Monday, 1 November 2010

Hollywood Babble On & On #624: The Curse of Expectations

Welcome to the show folks...

Today we're going to talk about expectations, and how they can hurt or help, but mostly hurt.


Well, you've all heard about his recent antics involving nudity, bat-shit behavior, and a hooker porn star in a trashed hotel room, and now there are reports that after his brief psychiatric examination, he's gone on the binge to end all binges.

This isn't the first time his fondness for mood altering chemicals, conspiracy theories, and women who treat sex in purely professional manner has put him in the news. Yet he remains the highest paid star currently on TV, and there hasn't been any move to unseat him from his hit sitcom.

There was a time when such behavior could sink someone's career, and in many cases, it's still that time, yet Charlie Sheen remains immunized from the professional self destruction that normally follows personal self-destruction.



Nobody has any for Charlie Sheen.

Think about it for a second.

When Robert Downey Jr. was imploding from his addictions people were disappointed and saddened, because the expectations created by his talent, and charisma could all be lost because of his emotional - psychological issues and chemical dependency. When he finally started to overcome his demons, the audience rooted for him to succeed, not just because he was starting to fulfill his expectations of being a good actor, he was exceeding them by working his ass off to become a full fledged movie star.

The audience is annoyed at Lindsey Lohan, because they're seeing yet another child star living out another child star cliche, and not being bright enough to see that she has become a cliche. They expected something to come out from the promise they saw in her early work, and when they saw her piss it all away for some evanescent "good times" found in the company of douche-bags and drug dealers. Lohan can't even get arrested in Hollywood, and that goes beyond her not getting work beyond being a novelty cameo, she can't even get arrested for violating the law. She's just not considered worth it anymore.

Mel Gibson created a whole bunch of expectations with his supposed dedication to his family, and his faith, which he amped up exponentially with his film
The Passion of the Christ. Then he went and broke all those expectations by leaving the mother of his 20+ children, taking up with that Russian chick, and then leaving her in a flurry of racial slurs, foul language, and other bugshit crazy behavior. Now he can't even get a cameo in the sequel to a movie that was literally all about R-Rated debauchery.

There is only one expectation of Charlie Sheen, that he shows up and in the best of circumstances, is wearing pants, but they're not going to get their hopes up about that. When his movie career stalled and he did a TV sitcom, no one was expecting much. When he showed some comic chops in the old fashioned sitcom style people were pleasantly surprised, but otherwise, they weren't going to put any faith in him
not doing something to screw it up.

To put it simply, he coasts on by. No one expects much, he doesn't deliver much, because he never really promised all that much to begin with.


This bit is all about falling expectations and how to use them to hopefully advance your own career.

When Kevin Smith burst out onto the indie film scene with
Clerks people were wowed by his raunchy sense of humor, his clever dialogue, and sense of the 90s 20something zeitgeist. He followed that up with some hits (Chasing Amy) and the occasional miss (Mallrats), and some controversy with Dogma, a comedy about religion.

However, since
Dogma, his work's been uneven, either bombing outright, like Jersey Girl, or failing to match the hype that preceded it like Clerks II. His last film Cop Out was a disaster both critically and commercially and left his career as a director in a precarious position.

So what can you do in this situation.

Well, if you work in Hollywood you can use failure to your advantage.

First you pick a film that can only fail, but fail in a way that you can blame on the "stupidity" of the general public. Something that will get people mad, get the fringe to be loud and obnoxious, but won't put any of the people behind it in any real danger.

With that criteria in mind you announce that your
next film will be about how Christians being psychopathic killers because of their religion, and you're going to call it Red State, which is a shot at everyone who has ever voted for the Republican Party.

To add a little spice to your already stinky brew you then declare that you want to do to Christianity what Hollywood did to Satanism in 1970s and make it the villain of "exploitation horror."

Now the USA is 70%+ Christian, and judging from recent polls, and a sizable portion of the population is also either a registered member of the Republican Party or sympathetic to some Republican policies. Even the percentage that isn't Christian or Republican will tend to avoid a film based solely on insulting those people for two reasons:

1. They consider such material to be rude and insulting to the people they live and work alongside every day.

2. Deep down they know that most films like that are usually really bad.

Smith has even raised a good chunk of the $20 million budget by begging donations from his fans. They are called "donations" and not "investments" because everyone knows that the film will not make a dime in the USA.

That's why the Weinsteins, who backed the bulk of Smith's career, won't produce the film, they don't have the money to waste on what would be the equivalent of making a film slandering Hindus and releasing it in India. In fact, make such a film about any other religious, or ethnic community, would get you declared racist and run out of Hollywood on a rail, with Kevin Smith himself in the crowd, waving a torch and screaming for your balls on a platter.

This movie is not for any audience outside of the West Coast Axis of Ego but it will be immunized from any negative criticism for fear of the critic being declared sympathetic to Christians and Republicans which rate lower than Roman Polanski in Hollywood. Anyone who does work up the energy to protest the film will be used as "proof" of how right the film is, no matter how far-on-the-fringe-dwelling they might be, and the film's failure at the box office will also be declared proof of how superior the denizens of the Axis of Ego are to the great unwashed masses who actually buy movie tickets.

Smith will get pats on the back for "courage" and "speaking truth to power" and a shot at making more films, no matter how financially or creatively weak this film really is. They expect failure, in fact, they
want failure, and will reward the filmmakers for failing, because it such failure will justify their own prejudices.

Personally, I'd rather they use their time, and investor's money on making something that someone might actually pay to see, rather than just burn money away on projects like this.


  1. Not to defend Smith or anything, but Red State's budget was actually a mostly invested $4 million. I don't think that "fan donation" idea really went through.

  2. Red State, they should call it "tax write-off" or "Tax Shelter for same ultra wealthy people Hollywood despises."

    NOV 2nd is shaping up to become a DARK DAY for Hollywood Elite and their Obama fans.

    So expect for whiny films like this to come out, all claiming the tea party is part of some racist conspiracy so they can go back to their beloved state of prepetual victim-hood.