Interview: Doug and Rob Walker from


Here it is, my interview with That Guy With The Glasses himself, Doug Walker, and The Other Guy, Rob Walker. They were remarkably nice–I was one of at least four people who waited around to get a video with Doug after the several-hour-long autograph signing, and he accommodated every one of us.

This was my first time doing an interview like this, and I probably could have done a better job–I forgot a few of my questions (though I dropped a few that were answered during their panel), and I sometimes struggled to keep up with their improv banter (I would sit back and be entertained, before remembering that I was supposed to say stuff too), but this was still a blast, and I’m very grateful to Doug and Rob for giving me their time.

As expected, this interview contains some swearing and some jokes that you may not find appropriate, so I decided to also provide a “clean” version. Because I care.

Two Fond Farewells

I’m about to say something that may get me banned from the geek community: The Empire Strikes Back is not my favorite Star Wars film.

Don’t get me wrong; I love Empire, and looking at it objectively as a cinematic achievement, I would say it probably is the best film in the series. I just don’t get as much fun or enjoyment out of it as I do from A New Hope–and neither did most critics when it was first released.

But then, that was kind of the point. It was the dark second act of the story, ending on the “All is Lost” moment that so many screenwriting texts are fond of mentioning. And while it doesn’t feature much of the swashbuckling fun of the original, it features deeper characterizations, more dramatic tension, and a plot twist that was considered the gold standard until The Sixth Sense came along. And while there are a lot of people who helped make this movie what it is–including, yes, George Lucas–it definitely needed a strong director to make it work.

That director was Irvin Kershner.

Kershner had a long career, and he’d probably pick another of his many films as his personal favorite, but Star Wars has a way of overshadowing all that. To most of the world, he will always be the man who made the best Star Wars film. Even though I’d rather watch A New Hope for fun, it was Kershner’s entry in the series that taught me that even a fun, goofy adventure story needs dark, serious moments and dramatic stakes for us to care.

We lost Kershner last night, alongside another man involved in films that influenced me at an early age, Leslie Nielsen.

One of the reasons the films of Seltzer and Friedberg infuriate me so much is that I have a genuine love for good spoof films, and Nielsen was in some of the best. If Kershner taught me that serious moments help make a fun story work, Nielsen taught me that a serious tone helps make a silly comedy work.

Nielsen knew how to deliver the most ridiculous lines absolutely convincingly, because for years he was a dramatic actor. He had a very specific serious image for most of his life, and managed to spin it into a new image as an oblivious deadpan in a world of absurdity. He was able to be a silly comic when playing against a straight man like George Kennedy, and able to be a straight man when playing against an already-ridiculous situation. His comedy helped a young me learn how to take silliness seriously.

Everyone’s watching Airplane, Police Squad/Naked Gun, and (for Sci-Fi fans) Forbidden Planet in his honor today, but I choose to remember one of his more underrated roles: Buzz Brighton in the M*A*S*H season one episode The Ringbanger. This was before his reinvention as a comic actor, but it’s still a brilliant comedy performance as a reckless colonel caught up in the confusion perpetrated by Hawkeye and Trapper. Yes, it’s far more farcical than most of the show’s later episodes, but it’s very enjoyable, and hints at Nielsen’s then-upcoming second career.

Rest in peace, Kershner and Nielsen. You both influenced my sensibilities in similar, yet completely different ways.

My Proposed Facebook Movie

“The Social Network”, the story of Mark Zuckerberg as told through the eyes of David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin, was released this weekend. I didn’t go see it, because frankly, a standard biopic is not what I wanted to see in a Facebook movie. I don’t want to know about the psychology of Facebook’s creator, I want to know about the psychology of Facebook itself.

My ideal movie on the subject would tell the story of Facebook as an insecure girl just starting her Freshman year in college. Even though she’s friends with many of the students and even some of the teachers, she still doesn’t feel quite happy. She sees her older sister, a goth singer named MySpace, is one of the most popular girls at school, and decides to try to be like her to become more popular. The problem is, MySpace is only popular because she’s a massive slut. So Facebook starts down a dark path, opening herself up to everybody–first just college students, but soon even high schoolers, and eventually anybody who asks regardless of age or affiliation. MySpace’s popularity bottoms out, and soon Facebook is the hot girl on campus. The power goes to her head, and she starts gossiping about her friends, broadcasting everything they tell her on a News Feed Bulletin Board on the door to her room. Her friends are upset about this invasion of privacy, but they tolerate this behavior because they still find themselves addicted to her.

To make her not completely unlikeable, the film would show her actually attempt to have real conversations with people, intimate one-on-one chats, but every one of them gets interrupted for some reason that the other person chatting can’t figure out.

Soon her younger sister Twitter comes to college, and despite being an even bigger gossip with a much shorter attention span, she becomes more popular than Facebook or MySpace ever did. This brings all of Facebook’s insecurities back to the forefront, and she gets increasingly stupid makeovers despite her friends telling her they liked her the way she was. She starts giving out comment cards, asking everybody to check if they “like” every innocuous action she does, even if the action is merely expressing her enjoyment of stepping on crunchy leaves.

As the film goes on, poor Facebook sinks deeper and deeper into despair, getting more and more desperate, until she eventually dies at the hands of those she’s spurned (unless the test audiences demand we change it to a heartwarming tale where she discovers she was beautiful all along).

The film would be slated to open on 6,000 screens, but then be banned from half of them for being a timewaster and a distraction to the employees.

(Thanks to Elizabeth Coon for helping inspire this idea!)