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ASK MAX

February 16, 2006 Edition

Dear Max:

Kudos on the spork resolve, I too was astounded by your discovery. This leads me to believe you could get to the bottom of my question. Why is it that in movies when everyone is trying to save one person, why is it that it is okay for everyone else to die to save that one person? This question plaques me to this day. Why, damn it, why!

Caesar

Dear Caesar,

I like your name. It evokes salad, and while I don’t like salad, I would still eat it. Your question reflects a heightened appreciation of human life, which may be what distinguishes you from most Hollywood scriptwriters. But these story decisions are at least partly practical: if we had to witness the grief and teary funerals that naturally would follow every character’s death, every film would be longer than an Oliver Stone flick, and we’d be living on Snocaps and JuJuBes. The Bible, which has been adapted for the screen many times, turns your question around, to good effect: one guy dies and saves everybody. Perhaps the seminal cinematic exploration of this topic is “Saving Private Ryan,” in which we’re left to wonder whether it was worth it to lose Tom Hanks, Tom Sizemore, Giovanni Ribissi, Vin Diesel, and Barry Pepper to save Matt Damon. Very tough call.

Dear Max:

Umm….How would I go about taking over the world?

The Master of Disaster

Dear M.O.D.

This is a difficult question. I’d suggest starting small – then working your way up to world domination. Quaker Oats decided they wanted to take over Snapple, so they used the weapon that works in most any situation: money. They bought it for $1.7 billion dollars. Four years later, they sold it for $300 million dollars. Three years after that, the buyers sold Snapple to Cadbury Schweppes for $1 billion dollars. So, not all takeovers are everything they’re cracked up to be. Look at what happened to Castro: Fifty years into his plot and he still can’t sell a cigar in the U.S.

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