Dear Hollyweird — Your Time Has Passed (opinion)
Way back in the nineties, the realization of how boring every show and movie was overwhelmed me. Using my huge satellite dish I flipped from one satellite to another (That’s right – one of those big six-foot-in-diameter dishes hidden-sort of-on the back of my house), going band to band, satellite to satellite, and finding nothing even though it should have been glorious. Virtually nothing was scrambled. You could catch Sunday’s broadcast shows on Friday night commercial-free. Using the right equipment, the entirety of broadcast television was available commercial-free.
In the midst of all that access, all that was available was a bunch of the same stories and plots seen in the past decade and a half. Hollywood executives “knew more than the public did” about what we’d watch. Movies were similarly controlled and the options were limited there, too.
Ever seen a biopic of Hollywood where one producer describes his new exciting show using a combination of two other shows? “It’s Eight is Enough meets Planet of the Apes, the kids will love it.” Hollywood loves their biopic comedies. The rest of us think they’re condescending and boring. They do tell us about the people raking in all of those (b)millions we plunk down in search of distractions.
People whose best work will most likely be their first. Unlike most careers, the Hollywood path trends downward with the addition of experience. They probably get much better in the technical aspects of filmmaking, but the overall experience to the consumer? Not so much.
Why’s that? It requires some assumptions about the human psyche. Firstly, the superstar creator starts out as a stubborn newcomer (a “Nobody”) who fights an unrelenting battle to bring a vision to market. Their success becomes Hollywood transcendent if Nobody is strong and clever enough to bring something to market virtually untouched by the gatekeepers.
Secondly, success for Nobody brings with it an unquestioning loyalty to the ideas of the new “it creator.” None of us can resist a sycophant. In some way, their devotion changes our perception even when we recognize the hollow compliments as – well – hollow. Past success, along with devoted believers, creates ugly personages. Humans become their own devotees in the absence of challenge. We readily accept the idea that we’re the one who must do “the thing” or it won’t be done right, if at all.
That’s what I see when I look at the current entertainment landscape in old media. Übermensch who are simply taking a handful of modern techniques to add CGI lips to the same old pig. Honestly, they aren’t even trying to hide it. War of the Worlds? The only thing “epic” about this new release is the name of the network. Sure it looks better than ever, but in no way will it even match the effect of the original.
Add the knowledge of the über to their burning desire to perfect mankind, and you have every new choice available in old media. Streaming services? It’s just the Tesla version of Vacation. It’s still just a road trip with the family. Does the type of car really matter?
Just like the middle 90’s to early 2000’s, a new group of creatives are out there. They see past the current crop of retreads and are fighting. Soon, the new will break through and start a new 20-year cycle. Only things are (or can be) a bit different now.
Creatives can go to Hollywood, follow the path, and bang up against all the same old obstacles. Or they can go directly to the consumer. Why piddle with Hollywood when you can do your thing in Skunkpot, Middle America?
Seriously, take a look around various free streaming sites. I’ll guarantee that you can find 10 hours of post-Lucas Star Wars equal to or better than anything the Mouse has to offer. Unfortunately, these hungry creators are paying homage to the Mouse’s IP’s (intellectual properties), funneling our dollars where they no longer belong. The revolution is to put your love into an homage of the genre, not a single franchise. Use your own IP’s. Create your own space stations and star fighters instead of copying old media versions. Help us to put the money where it belongs – in your pocket. Let the reward match the efforts.
Every billion dollar movie has a hundred million dollar marketing campaign. How do you compete with that? Start with what’s available. There are numerous groups out there waiting to consume your passion. Groups who will become your promoter free of charge.
To make it even more simple start right here. I or someone else here at The Splintering will take a look at your project. Then we’ll share our true opinions. Remember, no publicity is bad. It matters less what is said and more that someone is saying something. That’s why the term buzz isn’t generally qualified as “good buzz” or “bad buzz” (I had that once at a Taco Bell in Reno, ugh).
So take all of those fan film ideas and make them your film (comic, book, Jdance routine, whatever). Make your passion yours. The path will be much more difficult, but you’ll feel so much better for it. Pay attention to what works best and you may even find your IP’s making the money you need to live. Believing in this new direct-to-consumer path is scary, but your odds are better than breaking through while sharing a loft with the future of Hollyweird.
Thanks for reading. Please share and share and share again. Also your support of The Splintering is appreciated. Creators consider dropping notes this way. We’ll happily share our input and get your project a little buzz.