The Gatekeepers

I try so hard to stick to the motto ‘If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.’

There are times that I’ve been unable (or unwilling) to stop myself from letting out a slew of emotionally-charged verbiage, whether it be online or in person, when somebody says something that is hurtful, harmful to society (in my opinion, of course), or something that’s so God damn stupid, they’re just asking to be ridiculed. I’ll admit it. But, I try to stay clear of publicly criticizing somebody else’s artistic work, like books, movies, or TV shows through reviews.

Art is strange; there are times when a piece of art will touch many people, while offending others. So, we argue about it, and it essentially gets us nowhere but pissed off because there are no facts to settle the debate or prove anything…you either like it or you don’t. Therefore, if I don’t enjoy something, I don’t comment. All I’d do is insult the artist, and come on…why do such a thing? I fucking hate sauerkraut, but no amount of bitching in the world is going to change it, nor will it alter anybody’s preference.

This’s why I won’t be identifying the movie which started this rant, directly. If you figure it out, then that’s great, but I think it’s best to not name-drop.

I’m a long and hardcore fan of a particular cartoon from the 1980s; it was highly influential to me as both a child and adult, and that emotional attachment has only grown with time. Recently, some people decided that they were going to make a live-action movie out of the cartoon, and upon finding this information, I was super excited. The people who were spear-heading the movie’s creation were taking auditions via social media, and if you follow my blog, you should know by now how much I love me some lay-people. It was like nothing could go wrong with this movie, that they would do it the right way, and there was no doubt about it.

…And then, there was the trailer.

What a complete and utter abomination.
How could they do this — how could they FUCKING do this to my cartoon?
They cast it with ‘famous’ people, they changed EVERYTHING yet stole the name, and turned it into the same, rehashed bullshit that’s on the Disney Channel! They hysterectomized my totally beloved, unyielding, brave female role model until she was nothing more than a timid little girl who allows fame to sully her…they sucked the ethnic diversity out of the supporting characters…they made the film about a fucking teenager, not about a woman who was fighting an evil corporation while maintaining her philanthropic work…they made it about a family who has fame hit it hard and fast, and studies the way it changes them.

In essence, they totally fucked it.

I am not the only one who felt that way. Nearly all of the comments on the trailer were condemning the movie and those involved in its creation, saying how hard they hoped it would lose money, how offended they were, asking how they could rape their memories from the 80s they way they did.

Well, I know how they did it, and I know why they did it, and it’s something that doesn’t get talked about.

As consumers of the entertainment industry’s regurgitations, we need to know how their industry works. It’s like meat: If you know that the cows are treated poorly by giant complexes, and the system is wrought with horrendous practices, are you going to continue to patron the companies and make them more rich and powerful with YOUR money?
I hope not.
I would hope that you’d find independent farmers who feed their cows grass, let them play, live a long time, just be cows who aren’t stressed out and stand in piles of shit, who aren’t unhappy, and patron them.
We are the ones who make these corporations what they are; we vote with our dollars. If we refuse to hand our dollars to them, they cannot and will not be rich and powerful.
We are also taught to be complacent; we’re ingrained with the whole I-don’t-like-it-but-there’s-nothing-I-can-do state of mind, whether it’s about our two-party system or what’s on TV, so we ultimately do nothing.

Can we all kind of, sort of agree that the 1980s was revolutionary when it came to movies and television? Think about it: There are SO many unique, innovative, and daring media creations that came from that decade, shows that did SO WELL, yet would never be touched by a present day executive, ever. Ghostbusters, The Muppets, Fraggle Rock…the list goes on. There was some really strange shit that got through, and people LOVED it.
As time progressed, the creativity died down significantly…the movies began to repeat other works…and the sequels, oh GOD, the sequels!

Whether or not you realize it, you, for the most part, watch the same movie again and again but with different characters. Let’s dissect a genre to show you what that statement means.

Romantic Comedy:

There’s a woman whose life is ok…it’s not GREAT, but it’s ok. And if it’s not completely ok, she just muddles through it, and doesn’t necessarily realize that it’s not that ok.
Then, there’s a man, and he’s also got an ok life, but he’s too sullied to realize it could be better; he might even be a bit of an asshole, but nothing irredeemable.
So, the guy and the girl meet, and…well, it’s kind of outrageous and funny…maybe even a bit touching.
And they hit it off; funny things, sometimes even cutes-ily embarrassing things, happen, and they grow closer.
While staving off the conflict that surrounds them, but just barely, they get into a relationship.
BUT THEN…
TERRIBLE things (or thing) happens, and…somebody feels betrayed, finds out they were lied to, something like that, and they split. (Cue the sad and emotional music as they show scenes of the people being upset by themselves or things that remind them of each other).
Then…something happens to draw them back together: A wise friend who doesn’t have much screen time, a revolution, a secret revealed!
One of the parties comes running, dashing back to the other and says they’re sorry/big speech about how sullied they were but aren’t anymore/tells them some explanation of their feelings that they’d been hiding all of this time, but it’s ok, and then…
They get together, and all is well.

Think of any, and I mean any, mainstream romantic comedy, and you will find the above plot points. If you don’t, them please, name it in the comments because you’ve found yourself a fucking unicorn.

Romantic comedy not your thing?
That’s ok. In the last maybe, oh, 15 or so years, we’ve had PLENTY of movies to choose from:

Lord of the Rings: 6 of them
Beloved 1980s shows and movies: GI Joe, Transformers, Fright Night
Spiderman: A remake, 3 sequels, and another remake
Speaking of the Comic book movies: …Yeah, please don’t make me count them.
Movies from books: Jesus…Harry Potter, Warm Bodies, World War Z, 50 Shades of Grey, The Hunger Games, Twilight, Twilight, Twilight…there are too many to name.
Sequels and sequels and sequels…
Oh, and don’t you DARE not think of the genre hype-trains (because if one freaking movie does well from a certain genre, they’re going to ram it down your fucking throat until you start rolling your eyes at it) that ruin perfectly good genres that certain people’ve loved long before it was nabbed and stripped by Hollywood. THANKS, GUYS.

As of this post, check out some of the movies in the theater: Mad Max (totally original, right?), Pitch Perfect 2 (again), and Cinderella (hasn’t been redone enough).

Think about it: Nearly everything that comes out is sure to have a built-in audience, full of people who love the movie BEFORE anybody even constructed a script for the fucking thing; the tickets are as good as bought before they even cast it. Remember the beginning of this post? Could’ve had one right here; I wouldn’t’ve paid for a ticket, but I was excited.

Well, Luna, that’s kind of true, but what’s so wrong with a sure-thing?

The fact that there is hardly ever new content.

The movie industry is greedy as fuck, and they care about money, above all else. They want what can SELL, and they’ll take nothing less. So, they allow the ones who paved the way with their original content, like comic book writers from 50 years ago, to march in front of them while they cower, too afraid to take a fucking chance on anything. Even if it’s a total pile of shit, if it’s been selling in some other format, they’ll take it!

You know the whole romantic comedy thing? Yeah, if they’re at all willing to even look at a script, it MUST follow a designated plot outline, or they’ll just buy it and rework it to make it follow, because THAT’S what sells. It can only be so long, so edgy, so different, but only enough to fit into a standardized format, because we might not pay attention if it’s not…and if we don’t pay attention, we won’t fork over our money, and we can’t have that.

So, we eat our leftovers, don’t we? Yup, we shrug and shove spoonful after spoonful of thrown-up garbage feces into our mouths, and we smile, because it’s what we know…it’s what’s familiar…and that’s just the way it is.

Another major barrier, and the one that needs to be challenged the most, that is between new content and the public are the gatekeepers.

Let me elaborate:

Somebody has written a shiny, new script that’s packed with touching moments and a plot that’ll make people think really hard, and it’s GOOD…and I mean really good; the Hollywood executives would be biting, kicking, and screaming to get this script, I mean…once they fuck it up with all of their changes. It could sell, though.
So, where does Somebody go to show it to somebody else who could make it happen?
Somebody tries a few movie studio websites, and those websites are very clear: NO UNSOLICITED MATERIALS, AGENTED WORK ONLY.

Ohh…ok.
So, Somebody needs an agent.
Good luck, Somebody.
Every script agent in California is never accepting new clients…well, unless a potential new client knows a major celebrity (you know…somebody who ‘MATTERS’) who directly introduces them to the agent. This basically means they do not feel like ‘wasting’ their time on a ‘nobody’ who won’t advance their reputation…there ARE things that are more important than money, you know.

As it turns out, this Somebody is marked as a ‘nobody,’ and therefore, Somebody and their script are screwed out of ever entering this twisted world of twisted people and practices.
And so are YOU out of ever knowing it.

Meanwhile, this cycle repeats itself again and again…the same douchebags sell to the same douchebags, who deal with the same douchebags, and they, in turn, empty their vinegary douche water all over us, and we pay them to do it. And we ask for more. MORE! PLEASE!

The agents, the executives, even the secretaries who lie and say that people are too busy to answer the phone…they are the gatekeepers, and most of us will never be allowed through the gate…I mean, we’re not on the list, right? It’s only fair.

If you’re thinking: Luna, you’re bitching about this, but what are you doing about it?
I have an answer for you.

I haven’t paid for a movie ticket in 8 years.
That’s right: The last movie that I went to in a theater was ‘Sweeney Todd,’ and it was either the last week of December 2007 or the first week of January 2008.
I absolutely refuse to finance the downfall of Western civilization, or pay them to believe that the only people whose work is worth investing in is a guy who knows a guy, or throw cash at a bastardized, sanitized, reworked piece of crap when there are brilliant people starving who will never receive the recognition they deserve.

I’m constantly told to drink the Kool-Aid when it comes to fighting the power…that there’s no point in ‘rebelling,’ to just cater to the lowest common denominator…that I’m throwing my VOTE away.

But just because you say it, it doesn’t make it true…just like if a movie is made, it doesn’t make it good or deserving of my money. ESPECIALLY that horrible freaking movie about my cartoon, damn it!

Whether it’s entertainment or politics or whatever else is bigger than us…we DO have the power to control it…hell, we DO control it.

We just need to realize it.

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