I recently saw news about plans to make a sixth Terminator movie. Like others, my reaction was, “What? Seriously? Why? Nobody is asking for this!” Now, I never saw any Terminator films past the second one (which is one of my top 20 favorite movies of all time) but I heard near-unanimously awful things about them. I’m not being prejudiced, it’s just that there has been a pattern where I disliked a sequel that was made just because the first was successful. I did not enjoy any of the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels, the second and third Men in Black, Monsters University, the third and fourth Shrek movies, and the entirety of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Each of these left a very dissatisfied feeling for me because of a lack of care as to why the original was great to start with.
Yes, it’s obvious that these film producers are trying to make as much money as possible, but they lead that to forget the social responsibility that film has toward society. These producers relying on previously established franchises in order to make more money is not just careless to the product they’re creating, it’s taking advantage of their consumers.
You know how some car salesman would try to stretch the truth in order to sell you all these useless features to some expensive automobile so that you can go well beyond your budget to give the car dealership more of your cash? After you purchase what you think is a good deal, you find that the car and features are not anywhere near as glamorous as you were advertised. But the car salesman doesn’t care, he’ll just say you’re off their warranty so that they can swell in the amount of money they’re making. It’s the same situation with Hollywood producers who advertise what looks like an exciting film, only for it to fall short of your expectations. But the producers don’t care about how their consumers like their product, if enough money is made, then a sequel is automatically greenlit. It’s a very selfish way of abusing power and taking advantage of the gullible greed of the audience.
Although these producers themselves don’t have their personal lives affected by the studio’s increase of profit, know that making more money keeps a studio at a higher ranking compared to rival studios, since money equals power as you all know. Yes, I understand that if a studio doesn’t make money they’ll have to file for bankruptcy, but you know what? Maybe it’s for the best. If a studio files for bankruptcy and all of its employees are out of work, it could lead them to take on other important jobs that actually contribute to society rather than take from it. If these studio executives don’t know how to treat the art of filmmaking in the way it’s intended, then they might as well not be in this industry at all. They’d be better off advancing society as doctors or social workers, not weighed down by greed.
One thing I've read that stood out to me was from a UK blogger I've been in close touch with. She at one point wrote on her blog about movies that she thought was a "Waste of Time." Two of her movies were Man of Steel and Gravity, both of which she expressed her anger over how much money they made, emphasizing the millions of starving children who could have been saved with that money. That really struck me hard, because it made me realize the power of money when it's used for people's selfishness.
But how does that affect you personally? Well, think of it this way: these big budget movies have the international market in mind, as that is actually where most of the sales come from. So that means plenty of these movies feature some ethnic roles and foreign locations thrown in just to satisfy those audiences. But the thing is, the intentions for doing this are wrong, and other countries are glossed over in a very American light. Plenty of the movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe have taken place in countries across Europe and Africa, but the characters living there either have no speaking parts, are the villain, or talk in an exaggerated accent by someone who can’t act; whereas all the attractive white characters are the heroes. Trust me when I say this, but this whitewashed depiction of the world affects how the public looks at those other countries. I know the argument that movies don’t affect your actions, but anyone who says this is stubborn as a mule.
I can give all sorts of examples as to how the TV shows I watched as a kid shaped my attitudes towards adults and women, including the negative effects the harmful messages were leaving me with. So don’t you dare think that the media doesn’t affect your actions.
While movies are not the sole factor of many Americans thinking they’re the best country in the world, it’s become a major contributor in our media-crazy society. Kids are more willing to listen to Iron Man and SpongeBob than they are to their constrictive parents and teachers. Adults are more willing to listen to Katy Perry and Daenerys Targaryen than they are to their corrupt government. Most to all of these pieces of media keep a consistent theme of stopping world domination better than authoritative power can, so imagine what those messages are doing to our mentality!
That is why it is dangerous for studios to rely on financial success, it leads them to carelessly churn out movies that send out harmful messages. It is setting a low standard for morality and creativity that is dumbing down the attention spans of the entire world.
But it is not all bad though, I can name several reboots and sequels that were quite good: the current continuation of the Star Wars saga is the first that comes to mind, along with the recent Planet of the Apes trilogy and Mad Max: Fury Road. You could argue that these were made just to feed off nostalgia, but I disagree. With The Force Awakens, it was made more out of a desire to continue the story after George Lucas sold the rights off to Disney. They were all in agreement that the saga needed a fresh new take from a new generation after those horrible prequels left a displeasing taste on the series. So the desire to create a fulfilling Star Wars series was just a natural desire for everyone involved in the film, and it paid off with how they stayed true to the feel of the original trilogy, while updating it with modern technology. I don’t agree with everyone who complains that it just copied everything from A New Hope: it was a sign of history repeating itself as those in the Skywalker family were going back to their old mistakes, and how those mistakes affect the new generation in much the same way.
It’s not about whether the film is a new story or not, it’s about the passion and desire the filmmakers had to tell this story. When a director helps lead a united vision with the cast and crew to create a worthwhile experience, then that is what makes a movie feel not like a cash-grab, but a product for the people.
Audiences keep complaining that originality is dead, but honestly, there are so many phenomenal works out there that tell meaningful stories in genius ways. Such films include Ex Machina, A Ghost Story, The Lobster, Swiss Army Man, and Your Name. Most of these are from the independent studio A24, which created the previous Best Picture winner Moonlight. Although, I keep hearing complaints that people could not appreciate these movies because they are too “bizarre” or “drawn out.” That’s the thing: these movies understand that filmmaking is art, and that the artform enables the chance to step deep into the world of a person’s head in a visual way that books cannot do. Most people are so used to dumbed-down commercial products with no deeper meaning that they no longer know what true entertainment is.
That is just sad.
So here is my ultimate takeaway that I would like you to consider: movies do alter your mindset on the world, they do affect your mental state, and they do affect your personal lives. When you give money to studios, you’re merely encouraging them to keep producing these passionless movies that display no care about the world’s problems. Stop letting yourself get continually disappointed by a nostalgic movie that you hope will be good, and start exploring all the features out there that tell stories the creators actually want to tell.
Lily Amis is a very passionate author and blogger with an unforgettable story to tell. Each of her books and memoirs are available on Amazon, and her magazine, featuring collaborated works of authors all across the world, myself included, comes out seasonally. The winter edition of Read My Mind Magazine comes out November 15, 2017.