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Krisana Polyotha

Movies and Identity

Quick summary of the video above:

  • Chris Gore spoke about how Studio Executive is trying to tick all the boxes of selling mainstream media.
  • He criticises how it was just about fun back in the day. Now it’s about pleasing the consumer and selling tickets.
  • He was also talking about how the marketing is too good for the actual content. Therefore, the product doesn’t live up to the promotion.
  • He also said that films are losing their identity of being American.
  • He also suggested the Rise of China and how studios are making films not for Americans but for the whole world. Which is fine, but it’s deluding our [American] identity.
  • He mentioned something about Todd Phillips pitching the idea to WarnerBro/DC about making a standalone black film series where there is no continuity.
  • Mank is for film nerds.
  • We’re going to the era where it’s not about big-box office anymore, especially since the OSS (Online Streaming Service) is becoming a powerhouse in video content.

I have to agree and disagree with some of Chris Gore’s points. However, there are specific pros when Studio Executive try to tick all the boxes of selling their content to mainstream media. One of them is diversity. Growing up as a non-white male, I didn’t have many superheroes to look up to or just a standard character in the background. Now they’re more representations in movies, which put a smile on my face a little. Not just that, it also increases a job opportunity behind-the-scene. For example, Screenshare recently released a statement about how Afro hairstylist is needed in the film industry. Hopefully, this will open up more opportunities for the POC community.

Nevertheless, I’m sure Gore is not explicitly talking about this. I think he was focusing on more of the term of storing telling side. For example, Chris Gore was not pleased about Star Wars 3rd trilogy and how it just repeated its storytelling method. In addition, I think he is trying to protect the directors and writers from the producers. He was suggesting how back in the day. The producer will protect the director from allowing the storytelling to be fun. Now, it is just about being able to sell tickets, so the producers have to bring back certain characters from the dead. I mean by this is how Han Solo, Luke Skywalker and Leia. All build up their character arc but then somehow lose some of their identity.

In my opinion, I don’t think it’s wrong to bring back certain characters when it’s appropriate. You still get a particular butterfly effect when you see them on the screen. However, I feel like there is no need to put Han and Luke in a position where you feel like their character development in the past trilogy means nothing. Instead, we should see how much they’ve grown and what they have become. To give a character, we love a justice showing how they’ve learnt their lesson and become a better person. They can still guide the new younger characters to the correct path. Even though in specific situations, they might have to get killed by their son at the end. It would be okay because you see them die for the greater good. This would also allow the character and the actor to say good farewell to the franchise.

Another thing that Chris Gore talked about is how the marketing is a lot better than the actual content. I couldn’t agree more. The amount of time I spent watching a movie that didn’t meet my expectations is countless. Nevertheless, this raises a question. Do directors still have complete creative control? Back in the day, Hitchcock would work very closely with his movie from pre to post-production and even promotion to the detail of movie posters. Therefore, he knows how to persuade the audience to dive into his universe. With his promotion, he gives them the surprise they need with his plot twisted endings.

However, you can’t blame the marketing team for doing their job too well! Nevertheless, sometimes you know the ending just from watching the trailer. I think it’s hard working in marketing, and you’re trying not to reveal too much, but you still want to sell the best part of the movie. In addition, their job is to attract the audience and get the audience to buy tickets or click play on the content. Therefore, it’s hard to not do the job too well either. This is because the role of social media has affected them to hype up trailers to the maximum while big corporations are competing against each other for our attention.

Another thing he was talking about was how films are losing their identity of being American. Totally agreed. I think there is nothing wrong with making the film for the global market either. However, we live in an early stage of globalisation for video content. There is no complete unity in our world culture, yet. For example, you can see that films that sell the most tickets globally are Avatar (2009) and Avenger: Endgame (2019). Both of the villains are global crisis villains. Yet, you can argue that the villain is us human in Avatar. But we were looking through a hero’s perspective who is trying to blend in with local aliens that we can sympathise with.

Therefore, does this mean you have to create a global crisis villain to make a big blockbuster film? No, not totally because Titanic doesn’t need an international villain. But it still sells a lot of tickets. You can argue that film was made in 1997 and the modern market has changed. In addition, I think you can still sell good stories without losing your identity. For example, Korean content has made global headline news lately. For instance, Parasite (2020) and Squid Game (2021). Those two contents have shown that you don’t need to diversify your characters to sell to the global market.

Nevertheless, are Hollywood films actually losing their identity of not being American? I know I have no right to say this because I have never been to the USA, but the USA is meant to be the most melting pot country on Earth. It has many cultures and representations. So diversified, its character’s representation might still be American. However, I think Gore means that the way we approach storytelling is to please the Chinese film policy too much. It forgot who is their target market and what Hollywood is built upon.

I think it’s beautiful if a Hollywood film wants to please the Chinese market, but there are no filmmakers that can pleasure them other than the Chinese themselves. Of the top 10 highest-grossing films in China of all time, 9/10 are made by China or Hong Kong. Only one foreign movie made it to their top 10, Avenger: Endgame. In addition, Hollywood need to also accept that Chinese films aren’t big on this side of the pond either. If we don’t count Hero (2002) and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), those two are rare occasions.

Chris Gore also mentioned how he likes the Joker (2019) film because it doesn’t have that continuity of a film franchise. But, instead, it’s a standalone film exploring the existing universe. Similarly to what I said in my previous blog post about how modern blockbusters should try to explore the untold story of the current universe than rebooting films. In addition, I think this is the thing that DC is trying to do now. It is not to copy Marvel success but explore its own universe in its own style. Nevertheless, we have to wait and see because DCEU isn’t letting every main character go away.

Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck won’t be continuing the role of Batman and Superman. Now, it’s Robert Pattinson who will be playing the Dark Knight, but there is potential that this will be a Dark Theme like how Todd Phillips has been pitching around to other people. Therefore, DC might be able to find its own modern unique selling point to its audience. Nevertheless, we can’t judge this too early because DC films have always been hit and miss in the past decade. But if DC can keep up the consistency with Marvel, would this mean there can be collaborative films between those two studios? Because DC has crossover to Marvel in the Comic quite a few times. Can you imagine how big that film will be?

In conclusion, the world is becoming united due to the rise of globalisation. The films industry right now is an excellent reflection of our current society. We’re trying to blend in and be more inclusive, yet we’re losing our own identity and sometimes forget who we are. You don’t know what part you want to keep and what part you are willing to change. In addition, even though you might already know your heart and mind. That still doesn’t change the fact you will be judged by the rest of the world on what is appropriate. I know it’s a little bit too harsh comparing a film to a person. But isn’t that what the movies are all about? A representation of a chapter in a person’s imagination, which usually reflects somebody’s identity.

Written by Krisana Polyotha

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