Production Value = Life or Death

“Did you hear about this guy named Ben Ghazi who killed a bunch of people in Libya? It was in the news a while back, and they said it was because of a video that some guy produced.” *

Tom Avitabile  |  Production Value = Life or DeathWhen I looked into it, I found that it’s wasn’t actually a video, it was just a trailer – a couple of minutes long posted on the internet. And at the time of the attack, maybe less than 500 people had seen this trailer. Yet it caused riots in Egypt, Libya and the Middle East. But more importantly, it really pissed off that Ben Ghazi guy.

Last week the North Koreans released their own YouTube video trailer. In this video they depict a nuclear attack on the United States, complete with missiles, computer graphics and the destruction of New York City. They even scored it with the counterpunctual melody of the Michael Jackson song We are the World… and yet there has been no outcry.

American people have not surrounded North Korean embassies or interests, screaming and yelling for the blood of the North Korean ambassador. As far as I know, no American named Chevy Chase, or Austin Texas killed four Korean diplomats. There has been no outcry in the press anywhere in the world over this shameful video. A vile, disgusting video that hit America below the belt, right in that deep and dark nightmare of the previous attack on the United States. Not a word of disapproval even to the point of just pointing out that it was rude. Not one word, not one peep.

Here’s the reason, Production Value! The Ben Ghazi guy video thing was crudely done, horribly edited, had bad ADR (Automated Dialog Replacement) in that the voices were chopped in after the shoot to change the meaning so that the actors who actually played the part didn’t know what they were saying because later on somebody went back in and edited different words. It was a real hack job. So bad, they arrested the guy who made it and he’s still in prison. (America defends good production values, and this dude’s were woefully inadequate)

But the North Korean video, now that’s excellent production value. It was a good CGI video, that’s the difference – good, clean production wins the day all the time. So nobody killed anybody, or lodged any complaint. Except for maybe one small group, BMI/ASCAP. Did those North Koreans pay the royalties to use the Michael Jackson hit? Forget about the whole thing about blowing up New York, illegal downloading may be the true crime here!

Oh, and this week, the North Koreans released another video, the one they shot of the detonation of their latest production – a nuclear bomb. But hey, at least they used High Def, so again, nobody anywhere in the world is saying nothing about anything.

*actually overheard in a Starbucks near NYU in New York City.

Tom Avitabile  |  Production Value = Life or Death

BS: For those of you who read my post from Monday but were wondering where the pictures were, scroll down to the updated post.

Tom Avitabile

The Wall

Tom Avitabile | The Wall
Berlin Wall art on exhibit at 53rd St. in Manhattan. Click to enlarge.

In my novel, Hammer of God, a relic of the Cold War war-fighting machine plays a key role in a terrorist attack today. I grew up during the Cold War. It left an indelible mark on me, and probably everyone else who, as part of their school day, had to practice being immolated and turned into nuclear ash. Ostensibly as neat piles under our desks to make the clean up easier or why else have us duck and cover?

An iconic symbol of the Cold War was the Berlin Wall.  An actual concrete wall, which was built after World War II, to split the city into two parts. The East Germans lived on the other side, the side that was connected to the Communists, the Russians or in short, the Enemy.

In later years, when things changed, I remember a factoid that the average East German visitor to NYC dropped $23.22 a day into the local economy. A Japanese tourist spent $989 per day.

The reason for all this nostalgia is that, last night, I went to a restaurant located behind the Berlin Wall!  Albeit a piece of it, now residing in a plaza on 53rd Street in NYC. I was struck by the fact that the cheapest (and there was only one) entree on the menu was $37.50.  My appetizer alone cost my host for the evening, $25.00. So just the first course would blow the average East German visitor’s budget into dust.

That fact caused me to remember that nobody fired a single shot during the entire Cold War! In fact, it ended like a game of Monopoly. The other side just ran out of money.

So as dozens of Christmas Party goers who collectively dropped $1,200 to $1,800 per table on this one part of one night’s entertainment, passed by this huge chunk of concrete on their way in to the restaurant, maybe 1 in 10 knew what the hell it was.  And even smaller odds that it was America’s robust economy that defeated all the nightmares, terrorizing classroom drills and nuclear paranoia that gripped this country no so long ago.

Admittedly the restaurant goers I am writing about are the top end of business folks and well to do revelers and most of them are on expense accounts.  But still the irony was not lost on me.  That even though today America may be heading for a fiscal cliff, years ago we avoided the Wall.