Please forgive me for this column-it was probably a lot more relevant, say, a few weeks or so ago, but I’m just now getting around to writing it. Also, this might be a fairly long rant. Not only that, there’s definitely some coarse language. My apologies in advance.
Noted movie critic Roger Ebert absolutely destroyed Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen in his review of said movie. He was then assaulted by a largess of invective and contrary opinions sent his way. Some of these were well-worded.
Many were not.
In a defense (of sorts), he then wrote a piece about how it’s okay to like a bad movie, but just don’t think that it’s the greatest piece of film ever, instead looking to expand your horizons. He was still textually assaulted.
Me, I’ll just go for the throat: If you think that Michael Bay is a talented filmmaker, you are a moron.
Since it’s two distinct words, there’s no actual definition for personal growth; however, if we look at the definitions of both words, here’s what we would probably see:
Personal: (adj.) 1. of, pertaining to, or coming as from a particular person; individual; private: a personal opinion.
2. relating to, directed to, or intended for a particular person
3. intended for use by one person
7. pertaining to or characteristic of a person or self-conscious being
8. of the nature of an individual rational being.
Growth: (n.) 1. the act or process, or a manner of growing; development; gradual increase.
2. size or stage of development
3. completed development.
4. development from a simpler to a more complex stage: the growth of ritual forms.
5. development from another but related form or stage: the growth of the nation state.
6. something that has grown or developed by or as if by a natural process.
Put together, we can assume that a composite definition might go along the lines of “development from a simpler stage to a more complex stage pertaining the nature of an individual being.” One might even classify it as “creative diversity.”
Guess who hasn’t exactly gone through a lot of personal growth? If you guessed the man of a thousand explosions, Michael Bay, then you’re right.
Bay’s list of movies he has directed include the likes of Bad Boys, Pearl Harbor, Armageddon and Bad Boys II. These are not good movies. These are not even technically skilled movies. They’re often longer than they ever should be and commonly filled with inaccuracies regarding historical content and editing. For a man who’s gained a reputation of being an incredibly demanding director, he sure seems to have not been able to get a (minimum) decent acting job out of Megan Fox, Ben Affleck, Kate Beckinsdale and Bruce Willis, though he can sure as shit make one big-ass explosion. Cutting his teeth on music videos (yes, you can blame him for the Divinyl’s “I Touch Myself” video), Bay doesn’t even try to leave his specific genre of movie-summer blockbuster. He continues to want to move from one 3 minute plot cinematic experience to another.
But wait, there’s more. Sadly, Bay isn’t the only person to fall under this banner. Brett Ratner, Uwe Boll, Roland Emmerich and Todd Philips all lack truly creative diversity. The first three directors all seem to utilize at least one aspect of Michael Bay: for Ratner, it’s the fact that his origins also begin in music videos. Flashy music videos. Uwe Boll also displays a talentless inability to get anything out of the most diverse series of actors, and Roland Emmerich simply lives for the big-bang explosion.
Which brings me to Todd Philips. Todd cuts his teeth on documentaries, including the Sundance awarded Frat House. Unfortunately, he appears to only what to stick with what has gotten him box-office success: raucous guy comedies. It’s sad because rather than saying “he shows potential”, I can instead state that he has ability, but instead doesn’t want to actualize it. The irony that he now panders to the stereotypical frat boy crowd with his film style is nearly palpable.
That brings me to another part of my rant. There’s a part in Kill Bill volume 1 where Sonny Chiba’s character, Hattori Hanzo, speaks in a voice over
“For those regarded as warriors, when engaged in combat the vanquishing of thine enemy can be the warrior’s only concern. Suppress all human emotion and compassion. Kill whoever stands in thy way, even if that be Lord God, or Buddha himself. This truth lies at the heart of the art of combat.”
While it can be interpreted in different ways, for this column, it’s being applied to the subjects I’ve been talking about. Not a single one of those individuals are warriors, in the sense that a warrior is a director. They care not for personal growth, only for what can sate their current appetite. Which is sad, really. What’s even worse is that they repeatedly and actively pander to the lowest common denominator, not attempting to attain any form of critical validation whatsoever. I’m not saying that they need to do something stupidly avant-garde, like The Cremaster Cycle or Eraserhead, but putting some true substance in your movies wouldn’t exactly hurt your image. Every human should at the very least try to strive for some form of creative growth in some artistic vein, because to not do so is just sad.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I totally agree with Ebert in regards to enjoying bad movies. One needs only look back into the MasterChugs Theater archives to see that I’m very much a lover of bad movies. But that doesn’t mean that we should hold them as a high pillar of competency. Think about it like this: it’s widely regarded that Ed Wood’s Plan 9 From Outer Space is the worst movie of all time. Not just in a technical and objective respect (remember kids, turning a seat backwards is what all airline jet seats look like), but in a fairly subjective sense. Despite this always apparent knowledge, I will readily pop it into my dvd player in a heartbeat. Or Samurai Cop. Or Zombie 4: After Death. Or Gappa The Triphibian Monster. Or even my blu-ray copy of Street Fighter (yes, I’m the one guy that bought that copy).
But I will never, ever, NEVEREVER think that they’re good movies. My enjoyment is not nearly the same thing as whether a movie can labeled good or not. It’s just as simple as that.