Tuesday, November 18, 2008

It's NOT the Economy, Stupid!

Orson Scott Card writes extensively and circuitously about why he's not reviewed any new movies lately. The bottom line: You don't pay me enough to watch this dreck.
Hollywood is convinced that box office is down because of the economic meltdown that Barney Frank and Christopher Dodd brought us this fall.

Economic worries might be a complete explanation of why candy and popcorn sales are down in the movie theaters.

But I already wasn't going to the movies.
...
I've got a lot of DVDs I can stay home and watch. Maybe Hollywood can stop trying to preach their ignorant groupthink dogmas at us and start earning our entertainment dollars again. They certainly know how -- make good movies, and we'll be back in the theaters. The movie business did just fine during the Great Depression; it isn't tight money that empties the theaters.
I haven't seen a new movie in the theater since "Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith", which was...2005. Three and a half years.

It's simply easier to rent them later and watch them in the comfort of our own home with our own snacks and goodies. Sure, it's not the same as in the theater, and it's not the same as getting out of the house and leaving the kids, but it's sure a lot cheaper. That can be important when you find out a movie is a big disappointment. It's easier to accept wasting one dollar than twenty-plus.

It used to be that you'd want to see a movie in the theater to appreciate the special effects. Well, that's getting increasingly difficult to do. Lord of the Rings did it well, but Star Wars I,II,III pushed the envelope into overload territory. I simply could not watch everything that was crammed into the screen so I nearly stopped watching any of it. In the end I was unable to appreciate the effects because I mostly tuned them out.

Star Wars IV,V,VI were "primitive" by comparision, but in this case I think it helped. Lucas was forced by technology to focus on presenting only the basic ideas to get the story across. And that's all we needed. There comes a point when three spacefighters convey the idea as well as (if not better than) 50.

It is said that Lucas got his inspiration from Japanese movies. If so, while for the original three he drew from Kirosawa, the new three he drew from Pokemon.

But I digress. There are good movies out there. It's just that they're not the ones that get all the attention. At least I don't recall much hype over "Elizabethtown", but I thoroughly enjoyed it. And, in watching it at home, I don't have to worry so much about getting teary-eyed in front of total strangers. Forgetting tissues is not a concern, either.

Occasionally a mega-hyped movie lives up to its hype ("Cars" comes to mind), but it's rare. Far too many movies tend to be either formulaic action/gore/sex-fest cash machines or "Important Movies" (aka propaganda) that would never have been made if they didn't match the Hollywood political group-think. As we say in the South, "Leave the preachin' for Sunday, son!" Okay, I live in the North, and we never say that, but dang it, someone should. Not that Hollywood's listening.

That's it in a nutshell. Hollywood has stopped listening. And they keep looking for excuses to explain the drop in the box office. It's always "it's just too fresh in people's minds" or "people have too many entertainment options" or "people just can't afford to go to movies as much now." It's never "we've gotten lazy and preachy, and forgot how to make good movies".

Until they finally "get it", I'm more than happy to support my friend's video store. I'd rather he get my dollar than Hollywood get my ten.

1 comment:

Ronaldo said...

Let me toss in my two cents for a movie that I utterly never noticed at the expensive theaters but caught at the cheap ones, Ghost Town. Fun little story about a cranky dentist who suddenly starts seeing and hearing all the ghosts in NYC, who want him to help them with their unfinished business. Greg Kinnear goodness as the most pushy of the ghosts.