By contributing writer Jason Smith
As rare as it is find good entertainment that didn’t just get off some other dude’s lap, it is even rarer to find good entertainment that doesn’t self-destruct during the last 10 minutes. I’m pointing (see last sentence) the finger at basically everything I’ve watched come out of Hollywood, California in the last week. Wait, did you pronounce California as “Kal-ee-for-nuh” too? Nevermind. Hollywood has had a harder time closing the deal on popular projects than my younger brother who made the mistake of taking a cool but religious chick to prom.
First there was the complete train wreck that was Spider-Man 3. And now I’m writing this fresh off of my two-hour tirade on the season 1 finale of the NBC show Heroes. But even if you’ve been too inebriated (dictionary.com) to keep up with current programming, we all can quickly think of a good piece of entertainment that refused to deliver a proper ending in order to keep future revenue streams open, a la sequels and co-brandings. Seriously though, if you continue to eat at Burger King, no Spidey-suit will fit you.
Sadly, I and all of the other self-proclaimed “non-nerd” super-fans, who spend at least 1-2 hours a night talking about the film/show in an internet medium of some sorts, fantasized about how amazing the big finish would be, only to be let down worse than that time we heard Dave Chappelle was crazy, high, and in Africa. To make matters worse, we continue to send the completely wrong message to the people making money off of these bad decisions.
Each successive Spider-Man movie broke the record of opening day money made for any film in history. And if I remember my community college Intro to Economics class, “If you spend money on something, the people who made it will make more.” That was a direct quote from the 29-year-old graduate student who made about $400 in total for all of last year (remember kids, you can’t get into heaven if you don’t have lots of money). The studios have no reason to not copy the formula of Spider-Man 3 for every other movie they make because it has a proven track record. For those of you who didn’t hear, the formula is:
1. Hire an almost completely unknown director and give him full creative control, that way he can change things he doesn’t like about the script in order to appease people who have no interest with the original reason why it was successful.
2. Have each character cry at least twice or dress/dance like the lead singer of Fall Out Boy.
3. Hire a good makeup crew, that way you don’t have to hire an attractive female lead.
4. Collect money from fans who were horribly misled by the previews.
While we have the hope of someday convincing Christopher Nolan to revive Spidey (I’m cool with using violent threats if needed), Heroes presents a completely different challenge. NBC is a television network, which means NBC is run by television executives, which means that unless we somehow convince every 48-year-old single mother of three that Heroes needs to be ballsier (thank you Word grammar suggestion, I would have made the silly mistake of saying “more ballsy”) and less estrogen-based, we have no hope.
I honestly do not understand how the “test groups” are conducted, but I’m pretty sure they consist solely of the demographic described above. That goes for any program. How many times were you getting ready for the biggest fight or action sequence in the history of American programming, only to have it be completely ruined by a heart-touching moment of self-sacrifice out of love for another character? It’s probably a lot easier on the budget to avoid trying to compete with The Matrix and going more of a “I can’t quit you” route, but the preview makers need to stop luring us in weeks or months in advance with clips that are solely designed to stimulate that part in the average male’s brain that screams “KILL!” It’s like picking up a Playboy with Scarlett Johansson on the cover, only to find Better Homes and Gardens between the sheets.
Whoever comprises this “general public,” you are an official enemy. I’m actively seeking out members of this group wherever they exist, and have managed to run into one. An ex-coworker of mine actually thought Spider-Man 3 was really well done. I suffered a mild hemorrhage by containing my urge to slap her, but I was glad to finally meet one of this “general public.”
She was clearly someone who had never heard of Spider-Man prior to 2002 when the first one came out. She wasn’t at all bothered by how Venom was portrayed, or that coincidentally every bad guy manages to become a sympathetic figure before making some valuable life lesson statements prior to the closing credits. She probably would have loved the Heroes finale, where instead of receiving visuals of a showdown that takes De La Hoya vs. Mayweather to a supernatural level, we’re treated to a warm, fuzzy-feeling moment as two brothers re-connect and one makes the ultimate (though completely unnecessary) sacrifice for the other. She would have no interest in seeing a show based around the concept of people having special powers, unless they used those special powers to develop normal relationships and act the same way that anyone else on the planet can. The show had my attention when they said “telekinetic,” but they have to avoid demonstrating the sheer power of technology in favor of dragging out emotional bonds in order to gain her support. She and those like her, are why we have a problem.
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