Monday, 8 April 2013
YOU'VE GOT OLD MAIL
The problem with basing a film around technology is that technology evolves at a very fast pace. So it might not take long for your film to look dated. Wow, that is possibly the most obvious statement I've ever written. But still, I feel like you need an example. So here is one. 'You've Got Mail' starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks came out in 1998. (Other films that came out that year are 'Can't Hardly Wait', 'The Big Lebowski' and 'The Faculty', none of which relied so strongly on technology and none of which have dated as much as YGM).
In the opening credits we are shown a digital Manahttan, complete with red cursor (red?) hovering over the buildings.
Can we zoom in on the street?
Now, let's watch Meg Ryan hop onto her laptop and hit the world wide web.
Urgh what's that annoying dingy dongy beeping noise?
(I will give anyone who still uses AOL 40 Bitcoins)
Meanwhile Tom Hanks is in his apartment poking around in his digital mailbox.
(Miss you, Clipart and Clipart-inspired icons).
Now in YGM Tom Hanks is an incredibly successful man. He works with his father in the family business of Fox Books, a chain of book superstores. So you can imagine the many, many, emails a man like this would receive every day.
Woah. Lucky he could find Meg's missive among the other, um, two, intensely important messages he received that morning.
Remember chat rooms? Remember when you actually met people through them? And they were so important to your life you always used capitals for Chat and Room?
Also cute that she wrote online as two words. And that she waits while her computer "boots up".
Remember as well when searching for someone on the world wide web, even using just their AOL username, wouldn't give you any information on them? In fact it probably wouldn't even cross your mind to do it. Now I feel like I could take a picture of a turd left in a toilet and find the instagram'd meal it used to be within 30 seconds.
Starbucks features very heavily in this film. But this was the golden age of coffee as a lifestyle accessory. There's actually a scene in the film where Tom Hanks has a rant about how people are starting to use coffee as a way of exercising control over their uncontrollable lives. "I'm a skinny half cap double shot no whip mocha chai". That used to be exciting and liberating. Now Starbucks are tax dodgers with weak espresso, the McDonalds of the caffeine experience.
The premise of the film is that Meg Ryan's beautiful, independent bookstore, with its focus on community and children, is run out of business by the new Fox Books opened by Tom Hanks.
Fox Books also houses a coffee shop and several floors populated by ignorant customer service drones. One of said employees is a young Chris Messina from 'Celeste and Jesse Forever' and 'The Mindy Project'.
In fact Fox Books sounds a lot like Borders. Borders which went bankrupt in 2011. So the entire idea of the film seems flawed in 2013, as our experience of huge book/music/film megastores is that they're in trouble. We're starting to feel sorry for them. In fact, when I talked to Charlie Lyne from Ultraculture about this he suggested they should remake this remake so that it's Tom Hanks who is the underdog, and Meg Ryan is the savvy independent bookstore owner who realises that it's all about great customer service and small business. And she's the one driving Hanks out of business.
I like that.
But until that happens we will just have to make do with things like this:
It seems hard to believe there was once a point before mail. Or when you would have had "no mail".
RIP empty inbox.