selling camaraderie

Image sourced with splendiferous love from EverKings here:

Image sourced with splendiferous squee from EverKings here.

This video appeared in my inbox yesterday. I laughed. And thought “damn, this seems familiar.”

Ditto this morning when I dropped the notebook I was writing in and it fell open to a bit of DA:I banter. Cullen and Dorian snarking at each other over chess, Solas passive-aggressively assuring Blackwall that of course he didn’t mind the bellowing as the latter trained soldiers beneath his window; after all, “children don’t learn unless you yell at them…” I flipped through more and more of these notes, grinning as I did, and then thought of the official art modeled on the end of the Avengers movie that I’d carefully kept hidden from my husband until he finished the game [much, much later than the rest of the fanbase]. Even if the comparison weren’t so starkly made, you can see it plain as day. Camaraderie sells.

Whether the comrades are fictional characters or cast and crew, people want to hear about them getting along and having a good time. Whole special features on Blu Rays and DVDs are devoted to this. Just last weekend I watched all of the Outlander special features, which strove very hard to make sure knew about the cast boot camp, who played tricks on who, who helped who out, etc. etc. These tales are endearing, even if they’re brazenly sought after by interviewers and the behind-the-scenes film crew. And they’re achingly familiar, too–we see them all the time now.

What they all appear to hearken back to, for me, is the Lord of the Rings trilogy footage–special features, interviews performed both during and after filming, even anecdotes shared at completely unrelated screenings and shindigs. I and so many others trailed after the ghost of good cheer and camaraderie that that group exuded like loyal hounds, faithfully padding from through media in search of evidence of the kind of lasting friendship we both craved and (in some cases, anyway) wanted to keep away from us, unsullied by our clumsy paws and lackluster life stories so far.

But I’m not very old, and moreover I came to cultural consciousness rather late, so I don’t know that LOTR is really where people realized the bankability of camaraderie.* Most of the big SF cultural phenomenons prior to LOTR passed beneath my radar–and I’ve yet to make up for the lack. But to touch on the few I have in fact seen:

1.) Blade Runner. Nope.

2.) Dune. Nope. (Okay, the movie tanked, but the books aren’t really about bonding of any kind, either. Shit goes down, our star deals with it, and then dies, for the most part**.)

2.) Alien(s). Not really the place for such feelings. First the interaction is largely maternal and then, even when you’ve got the group, feelings are limited to those constructed by horror–“woo, we’re all okay, OH GOD THAT GUY IS NOT OKAY RUN.” That sort of thing.

3.) Star Wars. Um…not really. But I’ve seen zero retrospectives or anything like that (I’m talking of the first three movies of course here)

4.) Ghostbusters. Yes? I’m told? But without the kind of coverage we get nowadays, our exposure to it was less…constructed.

5.) Jurassic Park. No? Did people have fun on that set? Was it documented?

6.) Back to the Future. Seems likely that they had fun (I mean really, how you you keep yelling about one-point-twenty-one-gigawatts without cracking up?) but again, without the kind of coverage we give these things nowadays, who knows?

7.) Firefly. Yes yes yes yes and people loved hearing about it. Did this happen organically, or did people see what good press camaraderie got LOTR, and distributed news of this cast’s good rapport accordingly?

So I’m unsure if this has always been something people want to hear, or if it has grown traction in recent years. Certainly the way to get such information and footage out to people has become easier, between the roomier media types of DVDs and Blu Rays and the internet. The kneejerk addendum here probably runs something like “CLEARLY PEOPLE CRAVE VISIONS OF FRIENDSHIP NOWADAYS BECAUSE THE INTERNET HAS ISOLATED THEMSELVES FROM REAL FRIENDSHIP ETC ETC” but that’s such a load of horseshit that I’m not even going to entertain the notion. Older people’s sensation that no camaraderie can come through screens is trite and limiting. Maybe they need in-person interaction because they were acculturated to it, but those of us who weren’t (or who rode the tide of the shift into digital interaction) are not immune to feeling through words or gestures sent across the wires. Why, then, do we clamor to see casts giggling with each other, fooling around, having fun? What draws us to the actual art product is the story or the franchise, no? So why do we want to hear that everyone actually likes each other and has a good time? They’re doing their jobs. Do we want to hear that people enjoy doing said jobs? Or that there are people having fun doing what they love, the way we aren’t? (Surely not–there have always been such people; everyone knows this.) Or is it less structured, and more just a kind of icing on the cake?

I don’t know. I’m glad we get to see so much of it, but I’ve begun to feel a bit pandered to when we do. These crews now wait for such moments to happen between takes, off-set, and they pounce on them and make sure to include them for people like me. That feels like pandering. Even if I enjoy it.

* And, too, you might not even have had the chance to see camaraderie before DVDs. I don’t recall many VHS tapes with special features (though Xena had a blooper reel, if I recall correctly), or the room to cram them in. DVDs and their menus, it stands to reason, opened up whole new opportunities for “extra stuff.”

** ODRADE 2016!



    • metaphlame · April 6, 2015

      Hmmmm, so such documentation exists. And we care enough about it now for someone to have compiled them in one location, for entertainment. How much attention did such things receive when they were more timely? Do we know? I knew people who’d buy books and such full of photos and anecdotes of the filming process, that might be a source for such things, but they tended to be a self-elected cohort versus the more widespread fandom of today. 

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