Movies

How Are Movies Like Onions?

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They both have layers? They both make you cry? They both stink? Nope. The Wrap reports that the financial regulation bill President Obama plans to sign this week "adds…box office futures to onions as the only items that can't be traded as commodities in the U.S." Why? Because the movie industry objected to the concept of betting on films' box office performance, which it argues is really a form of gambling (say it ain't so!):

[Motion Picture Association of America] President and Interim CEO Bob Pisano said future trading serves "no public interest and, to the contrary, can significantly harm the motion picture industry and impose new, substantial costs that do not exist today. These are proposals that ought to be under the jurisdiction of the federal gambling and gaming laws, not the federal commodity trading laws.  It is unfortunate that the CFTC [Commodity Futures Trading Commission] has now given the go-ahead to a new gambling platform that could be plagued by financial irregularities and manipulation."

Because the CFTC said there was nothing wrong with movie futures training, the MPAA demanded swift congressional action. But over at When Falls the Coliseum, Ricky Sprague argues that the law does not go far enough:

The MFT ban is a good first step. But naturally I would like to see the government do more to help protect vital American jobs, by banning other practices that negatively impact the entertainment industry. For instance, those "weekend box office predictions" at such irresponsible websites as boxoffice.com, Nikki Finke's Deadline Hollywood Daily, The Wrap, and Box Office Guru create perceptions of failure even before a movie opens. If a film doesn't "track well," a confused public might be under the mistaken impression that a film isn't worth their patronage.

When a movie, any movie, fails at the box office, we're all a little poorer for it.

Furthermore, the so-called film critics that openly criticize films can also create the illusion that a film isn't worth seeing. This dangerous practice is causing some films to make less money than they would otherwise.

Naturally, I would not want to violate anyone's First Amendment rights. But I do believe that the government can empower the industry by using certain tools to help put an end to speech that negatively impacts American jobs. For instance, there are some films, such as "Toy Story 3," and "Inception," that most film critics agree are of very high quality, and worth audience patronage. Yet there are some film critics, most notably Armond White, who seem to want nothing more than to be contrary, and to attempt to persuade people not to pay to see these films by writing unnecessarily negative reviews that fly in the face of popular sentiment.

A "Rotten Tomato Law" would provide for the removal of negative reviews of films that have an aggregate critic score higher than 80%. The same would apply to films with lower scores, as well. Critics would be encouraged to write more positive reviews, to help get a film's rating into the "certified fresh" range. These films should be supported by everyone, as their success is vitally important to our economy. After all, if a lighting man is out of a job, he cannot purchase the breakfast oatmeal that is manufactured in those states where they grow corn.

Addendum:  For those who wondered why onion futures can't be legally traded, it's for the same arbitrary reason movie futures can't be: The industry, worried that futures trading was cutting into its profits, lobbied for a statutory ban, which it got in the form of the 1958 Onion Futures Act.

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  1. Why can’t onions be traded as commodities?

    And one of the worst things about the 1st Amendment is that it requires me to stand up for Armond White. He is the Fred Phelps of film criticism.

    1. Gerald Ford

      The bulbous root is the only commodity for which futures trading is banned. Back in 1958, onion growers convinced themselves that futures traders (and not the new farms sprouting up in Wisconsin) were responsible for falling onion prices, so they lobbied an up-and-coming Michigan Congressman named Gerald Ford to push through a law banning all futures trading in onions. The law still stands.

      1. Basically, the exact same thing that is happening now. Hopefully word of this won’t get out too much, or other industries might get wise and call their men in Washington as well.

    2. How about we start our own rogue onion futures trading exchange?

    3. The ban on trading onion futures goes back to the ’40s. In those days a dapper gentleman would wear an onion on his belt, which was the style at the time. They didn’t have white onions because of the war. The only thing you could get was those big yellow ones. The best onions came from Morganville, which is what they called Shelbyville in those days. Now, to take the ferry cost a nickel, and in those days, nickels had pictures of bumblebees on ’em. “Give me five bees for a quarter,” you’d say. Anyway, the important thing was I had an onion on my belt, which was the style at the time.

      1. I thought you had to go to Morganville to fix your shoe. Anyway- +1.

        1. There IS more than one reason to go to Morganville/Shelbyville (duh).

      2. Is this a quote or reference, or did you just make it up? Because if you made that up, bravo sir. Hilarious.

        1. Slut–Pop culture FAIL.

          1. And who’s to say I’m not Jay Kogen or Wallace Wolodarsky?

        2. A variant of it appears here every 3 or 4 days. And it never gets old. Really. Funny every single time.

          1. And it never gets old.

            The inherent senility of the joke helps.

    4. It’s kind of sad that my first reaction to the statement that onions are the only product protected from futures trading was, why aren’t MORE vegetables protected like that? Where are the broccoli, asparagus, and cauliflower lobbies?

    5. Armond White is like a purgative for my brain. Not that his brilliant analysis flushes out the stupid, just the opposite – his pompous, mean-spirited inanity preps me for internet flame wars.

      1. I just discovered Armond while reading this post, and it seems that the man has a real knack for absurdity and a true commitment to arguing against the grain on every movie. I can’t figure out if he’s giggling to himself as he types or if his critical thinking is actually this contorted. Either way, it’s fun to have a guy bash all the shitty movies that get undeserved heaps of praise.

  2. Well, Hollywood is collapsing around its own ears … this will help put another nail in that coffin. And good riddance really.

  3. “no public interest and, to the contrary, can significantly harm the motion picture industry and impose new, substantial costs that do not exist today”

    Would it be in the public interest to make more movies? To make movies that more people want to see? What about more jobs for screenwriters, actors, stagehands, production crews and marketers? How about less time spent finding funding for a movie, and more time writing the plot, filming scenes or post-production polishing?

    Sometimes I wonder if any trade organizations exist for a purpose other than controlling supply.

    1. People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. It is impossible indeed to prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty or justice. But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies; much less to render them necessary.

  4. “Furthermore, the so-called film critics that openly criticize films can also create the illusion that a film isn’t worth seeing. This dangerous practice is causing some films to make less money than they would otherwise.

    Naturally, I would not want to violate anyone’s First Amendment rights. But I do believe that the government can empower the industry by using certain tools to help put an end to speech that negatively impacts American jobs. For instance, there are some films, such as “Toy Story 3,” and “Inception,” that most film critics agree are of very high quality, and worth audience patronage. Yet there are some film critics, most notably Armond White, who seem to want nothing more than to be contrary, and to attempt to persuade people not to pay to see these films by writing unnecessarily negative reviews that fly in the face of popular sentiment.

    A “Rotten Tomato Law” would provide for the removal of negative reviews of films that have an aggregate critic score higher than 80%. The same would apply to films with lower scores, as well. Critics would be encouraged to write more positive reviews, to help get a film’s rating into the “certified fresh” range. These films should be supported by everyone, as their success is vitally important to our economy. After all, if a lighting man is out of a job, he cannot purchase the breakfast oatmeal that is manufactured in those states where they grow corn.”

    This has to be a fucking joke. Please, tell me it’s a joke.

    1. Come on, that last line didn’t give it away?

      1. Honestly, I stopped reading after the part about it applying to films with lower scores.

        Reading the link makes it clearer.

        Thank Gog.

    2. A “Rotten Tomato Law” would provide for the removal of negative reviews of films that have an aggregate critic score higher than 80%.

      Why stop there? Congress should use its power to regulate interstate commerce to mandate every American buy a ticket to these films.

      1. If you don’t buy the movie tickets, the IRS will make you pay a penalty, which is not a tax.

        1. The Commerce Clause should have zero boundaries. Why you libertarians can’t get that into your thick skulls, is amazing.

          1. Yes, especially when the government must create and subsidize it’s own films as an alternative for citizens who can’t afford to pay to see a private industry film. $2 from each ticket will go to fund these movies- available for free to those who meet income requirements.

          2. From what I’ve seen, the Commerce Clause does have zero boundaries.

    3. It’s a joke, but some politicians reading it might think it was a good idea and propose legislation to implement it.

      1. Which is why i propose a bill that would censor what our lawmakers can read.

  5. A “Rotten Tomato Law” would provide for the removal of negative reviews of films that have an aggregate critic score higher than 80%. The same would apply to films with lower scores, as well. Critics would be encouraged to write more positive reviews, to help get a film’s rating into the “certified fresh” range. These films should be supported by everyone, as their success is vitally important to our economy. After all, if a lighting man is out of a job, he cannot purchase the breakfast oatmeal that is manufactured in those states where they grow corn.

    Oh for fucks sake, the idiocy makes my brain hurt.

    1. It’s kinda scary that we’ve come so far people can’t tell the jokes from the true stupidity, but this isn’t serious, thank goodness.

      1. I blame Reason. I would have thought that a joke before I started reading this site a few years ago. I am broken. Thanks, guys!

        1. Yeah I’m with you. Reason has done more to show me the amazing depth of idiocy in the world of politics. Now, when I read shit like this, my default is to take it seriously. There’s good reason for it too. The outlandish shit that is spewed by pols, LEOs, and a lot of the people Reason covers sounds like what was quoted above.

    2. J sub — reading the entire article makes the satire more obvious:

      But now imagine that, right before the Nascar match started, you went to Walmart and used a squirrel-hunting gun to murder the mother of the most popular Nascar player. Now imagine that, just before the match started, the announcer came over the loudspeaker and (just before announcing the latest prices of deep-fried twinkies), he declared, “Jim Bob Podunk’s mother has just been killed (“kilt”) at the Walmart.”

      1. Nascar player

        Heh.

  6. he cannot purchase the breakfast oatmeal that is manufactured in those states where they grow corn

    HOCS

    1. High Octane Corn Syrup?

      1. It’s not your parents’ corn syrup!

        or

        “HOCS found to be 25-100% more potent than corn syrups produced 30 years ago.”

  7. I do believe that the government can empower the industry by using certain tools to help put an end to speech that negatively impacts American jobs.

    “end to speech”

    I really have nothing smart to say about this.

    1. We know that without you having to say it.

  8. I guess parody isn’t a recognized form of humor on the blog these days…. that’s too bad. I may have been in poor company, but I laughed…

  9. I laughed as well. I was able to tell from Reason’s links that it was satire, but it’s better to read the full article at the original source.

  10. The only thing funnier than good satire is a person who can’t identify satire.

    1. FUCK YOU UP YOUr INSENSATIVE ASS!!!

      *American Society for the Satirically Impaired.

  11. GOPers like to complain that we get a lot of negative social mores from Hollywood, but we get a lot of terrible business regulation from that vapid shithole as well.

    1. The head-spinning irony is that Hollywood, the most protected, oligarchical industry in America, is dominated by leftists, who make movies railing against “big business” and such.

  12. I will only buy futures in films by Tyler Perry (black folks love his shit) and anything with Jesus in it.

    …then I retire.

    1. I can picture it now: “Tyler Perry present’s Tyler Perry’s The Last Supper, starring Tyler Perry as Jesus Christ (with a special appearance by Tyler Perry as Mary Magdalene).”

  13. Something is wrong with your spell check function today. I just read the last few blog posts and I’m seeing a lot of homonym style mistakes – such as “neuter” for “neutral” and – in this piece – “training” for “trading.”

    1. Those are exactly the sort of errors a spellchecker will miss.

  14. Those are exactly the sort of errors an autocorrect problem will make. And I love ’em. Saying the Dems are standing “neuter” on pot legalization is much more, how you say, evocative, than the alternative.

  15. autocorrect problem program

    Stupid keyboard.

  16. Betting in general isn’t illegal. State laws prohibit betting only on certain events (usually sports and games of chance) as illegal gambling.

  17. *gag*

    This is one of the sadder and more depressing blogposts I’ve read in recent memory.

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