Hollywood Thrives While Poverty Survives – Friday Fictioneers

Someone once paid me an enormous compliment by saying that the only predictable thing about me is that I am unpredictable.

And so I’ve turned this week’s Flash Fiction prompt on its head and avoided all of the things that immediately popped into my head upon seeing this week’s photo. Or, rather, I ran with them, but in a completely different way. I apologize if this week’s tale seems a bit ham-fisted, darlings, but with 100 words you don’t have time to be subtle.


copyright indira-mukherjee

copyright indira-mukherjee

“Run this by me again,” the well-fed studio exec said, running manicured fingers through his perfectly coiffed hair.

“It’s an action film. There’s a bomb on a bus, and if the driver drops below fifty-five miles per hour, the bus will explode. It’s one long car chase.”

“This sounds familiar,” the older man pondered, “isn’t there a movie like this already?”

“Oh, but this is totally different, sir – in our movie, it’s a school bus.”

“I like it. How much will you need? Fifty million? A Hundred?”

The man signed the check and somewhere, another hundred children starved to death.


100 words – one for each child.

Friday Fictioneers is hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields at her blog Addicted to Purple. You can find the rules, and the other stories here.

As is customary, I will post my favourites (with a U) below as I find time to read.

I’m sure you know this already, but Sandra Cook is a damn good writer. Forever Friends took me in a direction I hadn’t even considered — excellent read.


87 responses to “Hollywood Thrives While Poverty Survives – Friday Fictioneers

  1. Well the last line was certainly unpredictable. The nod to Speed lured us in, thinking it would be humor and then you packed a punch in that last line. Well done!

      • I’ll just blame all misstypes and spelling errors on that today, then!

        “Sorry, boss, I’m pretending to be drunk. No, no, I’m not ACTUALLY inebri…inebria…drunk!”

      • I’ve recently discovered this SodaStream syrup that tastes just like Margaritas (even the tequila tang) but is 100% non-alcoholic.
        However, because it tastes the same with or without the alcohol (pretty much)… I thought about bringing into work, but then I remembered that I’m not actually an alcoholic.

      • I thought writers were only allowed to drink 200 year old single malt scotch? No? Oh good. Back to wine and…other things.

    • Not to be fatalistic, but I think our current culture has a lot in common with the Roman Empire right near the end. ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED??? (in my best Russell Crowe, which, I confess, is not very good, so you’ll just have to imagine it, darling)

      • You’re right. It’s only a matter of time before deaths start occurring on Reality shows and then the cycle will be complete. I’m so overstimulated entertainment-wise I don’t even know what being entertained feels like anymore.

    • I love you guys! Everybody cuts me so much slack! Just when I think I’m going to shock, offend, or otherwise alienate, you still bring the love!
      You’ve been a wonderful audience, I’m here all week — try the veal, and don’t forget to tip your waitress, ’cause she’s broke!

      • My son and I are huge fight club fans. We read the book constantly and watch the movie too.

        Many people think American Beauty is depressing, but I believe the opposite. It has the opposite effect on me. I feel more optimistic about life after I view it.

        Love, Renee

      • Watch them back to back sometime, darling, and I believe that you will have your mind blown — those two movies are yin and yang to each other thematically and philosophically. Please say you will, I’d love to hear you and your son’s reaction. Just a prompt — the couch as a symbol and metaphor for materialism and fulfillment. See if you pick out the two scenes from each movie that will make you scratch your head and wonder if the filmmakers weren’t exchanging notes.

      • My love, I promise to do as you request. I believe I will be able to pick out the scenes you speak of. You and I are kinda on the same wavelength.

        Kisses darling.

  2. I like the message of this story more the message of some of your other stories but I agree with you that, while not at all ham-fisted, (you’re too good a writer for that), this isn’t your best-written piece. I completely agree that there’s a lot of tripe being put out as entertainment every year. The problem is that one man’s tripe seems to be another man’s steak. 🙂

    I also like the way you used the picture as a jumping-off point to somewhere not directly connected with it.


    • I often wish I were a bug on a wall when new movies are being pitched. I’ll see something like Jet Li’s Unleashed and wonder “how the hell did not one person but several think that was a good idea?

  3. We’ve certainly got our priorities wrong. Not a day passes when something doesn’t underline that fact vividly, and today it was your story. Well done!

  4. completely unexpected. i like the message in this piece. a lot of horrible films are being made every year to provide people with entertainment, a momentary distraction from their miserable realities… when what they truly need is food, education and job opportunities..

    • People are constantly looking for short fixes to complex solutions, and I am just another armchair general, I’m afraid — who knows what I would do if I had the means and power that those at the top have?

  5. A searing last line, certainly not a subtle one like you mentioned in your intro. I liked how you set up the story with the posh movie exec–manicured nails, etc.–and then brought the hammer down with that last sentence.

  6. Ooh, brutally incisive ending. It is amazing how much money is thrown after drivel when that much money could pretty much eliminate hunger for thousands of people permanently.

  7. Consequences are many times hidden. We have no idea what we cause when seemingly trying to help. Not that this situation is like that of course. I loved the movie Speed and fell for Sandra Bullock’s Wildcat.

  8. Flawless ebb and flow.I started out thinking a fledgling writer would learn a lesson, and ended up disgusted by big money,doing nothing but making more money. Perhaps if we stopped paying to see the crap? Ah, pipe dreams.

  9. Dear Helena,

    I found an interesting contrast between the potential movie taking place on a school bus, ie with children and the last sentence. Indeed, billions of dollars are wasted that could’ve been put to better use. Biting commentary, my dear.



    • I’m a horrible satirist, darling, and I’m always afraid to take things too far and offend, but I’m always deeply saddened by the attitude of “well, it’s not MY children…”
      I’d love to shoot a video sometime that satirizes those World Vision type videos that show starving children in Third World countries, predominantly black or Asian children, only shoot it with little white kids. Sometimes, in order to get people’s attention, you have to hit them over the head with a sledgehammer.
      I’m glad you enjoyed this piece.

    • What a very Swiftian comment, darling! Perhaps I should re-write A Modest Proposal and make the suggestion that perhaps we should ship off our obese children to feed the starving nations? (ooh, wait, that’s a f**king great idea!)

  10. One of the reasons I don’t watch movies. Very nicely done even if you don’t think it’s one of your best.

  11. This caught me by surprise. I’ve read most of the other comments whilst scrolling down to find space for mine and it seems to me, that perhaps whilst not one of your greatest, ( you do write incredibly well) given today’s environment, this statement was crying out to be made
    Too many bow at the altar of celebrity and money….
    I’ll go now before I overstay my welcome
    Ciao bella

  12. Pingback: Photo Fiction: Sunday June 30th 2013 | Alastair's Photo Fiction·

  13. Dear Helena,

    You captured the slap-dash, lunatic world of hollywood quite well in your story.

    Not sure about the link to a movie’s production and poverty, though. Perhaps if those with money simply used it to feed those less fortunate than themselves? Was that the gist of it? but then what happens when they run out of money?

    And 100 words? Perfect venue for subtlety.



    • Thank you for your thoughtful comments, Doug.
      The idea was that the billions of dollars spent annually on entertainment could build the infrastructure necessary to bring people out of poverty — not as a handout, but as education. Not giving a child a fish, teaching them to fish. The amount of money spent on video games, films, sports, etc… is obscene in the truest sense of the word.

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