stupid by design

There’s something to be said for being outrageously stupid.
I am of course referring to movies like the ones Michael Bay makes, and specifically Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Such a stupid fucking movie. Everyone was always screaming, the camera was always moving and effects were born without cause.
Each dramatic confrontation fast forwards into the dramatic confrontation as if the writers were allergic to a sane, rational moment of common sense. HOW could they have made such a mess?
Answer: They did it on purpose.
Today is the world of short attention span theater. 140 characters per thought. A 22 minute sitcom is much better when the best jokes are cut into Youtube clips. It’s not just that we skip the vegetables to get to the meat — we only want the finest bite of the meat and ask for dessert.
And so we get what we ask for, what we deserve. A movie that has no time for anything except the climax of each scene. No time to explain, no time to introduce characters or show emotion or to present a concept in any less than 140 typed characters regardless of their logic or reasoning. There is only noise and explosions.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is not stupid via incompetence, it’s stupid by design. It seeks to provide constant noise to an audience that cannot suffer silence.
Maybe you hated it, maybe you liked it. Most likely you hated it. But more and more films are being made this way. Star Trek was written by the same writers and had the same razor-fast pacing. But it’s the best-reviewed event flick of the year. Obviously, the difference in the two is the directing, like having identical twins raised in different sides of the track.
These movies were both stupid by design, full of battles you couldn’t follow and people screaming. One turned out to be a “high speed thrill ride” and the other a “steaming pile of shit.” One beloved and one derided. But the shit’s clearly going to make more, if not twice more, than the thrill ride.
So the studios will see that the “stupid” form of writing works. It’ll be taught in school. Each point of logical reasoning you remove from your script will add $5 mil to the gross. Ultimately, you’ll pay $14.50 to see “Youtube: The Movie,” which will be 90 minutes of the best dumb clips on the net.
And you’ll see it.
And it’ll make a ton.
And you’re annoyed that, right now reading this, you kinda think you’re already ready for it.


8 responses to “stupid by design

  1. The intrinsic problem with your hypothesis though is that, if it were designed for people with short attention spans, why is it almost 3 hours long? It doesn’t make good business sense, and ultimately, that’s what this is all about.

    No, dear Douglas. The difference between Star Trek and Transformers 2 is time. Nobody intentionally tries to create a stupid movie… unless you’re a Wayans brother. Transformers 2 was basically Paramount saying “get it done by X day” so everyone turns a blind eye to script problems and just throws money at the situation as long as it comes out on June 24th.

    Star Trek was “get it done right so we can get more money out of this franchise in the long run” so it went through a different vetting process, etc. Don’t you remember when they held it from a December release to launch in May? Also, J.J. is more of a character/story guy versus Bay “anything for action.”

    I like Fringe, Star Trek and M:I-III so it’s unfair of me to tear apart Orci/Kurtzman for the circumstances they were under, but I would like to think they could have turned in a more serviceable first draft of TF2 than what was filmed.

    PS, I wouldn’t see YouTube the Movie, but then again, I ain’t see Transformers 3 either.

  2. I gotta point out that for people with short attention spans, the length of the movie is not important, but what’s going on moment to moment in it. I can easily spend hours just surfing the internet, never spending more than a minute or so on each site. StumbleUpon does that to a person.

    And I can’t speak to the individual ways that they made the movies, except to say that when Paramount decided to postpone Star Trek from December to May, they were way past the point of script rewrites. They thought they could make more money as a summer blockbuster than a christmas release, that’s all.

    Ultimately my point is that movies like Transformers 2 and Wolverine (another great example) are what we’d call stupid as a choice, because they’ve identified their target audience and tailored to it.

  3. One antidote movie:
    Let The Right One In

  4. Well, neither of us have the answer to this riddle so it’s all opinion. But please record the video of when you bump into Hugh Jackman in an elevator and share your hypothesis. You’ll make bazillions!

  5. Doug– I thought you loved TF2??

  6. I enjoyed it! Am I not coming across as defending it?

  7. todd elliott

    My old sculpture teacher used to say, “If you can’t make it good, make it big.”

  8. todd elliott

    And another thing! Are all movie critics across the country currently busy cutting themselves? I mean, despite their collective warnings to stay away from this steamy pile, it almost earns the top grossing movie opening of all time. I couldn’t imagine that they could possibly feel less relevant or more ignored.

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