Tuesday, May 18, 2004
Offshoring the Audience
David Kipen has an extremely insightful and must-read review in the new Atlantic Monthly on a book on screenwriting “for a global market.” “Here, alas, is the virus laying waste to modern Hollywood movies. What do, say, the Batman and Matrix pictures have in common, besides banality? Just for openers, insipid, infrequent dialogue. Why take the trouble to bang out good lines—supposing one can—if they’ll only be mistranslated for their real target markets, abroad? Both these movies could have been silents if they weren’t so loud. They’re overbearing, carelessly told, and gang-written into incomprehensibility. Small wonder they were tepidly welcomed in the United States. Americans at the movies are guilty of the same mistake in the early twenty-first century that grown-ups made at the movies in the 1980s: supposing that the pictures are made for them.” Ouch. Interesting discussion of the auteur theory of criticism (it’s French). Could it be that the famous disconnect between the elites and the heartland is coming home to roost? Certainly French audiences are more amenable to what Hollywood elites want to say. This disconnect is ultimately bad for Hollywood, and Kipen argues that it’s bad for American audiences too. “Effectively, the major American studios and their writers are out of the originality business.” Cool and apropos closing metaphor.