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July 12, 2004

Oh, and Another Thing... « Social Issues »

I'm now pretty much totally boycotting Hollywood. I will not watch television programs, see movies in the movie theater, or rent movies. I reserve the right to purchase some movies on DVD, but even that will probably just be classic hits of the past, and there's a good chance I'll just buy pirated copies on trips to foreign countries.

Hollywood sucks. Their collective idea of what constitutes a good story sucks. Their collective idea of what constitutes morality sucks. Their politic sensibilities, as a whole, suck.

In retrospect, if motivations and actions of a significant character like Farimir can be changed to make what Hollywood considers a better story, who needs it? If "smoking" can and is changed to "gun industry" (because the dramatic world lives on cigarettes?) to change the whole focus of a dang good book, Runaway Jury into a mediocre movie, doesn't that say something about Hollywood's incompetence? Read The Bourne Identity, then watch the movie. There's little in common besides character and setting, is there? The movie didn't add a single thing to what was already present in an excellent book, and actually eliminated most of the story for the sake of Hollywood time norms.

Hollywood is all but worthless to me as entertainment. I refuse to contribute any longer.

Posted by Nathan at 04:09 PM | Comments (5)

Actually (and this isn't necessarily an endorsement of the choice), Hollywood changed the "cigarette industry" into the "gun industry" for Runaway Jury because the "Cigarette Industry" is a dated topic that had already been overfilmed (and for which numerous rulings had already been handed down). Therefore, there was no good way to revisit it and keep the story modern and realistic. By changing it to the "gun industry" however, they are on the path of a current tort hot-spot. The lawsuit presented in the film is very similar to class-action suits that have been filed, and clearly the writers felt that the story itself was at least as important (and worth telling) as the specificity of the case around which the events revolve. But suggesting that they changed it simply because most dramatists smoke is just silly...

On the other hand, there probably was at least some political intent behind what they ultimately changed the case to, so in that sense, your gripe may be a valid one.

As for the changes to Faramir's character...they bugged me too. And in retrospect, the LOTR crew (Jackson, Boyens, et al) has suggested that maybe they were wrong in making the choices they did where Faramir was concerned. Regardless, the character's motivations eventually returned to those Prof. Tolkein intended, so I didn't have a significant problem with the way he was ultimately portrayed in the film. I had a bigger problem with the way his father, Denethor, was portrayed.

For me though, it was enough that someone (outside of the Hollywood mainstream actually) had the guts to put LOTR on screen, and do a remarkably credible and artistic job of it to boot. In many ways, the LOTR films were completely contrary to the Hollywood norm. In fact, virtually every major Hollywood study believed they were wastes of time, money and effort. Guess they were wrong...

What the LOTR movies lacked in accuracy (probably debatable), they more than made up for (in my mind) by staying true to the "feel" of the Trilogy...or at least the "feel" I got when reading them.

PS-Welcome back, Nate!

Posted by: Dalin at July 12, 2004 05:24 PM

I'm feeling the same about the Bourne Identity (*shudder*) Trillogy a la Hollywood.
I saw the previews for the Bourne Supremacy.
Which I ranted about Here.

However, the ONE thing that people are saying, which I cannot agree with: Matt Damon is the next Steve McQueen? Sorry, I don't think so.

I've pretty much written the big screen off, and when I do see a movie, my expectation are pretty low.
The Small Screen is usually in the off position as well.

Posted by: Jeremy at July 12, 2004 05:32 PM

Dalin, you will remember my original objection to the trilogy was a fear that visual images could replace the vivid scenes of my imagination. That has shown to be sort of true, but I think in time my imagination will reassert itself.
I admit this wasn't simply an immediate principled stand I decided to take. I hadn't gone to see movies in a theater or rented a movie in over a year.
Lately, I've been thinking more about the messages Hollywood communicates to us. Mel Gibson's The Passion and Hollywood's reaction to it well as its embrace of the movie after the box office receipts were clear, well it kind of casts Hollywood and its values in stark contrast with mine. I'm tired of the casual sex in Hollywood. I'm tired of how they confuse attraction with love and clearly have no clue what part commitment and marriage should have before sexual intimacy.
I don't like their idea of a story, as well. I don't like the way that they portray violence: usually displaying all the depth and understanding of 12-year-old boys talking about sex. Example: the bad guy lays down his gun and surrendurs,the good guy reluctantly has to refrain from shooting him, then the bad guy invariably betrays that mercy with a cheapshot and the good guy gets to kill in self-defense. It seems to me this reveals that Hollywood hates the idea of a heinous murderer going through the court system and getting the death sentence, but has no way to give any satisfaction with the idea of the really bad guy getting life in prison with the possibility of parole after 20 years....or is at least incapable explaining why they feel that way to the rubes they are trying to fleece out of $8.50 a ticket.
And movies are too short, anyway, for subtlety and depth. Television is even worse. One bonus for me in watching Chinese productions is they have 20-episode television programs: that's a length you can really explore character and craft some moral messages; and they do, very capably. When US television programs have a running plot, they deliberately attempt to avoid giving any decent resolution (see: X-Files), because the producers, writers, actors, and network will try to milk more seasons just to make more money. Artistic integrity is always below the almighty dollar in Hollywood, and I'm sick of it.
And even if there is something out there that avoids all these problems (maybe Deadwood or the Sopranos?), Hollywood is still mainly about bucks and celebrity and eye-candy. I'm sick of that, too. There's very little out there that stimulates the mind as well as a good book, and what little there is is usually crap for other reasons. Give me a good book any day, one I can revisit at will. Books can handle deep ideas and complex issues far more capably than Hollywood.
Well, I'm done with Hollywood. I'm sick of Michael Moore, and I'm sick of the idiots in Hollywood who support crap like that. I'm sick of their media induced delusions of importance. I'm sick of what they use their money and fame and influence for.
Screw them. I may not be able to do anything significant to bring them down a notch, but at least I'm no longer selling my life in prepackaged increments.
So I'm forgoing an hour or two of mindless entertainment each weekend. Or compared to some people, maybe I'm throwing away 3 hours of mindless entertainment every night. So what? I get to keep my time, spend it with my kids, or reading, or studying to improve myself, or playing guitar. My mind and my time are my own, not Hollywood's.

Posted by: Nathan at July 12, 2004 07:39 PM

"My mind and my time are my own, not Hollywood's."

So long as your personal stand is not meant to imply that anyone else who chooses to watch movies or television in their free time is, in some way, surrendering that time to Hollywood, I certainly have no problem with this...and I commend you on your convictions. It's good to take a moral stand about things.

I would remind you though that boycotting "Hollywood" does not necessarily mean that you have to boycott film. There are hundreds of excellent, non-mainstream films released every year -- most from independent and/or foreign companies -- that manage to make powerful statements and explore myriad issues very well. And most are created for reasons other than making money, although that can never be ignored as a factor. Making movies costs money...lots and lots of money. It's only reasonable that those who make the films regard them from an economic perspective. Do you think the "best" novelists in the business regard it any differently?

It's also unrealistic to suggest that a medium like film is too brief to adequately explore issues of subtlety and depth. What about Shakespeare's plays? They have a running time of about 2.5 hours, and it's pretty foolish to suggest that they don't contain subtlety and depth. But if that's too dated for you, what about Peter Shaffer? What about Arthur Miller? What about Neil Simon? Does their work lack either subtlety or depth? A story certainly doesn't have to be "long" to be multi-faceted, and that's equally true in plays and screenplays.

Posted by: Dalin at July 12, 2004 08:00 PM

Believe it or not, I did consider lumping in dramatic plays, and deliberately decided not to. The only thing is, a movie is long if it gets to two hours. Most are 90 minutes, and that includes opening credits, and the extra hour Shakespeare takes provides significantly more room. Consider the depth of a novel that stops at 100 pages versus one that goes to 150...
However, it's not impossible for film to be done well, no. The Seven Samurai is masterpiece, and to tell the truth, I think there is some real depth to Joe Vs the Volcano; I think The Best Years of Our Lives is an amazing bit of theater. But Hollywood isn't giving us movies like that anymore. Others are, perhaps, but I'm not willing to put in the time to find out what ones are worth it...
Nah, it doesn't matter one bit to me if anyone else watches Hollywood. It is my value system that tells me reading a book is more valuable than watching a screen, that going out and playing with my kids or taking a walk with my wife, or even just sitting and playing JA2 is a better use of my time than letting Hollywood tell me it's okay to have sex with my co-worker if I really want to. But this is clearly one situation in which perception, judgment, and values intersect. Hollywood may well have some redeeming characteristics that I don't recognize. Not recognizing them, my value system says their product is crap. Judging it to be crap, it would be foolish of me to spend time. But if you start with a different assumption, i.e., that watching a television program or movie can add value to your life in some way, then your conclusions and resulting actions should be different than mine. I can tell you my reasons for buying a CRV, and they are perfectly logical and correct...but that wouldn't mean that anyone else should follow suit and buy a CRV. Different priorities, different values, different results.

Posted by: Nathan at July 12, 2004 08:19 PM
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