I did not include them when I was talking about Eli Roth vs. competency. Edgar Wright directed "Shaun of the Dead" and the upcoming (and highly anticipated by me) "Hot Fuzz." I'm sure Hollywood will take notice eventually and offer him Transformers 3 or whatever (insert hack director here) rejects. Guillermo del Toro and Alfonso Cuaron... well, along with Paul Greengrass, they're pretty much flawless. But who gets the big movies to direct? The same guys who somehow magically manage to spend a hundred million on a movie, get twice that for publicity, and watch the thing make a profit. I mean, couldn't a freakin' monkey direct these movies and have them make money? It's a self-fulfilling prophecy. The studios have decided that Brett Ratner and these guys are the only capable directors in town. They give millions to publicizing them. The movies make money. Wow. Who'd a thunk it?
Here's the really interesting thing about this. Say you're, oh, I don't know, let me pick a name out of a hat -- Craig Maizin. Say you're Craig Maizin, and you write "Scary Movie" and all these "parody" films that aren't really parodies. You're well compensated for your work. Like, ridiculously so. But face it -- you're writing crap. Now, there's nothing wrong with writing crap. Really. There isn't. But people who write, produce and direct crap invariably want to be artistes. If just ONE of these jackholes would go, "Yeah, it's crap, I know it's crap, but they pay me well," I'd fall over. They never do that. They're defensive and insist that they're great writers. If you're such a great writer, prove it. Step out from behind your safety net of dross and PROVE IT. I know great writers. I've worked with great writers. And guess what? they don't blather on about it. THEY JUST FUCKING WRITE. Whatg I love most about Maizin is that he's got a message board and he's currently got two genius writers on there schooling the crap out of him. I love it.
Likewise, TeeVee. Admit when shit doesn't work. One big problem with all of this is that it's not quantifiable. You can't point to something and blame failure on it. So that becomes arbitrary. It's pin the tail on the failure. Hmm. What should we blame THIS time? Take the SciFi channel. They've got a marginal commercial/massive critical success in Battlestar Galactica, but they can't develop or schedule any actual sci-fi because the audience won't watch it. But the executives' attitude about Galactica is one of frustration. They DO love the show. They just wish people would watch it. So I feel for them there.
However, then they try a fantasy show -- the Dresden Files -- and because it's not succeeding, they will dump the entire genre. This, to me, is coming from the NBC-Uni umbrella of fear. Because they never go, "Hmm. Maybe the show just, I dunno, SUCKS." It's easier for the corporate mentality to just forego the genre. Edouard wondered if American TeeVee still relied on a creative force. It really doesn't. It's all corporate, and corporations are heartless beasts that will drown a baby if it makes a profit. Profit is ALL they care about. They claim to care about quality but they'll knife a good show in the back if it doesn't get ratings. The days of standing by what you believe in are over. And this filters down to the people who are supposed to be creative. You start to second guess yourself, and you work with people who second guess themselves and try to read the minds of the folks who make the decisions. That will inevitably lead to shit. But nobody will ever admit it, because you don't have to. You can point to three million factors to explain why something doesn't work.
People have really lost their way in this business. Voice is being completely bled out of writing, even as writers are being praised for their voice. So a writer looks at something that, deep down, they know is crap, and they just listen to the people who swoon over it. It's become harder and harder to defend a creative voice. It's a lot easier to just give up and when the thing fails because too many cooks have crapped in the pot, you can go, "Well, I just did what they said to do. It's not my fault."
Having done this, I can assure you that it leads nowhere. But still, people do it. That's partly because crap gets on the air. And then you have to defend it as good, even when you know it's crap. This is the curious place TeeVee finds itself. Nobody can be honest. If you somehow get success, you have to just go with it. So we're all lying to ourselves and then the audience sits there, totally bewildered, forced to watch Amazing Race AllStars and cheer for Sanjaya on American Idol. Sad.
There's a really fine line to walk here -- to be precious, but not TOO precious about your work. Because at the end of the day, these are the people paying the bills. Sure, it's a huge scam and the creators and the audience are the victims. But it makes life easier just to admit you're a whore. Leave the money on the dresser. I'm gonna go work on the novel.
Wow. Despressing post. But hey, it's pilot season. It's supposed to be depressing! Next time I'll talk about fluffy kittens and otters holding hands.
np - The View, "Wasted Little DJs." Really, just one of the best songs of the year.