If you had to pick one: Italian food or Mexican food?
By now most of you have seen (or at least heard about) that infamous Miss South Carolina Teen USA clip over on YouTube. (If not, brace yourself.) Maybe you took it as further evidence that our youth today is dumbed-down and American Idol-ized, filled up with undeserved feelings of entitlement. Or maybe you saw it as a train wreck or a particularly grisly car accident you just couldn’t look away from. But you saw something in it – it has several million views.
But I’m not really interested about Miss South Carolina or about today’s youth – what I’m interested in is us, and why we watch this stuff. Because if we viewers followed the conventional wisdom of Hollywood, if we actually did what the screenwriting rules say we are supposed to do, we would change the channel as quickly as we could. But we don’t. We look. We slow down at car accidents. We watch YouTube clips like this and forward them to our friends. We don’t “change the channel” – we watch this stuff over and over and over.
Why? This goes back to a post from a while back about emotional attachment. Conventional screenwriting rules say that the viewer has to be invested in the character, has to identify emotionally with him and his struggles. This has to be clear and clean and unambiguous, and scripts in which the viewer and the character have any other kind of relationship are doomed.
I don’t know which way anything will go because it’s all about the ideas that come that you fall in love with. In between things, there are no ideas — and then suddenly there’s the idea. If you fall in love with it, you know exactly what to do. Sometimes it can be surprising.
– David Lynch 2007
Do you often experience stillness in your everyday life?
Do you ever wonder whatever happened to that short, dark-haired, big-ace-Foster-Grants-wearing lead guitarist for the Flock of Seagulls?
Do you ever have that role-reversal dream where you are tiny and roaches are 20 feet tall and you have to scamper around a giant disgusting roach house in search of food for your family while the giant roaches stomp at you with their giant roach feet and utilize every trap and chemical their roach scientists can devise to kill you and your babies?
This is probably in very bad taste, but come on, that’s the fun of it: The world’s oldest person has died at age 114. This happens from time to time and it always makes the news. So it always reminds me…
About 3 years ago, I got this story idea. Now, it wasn’t a real story idea, it was more of a parody of a story idea. A “this idea is so bad and so tasteless that I will dismiss it but Will Farrell or the Farrelly Brothers or somebody will make a movie of it and end up making $500 million” idea.
A few years back I wrote a script called I Hate That Guy!, which is a revenge movie. A complete and total jerk guy is on a mission to take down a saccharinely sweet perfect saintly guy and utterly destroy him. The script is so dark and “South Park” scummy – pedophilia jokes, 106 uses of the F-word, a really offensive AIDS-joke climax – that I would not put my real name on it if it actually sold. Call me bitter, but I guess I like that kind of over-the-top lowbrow humor where people are out to destroy each other for ridiculously cheesy gain. The script was kind of like John Waters’ “Desperate People” with a heaping, steaming pile of the Farrelly Brothers’ “Kingpin” thrown in. When I heard on NPR a few years back that the world’s oldest person had died, I realized this might be another piece of the puzzle to throw in there: the “Grumpy Old Men” treatment.