Modern day mystery

For well over a year now, there's been a new form of street entertainment at Disney's Hollywood Studios that guests have been able to enjoy called "modern day citizens of Hollywood".  This new group of entertainers are in addition to the "classic" Citizens of Hollywood that roam the park thinking it's 1947.  The new group stages film productions around the park (usually on the Streets of America) where they pretend to film guests for faux productions. But after all this time, I have to admit I simply don't get it and quite frankly, don't find them entertaining.

The basic premise of the modern day citizens of Hollywood is they are a film crew, usually comprised of a director, a camera man and someone else to handle the guests, filming guests doing poses or talking to the camera.  The thing is, there is no production being done.  Many times they aren't even actually taping anything but the guests are oblivious to it.  The guests think they are actually being filmed.

What I simply do not understand is what is the entertainment factor here.  There's little to no comedy at all, as the citizens of Hollywood are "playing it straight" all the times I've seen them.  And since they aren't really taping anything, it just seems like a ruse to make guests think they're part of something.  But when you think about it for a few seconds and realize there are guests walking in the background of the shot or people yelling/talking right next to the camera, this can't be anything legitimate.

What compounds the problem for me is much of the cast of the modern day citizens of Hollywood are former Citizens of Hollywood (read: the funny people).  Some of them were really quite entertaining and it's a shame that they are relegated to pretending to be a film crew that just doesn't seem enjoyable to me.

I've talked about this to other fans to get their sense of things and nearly everyone I've talked to agrees that they aren't anywhere near as funny/entertaining as the original citizens of Hollywood.  Even the ardent fans of the streetmosphere characters in the park agree that they don't find these modern day film crews as enjoyable as their classic breathern.  Nevermind the fact that, well, the film crews are lying about the fact that they are filming something.

If I play devil's advocate, I think the rationale behind the film crews would be, "The kids and families that think they are in these products enjoy their few minutes of fame because they buy into it on some level and really get a kick out of being part of the production, the kids especially".  To that point, I think most would be upset or disappointed to hear that the film production is fake.  One mother told me her daughter was "heartbroken" when her mother told her the lens cap was on the camera half the time.

There needs to be some sort of a re-thinking of this concept.  The appeal of the classic citizens of Hollywood is the humor.  No one really cares if they are dressed like it's the 1940s or that they think it's the 1940s.  Guests love the citizens of Hollywood because they are funny and put on a good show.  I like the concept of stocking the Streets of America with more contemporary versions of the citizens of Hollywood, but lets make them just as funny.  

Knowing the people behind the characters, I know these are really quite talented actors that give a lot of effort to their craft.  And I admire the desire to try something new, but up to this point, I just don't see this idea working.  While I love to champion anything Disney's Hollywood Studios that I can, I have to think it's time for the modern day citizens of Hollywood to look back to their "cousins" from the '40s and draw some of what made them so entertaining for all these years.

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A regular look into Disney's Hollywood Studios, both past and present, with commentary and analysis from Matt Hochberg.


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Posted: Wednesday, April 11, 2012 by