the impotence of hollywood
I refuse to believe that everyone in Hollywood is stupid. So then why is Hollywood as a community so out of touch with what people want in entertainment?
My wife and I went to see "Shakespeare in Love." Here was a fabulous screenplay. I was delighted with the originality of the story. A real Shakespearean romp, put together in a highly entertaining way. The acting was equally outstanding. The entire picture, overall, was generally worthy of its Best-Picture Academy Award. Except for one thing. And this one shortcoming was so serious that it degraded the entire experience of watching this Oscar-winning motion picture.
Why does almost every Hollywood movie have to destroy itself by thrusting the main characters into immediate and unrealistic sexual encounters? Were you as disappointed as I to see Shakespeare and his lady love jump into bed almost the moment they met? Was this real 16th Century behavior? Did this crassness add anything of value to the story? Is this how Hollywood defines love? The film would have been a classic, and probably an even greater box office hit, if the producers had insisted on romance instead of sex as Shakespeare's love potion No. 9 throughout the film.
Not only did the casual sex add nothing to the story, it made the film completely unsuitable for children. There are other ways to avoid the dreaded G rating. And was it necessary to portray Shakespeare as married? How did this troubling aspect add to the story, since tension between his wife and his lover was not even part of the plot?
Time after time the highest-revenue films seem to be those which avoid sex as a cheap audience-titillation tool. A study of the 100 Greatest Films of all time reveals a vast number of pictures that maintained their integrity. Even many of those that dealt with sexual topics refused to self-destruct by presenting sexual encounters for their own sake. Yet it seems that every producer, director, and writer in Hollywood today thinks that a picture can't be successful unless the leads immediately jump into the nearest sack. Why? Do they really believe every moviegoer wants this? Do they think their audience is stupid? Or is it proof of the social engineering that so many people claim is Hollywood's secret agenda?
I don't know, but I certainly know what ruins an otherwise great story.
I love Shakespeare. As a high-school student I was part of my community's theatrical guild, and played lead roles in a number of plays including Shakespeare. His work was brilliant. He teased the audience with sexual energy without ever debasing his work with the crudeness of such obvious imagery.
Consider the magic of "The Taming of the Shrew." A story of the battle of the sexes charged with electrical energy that originates from the passion between the two main characters. Imagine how dull and empty this would play had the two simply jumped into bed. Ick.
Consider "Much Ado About Nothing." Here's a story that's completely concerned with sex. Yet it never becomes crude. The result is pure magic! The audience is involved, drawn in by the mere suggestion of sex. How brilliant! How imaginative! Does the story spiral downwards into the crassly obvious? No! It continues to soar higher and higher to a mental climax. It assumes its audience has brains. Imagine how disappointing this story would be had Hollywood written the screenplay.
Now imagine how Shakespeare in Love would have soared had its writers, producers, and director seen the power of maintaining sexual energy without releasing it all over the screen at the first opportunity.
Is this growing trend just a symptom of deeper problems? Is it perhaps an echo of the sexual performance of those involved in the motion picture industry? Has all the constant casual sex in Hollywood left everyone impotent?
Although I don't watch much television, it doesn't seem to be a whole lot better. But again it appears that those shows which treat their audiences as intelligent human beings are the ones that shine. Consider the sexual energy of the X-Files. Here's a masterful example of great storytelling. It's obvious that Mulder and Scully have a romantic interest in each other, yet they hold it back because they work with each other. So do the two lead characters in another great series called JAG. In one memorable example, Mac (the call sign of the female lead) spends the night on the couch at the home of the male lead, Harm. She can't sleep, and at one point Harm gets out of bed to see if he can bring her anything to help her sleep. As he walks back to his bed, he hears her ask, "Do you mind if I strip this down?" I was as shocked as he was! He turns slowly and asks, "What did you say?" She explains that when she can't sleep she likes to keep her hands busy, so can she strip down his handgun? I almost cheered aloud at the way the writers worked with the sexual energy between those two without allowing the show to deteriorate into something crude.
I believe that most people really do want to be treated with respect. I may be wrong, but I think they want to be thought of as having a brain in their head. And I think they generally vote with their wallets when a motion picture gives them what they want.
So when will Hollywood get the message? I don't know. Perhaps we can only hope that someday financial realities will force our entertainment elite to their sexual senses.