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.