The Grand Disillusion of Fritz Godard
Nearly two weeks ago, Hollywood gathered at Kodak for the annual celebration of Hollywood backrubs and blow jobs. The evening paraded out a lineup of the great films, the highest ratio of films nominated for Best Picture to films that should have been nominated for Best Picture in the last decade. However, the bourgeoisie turned a blind eye, prompting Hollywood to quickly blame the Writers Strike as the sole reason for of lack interest. The Donnybrook Writing Academy refuses to condone using writers, of even bad writers as a scapegoat.
The truth is that the Hollywood movie industry is a terminal case, with not much time left. In the not so distant future, cinema mega-plexes will be the homes of stadium seating BINGO parlors and fledgling suburban churches. Yet, as a gracious act of kindness I, Fritz Godard, will offer a simple and effective plan to save Hollywood, and perhaps end up saving the world.
You must realize the damage done cannot be solved with an easy fix; throwing money at the problem won’t help, and neither will forcing Jessica Alba down our throats. Don’t despair; take pride in the fact that this year’s crop of Best Picture nominations was the strongest in the last 15 years, despite overlooking “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.” This is a long-term plan. Yet, at the same time, I think it’s high time you took off the rose-colored glasses and saw where the problem lies. Hint: it isn’t with the high-end top-shelf films released just in time to qualify for Oscar consideration, but with the drivel released the other nine-and-a-half months of the year.
This is where it starts to get difficult. You have two choices: you can either make money on horrible franchises and garbage films pumped out by two of the six writers of “Scary Movie,” and give up the notion of self respect. Or you can look yourself in the mirror every day and count the money you’ve made from smart quality films. Right now there is no middle ground. I understand the economics of the movie business. I know you have to make the ‘Transformers’ to support the ‘There Will Be Bloods.’ I’m not suggesting you rid yourself of the tent poles and wander through the collapsed big top.
But if you make a bad film, what is the sense in wasting more money to promote it to death just to say the film get a small return? I know you’re not afraid of scaling back promotion on quality films, as seen in last year’s botched release of “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.” Why not save a little face on the blockbusters? Let people think for themselves instead of mindlessly following the flashing lights.
Going back to the tent pole comic book franchises, why not add more artistic edge? Remember, “2001″ grossed 190 million worldwide, and that was forty years ago. Are film audiences less savvy now? Of course, the answer is yes, and it’s your fault. You need to stop underestimating the viewing public (and if any common view public have accidentally stumbled upon this prestigious site, please stop lowing your standards to accommodate). Is there a better way to do that than with comic book art film?
I’m suggesting the next installment of a major franchise, let’s say the Superman franchise, be given over to an innovative director. How amazing would a French New Wave version of “Superman” be? Superman moping around the world saving, or not saving people’s lives, dealing with depression caused by the fact he has an illegitimate child and Lois Lane is married. There would be no villain accept for a scene where Lex Luther tries to pick up Lois Lane at a press conference where he only talks about his personal philosophy of life and love. That would be a movie that would be worth a $9.75 price of admission.
However, that might be a little too much too fast. The damage you’ve inflicted on the viewing public wouldn’t be ready for a shock like that. The film would fly over their heads like a depressed bird or plane showing Truffaut films. The best way to rebuild the cinematic intellect is through the training grounds of television. With the renaissance of quality television programming, it only seems logical to keep raising the sophistication of TV shows. The next step in the audiences’ cinematic perception is cutting back the standard length of television seasons. It needs to be shortened from the twenty plus to the more manageable BBC/Curb Your Enthusiasm range of 6-10 episodes a season. The argument may be that shorter seasons will hurt advertising revenues, yet I disagree. Instead of having one season from late September to mid May, there could be two different seasons in the same amount of time, with a third season shown in the summer doldrums. Any television show can be great for six episodes and with the giant influx of amateur filmmakers, the majority of which consider themselves comic geniuses, there are more opportunities and less money spent to develop new talent.
The next step in the television re-education process is subtitled television shows. This idea can’t fail. The best way to introduce this would be to have everyone on “Lost” just start to speak French. There wouldn’t need to be an explanation. Everyone would just accept they were speaking French and buy a pair of reading glasses from Walgreen’s before next week’s show. At worst, they’d stop watching and sit down and a read book.
Now while all of the re-education of the audiences is going on, Hollywood, you have to tighten the image. The first step is to weed out all of the people who see their craft as a way to get famous. Find these people and give them a huge record contract and a reality television show. It doesn’t matter if they can sing or not, let pop music have the tabloid heroes. The main goal of Hollywood is to get their stars to regain that shroud of mystery from the Golden Age of the Silver Screen. Who wouldn’t want to see a Hayden Christensen-fronted boyband battle Mischa Barton for the top spot on the Billboard 100? At worst we’d get a reality show where Denise Richards and Charlie Sheen would compete in a series of challenges to gain custody of their children for the next week.
For the stars who make the cut, create and enroll them in the exclusive Movie Stardom Academy. Hire George Clooney to be Dean of Studies and allow him to craft a curriculum where students will learn how to gracefully go from struggling actor to successful TV star to Sexiest Man Alive to artistic juggernaut while retaining an air of mystery and glamour. Charlize Theron can design the course work for starlets. (She posed in Playboy, won an Oscar, was deemed Sexiest Woman Alive and had a recurring guest role on “Arrested Development” and still the most commonly-known fact about her is she was born in South Africa. Kudos for elegance and grace!).
Next, only allow Paul Haggis and Michael Bay to work on one project a year. These two, more than any other eight Hollywood players combined, have contributed to the dumbing down of the American film audience. The best-case scenario would be to lock them in a room together force them to make a movie. At best they’d fall head over heals in love and follow in the Affleck-Kimmel ideal where filmmaking would become secondary to the love they share for each other. At worst we’d get a huge action film set in the future where a robotic racist cop blows up a lot of stereotypical villains while uttering ridiculous catch phrases before he ultimately learns you have to put racism on the back burner when saving the world from a government cover-up of a giant asteroid.
Finally, a simple bit to end the letter; in every interview, or social interaction where questions are asked to Hollywood employee gives, whether it be Tommy Lee Jones promoting a film on Letterman, or the mail room attendant at Universal filling out a questionnaire about McDonald’s customer service, they must reference at least five films. This places an importance, albeit artificial, back on film. Films will be relevant. There will be an automatically separation of the wheat from the chaff. Who would want to admit to seeing “Step Up 2 the Streets” when they could talk about “No Country for Old Men”? I do this in my everyday life, and let me assure you it is a much more entertaining way to get rid of co-workers trying to sell you candles from a catalog than a simple ‘no.’
Hollywood, I hope this letter lifts your spirits and shows you that there is a light at the end of the tunnel – if you only keep persevering and you stop making crap. Thank you for listening.