So I think something like two-thirds of this year’s Oscars nominations are based on true stories – 12 Years a Slave, The Wolf of Wall Street, Dallas Buyers’ Club, etc. (I’m assuming they’re nominated. I’ve seen them in the press, you know?!) On an almost entirely unrelated note, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s latest musical Stephen Ward is closing after a handful of months. I paid vague attention – not enough, clearly – because the actor playing Stephen Ward, who was involved in basically the first contemporary political sex scandal, was in Jesus Christ Superstar which was flipping brilliant and it got me thinking:
If you could make a film or musical about any news story, what would it be?
There are the heartbreaking stories, like the Ugandan tabloid that printed the names of gay people on their cover the day after homosexuality was made punishable by life in prison, which as a topic may well be made into a 12 Years-esque piece in years to come. So may the story of the women who were held in a basement in Ohio for, ah, almost twelve years. Or the Syrian civil war. Or the horrible one about an elderly lollipop man who was hit by a car while working.
Imagining them as films, they’re all up there with The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas in terms of ‘things I wouldn’t pay money to see again’. Which is sometimes what turns a film from ‘interesting’ to ‘brilliant’ (hello again 12 Years) because sometimes we need fiction to teach us about reality.
On the other hand, we have the funny stories. Gordon Brown calling that woman a bigot. The time a woman put a cat in a bin. That Japanese toilet system that got hacked and started spewing out sewage. These might be more GIF material… I sort of want a musical about the toilet system though. Then there are the utterly brilliant and heart-warming stories, like Canada letting a child have three parents or Endal the dog who could get his owner’s cash out of machines for him. (I’m looking at you, Fred. Fred thinks that human objects are designed to be chewed; as far as I’m aware he’s never eaten our cash but he did nick an entire kebab the other day and got it clean off the skewer leaving only an unsavoury tomato. Part of me wants to reward his tenacity.)
But thinking about it, how many happy news stories get dramatised? No one wants to see The Day the Bus Driver Let Children Board for Free or Supermarkets: Assistants Are Lovely. We want Honey, I Think the Kid’s Self Harming and Kiddiefiddlers Unlocked Part 87.
Then there are the gross stories that are just made for bad adverts. You know those parent blogs where people live post their labour? Yeah. They’d be those adverts at the cinema that never, ever seem to end.
Right, current events that should be turned into films: go!