Hollywood Couldn't Write This

Reactions to art often tell us more about the audience than the people who made it. The movie The Interview demonstrates this so well. A quick recap for those who might not be following the issue. Seth Rogan and James Franco made a movie about assassinating the dictator of North Korea, Kim Jon Un. Being a comedy, one can assume it's full of jokes about what rotten place that nation is. Some group called "Guardians of Peace" hacked Sony (the company that is distributing the movie) and threatened to release sensitive emails unless the film was pulled.

The movie has since been released, but before that came predictable Hollywood buckling that exposed how phony and hypocritical the film industry really is.

In the interest of full disclosure, it needs to be noted that I'm trying to go into Hollywood as a director and writer. I'm on several boards where I talk to various up and comers and insiders on daily basis.

Some of the discussions on this topic make me want to vomit.

Many insiders defended Sony's decision to pull the film because "people can be hurt". They take a condescending, holier-than-thou glow of self-righteousness and lecture their critics about the studio and filmmakers responsibilities to the viewing public. "You can't yell 'fire' in a crowded elevator," they screech.

This is a strange argument coming from people who work in the field of free expression. Just a few weeks before, I was arguing with some people about how various films and scripts offended me and my values. The response was always the same: we have free speech, now get over yourself.

Film is an industry dedicated to other points of view. they love producing things narrated by the villain. That gives the audience a chance to see the story through the bad guy's eyes. From evil witches to violent revolutionaries to antisocial murderers, it seems everyone has good reasons to be upset in any given Hollywood movie (as long as the character isn't straight, white, male, or a member of the Tea Party.)

So it seems fair to judge Hollywood by its own standards. Let's look at their philosophy from another point of view, shall we?

The film industry is basically saying that the only people worthy of mocking are people who can't fight back. It is virtuous to target the weak because they can't do anything to you. If one targets the powerful, those powerful might fight back, possibly violently. And since violence is abhorrent in a stable society, the movie industry is taking the moral high ground by targeting the powerless.

From my point of view, this is a defense of bullying, except that the schoolyard tough doesn't give the teacher a condescending lecture about how his actions constitute a deeper morality.

Then one has to consider that this controversy is being raised in the last half December traditionally a time when movie moguls are racing to get their films out for upcoming Academy Awards -- a list that I'm sure will feature the usual parade of movies about activists fighting against tyrannical governments/hostile corporations trying to silence the hero.

Maybe this is why those Oscar runners are (for the most part) box office failures: the story drips with so much insincerity and fakery that no one outside the industry can believe it.

Audiences are more sophisticated than Hollywood gives them credit. No matter how weak the plot, watching Ironman throw around cars seems more believable than the pompous, obnoxious, self-important stories of some lib fighting the corrupt system. Those same libs are corrupting the system.

Love him or hate him, George Clooney actually took a stand. Clooney is of course, a well-known leftist. But at least he's fighting for what he believes in and for once, he's right. George circulated a petition denouncing the threats from the "Guardians of Peace".

He got no support from anyone.

Not even Oprah supported him. Note that her new movie Selma will be out in early January. Someone needs to give Winfrey a lecture about how evil the people marching at Selma were. After all, someone could have gotten hurt. It would have been better if those people had stayed home, right?

So as we approach the Academy Awards, just think: all those jokes aimed at the Tea Party, it's because they think the Tea Party is powerless. They're laughing at conservatives, because they don't think there is anything conservatives can do. All those little skits where they're taking shots at people like me and laughing in the face of people who think the way I do -- it's all because they don't think we have any recourse.

And this is what makes me want to throw up. Because we are nice, we will be looked down on. Because we do follow the law, Hollywood types will make that law more draconian and demanding. Because we can walk, we'll get to walk further. Because we do the work, we'll have more work piled on us. 

The people who don't do any of that stuff will be offered a pass. It fits well with the greater body politic in 2015 -- this is why our president is sucking up to the Iranians and Hamas (because they might hurt us) while insulting Poland and Israel (because they probably won't).

But this isn't even the most insulting part. The worst part of the film industry's bloviated whine is "we won't be intimidated into silence". I guess it depends on who's doing the intimidating.

Jeremy Meister is a screenwriter who works in media in the Midwest. Contact him at Meister@windstream.net.

Reactions to art often tell us more about the audience than the people who made it. The movie The Interview demonstrates this so well. A quick recap for those who might not be following the issue. Seth Rogan and James Franco made a movie about assassinating the dictator of North Korea, Kim Jon Un. Being a comedy, one can assume it's full of jokes about what rotten place that nation is. Some group called "Guardians of Peace" hacked Sony (the company that is distributing the movie) and threatened to release sensitive emails unless the film was pulled.

The movie has since been released, but before that came predictable Hollywood buckling that exposed how phony and hypocritical the film industry really is.

In the interest of full disclosure, it needs to be noted that I'm trying to go into Hollywood as a director and writer. I'm on several boards where I talk to various up and comers and insiders on daily basis.

Some of the discussions on this topic make me want to vomit.

Many insiders defended Sony's decision to pull the film because "people can be hurt". They take a condescending, holier-than-thou glow of self-righteousness and lecture their critics about the studio and filmmakers responsibilities to the viewing public. "You can't yell 'fire' in a crowded elevator," they screech.

This is a strange argument coming from people who work in the field of free expression. Just a few weeks before, I was arguing with some people about how various films and scripts offended me and my values. The response was always the same: we have free speech, now get over yourself.

Film is an industry dedicated to other points of view. they love producing things narrated by the villain. That gives the audience a chance to see the story through the bad guy's eyes. From evil witches to violent revolutionaries to antisocial murderers, it seems everyone has good reasons to be upset in any given Hollywood movie (as long as the character isn't straight, white, male, or a member of the Tea Party.)

So it seems fair to judge Hollywood by its own standards. Let's look at their philosophy from another point of view, shall we?

The film industry is basically saying that the only people worthy of mocking are people who can't fight back. It is virtuous to target the weak because they can't do anything to you. If one targets the powerful, those powerful might fight back, possibly violently. And since violence is abhorrent in a stable society, the movie industry is taking the moral high ground by targeting the powerless.

From my point of view, this is a defense of bullying, except that the schoolyard tough doesn't give the teacher a condescending lecture about how his actions constitute a deeper morality.

Then one has to consider that this controversy is being raised in the last half December traditionally a time when movie moguls are racing to get their films out for upcoming Academy Awards -- a list that I'm sure will feature the usual parade of movies about activists fighting against tyrannical governments/hostile corporations trying to silence the hero.

Maybe this is why those Oscar runners are (for the most part) box office failures: the story drips with so much insincerity and fakery that no one outside the industry can believe it.

Audiences are more sophisticated than Hollywood gives them credit. No matter how weak the plot, watching Ironman throw around cars seems more believable than the pompous, obnoxious, self-important stories of some lib fighting the corrupt system. Those same libs are corrupting the system.

Love him or hate him, George Clooney actually took a stand. Clooney is of course, a well-known leftist. But at least he's fighting for what he believes in and for once, he's right. George circulated a petition denouncing the threats from the "Guardians of Peace".

He got no support from anyone.

Not even Oprah supported him. Note that her new movie Selma will be out in early January. Someone needs to give Winfrey a lecture about how evil the people marching at Selma were. After all, someone could have gotten hurt. It would have been better if those people had stayed home, right?

So as we approach the Academy Awards, just think: all those jokes aimed at the Tea Party, it's because they think the Tea Party is powerless. They're laughing at conservatives, because they don't think there is anything conservatives can do. All those little skits where they're taking shots at people like me and laughing in the face of people who think the way I do -- it's all because they don't think we have any recourse.

And this is what makes me want to throw up. Because we are nice, we will be looked down on. Because we do follow the law, Hollywood types will make that law more draconian and demanding. Because we can walk, we'll get to walk further. Because we do the work, we'll have more work piled on us. 

The people who don't do any of that stuff will be offered a pass. It fits well with the greater body politic in 2015 -- this is why our president is sucking up to the Iranians and Hamas (because they might hurt us) while insulting Poland and Israel (because they probably won't).

But this isn't even the most insulting part. The worst part of the film industry's bloviated whine is "we won't be intimidated into silence". I guess it depends on who's doing the intimidating.

Jeremy Meister is a screenwriter who works in media in the Midwest. Contact him at Meister@windstream.net.