One of the more useful developments in pop culture over the last decade or so – especially if you’re the kind of fan that likes to see how the sausages are made, so to speak – has been the rise of the kinds of social media that you don’t have to be friends with someone to eavesdrop on. And not even for all the inside gossip about various big-screen disasters and celebrity meltdowns, though a recent semi-public Facebook thread on how tough an interview subject Amy Schumer was on her Australian tour did make for interesting reading. The real prize has been the way that social media now allows regular folk an insight into the thought processes of various big-time Hollywood players, and it’s not always a pretty sight.
While it’s no real surprise that many successful big-timers are still super-sensitive to slights and insults, it’s always depressing to see anyone respond to criticism – and this sentence could just stop there, because why would anyone want to respond to criticism on the internet? Especially with “I’d like to see you do better”. And yet, it still happens on a regular basis.
Here’s some old news: you don’t actually have to know how a toilet works or be able to build your own to know when one is backed up, and the same applies to movies (or just about anything else). There are almost always dozens of better ways to reply to online criticism (if you really must reply at all), but the way a large number of creative types fall back on this one suggests the only kind of feedback they’re interested in is unalloyed praise. But that’s nothing new: more surprising (and depressing) is stumbling across scriptwriters on social media talking about how it’s their job to save movies from special effects and how great stories make for great careers. Sure, everyone likes to think their job’s important: everyone who’s watched any big budget movie over the last 20 years knows exactly how important a scriptwriters job really is. And pretty much all the films of recent years that have showcased really good writing are written by the director, because that way there’s someone on set sticking up for the script and preventing the actors from making up their own lines.
These days writing an original script is a suckers game: Hollywood is all about remakes and outside properties (meaning those scriptwriters have to be very good at doing what they’re told), so anyone who has a really good idea for a movie is off writing it up as an adaptation-friendly novel or a comic book – or even a TV show – rather than dreaming it’s still 1986 and a spec script can earn a lucky writer a million dollars or more. Plus if you write your idea as a book or comic, you can make money off it even if the movies say no. A script without a studio is just a big fat calling card. Scriptwriters are meant to be great at creating dream worlds; seeing them talking about how they’re living in one is kind of sad.
Written by Anthony Morris