As Terry Stone told me, “So you would take mature people and make them look old?” Uh, yeah.

Living above Sunset

If you decide it’s too hot to sit outside this weekend, watch Clueless and then Emma. I will admit I’m shallow I love Clueless. Like Amy Heckerling’s Fast Times at Ridgemont High, it beautifully captures high school life in Beverly Hills. Years after seeing it, I was on a plane watching Jane Austen’s Emma, and I thought, “Boy, this is just like Clueless.” Of course, it’s the other way around. Heckerling based the characters and plot on Austen’s novel. Following the storyline of Emma, Cher works behind the scenes as a matchmaker, and caretaker of her father. She does a makeover on a new student, and like Emma, advises her to stay away from the man she should be with because he is beneath her social position. If you watch closely, you’ll notice how each plot point is updated and translated into 1990s Beverly Hills. Oh, and if you get Emma, get the 2009 BBC miniseries. There’s something cloying about the 1996 version.