Quit It

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Gunnyboy:
Uh, how did Cameron play it safe? People realize anti-"military" (mercenaries in Avatar but come on, we know), environmental films are NOT box office attractions right? Hell look at every Iraq war movie to come out - bomb after bomb. Even The Hurt Locker made no money

Am I the only one that thinks Cameron isn't anti-military? I mean his brother is a Marine, and aside from Avatar, most of his movies portray military guys as total badasses:

Terminator 2, Sarah is a militia trained warrior and military training ensues the future of humanity and she herself was set upon that path by Kyle Reese, a resistance fighter in the army of the future.

The Marines in Aliens only suffer their losses due to bad leadership, so a dig at commanders educated at places like Westpoint, Sandhurst or Duntroon without ever having done anything in the field and even he goes and dies a heroes death.

True Lies, an action movie staring Arnie as an ex-Airforce man now doing counter intelligence and counter terrorism work and a movie who's action set piece is Arnie using a USMC Harrier II to blow up a floor full of Muslim Terrorists.

The mercenaries in Avatar are just that; mercenaries. They (as far as my readings go) have sworn loyalty to the almighty currency and not to any higher ideals like their country or their planet. In this case, I think a cigar is just a cigar. Also, I like Quaritch and Sully, both are men with qualities worthy of heroes who ultimately make the decision that they think is best.

Enjoyed the article:
RE, the Punisher plot point; what about 'Law Abiding Citizen'? Here the man whose wife and daughter were raped and murdered is taking on the whole justice system, and his actions are extreme enough to place him in the 'anti-hero' category. I found it an interesting movie, and a great deviation from the normal 'the bad guys are evil, because they are evil, and you won't feel any connection to them when the good guys eventually take them down.'

On the thought of left-leaning Hollywood, I tend to agree, and I think it would be interesting to see some movies showing the potential damage of overly simplistic stories. There is a British author, Peter F Hamilton, whose subtle disdain for idealism makes for rather introspective reading. While 'Nights Dawn', at around 3600 pages in total is probably too long to adapt as a movie properly (the first book is bigger than the entire LotR trilogy), I think that the Greg Mandel Trilogy, at least Mindstar Rising, would make an excellent movie(s).
I do wonder in what camp you place 'Starship Troopers'...

Gordon_4:

Gunnyboy:
Uh, how did Cameron play it safe? People realize anti-"military" (mercenaries in Avatar but come on, we know), environmental films are NOT box office attractions right? Hell look at every Iraq war movie to come out - bomb after bomb. Even The Hurt Locker made no money

Am I the only one that thinks Cameron isn't anti-military? I mean his brother is a Marine, and aside from Avatar, most of his movies portray military guys as total badasses:

Terminator 2, Sarah is a militia trained warrior and military training ensues the future of humanity and she herself was set upon that path by Kyle Reese, a resistance fighter in the army of the future.

The Marines in Aliens only suffer their losses due to bad leadership, so a dig at commanders educated at places like Westpoint, Sandhurst or Duntroon without ever having done anything in the field and even he goes and dies a heroes death.

True Lies, an action movie staring Arnie as an ex-Airforce man now doing counter intelligence and counter terrorism work and a movie who's action set piece is Arnie using a USMC Harrier II to blow up a floor full of Muslim Terrorists.

The mercenaries in Avatar are just that; mercenaries. They (as far as my readings go) have sworn loyalty to the almighty currency and not to any higher ideals like their country or their planet. In this case, I think a cigar is just a cigar. Also, I like Quaritch and Sully, both are men with qualities worthy of heroes who ultimately make the decision that they think is best.

They were ex-Marines. Sully makes the statement "they used to fight for freedom, but now they fight for money" or something along those lines. The Marines in Aliens are just gung-ho, let's go kill 'em guys. I don't mind caricatures of tough guys, I LOVED Quaritch, but I just call it how I see it in the context of the story. I guess the more appropriate answer is anti-Iraq war allegory, but it fits even better within the timeless narrative of anti-colonialism.

I never said Cameron is always anti-military, but there is no doubt who he takes aim at in the film.

Gunnyboy:

Gordon_4:

Gunnyboy:
Uh, how did Cameron play it safe? People realize anti-"military" (mercenaries in Avatar but come on, we know), environmental films are NOT box office attractions right? Hell look at every Iraq war movie to come out - bomb after bomb. Even The Hurt Locker made no money

Am I the only one that thinks Cameron isn't anti-military? I mean his brother is a Marine, and aside from Avatar, most of his movies portray military guys as total badasses:

Terminator 2, Sarah is a militia trained warrior and military training ensues the future of humanity and she herself was set upon that path by Kyle Reese, a resistance fighter in the army of the future.

The Marines in Aliens only suffer their losses due to bad leadership, so a dig at commanders educated at places like Westpoint, Sandhurst or Duntroon without ever having done anything in the field and even he goes and dies a heroes death.

True Lies, an action movie staring Arnie as an ex-Airforce man now doing counter intelligence and counter terrorism work and a movie who's action set piece is Arnie using a USMC Harrier II to blow up a floor full of Muslim Terrorists.

The mercenaries in Avatar are just that; mercenaries. They (as far as my readings go) have sworn loyalty to the almighty currency and not to any higher ideals like their country or their planet. In this case, I think a cigar is just a cigar. Also, I like Quaritch and Sully, both are men with qualities worthy of heroes who ultimately make the decision that they think is best.

They were ex-Marines. Sully makes the statement "they used to fight for freedom, but now they fight for money" or something along those lines. The Marines in Aliens are just gung-ho, let's go kill 'em guys. I don't mind caricatures of tough guys, I LOVED Quaritch, but I just call it how I see it in the context of the story. I guess the more appropriate answer is anti-Iraq war allegory, but it fits even better within the timeless narrative of anti-colonialism.

I never said Cameron is always anti-military, but there is no doubt who he takes aim at in the film.

Oh of course not, I'm not saying he didn't take square aim at those you say he did, it just seems that after Avatar came out there was just waves after waves of people saying Cameron hates the military and he deserves to be punched by a marine. I mean his brother did the military training for him on Avatar (if I remember the making of special correctly) so obviously he didn't care too much.

Its kind of like Pixar copping flack for the setting they used for Wall-E: they chose the setting because that would enable the plot best. Avatar is no different, at least not from my perspective.

On that note, I found this from marinecorpstimes.com (http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/news/2010/01/marine_cameron_questions_011410/)

*warning wall of text*

Moving on, I love formula movies as much as the next man, and in the hands of a director and production team who have a solid wit about them, you can take a couple of chances: change up a couple of the expectations like Die Hard did, make sure the script is good fun; like The A-Team and if you have source material, trim it if you must but don't totally disrespect it. Iron Man is a triumphant example on how to do this right. Its just sometimes, I like a something a little different, like Shawshank Redemption or Amelia, to cleanse the palate and allow me to indulge my other senses.

Also, the bigger studios could start up accounts to bankroll simple, different movies by using the profits from their tentpole films. Set a strict budget dependent on the genre: a drama about a mother and daughter may only require a film budget of 10million but an action piece may require 45million.

I agree with Bob for the most part, especially with the shoehorned in (not to be confused with planned but poorly written) love story really gets my goat: Transformers: RotF is a good example here: in fact to improve that movie, remove the stupid and overlong scenes of them going on about saying 'I love you'. Worst thing about that is now Megan Fox got the sack, it was all for naught.

maninahat:

znix:
I think MovieBob should "quit it". Quit trying to tackle subjects larger than he can properly research that is. Stick to reviewing :)

How does one need to "properly research" in an article about cliches? You only need to watch lots of movies to make valid observations about trite and derivative cinema.

If he wants to stick to that "proper new media critic" title that he clings on to, he absolutely needs to research his stuff and not just spout inane text about "trite and derivative cinema" which applies to films in the loosest, most general ways and thus to ever. single. movie. ever. made.

It only serves to include Bob as one of those "simpletons" that he so gleefully derides on his show, because what he says serves no contextual purpose, has no factuality behind it and is as a subject far too big to be tackled in a page and a half column which almost without fault turns back into a misguided rant about how the mean people in Hollywood just don't get him and his ilk.

Dear Bob,

Hollywood isn't to blame; the audience is.
Those companies just exist to make money and if it doesn´t sell it won´t get made.

There's cat piss and the masses are lapping it up. Hate them instead.

znix:

maninahat:

How does one need to "properly research" in an article about cliches? You only need to watch lots of movies to make valid observations about trite and derivative cinema.

I wasn't referring to this particular podcast, but rather some of his other, especially "big picture", posts.

Ah, okay. Though there is no knowing about how much research he actually does, simply because he doesn't explicitly bring up that subject. People call him out on his lack of research regarding Halo, but that is the only instance I know of him screwing it up.

BluesHadal:
This isn't right. Superpowers aren't what bum superheroes out, it's the responsibility. Spider-man became a superhero while there were few in his universe active. His attempts at it cost him relationships, job opportunities ect(not to mention all the horrible things they encounter). Eventually that bums them out and they wish they could lead a normal life. But a normal life isn't what you think it is, a normal life is a chance to lead life the way they want to but they tend to be too responsible. The basic mold of superheros is that the right thing is hard to do, marvel took that and made it almost self destructive.

Which is also bollocks. Superheroes always bang on about hiding their identity and struggling to keep up a double life. But why bother? I know they say it helps "protect the ones they love", but that makes no sense either. If you openly showed everyone that you had super powers, you would be guaranteed get ANY job you wanted. If you were worried about some super villain attacking your family, it would be easier and safer for them to stay safe if they get on some witness protection programs. I don't see how one teenager is any better skilled at keeping his family secret than an agency specifically designed for that purpose. If you live in a world with supervillains and you are the guardian of mankind, you are likely to get the best government protection known to man.

Of course, one could argue that being a superhero makes one a vigiliante, wanted by the police for violently taking people down. But the hero could have easily got around that by applying to the police force and demonstrating their supreme value to the service. Yeesh.

Notashrimp09:

Two: more often than not, I would argue that with few rare examples, marriage + Hollywood is a mouthpiece for promoting the belief that all women want to have, or end up with, a man. And that women are incapable of being happy without the quintessential romance --> marriage path in life.

Well, insert "men and women" and I think that's more or less true. I think everyone wants someone to be their partner in life through thick and thin. Everyone wants that one person who if there were only room for two people in the fallout shelter they would give the other spot to them. I don't think most people _do_ have fulfilling lives unless they have a significant other and statistics (and anecdotal examples from my own life) bare this out.

Short version: It's been a significant evolutionary advantage to have a life partner for our existence as a species and we are designed around wanting that because that's the best way to insure the survival of our offspring. So Hollywood tells the story of boy-meets-girl-and-they-become-life-partners (which in our culture means marriage) because it appeals to our basic nature.

Hollywood will continue to show people their hopes and dreams and the majority of people want to get married and view it as a happy outcome so that's the stories that will get told.

Stories about how great it is for the married man/woman to abandon his/her wife/husband and kids for the hook-up culture will not get made for the same reason that stories about how great it is for someone to quit their job so they can be a better alcoholic won't get made; it's not a meme that society wants to embrace.

maninahat:

But the hero could have easily got around that by applying to the police force and demonstrating their supreme value to the service. Yeesh.

Then it wouldn't be as strong of a power fantasy. People (starting usually with adolescent powerless males who have no choice but to be locked in the bureaucracy of school) like the idea of not having to fill out paper work and follow precise rules and procedures and being a classical super-hero lets you imagine yourself being that in a way being a cop doesn't.

Hell even our cop movies usually have the cops play fast and loose with what cops actually do.

WolfEdge:

The problem isn't opinion, it's failing to present your opinion in a way that holds merit.

THIS times 1,000,000!! "Politics" hurt the credibility of a movie for the audience. That isn't to say they don't make money. Avatar's antagonists were so hilariously flat that the ham-fisted political aspect could be ignored, and I think everyone would agree that 300 lost all of its punch as a fun, over-the-top action film the minute the queen stepped on stage to spout her rhetoric. Movies that focus on selling a political or religious viewpoint simply fall flat, because the audience is comprised of individuals, and if there's one thing individuals will have an unwavering opinion on, it's how they believe the world works (religion) and how it should be run (politics).

Hard hitting issues need to be addressed in film just as much as any media, it's part of how we evolve and comprehend as a society. However, like a good essay, the author must be able to present his ideas in a way that thoughtfully considers all sides of a complex issue. Writing a piece that simply points fingers and declares "You're wrong!" to an audience taints an opportunity for reflection and discovery with the stench of propaganda.

What about the "Guy meets girlfriends parents", "Family moves to a new house", "Family gets new disastrous pet", "Family is visited by disastrous friend/family member", "Unpopular teen becomes in the pursuit of becoming popular"...

SomethingAmazing:
Are there any movies about God tampering in Science's domain?

Yes.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inherit_the_Wind_(1999_film)

esperandote:
What about the "Guy meets girlfriends parents", "Family moves to a new house", "Family gets new disastrous pet", "Family is visited by disastrous friend/family member", "Unpopular teen becomes in the pursuit of becoming popular"...

Bob wasn't so much talking about conventions in general but ones he thinks were harmful to the industry. I don't think he did it succesfully for me, it just seems more like he doesn't like these types of films and therefore they are harmful, rather then the other way around but that is life.

The whole "lose everything to get what matters" could be a nice springboard for Bob to develop a further colum on why so often, ambition and vision within films are exclusively the realms of the villian, and the protagonists are just status quo fellows who are entirely reactionary within the film.

Well a few thoughts:

"He had to lose Everything to find the One thing that really matters."

I think this one persists because there's any place where wealth and fame don't seem to satasfy, it's Hollywood and similar venues. Heck, the writers probalby get both sides: stars so miserable in their life they need to go on a Charlee Sheen level bender, and investors with no concern for quality and only profitability. It's not hard to get why people paid less than these guys fell they should value what they have, not mope and whine about what they don't.

Not that your idea couldn't work, but it would be hard to pull off without sounding like a pity rant to me.

"Heh! Our source-material sure is stupid, huh?"

I'm torn. I feel every comic francises should be allowed one cheap shot at the fans that think shouldn't have been changed but will not only look stupid but seem weird for the character (does anyone think someone like Logan would willing wear that costume). But then again, in-jokes make things rough for the casual audience. Films like The Dark Knigh work better when there's no little hints of Robin (any incarnation) or a dropped name like Selina Kyle or Oswald Cobblepot.

"He tampered in God's Domain!!!"

I can see your point here, but I do wonder if it's just cheap writing missing a point. Take Jurassic Park: for all of Jeff Goldblum's rants about how wrong cloning dinos was, it wasn't the cloning that caused things to go haywire, but lack of proper security. I do see the blame being placed on scientists in movies for even trying things when in reality, it was more a case of hubris in thinking nothing will go wrong, or they can controll all possible outcomes. Still, I find it funny at the thought of the "left" leaning town being against scientists when I normally associate that mindset with the "right"

"The distinguished gentlemen from the Generic Party has the floor."

Well in fairness to hollywood, they get enough flack being subtile or generic with their views without actually villifying someone, imagine the crap they' get if they actually villified a republican. At lest from the pundants, I should say. The current movie fanbase will see anything with over the top special effects regardless of politics. So much of me agrees with you, but is afraid of the consequences: aka less movies and a lot more political essays and one dimensional morality tales disguised as movies I don't mind a movie having a point or a message, I just afraid of people taking the Ayn rand approach to things in the production of a one dimensional message, not a story.

Still, some overt politicas could be fun. While I don't advocate sequals to Jim Carrey movies without Jim Carrey, I'd love to see a sequal to Liar Liar staring two politicians that can't lie right before a big debate and election. Anyone got Jon stewart's phone number. He's one of the few that would nail boths sides.

maninahat:

znix:

maninahat:

How does one need to "properly research" in an article about cliches? You only need to watch lots of movies to make valid observations about trite and derivative cinema.

I wasn't referring to this particular podcast, but rather some of his other, especially "big picture", posts.

Ah, okay. Though there is no knowing about how much research he actually does, simply because he doesn't explicitly bring up that subject. People call him out on his lack of research regarding Halo, but that is the only instance I know of him screwing it up.

He got the composer wrong in his Rango review.

At the climax of the first X-Men movie, Wolverine shifts uncomfortably in his new uniform - a black leather onesie like everyone else on the team wears. He quips about it to Cyclops, who smugly replies, "Would you prefer yellow spandex?"

That line was awesome! I always thought they threw it in because they knew people were going to make a fuss about the costumes and threw that in as a way of telling people to stop bitching about it.

Sure, in retrospect there is no reason to believe that a more faithful adaptation of the X-Men costumes wouldn't have worked, but I totally understand why they went with black leather suits. Back when there weren't three big superhero movies coming out each year making an X-Men movie must have meant taking a pretty big financial risk. I totally get that they had to make them look a little sleeker, a little cooler to market the movie to a broader audience. On top of that, the X-Men don't really have as iconic costumes as Spider-Man or Batman, they've been changing costumes since they were first introduced, and they didn't always look pretty.

He tampered in God's Domain!!!
In real life, scientists do some of the most important and far-reaching good of any vocation on the planet Earth. They cure disease, revolutionize industry, clean the air and water, solve pressing global concerns and invent the technology by which our better-publicized do-gooders, er... do their good. It's one of the noblest and most tangibly-worthy professions one could possibly pursue.

In the movies? Not so much. Science is BAD. It unleashes monsters, provides fodder for sinister conspiracies and changes society is scaaaaary ways. And the scientists who carry it out? Awful, awful human beings, shirking their responsibility to maintain the status quo and choosing the unclean path of knowledge over the pristine, flower-strewn road of blind faith and unquestioning loyalty to tradition and "the norm."

"There are things man wasn't MEANT to know!," goes the saying... presumably, one of those things is how such an insipid sentiment has survived all the way into the 21st Century.

Hey I love science but you just gotta read the first chapter from elephants on acid, might make you question if all scientist are 'noble'. It's a great read though.

On cliche #1, a movie that I think pulled it off in much better fashion than people gave it credit for is Cars.

No, stop, hands down from the keyboard before you type out your pre-programmed "worst thing Pixar ever did, why is it getting a sequel" opinions. Let me explain.

After Lightning has his dumped-in-Nowheresville experience, he still very much wants to return to racing as soon as possible, since it's still really the only thing he knows how to do well. The difference is that he's integrated the lessons he's learned on friendship and racing itself into the way he competes and does business. The more conventional route would be for him to quit racing and settle down somewhere on Route 66, but instead the creators went with the more sensible and positive option of having him achieve the best of both worlds. That, I think, is quite admirable, and I like the film for that and a few other off-topic reasons.

Alright, go ahead, if you must.

Once again movie bob almost manages to convince me and then I realize that his side of the argument is a biased and one sided as the one he is argueing against

Hollywood THRIVES on formula, familiarity makes them money and theres a lot of members of the public who stick to what they know.

As for cliche's how about the point in the 2nd act where everything inevitably hits a low point before the character makes some kind of discovery/revalation/whatever and begins to pull things back and repair everything for the happy ending. Its boring.

Oh well, at least their not making big budget left behind/omega code movies.

maninahat:

BluesHadal:
This isn't right. Superpowers aren't what bum superheroes out, it's the responsibility. Spider-man became a superhero while there were few in his universe active. His attempts at it cost him relationships, job opportunities ect(not to mention all the horrible things they encounter). Eventually that bums them out and they wish they could lead a normal life. But a normal life isn't what you think it is, a normal life is a chance to lead life the way they want to but they tend to be too responsible. The basic mold of superheros is that the right thing is hard to do, marvel took that and made it almost self destructive.

Which is also bollocks. Superheroes always bang on about hiding their identity and struggling to keep up a double life. But why bother? I know they say it helps "protect the ones they love", but that makes no sense either. If you openly showed everyone that you had super powers, you would be guaranteed get ANY job you wanted. If you were worried about some super villain attacking your family, it would be easier and safer for them to stay safe if they get on some witness protection programs. I don't see how one teenager is any better skilled at keeping his family secret than an agency specifically designed for that purpose. If you live in a world with supervillains and you are the guardian of mankind, you are likely to get the best government protection known to man.

Of course, one could argue that being a superhero makes one a vigiliante, wanted by the police for violently taking people down. But the hero could have easily got around that by applying to the police force and demonstrating their supreme value to the service. Yeesh.

This reminds me of an old episode of 'Lois and Clarke: The New Adventure of Superman' in where a policewoman openly tells Superman that she disapproves of his behaviour, as he doesn't follow proper procedure in arresting criminals. So a couple of scenes later, instead of the Superman Costume, he's wearing a policeman's outfit, and proceeds to read the criminal his rights while subduing him, the way he normally would...

MovieBob:

copycatalyst:
We'll see a break from the "joys of being average" type of story arc when Atlas Shrugged hits theatres. I hope it's good.

Unlikely. Have you seen the trailer? I've seen SyFy movies with better production value: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6W07bFa4TzM

The writer/director is also playing John Galt himself, which is about as big a red-flag as one can get on something like this...

Yeah, I'm not terribly optimistic in my hope. It's one of those things that I'll have to watch anyhow just so I can judge for myself, even if it gets absolutely panned.

Legitimate gripes, I suppose, but keep in mind that the reason movie makers keep doing this is because these formulaic movies inevitably succeed and earn tons of money. It is pretty rare today for a movie to actually bomb--I can't think of one the really and truly bombed since good ol' Waterworld (I'm sure there have been some since then, but it's late and I can't recall any right this moment). As much as we might make fun of them, the way we spend our money proves that these movies are exactly what we want.

One of the truths advertisers and media folks seem to have discovered about people is that people LIKE to feel superior to things. They like to look down at things and gripe and complain about them and feel all smug and superior. So movie makers make movies that anybody can look down on and feel superior to. People see the movies "ironically" and sneer their way all the way from beginning to end, but ultimately they shell out their money just like everyone else. Think about it--how often have you heard about a movie and said "I'm sure it's going to suck, but I guess I'll see it anyway." You think you're going on the off chance that the movie will be better than you fear, but you're actually going because you know the movie will do nothing to challenge you and will give you lots of fodder for making clever jokes and sarcastic comments, and YOU LOVE THAT. Look at how popular reality shows are! They star the most horrible, wretched, and pathetic lowlifes ever to pollute the human race, and hundreds of millions of people watch because they love feeling superior to them. As the old saying goes, '99% of people think they're above average.' They've discovered the truth of that saying, and are using it to take our money. And who do you think is really above average--you, or the people consistently making hundreds of millions of dollars off of you and people just like you?

Also, I disagree that science is perceived as Evil, or that that perception is necessarily a bad thing. Now, understand that I love science--that is, I love the actual process of science, not the pseudo-religious zeal a lot of people seem to have for the idealized concept of Science--and that I've worked and studied as an in-the-trenches scientist. I'm still young, and there are many aspects of science that I have not experienced, but I have at least some idea of what science is really like, and how it interacts with other aspects of life. And we should definitely approach science with all due caution and care.

Psychology is the field of science that I have the most learning and experience with, so I'll use an example drawn from there. Back when I was in school, a lot of the new generation psych meds were coming on the market and everyone was marveling at how dramatic the results of these drugs were. I learned that the pill-popping approach to psychology was the way of the future, and that the old social psych approaches were obsolete and would eventually fade away in favor of this newer, more scientific understanding of the mind and behavior. But by now we have learned that these meds are not the miracles we thought they were. They still have horrible side effects, they still fail quite often, but most of all they have greatly over-simplified our view of how people work. It used to be that a person with depression would try to figure out what was making them depressed, and try to work through those problems to achieve a better balance with their situation. Now, the "cure" for depression is anti-depressant medication. If you can afford therapy you might do that as well, but an awful lot of people have the expectation that the pills will make them better, sort of like antibiotics for the psyche.

This is not to say that the old way was perfect, or that psych meds are overwhelmingly negative. Psychoanalysis is incredibly time consuming and expensive and often fails, and there are many cases of depression that stem mostly from chemical imbalances and can be corrected simply by restoring the chemical imbalance. But did you know that the US and the nations of Western Europe actually have a worse rate of success treating schizophrenia and many other disorders than third world and pre-industrial societies? This sounds impossible, but it is true. Societies that still believe mental illness comes from demonic possession are more successful at treating those illnesses and increasing the functionality of the afflicted than the US with its multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical industry. They accomplish this through a combination of traditional healing methods and community support. Now, I myself don't believe that exorcisms actually do anything to remove "demons," but if the ritual helps a person find the strength within themselves to overcome their problems, one would be hard pressed to say it doesn't work, yes? Personally, I think community support is the essential component--if more mental patients in the US were allowed to remain in their jobs and even expected to continue functioning, rather than being relieved of all responsibility and self-determination so that they can focus exclusively on their "flaws," perhaps we would have more success in bringing people with mental illnesses back into society?

There was an excellent post earlier in this thread that spoke of science discovering the secret to nuclear fission and then later fusion, and the fact that these discoveries made possible death and destruction on a scale beyond human comprehension. They literally gave us the means to annihilate ourselves, and considering how self-destructive a species we seem to be this may end up being our undoing. I absolutely think there is more than enough reason to treat science with cautious respect. And I think the majority of people today have far too faithful and naive a view of science.

I think the biggest problems that come from science come from misunderstanding what science actually is. People look to science the way they used to look to religion. It is a source of "magic," and an ultimate authority on any question one can imagine. If science has "proven" something, then only fools could possibly doubt it. If scientists agree on something, then only troglodytes could question them. People talk about how we should let Science guide our politics and decisions. But science has no morals and never proves anything. Science is a useful way of asking questions, and nothing more. It is a tool, like a lawnmower. If used in one way it will cut your grass and make your yard beautiful and inhabitable. But if you run over someone's foot with it, it will rip it to pieces and leave them maimed and crippled. And increasingly people today seem to want to just turn the lawnmower on and let it drive around unguided, assuming it will find the "right" path to make the world better.

I wish there were more movies where the hero was a scientist or some other educated person...off the top of my head I recall Independence day (writing a computer virus to disable the alien's shields) Indiana Jones (he was an archeologist, that's a kind of scientist!) and...wow I am seriously drawing a blank here, even in science fiction movies the hero role usually goes to some pilot or soldier type rather than the scientist who actually knows how to fix everything.

Everything you say oozes misanthropy, go live with marsian fossils baby.

Gunnyboy:

Gordon_4:

Gunnyboy:
Uh, how did Cameron play it safe? People realize anti-"military" (mercenaries in Avatar but come on, we know), environmental films are NOT box office attractions right? Hell look at every Iraq war movie to come out - bomb after bomb. Even The Hurt Locker made no money

Am I the only one that thinks Cameron isn't anti-military? I mean his brother is a Marine, and aside from Avatar, most of his movies portray military guys as total badasses:

Terminator 2, Sarah is a militia trained warrior and military training ensues the future of humanity and she herself was set upon that path by Kyle Reese, a resistance fighter in the army of the future.

The Marines in Aliens only suffer their losses due to bad leadership, so a dig at commanders educated at places like Westpoint, Sandhurst or Duntroon without ever having done anything in the field and even he goes and dies a heroes death.

True Lies, an action movie staring Arnie as an ex-Airforce man now doing counter intelligence and counter terrorism work and a movie who's action set piece is Arnie using a USMC Harrier II to blow up a floor full of Muslim Terrorists.

The mercenaries in Avatar are just that; mercenaries. They (as far as my readings go) have sworn loyalty to the almighty currency and not to any higher ideals like their country or their planet. In this case, I think a cigar is just a cigar. Also, I like Quaritch and Sully, both are men with qualities worthy of heroes who ultimately make the decision that they think is best.

They were ex-Marines. Sully makes the statement "they used to fight for freedom, but now they fight for money" or something along those lines. The Marines in Aliens are just gung-ho, let's go kill 'em guys. I don't mind caricatures of tough guys, I LOVED Quaritch, but I just call it how I see it in the context of the story. I guess the more appropriate answer is anti-Iraq war allegory, but it fits even better within the timeless narrative of anti-colonialism.

I never said Cameron is always anti-military, but there is no doubt who he takes aim at in the film.

One of the things I like about James Cameron movies is how they can get you cheering for something that is completely horrible. Has anybody noticed that the soldiers in Avatar are almost EXACTLY the same as the soldiers in Aliens? They speak the same, they have the same 'kill 'em all!' mindset, and while the actors are different the characters are basically the same. I found myself wondering whether Avatar took place in the same universe as Aliens, and whether this was just another theater of operations for humanity. I even remember in Aliens that, towards the beginning, the Marines were joking about other operations they'd been on and referencing other fierce situations they'd been in, so I assumed that there were other planets and possibly other alien races that humans dealt with routinely. The aliens in Aliens were simply much more dangerous than they were used to.

The thing that I find very unsettling is that, in Aliens, we the audience are cheering the brutal and bloodthirsty marines and loving it when they blow apart one of those god damn alien freaks. Then in Avatar the soldiers are the exact same people, but now we see them doing all these horrible things. The heroes of Aliens are the villains of Avatar. It made me feel like a hypocrite, or like someone who had been brainwashed by propaganda. I realized that the righteous human-jingoism that made me feel so badass in Aliens was the exact same mindset that had lead to the horrible and exploitive situation in Avatar. I think this sort of meta-plot trick is really cool, and very powerful.

Another example of this sort of thing is in Tarantino's Inglorious Basterds. There is a scene where a whole bunch of Nazis are watching a movie about this Nazi war hero who slaughters a whole ton of their enemies. There is all kinds of slaughter and vomit-inducing nationalism up on the screen, and the Nazis are all cheering and going wild. Then, the heroes spring their trap, and the Nazis start getting gunned down, torn apart by bullets, and burned to death horribly. And in the theater I was in, the real world audience was loudly cheering all the slaughter and "nationalism" up on the screen! Do you see? He had basically made the audience do exactly what the Nazis were doing! This makes us face a very uncomfortable possibility--could we ourselves be so easily brainwashed by nationalism and propaganda? We like to think we're immune to these things, but look at how easy it is to get us cheering terrible slaughter!

I don't think these sorts of statements are anti-military. Rather, they challenge the stupid civilian idea that killing is cool and that being a soldier is a fun and action-packed adventure.

bombadilillo:
You know what plot I am tired of. The Punisher plot.

They killed his wife and kids, now hes got nothing to lose and he's gonna TAKE. THEM. DOWN.

Done countless times and its just lazy. It gives the character infinate motivation and lack of self-reguard. Sets up an clear cut enemy organization to slowly get to the top of. It works well to set up a plot and thats the problem. Its so easy to cart it out every time.

The action film equivalent of amnesia for video games.

It'd probably be more movie related to call it "The Death Wish" plot. Seriously there were five of those things, not counting all the hundreds of others before and after.

Helmutye:

Gunnyboy:

Gordon_4:

Am I the only one that thinks Cameron isn't anti-military? I mean his brother is a Marine, and aside from Avatar, most of his movies portray military guys as total badasses:

Terminator 2, Sarah is a militia trained warrior and military training ensues the future of humanity and she herself was set upon that path by Kyle Reese, a resistance fighter in the army of the future.

The Marines in Aliens only suffer their losses due to bad leadership, so a dig at commanders educated at places like Westpoint, Sandhurst or Duntroon without ever having done anything in the field and even he goes and dies a heroes death.

True Lies, an action movie staring Arnie as an ex-Airforce man now doing counter intelligence and counter terrorism work and a movie who's action set piece is Arnie using a USMC Harrier II to blow up a floor full of Muslim Terrorists.

The mercenaries in Avatar are just that; mercenaries. They (as far as my readings go) have sworn loyalty to the almighty currency and not to any higher ideals like their country or their planet. In this case, I think a cigar is just a cigar. Also, I like Quaritch and Sully, both are men with qualities worthy of heroes who ultimately make the decision that they think is best.

They were ex-Marines. Sully makes the statement "they used to fight for freedom, but now they fight for money" or something along those lines. The Marines in Aliens are just gung-ho, let's go kill 'em guys. I don't mind caricatures of tough guys, I LOVED Quaritch, but I just call it how I see it in the context of the story. I guess the more appropriate answer is anti-Iraq war allegory, but it fits even better within the timeless narrative of anti-colonialism.

I never said Cameron is always anti-military, but there is no doubt who he takes aim at in the film.

One of the things I like about James Cameron movies is how they can get you cheering for something that is completely horrible. Has anybody noticed that the soldiers in Avatar are almost EXACTLY the same as the soldiers in Aliens? They speak the same, they have the same 'kill 'em all!' mindset, and while the actors are different the characters are basically the same. I found myself wondering whether Avatar took place in the same universe as Aliens, and whether this was just another theater of operations for humanity. I even remember in Aliens that, towards the beginning, the Marines were joking about other operations they'd been on and referencing other fierce situations they'd been in, so I assumed that there were other planets and possibly other alien races that humans dealt with routinely. The aliens in Aliens were simply much more dangerous than they were used to.

The thing that I find very unsettling is that, in Aliens, we the audience are cheering the brutal and bloodthirsty marines and loving it when they blow apart one of those god damn alien freaks. Then in Avatar the soldiers are the exact same people, but now we see them doing all these horrible things. The heroes of Aliens are the villains of Avatar. It made me feel like a hypocrite, or like someone who had been brainwashed by propaganda. I realized that the righteous human-jingoism that made me feel so badass in Aliens was the exact same mindset that had lead to the horrible and exploitive situation in Avatar. I think this sort of meta-plot trick is really cool, and very powerful.

*snip*

I don't think these sorts of statements are anti-military. Rather, they challenge the stupid civilian idea that killing is cool and that being a soldier is a fun and action-packed adventure.

To be fair there are a few fundamental differences:

The Colonial Marines in Aliens are exactly that, they are a government sanctioned, sworn and trained force on a mission of mercy. They are enacting a recon/rescue mission. The mercenaries in Avatar are a bunch of security guards (probably ex-military) on what amounts to an occupation of a populated world.

The reason you cheer for the Colonial Marines is because they are fighting against an adversary that will genuinely, without mercy, hesitation or a second thought tear them in half or use them in a forced breeding program that terrifies the mind. The Xenomorphes are a true force of darkness: an all consuming plague that has been set upon the universe by a truly malevolent twist of fate.

The Navi, conversely, while suffering from flaws that are probably inherent to any society such as hubris, jealousy, self-indulgence arrogance (even as a fan, that was a biggie), and abject idiocy (plus christ knows what else) are still a sapient race that have concepts of property, trade, mythology, coming of age and the domestication of animals. This means you could negotiate with them, reason with them and even ally with them. It would take time, but proper alliances often do. Hence why attacking them with a show of force that amounts to an apocalyptic amount of death and destruction doesn't leave you whooping for joy.

I like your train of logic though, very cool ideas :)

Tarkand:
Another one to me is:

I just want to be normal.

How often do we see people with incredible life and/or abilities that would give anything just to be normal... This is being subverted somewhat by the new waves of super hero movie who actually embrace what they are (Iron Man certainly comes to mind) but the cliche is still very alive in TV/Comic/Movies nonetheless.

This was raised to an height of silliness in Wanted (A bad movie, i know) where the first part of the movie really drives in how painful and suffocating the Hero's 'normal' life is. Than out of nowhere and all of a sudden in a scene in the later half of the movie, he turns to Jolie and tells her 'You ever wanted to just be normal?'

What the hell man? You were normal an hour ago and you hated it.

Second this motion. I mean when people were teenagers didn't we all look for all sorts of ways not to be normal? We wanted to be special, unique, awesome or at least cool. When did conformity to normality become cool? Answer: it did when we needed to find a job. And let me tell ya those corporations seem to frown on individual expression. I still think Beast Boy said it best, "Normal is highly overrated."

I usually don't comment much on Bob's articles because I know squat about movies, but I'll chime in on this one.

For the 'yellow spandex' joke: I knew an über nerdy guy (even for my standard) whose comment on the first X-man movie was essentially, 'it has this joke, and it's great'. The joke, not the movie. It's just a call-out, essentially standing by their idea that the movie doesn't need to take every little thing from the source material as gospel. And the X-man costumes are pretty ridiculous. X-man is a series with great characters and stories, that's where the respect should come from, not in Wolwerine's choice of underwear.

For the 'Oh god what has science done' thing: Seriously, what movies have been doing this? I remember watching a cool documentary on how the view has changed on science on movies, and how it reflects America's view on the world. Back in the 60's, when paranoia run rampant and everyone feared the bomb, the scientists were the bad guys. They were always 'this will do more good than it does harm!' then they were always 'don't kill the evil murderous beast, we must study it!' then they were like 'OH GOD I AM BEING KILLED BECAUSE OF MY OWN HUBRIS' and then the nice military folks would drop a bunch of bombs on the movie's monster and win. Now, in the technological utopia of the hipster age, the scientists are always like 'This is the way to kill the monster, I have discovered in on my Macbook because I am so smart' but the military is always like 'No let's bomb it!' then they are like 'BOMB IT NOW' then they are like 'THE BOMB AS ONLY MADE IT STRONGER WHY DIDN'T I LISTEN TO THE SCIENTIST ALSO I AM DYING' then the scientist is like 'We need to do it my way with a group of five to eight quirky people one of whom will die' and then they're like 'Once again science saves the day!' Seriously, I can't think of one movie since the eighties in which the evil comes from rampant science and in which the military aren't bumbling morons.

As for the last one... you know, if they named names in that movie, they'd harm their reputation not only with Republicans but also with Democrats. I mean, the Democrats are keeping the black man down! It reminded me of Warren Ellis' Transmetropolitan, in which there are two parties in American fashion, but they don't even have names, they're just 'the situation' and 'the opposition'. They don't even stand for anything any more. I'm not going to imply that a Christ Rock movie went through that kind of metaphor, but if we're doing an analysis of the larger metasituation, then parties don't have names because they don't - what's the difference anyway?

i like reading these and never had any trouble following him, but this time i got lost in all the movie/people references he's making.

Well this article was pathetic, but that's only because you do know Bob that you wrote this article in the past and also made more than one video talking about these issues right?

this doesn't come across as addressing clear issues, because you provide no alternative, instead it comes across as one man ordering Hollywood to change because he isn't happy.

Completely agree about the science gone wrong thing. Very annoying. Sad part is we'll be seeing more and more of it as genetic engineering advances more. You'd think that Liberal Hollywood would be for it, but it might remind them too much of Social Darwinism and the holocaust, which is completely unfair considering no one has to die for society to embrace genetic enhancement.

I have to agree, many of these pointless, stupid and demeaning cliches were tired when they were first founded.

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