The worst part of watching bad films is seeing good elements go to waste because of problematic areas. For example, good deliveries of really bad lines or poor direction fucking up a quality script. Even high quality design work can be depressing. Millions of dollars and thousands of man hours spent to create convincing sets, which then go completely to waste thanks to a few people who don't know or don't care what they're supposed to be doing. Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle cost $120 million to produce. It has some good elements among the squalid mish mash that results from the film's more problematic elements. I've never been able to sit through the whole thing because it has just about everything I despise in a movie. Bad acting? Check. Unreality in a film that's meant to have at least some semblance of a connection to the real world? Check. ADDHD direction with far too many closeups and plenty of poorly executed camera shots? Bingo. Some of the set design is good, though. There are some reasonably well-executed performances, and Bernie Mac shouts "It's raining white women!" I just don't understand how, for $120 million the film could come out so shoddily. Someone should have said. "Hey, umm...yeah...McG dude. That CG looks like pimply, hairy, thoroughly unpleasant ass. You might want to reconsider its use. Maybe a nice blue screen, some miniatures, or a rethought of the sequences would be in order." You'd think that in a film that exploits the sexual attractiveness of its stars, while constantly making an attempt to recognize girl power by making men look like complete buffoons (rant about this located lower), could make a Cameron Diaz Demi Moore fight at least a little bit sexy. Or at least not unsexy. You'd be wrong. Meanwhile, Rob Reiner's spectacular decline continues with Alex and Emma, a movie that's competently produced but has absolutely no reason to exist. It doesn't do anything that hasn't been done before and better, and isn't even bad enough to mock. It's the filmic equivalent of a gray, headachey, day It just drones blandly on with all the charm and wit of a 1930's algebra textbook.
When you've got that much money you shouldn't fuck up, at least not that profoundly. Screenplays sell for 6 figures, and there are plenty of good ones out there not being produced, or being made on a shoestring budget. How hard is it to see that something that might cost millions of dollars to do is either unnecessary or just a bad idea? Not very. Every multi-million dollar blockbuster should be forced to hire someone for about $75,000 called a reality checker. He'd be a guy with an IQ around 120 and an excellent head on his shoulders. Someone who might say "Okay. That line's cornier than a supercombo from the local multiplex, fix it." or "So she's going to punch a shark, in the nose, underwater, while carrying him to safety? No. That's NOT what she's going to do."
Big celebrities should be required to have their own personal reality checker, who should have the right to smack the celeb right in the face if he decides to do something outlandish. "Hey, I think I'm going to take this Gigli job." *WHACK*
"No Ben. You aren't."
"It would allow me to work with Jennifer and..." *SMACK*
"I've read the script, Affleck. Come on, say it again. I think the left side is a little redder than the right. Give me a chance to even it out."
How much good would this do for Hollywood, and our culture in general? Is there any downside? Wouldn't the savings in terrible movies be more than worth the hiring of these guys, who WOULD get health benefits? If anyone who reads this lives in California I request you to put this on the next referendum. Seriously, it's desperately needed.
I'm going to see Love Story tomorrow, a movie I hate not purely out of principal. I'm going because it's a chance to spend time with friends, and outside, and it might be fun to mercilessly mock it. Getting out and about is good for me. Expect a scathing review on Wednesday, possibly full of profanity and an accusation of satanism leveled against poor Allie McGraw.
I have had a reasonably good summer. I haven't written as much as I'd have liked but I've spent time with friends and thought about things and relaxed and even had fun from time to time. I think that I will get that publishable piece ready for the website. I'm planning on writing about how the Founding Fathers were liberals and adhered to liberal ideals. It'll take some research, but I think it'll be interesting and needs to be said. Conservatives have laid claim to the spirit that this country was founded with, but that's bullshit. It was founded by radicals and hellraisers. The true America is manifest in big protest rallies and angry screeds against opression, not big business and well-packaged propaganda for the masses to zone out on.
(And now the parenthetical remark is continued)Man-bashing is something a remarkable number of "Girl Power" entertainments or slogans do. I'm always severely irritated at "Anything a man can do a woman can do as well or better" because it's sexist and false. If it was "anything a man can do a woman can do as well" then it would be well-intentioned, and wrong. Look at the Tour De France, despite claims by women that they have superior stamina and lower body strength no woman has ever mounted a serious challenge in the tour, and I sincerely doubt that the best woman on earth could be anything more than a margianal competitor at that level. In Golf, a much less physical sport, everyone's gaga because there are a few women who can sort of kind of hang with the men. Women and men are different, and that ought to be okay. There's lots of stuff that women do better than men, like having babies and certain memory tasks and laundry. Women can't do everything men can do, men can't do everything women can do. Anyone who says otherwise is living in fantasy la-la land along with people who believe in tarot cards and guys who think that it's not the size of the ship but the motion of the ocean. What's important is that women be allowed to attempt everything that men are, or at least almost everything (There are areas of extreme complication, like combat positions in the military) and be given a fair shake at it. We need equality of opportunity, and it's true that we don't have it yet.
The thing is, you don't measure opportunity by outcome. That doesn't work. The argument that if there were equality of opportunity in every realm then there would be equal representation of all groups in every realm is so simplistic and unconvincing that it wouldn't even pass muster with Klaus, the dumbest kid in the fourth grade special-ed class at P.S. 98. You know, the one who always has to wear the helmet and the leash, even when he showers. I am always surprised when someone makes this argument and then doesn't proceed to bash their head into nearby objects uncontrollably. Women are going to have different priorities from those of men, partially due to differences in brain chemistry and thinking styles and partially due to various social pressures. For all the talk we hear from the loonie lefties (and there are definitely some out there) about diversity they sure can't stand it when diversity manifests itself as difference. Women are perfectly capable of hijacking the political process if they want to, since there are more female adults than male adults. They choose not to. Some say that this is because they've been bludgeoned into submission by the evil patriarchy. That may account for part of it. On the other hand, women also tend to be more nuturey (Right. Minorities can have differences from white men if they're positive. I forgot.) and it may be that a lot of them focus their energies on their communities and families rather than the country or the state level, which is abstract and probably less important to loved ones, at least in terms of the impact an individual has. I say that we allow an individual to make such choices for herself, even if they are partially culturally determined. It's not the responsibility of reasonable people to force our value systems on others merely because they happen to have been inducted into another value system. We should argue with them rationally and provide solid reasoning as to why they ought to change their values, but ultimately it is their decision (This is why I resisted responding to kesmun's most recent post with the smarmy but hilarious "Simple solution. Stop going to church." . If women choose to participate in smaller numbers and different ways, that's fine. We only need to assure that they will have the opportunity to do more should they, as individuals, make that decision. This is why quotas like "At least half the delegates at the democratic convention have to be women" really rankle me. They are essentially saying "Individual choice isn't all that important, what's important is the aggregate so we'll take less qualified or involved people if they are in a certain demographic." That's not about fairness, it's about quotas. I don't like quotas. I also find it interesting how there is are certain areas where society deems equality is important and others where it is not. Academics must be equal! Income too. Sexual experiences, that one can be fudged. I'm really good at school and my family has a decent amount of money, I don't need much help in those areas. Now you want to talk about social and sexual affirmative action for abrasive fat Jews, that's something I could maybe use. Some of those traits are genetically and socially determined, but no, when it comes to scoring poon we're left entirely on our own without a single government or institutional program to help us. I'm being faceitious, of course, I'm sure if I submitted the proper forms a hot young chickadee would arrive at my doorstep with a slot in her schedule just for me, but the point is not entirely a silly one. Why does society feel responsible for certain aspects of people's lives and not others? It's hard to say where the line should be drawn, but I think it's best to err on the side of caution.
All this is not to say that I think that there isn't discrimination out there, I know there is. I don't think the way to fight discrimination is at the outcome, though. I think it's at the level of opportunity. That's a lot harder to figure out, but so what? America's turning into a "If it's hard we shouldn't do it" country and that's bullshit. Plus, to be honest, there is an advantage to diversity and discrimination. Discrimination has inspired some of the best art and some of the hardest work we've ever had. That doesn't mean it's a net good, and that art and hard work could have been inspired in other, more constructive, ways. But you take away people's responding to hard situations by fighting back and replace it with their whining for a handout...that's bad magambo. The equal outcomes movement has done its best to destroy femininity. It wants everyone to be masculine, damn the consequences. What has this resulted in? More women in the workplace and a whole lot less social responsibility. Women used to be the social conscience of our civilization, now they're expected to be out there jostling and fighting with the rest of us. If some of them want to be that's their choice and they should be allowed, but it shouldn't be presented as the only good option or even necessarily the best one. There's profound value to staying home and taking care of a household and children. Value that can't be matched by economic gains or anything else. Do kids whose mothers are waiting at home with love and discipline when they come home from school go out and shoot other kids on the playground in the same numbers as those whose mothers are raiding corporate boardrooms or working 12 hour days at the local hotel? I don't know the answer to that, but it's something we don't talk about enough. (I'm not going to get into the debate that stay at home parenting should be equal outcome either. That's back to fantasy la-la land with the purple fairies. There ought to be stay at home dads, even significant numbers of them, but it's never going to be equal. Not as long as you leave people with that pesky thing called individual choice.)