There’s an author, Jamie Mcguire, who was being forced to give Amazon customers a refund (forced by Amazon, simply because they decided to send out a mass email without first talking to the author) for her book Beautiful Disaster. Although it seems the issue has been resolved now, it frustrates me that companies do stuff like this. It stops authors from doing whatever they want with what they earn, and how they earn it.
It seems to be a pretty typical thing to want to cash in on someone else’s creativity. Movie producers are prime examples of this where they take on someone’s script and say “okay, we’ll pay X amount of money, but first you need to do X, Y, Z with the script.” No, that’s not how making a film is done. A piece of work should be your own, until you give the reigns over to someone else and actually say that can do whatever they want with the content. You shouldn’t have to forgo changing drastic amounts of your original work just to get a bit of recognition or money for what you do.
I’d like to make more people aware of the fact that when a movie goes bad (especially promising movie franchises), it isn’t necessarily the writer or the director, but the producers who fuck it up. Producers or film studios think they know what an audience wants, but whenever they seem to try to handle something which requires a specific niche audience, or something that is a bit original, it goes to utter crap. Remember The Golden Compass? Nope, I don’t much either. But the book is fricking brilliant, and part of what made it good was completely dismissed in the movie; there wasn’t even a hint of what the book is really about and why it draws so much readership (I am of course talking about Philip Pullman’s The Northern Lights). It’s no wonder people like Pullman and Alan Moore don’t want to be anywhere near Hollywood when producers and movie studios so unashamedly miscalculate what a book or graphic novel is about. It’s almost like they’re saying “the average Joe won’t get this if we interpret it correctly, so what we’ll do instead is add some humour and romance, some flashing lights and the audience will be distracted enough to realise we’ve done a shit job.” Well not this audience member I’m afraid. I mentioned in one of my earlier posts that I dislike reading bestselling books, and this transfers to popular movie titles.
When I watch something everyone else is buzzing about, it immediately makes me put that particular movie title on the back shelf of my mind labelled “meh.” I might watch it at some point, with a family member or when I’m bored but I’m certainly not going to invest my time and money in something relatively new that people say is “totes amazing” (okay, I don’t have any friends who say that, for obvious reasons). If I’m going to invest my time into something, be that reading a book or watching a movie, I want to be sure that I’m going to be at least a little bit satisfied by it. Of course this is difficult, a blurb of about four sentences isn’t really enough information to gauge whether or not something is good. And sometimes I get it wrong. I can’t think for the life of me why on earth I rented Man On A Ledge. Maybe because after Avatar I was a little bit in love with Sam Worthington, but the film was just generic. Nothing much really happened in it, you kind of know already what’s going to happen at the end and I was actually hoping he would jump, just so something remotely interesting actually happened. I think I thought it was going to be along similar lines to Phone Booth, which is a brilliant movie and shot really well, but Man On A Ledge didn’t even come close.
Back to Hollywood, I guess in someway their fucked-up formula of “let’s churn out this shit, people will love it” works. Shit films are able to successfully reap millions back for their CGI, 3-D, HD, Green-Screen garbage simply because there’s a market for it – and there always will be. I believe it takes more creativity to produce something that has meaning and depth than it does to create say, an action movie with loads of explosions and guns and boring men with muscles. I don’t even see these types of movies as creative or artistic when any random person could just make it up.
But what’s worse than seeing these types of films (either intentionally or not) are people like directors and screenwriters and novelists who completely sell out. I have respect for Moore, because he said after Watchmen and V For Vendetta, he wouldn’t give anything to Hollywood again. I, however, do not have any fucking respect for George Lucas. The man may very well be a genius, but he can’t write for shit and he’s a classic example of cashing in when it suits him, but he’s allowed to do this because he is his own fucking franchise. And we all know he created Ewoks so he could get more merchandising profits. I mean, Episode VII? Do we honestly give a shit about Luke Skywalker anymore? I for one am done with the franchise, I think it lost all interest for me in episode V when Hayden Christensen tried in vain to profess his undying love for Natalie Portman. I see better romance being displayed on an e-card.
It’s pretty much a catch-22 situation when it comes to creativity and trying to use this as a means to writing for a living. Writer’s like to get paid for doing something really well, it’s nice, it gives us meaning and value. But the day a publisher asks me to change my content or book so that it “appeals to a wider variety of audience” is the day I will gladly walk away from any money offered and look else where, or else continue to write without pay. When it comes to creativity, the term “beggars can’t be choosers” cannot apply. Once you start to pander to what someone else wants out of your idea, and you don’t agree with them, you may as well sell your soul to the devil. Never give your creativity away for any sum of money, because you can’t put a price on creative freedom – a precious concept that money-grabbing publishers and producers are silently squandering day by day. And the general public feed them, like tiny children feed monkeys at the zoo.