Opinion: We need to talk about Hollywood

Hank Venetta

Hank Venetta

Hank Venetta is a senior English major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected]

When I saw “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” a few years ago, every seat in the theater was taken.

You’ve heard this story before: tan actors shoot guns and scream; giant robots beat the hell out of each other; the Disney Channel dude rescues raven-haired Megan Fox, who poses next to cars when she’s not under threat.

When the movie ended, the audience was dead silent. “Ah ha, everyone realizes this movie sucked, too!” I thought to myself. But the theater soon applauded. My friend and I glanced at each other. We didn’t want to be party poopers, so we agreed it was OK.

Light speed to last weekend. George Lucas re-releases one of the biggest letdowns ever made … in 3-D! You’ve heard this story before: Uh, there was a story? According to Box Office Mojo, “Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace 3-D” recently grossed $23 million during its first weekend. Not too shabby for something previously in theaters.

We’ve seen it again and again: Guilty pleasure movies earn top dollar. I have a crazy theory about the way Hollywood works. Get this: They produce movies with a lack of originality and depth as a secure way of selling the most possible tickets. It’s a revelation, I know.

First, let’s take a look at the highest-grossing movies of 2011. All of them are installments to franchises: Harry Potter, Twilight, Hangover, Pirates and Transformers. No worries, I won’t question J.K. Rowling’s talent, especially because a Potter fan would stalk and strangle me. And everything wrong with Twilight has been exhausted. There’s no reason to restate the obvious because fans of the series will never change, like a 100-year-old vampire that still hangs out with teenagers. 

What deserves to be bashed is Hollywood’s formula: Unoriginal Movies + Box Office = Cocaine. Basically, the first method is to produce movies with a built-in audience. When a movie makes a ton of money, they pop out sequels until their quality diminishes and people’s interest fizzles. If a book series sold millions of copies, they’ll make them into movies. Familiarity is a marketer’s dream come true.

Secondly, in order to make a movie equally appealing to Chinese, German, Indian and Swedish people, you have to go easy on depth and demanding themes. It’s all about translation. Movies that go overseas must be dubbed into many languages. For blockbusters, predictable dialogue dominated by special effects makes translation so easy even a [movie I didn’t like] fan could do it. 

Ever roll your eyes and finish a character’s sentence before he does? Well, Mr. Smartypants, “Nooooo!” is refreshing dialogue for some international viewers.

In conclusion, the universal language of humankind is not mathematics, it’s that laser beams and fiery explosions are cool and worth paying to see.

Call me a pessimist, realist or someone who might have a drinking problem, but Hollywood consists of greedy jerks, and for drags like me, going to the movies with my pals sober is rarely optional. Thanks for giving people what they want, Hollywood. You thieving bastards.

Note: “The Avengers” looks awesome. I’ll be there!