Evolve, Or Die!!

I wanted to do a follow up from the GoT post that is not particularly flattering to Americans, fleshing out a theory I’ve had for quite awhile now. A nature extension of the instant gratification/low information/fast food society we find ourselves in, is Hollywood just following suit? Has lowered IQ’s and attention spans demanded a change in formula to accommodate, a dumbing down, where titillation (nudity and F bombs) is now a stable, not only to enhance an adequate script, but in too many cases, to fortify an inadequate one?

There is a scene in Wanderlust ( a dreadful movie, BTW) where an indie producer gets her nature production on penguins rejected by the HBO execs. They tell her that they are looking for something a bit more cutting edge (code word; salacious) for their viewing audience. The producer facetiously suggests that her penguins can turn into vampires, then between gratuitous sex scenes they can wipe out the rest of the heard, all in an insatiable desire for more blood, the exec says ,”I like it”.

Contrast this with what the BBC puts out across the pond, specifically something like Downton Abbey for example. Downton Abbey is even more popular than GoT, factoring in world wide audiences, yet, no nudity, no profanity, minimal violence. A compelling story and exquisite acting carries this series, they don’t need all of the other stuff to attract a following. And even when nudity or violence is appropriate (how do they manage to find that line between tasteful and gratuitous so easily) they bring it off with the alacrity and ease of a Tony Parker dish off to Tim Duncan under the hoop, it is poetry in motion.

Such great BBC classics as Parades End, Any Human Heart, Island at War, each had sex scenes , but the camera lingers, it does not gawk, a subtlety lost on American film makers.

And why is it that when HBO wants to make a series on a grand scale, they go to England for cast members? GoT, Rome (another great series) , surely America has more Spencer Tracys or Marlon Brandos available for cinematic greatness here at home. Do we really need to go abroad to find acting talent (Daniel Day Lewis, Russel Crow, Sam Worthington, Alex O’Loughlin).

Naturally GoT has more sex scenes then in the books, this is what Hollywood thinks is necessary to get butts in the seats, at least here in America. But all too often the crutch of no censorship and unfettered creativity stifles real creativity, so in place of story or a performance that grabs you, we are given junk food, an exposed breast, a severed head, and a potty mouthed protagonist. But like Chinese food, an hour later we feel unsatisfied and a profound regret at a wasted hour out of your lives.

If life is too short to waste on bad wine, it certainly is too short to waste on bad cinema. Quality over quantity, and don’t think you are too big to fail, our discretionary dollars should demand a better effort then what we are getting.

Comments are closed.

  1. Hal_10000

    I don’t think GoT represents a decline of television but actually an improvement. T&A not withstanding, the show demands a lot of attention to know what’s going on and requires a commitement. We’ve been seeing a lot more of this in the video age: shows that have long arcs and tell complicated stories. That’s a huge improvement over the days when they hit the reset button every week.

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  2. Xetrov

    Slightly off topic…

    Top Gear UK is genius. Genius! The hosts are intelligent, the show is well written, and the cinematography is brilliant. Probably my favorite show to watch on TV. I even laugh when they’re making fun of Americans.

    The American “Top Gear” sucks monkey balls. The three hosts are a joke homage to American stereotype idiots. It’s poorly written, and poorly filmed.

    Why? I don’t get it.

    That being said, I also don’t get the attraction to Downton Abbey.

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  3. richtaylor365 *

    the show demands a lot of attention to know what’s going on and requires a commitement.

    As does reading all the books in the series, but people do that, hence their popularity. Yet despite all this HBO finds the need to embellish, to sex up the show, why is that? Do they feel that their audience does not have the patience or the fortitude to invest their time in to the show without the hand job or the reach around? I think that if the BBC took on this endeavor, they would show more fidelity to the author’s true intent, carnage or fornicating where the story said it belonged.

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  4. ScottE

    The worst part of low attention-span movie making is “jittercam”, shaking the stupid camera around constantly, god forbid you’re able to focus on something for more than a second.

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  5. CM

    Contrast this with what the BBC…

    At the end of the day HBO is a purely commercial company. The BBC and other publicly funded organisations are able to keep ‘standards’ higher and not simply kowtow to the lowest common denominator (not saying HBO does that as they produce some amazing stuff – GoT is a current example).
    But what you are complaining about is why some people fight fiercely to retain public broadcasting (tv and radio).
    I listen to public radio (called Radio NZ National, or RNZN) far more than any other station here. When I get sick of it, I’ll head to a commercial music station. There are commercial equivalents to RNZN but they are purely driven by ratings/advertising. IMO they are far inferior. I’m very happy to pay the pittance it costs me each year to keep quality public broadcasting. There are no journalists harder on the government than RNZN.
    Man I wish all the reality and cooking and talent quest shows would all go away and die quietly in a corner somewhere. But clearly that’s what most people want to watch. I’ll avoid them, and be very thankful there are good alternatives.

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  6. Mississippi Yankee

    I think that if the BBC took on this endeavor, they would show more fidelity to the author’s true intent, carnage or fornicating where the story said it belonged.

    As to “fidelity to the author’s true intent” George R R Martin is the main screen-writer for G0T. Which is one of the reasons book #6 isn’t on the shelf yet.

    And yes BBC does do some fabulous stuff, but they also tend to put their left leaning spin into many of their shows.
    CM’s comment about his mastublatory affair with “public broadcasting” should be indicative of that fact.

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  7. CM

    CM’s comment about his mastublatory affair with “public broadcasting” should be indicative of that fact.

    Wow, you must truly suck at masturbation.

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  8. Hal_10000

    The worst part of low attention-span movie making is “jittercam”, shaking the stupid camera around constantly, god forbid you’re able to focus on something for more than a second.

    THIS! I hate the jittercam. The worst thing about BSG was the jittercam and weird zooms. I especially hate it in movies. Why on Earth would you spend a zillion dollars on special effects, train your actors in martial arts only to make the action invisible. If you look at the best action directors: Nolan, Jackson, Lucas — they do not play with jittercam. they let you see what’s happening.

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