Armchair Mogul
The (backseat) driving force behind Hollywood. Way behind.

Dear Hollywood: “I Want to Feel Like a Kid Again.”

A rant; if you will allow.

I’ve been watching movies and TV with my 4-year-old nephew a lot lately. MAN……do I want that ‘wide eyed enjoyment,’ again.
Hollywood has made me very tired.

I feel as though… my movie going experience has turned me into an 87-year-old, and all the little Hollywood people are playing on my expensive lawn.

When I go to the flicker show, I want to feel the wonder of ignorance; I want an escape from reality, right? Why else would I pay $10?

*sigh* There are a few things that are causing this, some of which I can control, most of which I can’t. For example:

1.       I’m tired of Post Modernism:

I’m tired of the breakdown, analyzation and destruction of what works in a story.

I’m tired of being forced to feel sorry for the bad guy. Sometimes, evil is just evil.

I remember hearing that, in 1977 when Star Wars was first released,  Darth Vader came on the screen for the first time….. and JUST based on the bellcose music and the outfit, everyone in the audience started booing him because they KNEW he was the bad guy.

How (&%$*&^) awesome is that? Do you know how bad I want that feeling back? I want my bad guys TO BE BAD GUYS. I don’t need to know that Darth Vader was once a cute little boy. I don’t care that Michael Myers was abused. I don’t care that Ming the Merciless wasn’t hugged as a child.

I don’t need to know that the Grinch was once a kid.
In the cartoon, I didn’t give a crap about his back-story. As far as I was concerned he was born evil, and I loved it. It made it that much more exciting when he changed.

What did we know about Kevin Spacey’s character in Se7en? NOTHING. And that scares the hell out of me. You know what we know about Hannibal Lecter’s childhood? NOTHING. Heath Ledger’s Joker? NOTHING. Sometimes you just gotta let people be evil, so when they are vanquished you can sleep at night, not over analyze and excuse their actions as just being ‘tragic.’

On the same token, I don’t need my Good Guys to be on the “Razor’s edge.” I’m SOOO tired of it. I can name on one hand how many “heroes” we’ve been given in the last 10 years that aren’t drunks, murderers, thieves, full of themselves, players, or psychologically messed up.

The Watchmen was a PERFECT example for this. It was written as a ‘non-mainstream comic’ over 20 years ago, but the temperature is PERFECT for that movie now. It’s not shocking at all when the most heroic character of the bunch stabs a bad guy in the throat.

We have too much of the “Anti-Hero.” Saw is a good example of this. The dude is killing tons and tons of people in horrible ways, but “Hey, he’s teaching people a lesson.”
So is Dexter. Dexter happens to be a great show, BUT …that kind of show is ALL WE HAVE NOW! Anti-heroes work in sporadic stories, but if EVERYONE is an anti-hero… then you change what the definition of ‘hero’ is.

I hate it.

I know so many people who hate Superman because he’s “too much of a boy scout.” Well, I miss it. I want my good guys to be good guys.

2.       I’m tired of Pastiche.

Movies referencing other movies is so 1994. Someone please tell Quentin Tarantino that. The breakdown of the ‘fourth wall’ in TV and Movies has been kind of the beginning ‘death knell’ to storytelling to me. Kevin Smith has made his entire career of referencing other movies in his movies. I’m tired of it. I want to be transported into a story. Not assume that this movie is happening at the wall outside the movie theater where the teenagers are smoking.

3.       I’m tired of ‘Making of’ Documentaries:

It’s my fault. I kinda went nuts with this. I LOVE how they make movies and special effects, but I’m BURNT …OUT. There is literally NO MORE magic for me. I now know how they do all of it.
I have to heal my seeping imagination arteries before it’s too late.

I’m not sure what I’m asking. I’m either asking to not want to know how you did a certain special effect,  or I’m asking to stop knowing EXACTLY how you did a special effect.

I recently watched the movie MOON, starring Sam Rockwell for the second time. That movie takes place ON THE MOON for Christ’s sake and I didn’t ONCE think about how they made it happen. It was just a solid friggin movie. I kinda watched it with the eyes of youth because I was so engrossed in his character that I didn’t care AT ALL how they made him be in two places at once, OR how they made the moon effects. It was what it was. The special effects were there to indicate location …and that was it.

4.       I’m tired of hearing about “The Industry”

When I was a kid I thought the band Kiss were superheroes. They weren’t human. Gene was ACTUALLY a demon, Ace was ACTUALLY from space. Now Gene Simmons is a grumpy old father on “Gene Simmons Family Jewels,” where we get to see him put deals together and be a father to teenagers. There is NO mystery anymore.

I’m tired of hearing about whether a movie will make enough money. I’m tired of hearing that independent films have made back 200% of their investment. I’m tired of seeing the actors of “the real horror film, Paranormal Activity” on Leno before the movie comes out.

Where is the separation between Hollywood and shlubs like me? Do you WANT to know that someone has to wash your dishes at Disney World? Where is the magic?

Is part of the problem that everyone with a video camera and a Mac thinks they can make a movie now? Is it because we think that there are no heroes left in the world?

In closing…here’s the problem;

If you were to look at list of all of my favorite “Entertainment Related” things, you would find The Matrix, Fight Club, LOST, Dexter, etc. ALL of which fit everything I said above.

The problem is, IT’S BEEN DONE! TIME TO MOVE ON.

It’s a very specific type of storytelling, and is only effective if it surrounded by “normal” type stories.

Sure, you could say “Well, the ‘good guys winning’ type story has been done before.” The problem with that is this; either the good guys win or the bad guys win. When you make your heroes into bad guys and your bad guys into good guys, what is the next paradigm shift? What is next? Where do we go from here?

You’ve turned a black and white tale into grey mush, so now what? What is the next logical step? How does that evolve? The only thing it does is make people not know who to root for.

What say you, people?

Doesn’t it even matter? Am I crazy? Am I just getting old?

–          Voodrew

6 Responses to “Dear Hollywood: “I Want to Feel Like a Kid Again.””

  1. Great post! I’m with you on everything you said. What I think is sad is that no one is trying to be original anymore. “Oh well. We’ve run out of ideas. Let’s make a remake of a movie that’s already been done twice. It worked before. Let’s do it again!”

  2. Oh my gosh, I know exactly what you mean and completely agree! I was just thinking about this last night after watching an episode of Glee on Hulu. It’s like, it’s supposed to be original and creative how every protagonist is so messed up (Rachel is so self-absorbed and spoiled, Emma is OCD, etc.), and I’m starting to root for the bad guys (Sue Sylvester is the funniest, most clever character on the show; Quinn is turning into a sensitive, caring person).

    I told my husband last night, I don’t want heroes who are so completely perfect that I can’t relate to them, but I’m starting to hate them, and I’m pretty sure that’s not the point.

    I say, you wanna give the hero flaws? Fine. But give them flaws that aren’t linked to their character–they can make mistakes without being someone I’m not even sure I want to root for. Let the complexity of their character come from an inner struggle, not the fact that they’re a dirt-bag who finally chooses to do the right thing in the end. I thought Luke Skywalker was a complex character because he was dealing with all kinds of inner issues–trying to decide who he would become, etc., not because he was a sleeze who just happened to be fighting on the right side (that’s why we had Han Solo). Like you said, it’s fine to do sometimes, but it shouldn’t be the norm.

    I’ve watched several movies lately where I kept saying, “Who am I supposed to LIKE in this movie?!” The second I find myself wondering who I should be rooting for, you’ve lost me.

    As far as the rest, I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that our society really does want to know every last detail about everything…and technology affords us the ability to find out. And you’re right, once you know it all, it loses it’s magic. I still wish I didn’t know John Krasinkski is engaged to Emily Blunt. I want Jim Halpert and Pam Beesley to be in love in real life, goshdarnit…or at least I want to be able to pretend they are! 🙂

    Great post!

  3. I’ve been using the term “post-ironic” to refer to what I’m looking for these days; something I can appreciate genuinely on it’s own terms without the layers of jadedness and sneering “seen-it-all” attitude taking the edge off.
    The anti-hero and the sympathetic villain are the fucking status quo now, and it’s sad, because we’re deprived of the simpler straightforward hero’s story just as we’re destroying the nuance and originality that let us enjoy the occasional anti-hero’s tale.
    The Clash of the Titans remake was a recent breaking point for me. The film was so obsessed with NOT presenting us a typical hero that it cut it’s own throat and morphed into an unwatchable mess. What a phenomenal waste, all to embody some executive’s “This ain’t your grand-daddy’s Perseus!!!” tagline.
    It makes me wonder if the general public even wants a hero anymore. Isn’t it better to feel justified in your own selfish behaviors, to know that even the good guys are junkies/rapists/murderers? I hate it, I hate the false tough guy attitudes it produces, I hate the whole gangsta-ization of the modern hero.
    I haven’t had many opportunities in my life to do something that was emphatically “right”, or to stand up against something that was decidedly “wrong”, but the feeling that comes over you when you take those moments and you act out of a clear sense of conscience, that’s some of the most powerful emotion I’ve ever felt. That’s some Optimus Prime shit. That’s some Superman shit. In those moments you know that we’re capable of overcoming the greed and selfishness that are the modern dilemma. I’ve always enjoyed hero stories that embody those concepts, but unfortunately the paradigm has shifted.

  4. 1.
    It was very well established through the prequel trilogy of Star Wars that Darth Vader was a Jedi once, Luke’s dad, lured in by the Dark Side.
    Kevin Spacey spends most of his screentime in Se7en explaining why he does what he does.

    I actually prefer that over pure evil/unexplained characters. The original Mike Myers could’ve just as well been a Zombie, a mythological creature, something that doesn’t exist. Presenting him as a freak of society is more scary to me.

    The flawed hero is probably a result of popularity. Since you are a Lost-Fan (the answered questions are how I got here, thanks btw):
    Most of my women friends like Sawyer better than Jack. In the first 3 seasons, Jack was just too nice. Not interesting enough. I think the writers caught onto that and made him a little darker (albeit a little crazy in the process).

    Don’t watch Smith/Tarantino movies then. There’s enough other movies out there.

    Don’t watch “Making Of’s” then. Seriously, it’s not as if they’re forced onto you.

    I don’t know, get off the Internet? You seem to be the kind of person who seeks out information about the movie industry though.

  5. Hi Marcus, thanks for coming here, however you got here. Everyone once in a while, you just need to post a rant because there really is no “answer” to the problem. If I had a “Here’s how to fix it in 20 steps or less” list for Hollywood I would have posted it, but it was mostly just an emotional rant.

    To answer what you were saying though….

    1. You’re right, we DID know Vader was a Jedi…however when I was referring to Vader, I was referring to the fact that Lucas found it necessary to start him off as a cute little boy who always helped everybody without thinking. We knew Vader was once a Jedi, but we never knew what truly went wrong with Vader in the original trilogy. That kept some mystery there, and made him scarier in my opinion. As far as we know he always kind of skirted the dark side. He was shrouded in mystery. What set him off? Since Lucas insisted on spending sooo much time showing that Anakin was a good guy (albeit whiny) it just made it so abrupt and nonsensical when he changed that quick and decided to kill everyone he loved.
    As far as Kevin Spacey is concerned, if I remember correctly (tell me if I’m wrong) he spends his screen time telling people why he does what he does, but it is in response to what he sees wrong with the world. (like the Joker.) What I was saying is, if the movie were made today, they would spend 20 minutes of the movie filming his father not hugging him when he was a child

    2. If it was only localized to Tarantino and Smith movies, I wouldn’t have a leg to stand on, however I was commenting on the standardization of most of Hollywood’s new school of comedy. It goes all over the place, from Smith….. to Judd Atapow,…Superbad… to The Hangover, etc. everyone is either referencing some other movie or interacting with actors playing themselves in movies, there is a complete destruction of the fourth wall.

    3. The very first sentence of this portion was “It’s my fault.” I admitted in the article that it was my fault for over doing it on the documentaries. That probably goes with the internet as well.

    4. Hearing about the industry is unavoidable now. Even if I never turned on my computer, I’d be bombarded on the evening TV and on the newsstand.

    I understand a lot of what you are saying, because whenever I hear someone complaining about what’s on the radio, I say “Well, change the channel.” The major issue with that in this regard is I am talking about a global paradigm shift. It’s in everything; it’s unavoidable because it permeates in all media.
    If the answer for me as a movie fan is to stop watching movies, stop going on the internet and avoid TV and avoid the newsstand, then FML.

  6. […] Neverthless, we pressed on. We’ve commented on blockbusters, praised our favorite creators, cast upcoming movies, slammed overused gimmicks and even made some existential arguments about the state of the arts. […]

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