In a world where it seems as though doomsday is right around every corner and there is nothing we can do about it, we as a society need an escape from all the madness. A place to turn our brains off and ignore what is happening out in the real world while we entertain ourselves, and there is no better way to do that then go out and watch a movie. But, if we are constantly watching movies, then how come so many movies are critically scorned (by the fans or the critics themselves) and, as of late, have been having so much trouble either being a success or just barely making their budget back?
Dating back to Ancient Greece, humans have created ways to entertain themselves as an escape from the real world. Whether that be with plays or even the Olympics, people have found ways to entertain themselves constantly. Now we are in the era of potentially to much entertainment constantly being thrown at our faces… social media, television, sports,, movies, video games, etc. It’s almost enough to make your mind explode if you think to much about how much is out there for you to enjoy, but nevertheless you will find something that you can turn your brain off to while you sit down and cradle into this universe that is before your very eyes. Yet, that is where the problem lies… it has become much harder to escape from the real world recently, something I will explain right now.
It seems as though many movies as of late have been failing in ways films never have before, and of course you can contribute that to the creative bankruptcy in which Hollywood has been experiencing for the past few years, with the releases of movies based off of many other things and the lacking of original stories, but I believe recently films are failing for a much deeper reason, and hopefully by the end of this you will too. As I discussed earlier, people need an escape from the real world, that is why so many people flood themselves with these fantasy worlds, whether it be Star Wars or Star Trek or Lord of the Rings, or even the Rocky films, people escape to these realities so they can take themselves out of the real world and refuel themselves. Think of it as a mental pit stop, and these films and universes are like gas station, your mind needs to refuel so you turn on a film or read a book or play a game to refuel yourself so you can face the moral complexity that is the real world. Yet, as of recently, you notice that when you turn these films on, it seems as though you have refilled your mental gas tank with less and less gas each time, why is that? It is because these films don’t give you an escape anymore, this is because they bring the real world into their films no matter how fictitious the world is.
It seems, as of recent memory, that films are trying to push their politics onto people. Now, I know that word often turns people off when they see it, but just let me point out that when I say it I am not going to try and force my own political beliefs onto you because entertainment such as films and fiction, are not a place for political partisanship… and it never has been.
Now, you may be saying to yourself, “But that’s not true, just look at films and shows such as Star Wars and Star Trek. Those dealt with politics constantly.” To which I would agree with you, they definitely did deal with politics within their stories, but not by showing their political partisan, they dealt with politics in a humanist manner. That’s the key word, humanist. It never felt as though Captain Picard was trying to push his political beliefs onto the viewer, and that is because he was never partisan to a specific political belief, instead he was a humanist. An example like this can be attributed to an episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” in which Picard states that humans/earthlings don’t have the death penalty anymore, at first glance this looks like political partisan of course, but then you look at the universe around it, this is a universe set 377 years after the time in which you watched it on television back in 1987, of course there is no need for the death penalty anymore, they value the lives of humans (hence the humanist nature) and have probably found a much better way to settle things such as that.
It never felt as though shows were forcing their political beliefs onto you, and if they did and you didn’t like it, the show wouldn’t try to blame you for it unlike many of the companies today. Instead of creating an engaging story that will thrill and shock viewers, films and television are pushing their political partisanship onto the viewers and blaming the viewers for their failures. Two examples of this can be attributed to the 2016 film “Ghostbusters” and the 2019 film “Charlie’s Angels“. These films both respectively failed and in doing so, the creators and casts blamed the people that didn’t go and see the films, calling them words such as “sexist manbabies”, not thinking that people don’t like agendas forced upon them or that their movies just didn’t look good. So, let’s put this into perspective. “Ghostbusters” back in 2016 gained a box office of around $70.4 million and an average ticket price of around $8.11, that would mean that roughly 8,680,641 people went to see this film, and knowing the U.S. population alone in 2016 was 324.4 million, that would mean about 314,719,359 people within the United States are sexist manbabies that didn’t want to see this film because it starred an all female cast. That is also only showing the domestic release not the international, so they’re calling most of the world “sexist manbabies” because their movie was crap.
This doesn’t just stop with films like “Charlie’s Angels” and “Ghostbusters”, more recent offenders of this trend of blaming fans and forcing their opinions onto people come from beloved franchises such as Star Wars and Doctor Who. Recently, Doctor Who suffered its lowest ratings ever with their series (aka season for American viewers) 12 finale called “The Timeless Child”, which retconned the entirety of the Doctor Who universe into making Doctor Who (Jodie Wittaker) into this immortal god capable of infinite regeneration rather than the 12 regenerations we knew possible, as well as being the precursor for the entire race of Timelords on Gallifrey.
To people who don’t watch Doctor Who, this is probably confusing, but let me just summarize this really quickly. Originally, the Doctor (or Doctor Who) originated from this alien race called the Timelords which controlled Time and pledged to never interfere with it, this meant countless people had to die for no reason, the Doctor believing this was wrong decided to break that pledge and go help people, being the Timelord that chose to make a difference. Nothing special, just a random person making a difference, this was an endearing trait about the character, something many people could aspire to be and potentially empathize with, but no that the character is basically a god, many people have been turned off from this because the character has been fundamentally changed. This is where the BBC and Chris Chibnall (the series showrunner right now) blame the fans, stating they don’t like the show because the Doctor is a woman, totally missing out on the huge creative problem that completely and utterly destroyed some people’s connection to this character.
We have entered an age where Hollywood, which is essentially a business, is trying to tell us what is best for us and force certain things down our throats, instead of listening to customer feedback. Hollywood has become entitled and believes that anyone who doesn’t mindlessly absorb their media is below them. Someone once explained it very well to me using a metaphor that I would like to share with all of you now.
Pretend Hollywood is a restaurant, much like any other business, a beautiful steak house that you’ve been going to for nearly 5 years now. Well this steak house has come under new management recently, but luckily for you nothing seems out of the ordinary while being seated. You order a beautiful 5 oz. medium rare steak, your average meal but not something you get every time you come here, and once again everything seems normal. The server then comes to your table with your meal and places your plate down in front of you, but instead of your steak you see a gluten free vegetarian chilli. Of course you would say to the server, “Excuse me I ordered the steak”, to which the server replies, “Yes, but our chef said this is much healthier for you and decided to whip this up for you instead.” Now, you can try the food and see if you like it, but you would obviously still be rather angry that you ordered the steak and then didn’t receive the steak, and to top it all off, when the bill comes you are charged the same price as if you got the steak. Of course, within a few short months, this restaurant starts going under and who is to blame? Well the restaurant says you of course! Stating that their customers don’t have the fine palate that you think you all do and that their chef is the finest in the world.
This is the same thing that Hollywood is doing. Don’t like “Star Wars: The Last Jedi“? That is because it challenges your belief in a strong independent female lead… no I didn’t like it because it destroys everything within the Star Wars universe and tells an incomplete story that Lucasfilms will have to scrape together to even make a sequel. Don’t like 2016’s “Ghostbusters“? Oh that is because you are an adult virgin sexist incel manbabies… no, I didn’t like it because the comedy was all terrible and because I still wanted to see a continuation of the original series rather than a reboot. Now, I’m not saying that Hollywood shouldn’t challenge and films shouldn’t make you think, that is far from it. But when they try to make you think and produce a garbage film that was neither entertaining nor thought worthy in the process and then blame you for “not understanding it”, that is where the problem lies. That is why “Sonic the Hedgehog“, a film that had to be postponed because of such negative feedback that they had to reshape the entire main character, ended up dong better than “Birds of Prey“, because they listened to what the fans wanted, the fans asked for a steak and they delivered a steak.
In conclusion, Hollywood is a business and should be treated as a business as much as those who go to see a film should be treated as customers. Hollywood needs to get off their entitled high horses if they are produce creative films that don’t seem lazy and that people actually enjoy.