I wonder if it’s possible that the reason there’s such a dearth of original movies produced by Hollywood studios is because the idea of everyday reality for the people creating these films is the one offered by Los Angeles.
The entire essence of Los Angeles is that it’s a cultural wasteland nearly void of human interaction. People wake up, they get in their cars, they drive to work, pretend to get along with work friends – maybe you work on a studio lot and can meet new people there. Then you get in your car, go to the gym or have a drink meeting with someone who has been vetted, have a bite and go to bed.
I’m really curious if there’s ever been a study on it, but I would bet that the number of new people you meet, talk to, or simply walk past on any given day has to be monumentally less in Los Angeles than most cities in America. Even towns with strikingly smaller populations – like Seattle or a pure shithole like Hartford, Connecticut – probably have more interaction with other human beings than Los Angeles provides.
Yet this city – completely isolated from any other country (officially La Cienega Blvd. separates Los Angeles from Mexico) and with no forced interaction between social classes, ethnicities or forums for original debate – is the center of producing American culture.
How can a place with no culture be the breeding grounds for the culture of the entire country? Could the be entirely responsible for America being all around kind of flaccid the last decade or so?
Let’s just look at the top five movies from last weekend: G-Force, a 3D kids movie about hamsters with guns (I always forget if this is French New Wave or Italian Neorealism); Harry Potter, source material; Ugly Truth, formulaic romantic comedy; Orphan, the Good Son with a girl and a twist at the end; and Ice Age 3, a kids movie sequel.
I wonder if the reason that these movies are so bad is because the executives who push them spend the day stuck in traffic and their only human interaction is listening to pitches, berating their assistants and getting drinks with friends that they went to high school with in the Valley. Yes, they have the business and commercial side of things down, but in terms of making a movie that comes anywhere close to culturally interesting for people who are educated and cities that are worth anything (NY, Bos, Chi, SF, Den, Sea), it’s all worthless.
Maybe we can make crappy cities – I’m looking at you Kansas City and St. Louis – more interesting if the crappy movies we shoveled down their throats didn’t have female characters that set women back twenty years. I don’t know how this would work, but worth a try, yeah?
Granted, this all goes back to being the pretentious douche that I am, and I will willingly sell out at the sight of my first paycheck. And, yes, occasionally some good stuff gets through: The Hangover (despite the post below), Up and Star Trek were pretty solid. But what’s that, three studio films out of how many?
Indie side you have In the Loop, Hurt Locker, Humpday, and (500) Days of Summer. But see if those make any serious money.
Looks like this post ended nowhere near where it started, and now I’m wondering does America have bad taste in movies because that’s what they’re offered and advertising tells them that’s what’s good, or do they just not have a choice? Like, what if Fox Searchlight switched (500) Days’s marketing budget with that of Transformers? Would it make America smarter? Maybe, but the people who make that decision. Well they live in L.A.