Thursday, May 26, 2011

Why Do We Put Up With Garbage?

"They don't make 'em like they used to" sounds like something an old person says. I always thought no matter how old I got wouldn't act like an old person.

Like when I see crazy hairstyles a la Justin Bieber, my first instinct is to say "What in the fuck is THAT?" but then I remember that fashion is always changing and as soon as you stop changing with it, you're a forgotten stick in the mud.

Same with music. I may not like a lot of new music, but I don't begrudge whoever does, because the older generation always hates the newer generation's tunes, and that's just dumb.

But Hollywood, man. They're fucked. You hardly EVER see a good big budget film anymore. They're out there. I loved the recent Star Trek film. I loved Wall-E. Inglourious Basterds was great, but at $70 million it's sort of medium budget by today's standards. Black Swan was amazing but it "only" cost $30 million.

Why do the rest of them suck? Because Hollywood won't pay screenwriters, and when they do, they end up rewriting it anyway.

Think about it. If you spend $200 million on a film, can't you budget, say, $2 million for the script and get the world's best screenwriter to pen it? I would expect every big budget film ever made to have the best story human beings can generate. Seriously. The films have the best special effects money can buy, but without a story, isn't it just a fucking video game that you don't even get to control? And screenwriters cost a hell of a lot less than special effects.

Full disclosure: I write screenplays, and I've had one optioned that was never made. So this is personal to me, and maybe a bit of jealousy on my part. But even if I never sell another script, I STILL WANT TO SEE GOOD FILMS!

I read an excellent article today by Roger Ebert about poorly screened films and how Hollywood is suffocating itself with mediocrity. He's totally right, and it's not just with projectors and their operators. It's the entire idea of putting out garbage and having the moviegoing public accept it.

Seriously, if Quentin Tarantino and Darren Aronofsky and a few other select directors can make films without creative interference from the studio, I bet there are 100 more out there. Talent is everywhere. But when marketing and business people muck up the product with their harebrained ideas about what they think will "sell," they effectively cannibalize their own product.

The music industry suffered mightily because of shortsighted executives who couldn't see how technology would change their business. Hollywood, I'll have you know I spend ten times more time on YouTube than I do at the theater, because content that "amateurs" offer for free is almost always more entertaining and genuine than your contrived shit that's written by committee.

You don't have to pay me. I'm serious. But please pay someone. In the long run, your customers will thank you with record ticket receipts. I guarantee it.