Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Hollywood Babble On & On #1187: The Following Premises Are Dead.

I've noticed that some premises just keep popping up again and again, refusing to die like some sort of supernatural beasts. So I'm going to name and shame those premises and if you're a film and/or TV maker who is just about to use one or more of them, STOP IT!

1. CIA TRIES TO KILL THEIR OWN AGENTS: This has pretty much become its own genre. The CIA are up to something sinister and decide that key to their sinister plan is to kill their superstar agent(s). That agent gets pissed, gets revenge, and exposes the whole conspiracy, at least until the sequel. No wonder the American intelligence community are always blowing major operations and having huge intelligence failures. They're too busy chasing their own people around for reasons that have to buried under tons of gunshots and explosions because they sound way too inane when heard clearly.

2. DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILY IS FORCED TO SPEND TIME TOGETHER: Get rid of this and you'll lose about a third of the indie films being made these days. Too many are about making up Oscar clips for actors over telling an interesting story about interesting people. Boring.

3. THE EVIL CORPORATE DYSTOPIA: Ever since the 1980s we've been regularly treated to a buffet of movies about sinister corporations that conspire and plot to do evil things. Most common is to have some sort of monopoly on a good or service that is essential to survival, like air, replacement organs, or any medicine developed after 1925, and making it too expensive for anyone but the most richest kings of Europe to have. Well, if you know any economic history, monopolies that deliberately overprice goods usually spend their lives skirting bankruptcy until they finally crash and burn. It's a fact, and bad premise. Also, they show these corporate dystopias as being crippled by widespread poverty. Well, if everyone's poor, how the hell do the corporations make any money?

4. THE STUPID & EVIL CORPORATE CONSPIRACY: Corporations are nothing more than groups of people who pool labour and capital towards a single goal, that is to make money. Which is why I am stunned when I see "sinister corporations" do things, like making zombie plagues, or bringing man-eating aliens to Earth, that they cannot possibly profit from. That's just plain stupid.

5. THE GOD-LIKE SERIAL KILLER: If you don't have a rational explanation for the killer to know something, or do something other than he's an evil psychopath who knows all and can do all, you're being a lazy hack. Stop it, and try to do something new.

If you have a premise that you think have been flogged to death, then include them in the contents.


  1. How about that the Cold War is over. It has pretty much cooled since about 1990. (Yes, in a sense it is heating up now a days.) That those in power would be in their at least late 40 and 50s. Yet it seems to find a whole bunch of 20 and 30 years olds that continue to fight for the Russian empire. How about even Bosnia/Serb conflict that has is in a sense still simmering growing cold but still seems to come up as a plot/villain device.
    Even worse - Nazi's. Really you can not drag out some 60 year old pining from the days of Hitler when in many cases the guy would not even have been born. It is getting to the point you will have some old folks homes will be centers of evil or raise from the dead or medical technology will keep the alive.
    Take even near by villains will often be extreme right wing survivalists with a smattering of fringe left-wing terrorists/anarchists. Maybe with the odd Latin American "Miami Vice" style narco gang. Yet will ignore more present day villains from Islamic terrorists to race based street gangs unless white biker.
    In conclusion is the villains have to be either from allowable group to beat up, high on the PC spectrum. Or that they have to be passe or old news that it might not cause troubles.
    Even Islamic terrorists when used have at least become a caricature of the group or so outside the base idea that it is non even the real thing.

  2. "That those in power would be in their at least late 40 and 50s. Yet it seems to find a whole bunch of 20 and 30 years olds that continue to fight for the Russian empire. "

    Unfortunately, there really Are a whole bunch of 20 and 30 year olds that have been fighting for the Russian Empire. Case in point: Georgia and Ukraine.

    Though I agree Russia is over-flogged as a target (especially compared to Iran, Turkey, and China) I think it's still legit.

    "How about even Bosnia/Serb conflict that has is in a sense still simmering growing cold but still seems to come up as a plot/villain device. "

    It's not really that cold. I've been there, and the crazies on both sides are tiptoeing around the abyss way, way, way too prominently. If nothing else, I do think some exposure onto that could do some good. Same reason why I defended the otherwise lackluster CoD: Ghosts' choice of villains.

    Wholly agreed on the Nazis and survivalists/anarchists, though.

  3. Oops. Forgot. About my own ideas for over-flogged examples...

    "Nukes are Bad!!!! Really Really Bad!!" Yes, we know. Nukes are bad. It's been going around for decades. But if anything, portraying them as some sort of apocalyptic weapon beyond weapons has harmed any prospects for *actually* examining how bad they'd are honestly. And it's a lazy cliche for it.

    2. "GoreDeathKillFest the Horror."

    Marketing a horror film on that alone is Self-Defeating.

    That doesn't mean you can't make good films *incorporating* gore or torture or other visceral, nasty things. Just the opposite. But it almost always is in *service* to something greater in the story.

    Roth and co just spin out gore in service to their own twisted jillies and cynical greed. And it is long overdue to stop.

    Above all, it's just plain Boring as Hell.

    3. "Neo-Isolationist/Terror-Apologist/Anti-War/Revolutioanry Film XII: Return of the Bushitler."

    Yes, these ones have slightly tapered off with the new administration, but I figure they're worth saying anyway. Pretending that the US is somehow worse than the Islamists, the Nazis, the Bolsheviks, and Genghis Khan put together has gotten to the point where it's not just insulting. It's tediously predictable.

    Some of us have learned from the century plus parade of the Kaiserreich, the Bolsheviks, the Axis, and the Islamists banging on our door. But apparently a few people haven't. Which displays a profoundly poor sense of judgement that goes way beyond just making a good movie. It's something I never hope to see again.