On Tuesday February 5th, 2013, a trailer for the new Fast and Furious movie was released on YouTube. I watched it at 3pm. It made me really happy. And because I eventually want to write for Grantland.com, I decided to go ahead and write a piece in their style reviewing this thing that I love. I wrote for two hours, added pictures to the timeline, and ended up being late to my 5:30pm class because clearly I have my priorities in order.
When class ended, I walked home and went on Facebook hoping for a red 3 or higher by that little globe in the top left corner, and was pleasantly greeted by 3 notifications. Maybe some people read/liked/”liked” my ridiculous article. That would be cool. And it really would have been cool had I not opened a second tab in my browser and brought up Grantland, where I found this:
If you didn’t feel like clicking the link, I’ll save you the time; Simmons and I wrote the same article.
Bill Simmons is one of 4 people that I consider an “idol”. The reason that I am writing this and the reason that I have written every piece of “Shitty Banter” that I have written so far is so that eventually I can work for him at Grantland. And here he was using the same gimmick I had used, except his article was published an hour before mine.
I swear I wrote my piece without knowledge of Simmons publishing his. Why would I take an idea he has done and copy it so blatantly (besides his NFL picks column)?
My logic for my essay was threefold:
- I want to write for Grantland.
- The “Retro-Diary”/timestamping thing is a gimmick they use at Grantland.
- The new trailer Six Fast Six Furious is something that someone who wrote for Grantland would write about.
Apparently Simmons was using the same logic, setting us up to duke it out in Who Wrote It Better- Trailer Review Edition. Two writers. Two Retro-Diaries. One kid writing about himself in the third person. One Champion.
It’s about to get third-personal up in here.
Round 1: Introducing the Trailer
While Lauletta does a nice job of establishing the importance that the Fast and Furious franchise holds in his heart, Simmons gets the point for dropping the news that Gus Johnson will be announcing the 2018 World Cup. Anytime good news involving Gus Johnson comes out, it needs to be reported. Come on Tyler. Get your game face on.
Simmons 1, Lauletta 0
Round 2: Making Fun of The Rock When He First Appears on Screen
Bill Simmons decides to joke about the poor acting that can be captured when Vin Diesel and The Rock have to perform with one another. It’s a valid point, but anyone who is reading an article breaking down a Fast and Furious trailer certainly knows what they are getting into. Bad acting is to be expected, but the best of it will come when the film is viewed in its entirety, and we get to learn more about the barbeques that Vin Diesel’s dad held on Sundays because Paul Walker is still concerned about being a good father. Lauletta immediately recognizes the UA logo that every member of The Rock’s police force was wearing in Fast Five, and calls him out for it. We knew that this movie would be filled with bad acting, but Lauletta’s comment brings to mind a pressing question- with Dom’s crew now working for The Rock, will they all be wearing UnderArmour apparel at some point? When writing a Retro-Diary about a 3 minute movie trailer, it is a writer’s job to bring up new ideas and question the directions that the movie may or may not take.
Simmons 1, Lauletta 1 (!)
Round 3: The Reintroduction of Letty into the Fast and Furious Universe
Lauletta’s use of pictures is effective here, as the case file with Letty’s picture that The Rock shows Dom is the same one that was brought to The Rock post-credits in Fast Five, which Lauletta is quick to point out. However, Simmons gives his readers a nice breakdown of why it is so shocking for us to be seeing Letty again, explaining the circumstances of her death and Dom’s absurd mental-recreation of the crash based around the tread marks left on the road. By providing this information to his audience, Simmons does a nice job of including those who may have missed out on having a full appreciation for everything fast and furious, while Lauletta simply scolds those who left the theatre too soon. Sorry Tyler; it was a good joke, but you have to be able to relate to your readers.
Simmons 2, Lauletta 1 (still !)
Round 4: Assembling the Crew and Explaining the Mission
This is a strong segment of the breakdown for Lauletta. After leading off with a “Can You Smell What The Rock Is Cooking?” pun, he asks a question that has been on the minds of Fast and Furious viewers since Fast Five- Why do these characters leave their lives and fly to an exotic location without having any clue of why they are going there? Does Paul Walker just send out a group text that reads “Rio” or “London” and then the crew just gets on Priceline.com, books a flight, and wanders into a warehouse? How do they find the warehouses? Do they rent them? At what rate? Additionally, Lauletta does a fine job of breaking down the growth of the franchise into what it has become while discussing the action montage that introduces us to our new villain. Simmons on the other hand bases most of his points around dialogue exchanges that happen in between the action montages and making references to Sly Stallone as if he is still a relevant enough figure to make references to. Maybe Sly shout outs still hold up in Simmons’ old world order, but this is Fast and Furious we are writing about here; it’s a young man’s game.
Simmons 2, Lauletta 2 (!!!)
Round 5: Commenting on the Street Race Scene and Action Montage
The two writer’s again decide to handle this segment of the trailer in their own way, with Lauletta explaining the scene as it will most likely exist within the final cut of the film and Simmons describing the standard beats of such a scene in a Fast and Furious trailer. Both are pieces of solid and informative writing. We’re calling this one a tie.
Simmons 3, Lauletta 3 (still !!!)
Round 6: Letty Shoots Dom
In what was by far the most shocking scene of the trailer in terms of character relations, Letty appears to have been turned, and fires a few rounds right into our hero’s chest. Simmons brings up the history between Dom and Letty, drops a reference to the barbeque scene in Fast Five, and gives a very nice summation of the importance of family within the franchise. Lauletta uses a simple, tee-them-up-and-knock-them-down style joke that relies too much on his pictures and doesn’t get that big of a laugh. It feels lazy. Try turning your caps lock off and saying something insightful for a change.
Simmons 4, Lauletta 3
Round 7: Ludacris
“Ludacris is afraid of tanks. It’s adorable.” – Lauletta
“Ludacris [into a walkie-talkie]: ‘Ah, guys? They got a tank.’ Tremendous.” – Simmons
But Lauletta gives us this picture of concerned Ludacris. Who doesn’t love a good picture of Ludacris when he’s concerned?
Simmons 4, Lauletta 4
Round 8: Final Montage
Simmons does a phenomenal job of breaking down all of the aspects of this final montage, but in viewing the forest he misses the trees, namely the tree that is The Rock doing a jump-punch table-top move with Vin Diesel. Sure Simmons mentions it, describing it as “The Rock leaping through the air and punching someone at a 45-degree angle,” but who wants to read about it when an amazing image is readily available?
Lauletta’s inclusion of images may not be enough to win him the whole contest, but it shows that he is aware of which moments of this montage were truly important.
Simmons 4, Lauletta 5 (OMG)
Round 8: Plane Takedown
Simmons decides to undercut the preposterous nature of this scene by speaking casually about it as if it was all we could expect from the franchise at this point. It works to an extent, I get the joke, but it is absent of the boisterous joy that such a scene should incite in true fans. Lauletta meanwhile points out the beauty of Tyrese Gibson holding a spear gun and after that, it’s CAPS LOCK THE WHOLE WAY. That is what all things Fast and all things Furious are about- CAPS LOCK LEVEL EXCITEMENT while taking life a quarter mile at a time.
FINAL TALLY: Simmons 4, Lauletta 6 (KILL YOUR HEROES)
Now if I can get first-personal for just a moment- I could have used this space to talk about how weird this entire situation was. Was this coincidence a sign that I am closer to writing for Grantland than I thought? Or was this a troublesome omen that paints me as little more than a psychopath obsessed with Bill Simmons to the point that I share his views on everything and am not much of a man on my own? The true answer, I’m confident, lies somewhere in between. Regardless, I win this battle Simmons.