Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Big Hollywood: River of Poo
If you're like me, you don't go to the movies much. I can count on one hand the number of movies I've seen this year; that's one part me having been on a budget, one part I'd rather take a cattle prod to the gooch than sit through another formulaic crap-festival. The more I mature in my outlook, the more stringent I become in my entertainment tastes. And Hollywood, in my opinion, is a wasteland of crap right now. It's that toilet in the men's bathroom that clogged days ago, but instead of someone sacking up and plunging the bastard, everybody just kept crossing their fingers and flushing it: "Maybe this time it'll clear up!"
We, as a population, are conditioned to expect and react to big-budget spectacles, movies that are as bombastic in their presentation as they are devoid of meaningful thematic, emotional, or philosophical content. I know a lot of people who watch primarily foreign movies, and I don't blame them; foreign audiences are looking for impact, meaning, and emotional relevance. The average Americans, so far removed from a book that their imaginations have atrophied to something resembling a lima bean, are looking for something that makes them bang on their cage bars, chanting, "look ma, it shiny!"
And I understand why it happens, and I forgive Hollywood. They are INVESTORS looking to TURN A PROFIT. Asking Hollywood to produce art is like asking Donald Trump to paint something that doesn't suck ass; it's just silly. When it comes to making their money, they do what works. Anything that is fresh, new, or visionary, to them, represents an untested product. They're the gambling equivalent of the poker player who folds anything less than Ace-queen. Except, in their game the pot is worth hundreds of millions.
Case in point: Iron Man. Before you get your collective panties in a bunch, I liked Iron Man. Even though I'm about to rip it a new asshole for its lack of originality, it stands as a big-budget spectacle done correctly. Anyway, my complaint against Iron Man is that it DOESN'T TAKE ANY RISKS. Observe.
-Comic book movie? Check.
-Enough special effects to give Neo a hard-on? Check.
-PG-13 rating to avoid alienating the deep pockets of the family market? Check.
-Kick-ass American militarism destroying generic Muslim enemies? Check.
-Completely devoid of any moral ambiguity? Check.
-Wise-cracking hero whose utter lack of personality is overshadowed only by his utter failure to predict that his obviously-evil number 2 will turn on him? Check.
Actually, as I was making that list, it made me think of Transformers, which was essentially two hours of Michael Bay splooging his special effects budget into America's collective face in a giant act of patriotic bukake.
WE are the ones to blame for this schlock. Every time you spend $10 on a movie, you're voting "yes" on that concept or formula. And Hollywood counts the votes diligently.
What, my friends, is the cure? How can we address this glaring defect in an entertainment format that was once considered "art?"
Number one: stop seeing stupid movies. How can you tell which ones are going to be stupid? Easy. Their trailers are stupid.
Number two: go rent Alfonso Cuaron's Children of Men.
My next post will be about why that movie not only kicks ass, but how it's everything that Hollywood usually isn't.