Yes, Intelligence, Please!

| Wednesday, May 12
Emily Jane wrote a brilliant blog post about the lack of brain-power and thought put into many TV and movie productions these days. How they're so mainstream, safe, stereotypical, and full of "fluff," and I couldn't agree more. So I decided to take the thoughts she inspired in my sick-addled brain and write them over here.

Way too many movies that are made now are completely unoriginal. There are remakes and reboots galore.  There are adaptations of books and comics around every corner. I love comics, and the recent Marvel movies had been very entertaining. That's not to say they all have been. The Ang Lee Hulk was horrible. What was Brett Ratner thinking when he made X-Men: The Last Stand? And speaking of X-Men, what was Hugh Jackman thinking when he signed on to Wolverine? The obvious massive payday aside, did he even bother to read the mind-bendingly disjointed script?

Don't even get me started on the state of comedies, crap children's movies, and romantic comedies. Yes, I do go see some of these movies for the popcorn-level fun or if I'm in the need for something painfully sappy, but they generally do not include an ounce of actual intelligence.

The same could be said about most TV. We're still riding in on the end of the reality-TV wave. I'm just glad to say I think American Idol is finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. There are a ridiculous number of Law and Order/CSI clones on at any time. Don't get me wrong, there are a few of those which are well-written with enjoyable characters - Bones and Castle, but the ubiquity of these things tend to make me mad.

There are still good things being made, don't get me wrong. I just wish that there was more quality and originality out there. Part of the problem in this country is production cost and the insane need for ratings, though. Can the network execs not learn that not every show out there is going to have tens of millions of viewers? Not everything that is good will be universally acceptable. And if you relegate something to 8:00 or 9:00 on a Friday night, of course your numbers will be low! Get over yourselves. That being said, there are things I do like out there.

I, too, am not a horror movie fan. I'm a bit of a wuss, but, really, what it is, is I 'm not a fan of scare-tactics. (I am, however, a fan of parentheticals, interrupters, and appositives.) The best "scary" movies and TV shows are the ones that hit home in a very disturbing way.

 I'm fairly new to the whole Doctor Who thing, but as Emily said, it's been scaring generations of children since the 1960s. It's incredible. That show really gets you. The weeping angels are some of the scariest creatures I've ever seen. The way they move, or don't move, and how they can be everywhere and nowhere. How they can slowly turn you into stone. It's like a more believable, and in turn, creepier, version of Medusa. And don't get me started on the Daleks. Their voices, their lack of remorse or any conscience at all... Yeah, scary. I mean, look at the exent of the Daleks' manipulation. It's all just a means to an end.

I am a bit more familiar with the Whedonverse. He created entire fantasy worlds for Buffy and Angel, and they were right here in our own world. There was (is) a lot of originality from the mind of this guy and his friends. Plus things can definitely get scary. I'm watching the Buffy episode "Nightmares" right now. An entire episode about your worst nightmares coming to life? That's harsh. It ranges from the typical "not studying for a test" or "showing up at school naked" to creepy killer clowns, getting buried alive, and resurrected vampire Masters. Anything (and apparently everything) can happen when you live onto of the Hellmouth.

His forays into "sci-fi" were not as successful. I say "sci-fi" in quotations because they had some science, but they were very much escapist fantasy, as well. Of course, I feel that Firefly was a super-intelligent show that met its demise far too soon. Also, Dollhouse, when the writers were allowed to do what they wanted to write, and not bow to the whims of FOX executives to save their show, was great. It dealt with some great ethical issues that many other shows would've been to scared to attack. Obviously Whedon's heavier shows were not very widely accepted in the mainstream. They do have a HUGE cult-following, though.

And speaking of "sci-fi," what about the great space soap opera that was Ronald D. Moore's Battlestar Galactica? That show dealt with some heavy issues, like balance of religion and politics, death penalties, abortion, rape, cloning, oppressive governments, and many more that aren't coming to me right now. Sure, this show was a "remake" of something that existed 30 years previously, but it wasn't really a remake. It was more a reinvention with some of the basic concepts still at its core. I'm still not sure I liked where the finale went, but whatever. It shouldn't tarnish the legacy that is left in the show. Not always original, definitely mainstream-friendly in many ways, but it was not "fluff" all the time.

Moral of the story: Be original, and draw on people's real fears. Don't try to scare us with things that go bump in the night, unless there's a good Doctor Who-type reason behind it. And networks, stop caring so much about AI getting you 35 million viewers. Make some quality TV, and let the creators have creative freedom!!


Emily Jane said...

Yay!! So glad you liked the post today! And even better, that you agree!! :)

Will HAVE to get into Battlestar now!

JayneHatJake said...

Does this mean that my "predictable writing" pet peeve has started to wear off on you?

Melissa said...

I'm a huge horror film junkie, so I feel the need to come to the defense of the genre.

I'm particular to movies that deal with the paranormal/supernatural, movies that depict dystopian futures, and ESPECIALLY zombie movies. What I don't like, however, is "torture porn" (think Saw or Hostel) or stupid remakes of horror movies that have already seen one too many sequels (I am looking at you, Friday the 13th!) And if you asked me what I love most about my favorite horror movies, "plot" and "theme" would definitely come before "kill scenes" or "big scares." Because there *can* be plot and theme in a scary movie.

There are plenty of scary movies and TV shows that are serious and thoughtful -- think Carrie, think Hitchcock, Night of the Living Dead, The Twilight Zone, the X Files. The list goes on and on. Just like there are some romantic comedies that transcend their genre, the same goes for horror. It's just a matter of being able to tune out the nonsense and focus on the good stuff.

Amber said...

In Caprica, the BSG prequel, the sci-fi elements are very subtle but integral and I think it shows that there are so many unexplored areas/stories within the genre. It's a really, really smart show and I'm glad that the critics and network executives are behind it. Unfortunately, I don't know that it has a terribly huge audience.

Even though it seems ridiculous, the people who want clever, imaginative shows are outnumber by those who just want to see explosions or drunk 20 somethings in hot tubs. And I don't think that's ever going to change.

hermione329 said...

I made the observation that most movies are books or remakes. It's sad. I wish they would be more open to new ideas and letting people have different thoughts. cough publish me cough

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