I know what you’re thinking, and no, this isn’t another slam on Disney Star Wars. What’s going on here goes beyond a specific company or genre of films and instead effects the entire creative industry.
Instead, I am taking a series of observations and drawing the logical conclusion from them, which is simply this: Hollywood hates good stories. No matter how strong the premise, how compelling the narrative, the SJW class that now rules the creative world will destroy anything that looks like it will produce a satisfactory ending. The ones that somehow evade their clutches will then be undermined because the writers are too inept to finish the job.
The War on Good Storytelling
At this point, I would be expected to bring up a certain show from 1978, but we’ve gone well beyond that. The examples are far too numerous to rely on that hoary chestnut. Let’s instead look at two prominent examples of The War on Good Storytelling.
Our first – and one I predicted – was Game of Thrones. The downfall of the show wasn’t purposeful but instead the inevitable result of creative exhaustion. The current writers are now three generations removed from the Western Canon and two generations removed from meaningful life-experiences. At this point, characters develop depth largely because of the superlative efforts of their actors, who are often at loggerheads with their dimbulb production crews. Our current creative class falls back on pseudo-academic terms like “subverting expectations” to cover up for plot incoherence.
Put simply, they botch the endings because they can do no other. Oh, they think they know what they are doing, and love setting up intricate and complex plot lines but they have no idea what resolution looks like. It’s the Underpants Gnome School of Storytelling:
1.Create complex characters and storylines 2.Something about plot 3.Success!
My second example is more esoteric, but very much to the point. During the fifth month of Michigan’s “Three Weeks to Stop the Spread,” I saw an advertisement for Amazon Prime’s Z: The Beginning of Everything. This was a biopic on Zelda Fitzgerald, fraught wife of author F. Scott. You know, The Great Gatsby and stuff. Anyhow, it looked good and so I watched it.
It was excellent, outstanding, even. A little rough to begin but Christina Ricci totally immersed herself in the character of Zelda in a way I didn’t think modern actresses could still do.
Naturally, it was canceled after a single season because SJWs hated it. There was some pie fight over whether other, more SJW-compliant shows should be renewed. Apparently they had a slightly bigger audience but of course a period-piece biopic isn’t about the initial viewing but rather creating an epic that will have repeat views for years. Every year a bunch of tykes are forced to read Gatsby and a certain percentage will want to see the story behind the story. As the money men would say: the profit is on the back end, not the front, but Amazon threw it all away because SJWs hate good storytelling.
Remaking the Wrong Show
A while back I talked about punitive remakes, but upon reflection the problem is that people are remaking the wrong show. For my sins, I stumbled upon the new Magnum P.I. the other day and it was awful. The camera work was like a cut-rate reality show. None of the characters had screen presence and of course Higgins is a girl. When I first heard of this I thought (like many of you) of course they have to do a gender swap. It’s lazy and also wrecks the ‘guy show’ dynamic but SJW dogma demands it.
But upon reflection, I realized that what they were really doing is remaking Moonlighting without admitting it. Or maybe Remington Steele. Do you see where I’m going? There were lots of detective shows in the 80s that featured male-female combinations, crackling with romantic tension and yes, the guy usually was subordinate. I can see how the people behind Magnum P.I. would overlook this because no one famous came out of either show, right?
I doubt that any of the production meetings noted this similarity. I bet everyone involved clapped like a trained seal at the idea of making Higgins a girl and thereby “empowering women.” But once you see what they did, it’s pretty obvious.
If someone said: “So you want to do Moonlighting with a cast of veterans,” he was probably canned immediately.
You Can’t Do What You Don’t Know
This brings us back to my fearless prediction regarding The Mandalorian. Today’s writers are taught that politics trumps everything else and that the important thing is to check the boxes. I see the rumblings that The Mandalorian’s crew is bucking the trend, and you see that is some other shows, but it’s rare. What is even more rare is a series moving to a satisfying conclusion and when The Mandalorian fails, it won’t be the result of SJW sabotage but the fact that even ‘good’ writers these days don’t know how to stick the landing.
By the way, the way to do it is not to ‘subvert expectations’ and randomly change around the plot to surprise people. No, what you want to do is follow through on your foreshadowing but do it in an unexpected way. The classic example of this is the prediction about the Witch-King early on in Lord of the Rings: not by the hand of man shall he fall. What a great reveal when he finds himself face-to-face with a woman and a hobbit!
Writers today don’t have that kind of patience or skill. They either go for the quick pay-off or keep letting the tension build until they have no way to resolve it.
So whatever show you watch in 2021, expect it to fail. Happy New Year.