A question I’m asked all the time is: why do so many bad movies get made? The answer is simple: somebody thought these movies would turn a major profit. Many times that somebody is right. Even a movie that gets a 2% approval rating on RottenTomatoes and bombs at the domestic box office may still rake in big bucks.
See, what many spectators fail to understand is that most American-made films aren’t made for the purpose of entertaining American audiences. They’re made to earn as much profit as possible in the global market. And movies intended for the global market have to accommodate all sorts of cross-cultural considerations: language translation, various forms of censorship, gender protocol and beyond. As such, the studios favor films that have super basic plots, the simplest characters, limited dialogue and ample eye candy—visual FX, action sequences and/or lowbrow physical comedy—in order to remain accessible to worldwide audiences. In other words, they’re catering to the lowest common denominator. More often than not, this means we’ll see fewer diverse voices and less developed characters, especially when it comes to females and minorities. As such, these films will be more generic, more predictable and far less compelling.
For this reason we see endless remakes, adaptations and sequels based on titles that already have a proven track record. The powers-that-be know there’s a built-in audience standing by. They also know that what they lose in domestic box office revenue they can still gain in product tie-ins and international sales. In short, when it comes to what you or I think, frankly my dears, they don’t give a damn.
But we must.
I propose we start holding these spineless, myopic, greedy gatekeepers accountable. In politics we call or write to our congress-people when we feel they’re not protecting our interests. Why not do the same with movie executives? These cinematic fat cats make a killing by producing lousy, “safe” choices that perpetuate negative storytelling trends and stereotypes, regularly betraying the interests of earnest ticket-paying movie spectators seeking quality entertainment. Should we just sit back and take it?
I think not. Go to IMDB and look up the producers of your favorite and least favorite films. Commend those who’ve found a way to put good out into the world. And hold accountable those slimy cowards who profit from adding to the cinematic detritus in our midst. It’s a privilege to get to make movies. Let’s make those who do actually earn it.
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