When Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace came out, I had a friend who said she was going to "protest" by not seeing any more Star Wars movies. "He ruined the series for the sake of money!" she said. Okay, first off, God bless George Lucas and all, but I would never fault him for wanting the money. He's a filmmaker, and everyone in America has the right to get rich. He doesn't owe us anything! I find sheer audacity in some people in fandom, who see films like Star Wars, Star Trek, and The Matrix as some sort of religious dogma that must keep its bloodline pure. Sure, it would be NICE, but frankly, you can't please everybody, and you never get rich from fan service. You don't. Sorry fandom, but in order to make back what they put into these films, they have to pander to what they think the most of the world wants to see. And most of the world doesn't think about religion, philosophy, and destiny. They live their day-to-day lives, doing what they know, and pausing for some entertainment. Thinking can be a burden and responsibility, and not everyone wants that. Hollywood assumes (and I think fairly accurately) that people want a simple story, lots of action, and lots of special effects in a sci-fi film. To me, good writing and editing are like icing on the cake.
Star Wars and The Matrix have an additional burden of having almost theocratic themes to them. Star Wars talks big about destiny, an omniscient force, and inner conflicts. The Matrix adds the "what is reality" into that mix. Man, people in fandom latched onto this intellectual seed, and hoped it would grow into a flowering plant in their image (which they fail to see how subjective that really is, even when they read message boards). But it didn't. And they felt disappointed, cheated, even embarrassed. They get angry, and feel like the victim. Hollywood doesn't care about you guys, and I am sorry you think they do or even should.
On top of this, Star Wars and The Matrix both suffer from overexpectation on new concepts. Star Wars was a groundbreaking film. Before Star Wars, all sci-fi was shiny ships, cowboy acting, and apart from moralistic endings, very little dogma or philosophy entered into the writing (there are some notable exceptions, like "The Day the Earth Stood Still" and "War of the Worlds"). Then Star Wars came by with gritty, broken-down ships, Campbell's hero and saga archetype concepts, a form of Kirasawa style, and of course, "The Force." But once you pull a neat "breaking new ground" trick like that, it's hard to do it again with the same impact. Star Wars raised the bar on special effects and changed how future sci-fi films were made. Same with Alien and The Matrix. But other films copied these ideas, beat them to death, and left the audience with "okay, we've seen that, now what?" Magicians know that people will only watch a certain act so many times, and films should know this too. But in the case of The Matrix, they peaked at the first film. And maybe purists thing they "should have stayed there," but Warner Brothers is a business, and they want to milk that cow until it's dry. And if you were an investor in that company, you'd want that, too. Fan service, a minority of the population, does not count.
What some people in fandom should do is pool some money together, get a whole bunch of people writing a sci-fi script, plan it as a trilogy, get some good actors, and make their own film. If I had the time, money, and resources, hell, I'd do it. I could write fan service, but unless I get lucky at Cannes, I have to fully realize it will have a limited market. Hollywood is a shallow, glittery, moneymaking machine. That's its design. It is no more good or evil than a bunch of rocks. It never claimed to be anything else, but people put faith and hope into films and actors that really aren't there. It's all an illusion, just like the story of The Matrix. And to quote one line from an independent film, a farce called "Hardware Wars," the character Ham Salad says to Fluke Starbucker:
"Take it easy kid, it's only a movie..."
Get over it. I have seen many bad films in my life, and I don't carry on about it (unless it scarred me, like the 1986 remake of "The Fly"). I think, "Whew, what a stinker," or "Haha... dear God, that was bad. Oh well." You guys find disappointment in a source that doesn't know who you are, care about what you feel, and I don't feel sorry for you. Boycott what you want, but the difference between "boycott" and "just never wasting time with that series" is only an investment of passion.
Is it worth it?
This entry was originally posted at http://www.punkwalrus.com/blog/archives/00000282.html