I write this with the complete understanding that I was in a movie called Ski School II.

In Atlas Shrugged, there is a section where the head of the science institute sells himself out and murders what science means to people. From that point on, science means anything anyone wants it to mean. Anything can be claimed to be science and anything can be done in the name of science.

It ruins the man who does it. He had been respected by the population who didn’t know anything about science yet despised by those who knew enough about science to know that it made their jobs difficult if not impossible. His acceptance of the terms makes the “new science” legitimate. The point being made is that it’s not so much that the concept of science was destroyed, but the real tragedy is when one is part of doing such a thing.

Getting a movie made can be said to be impossible. Getting a movie made and then into theaters in wide release is even more difficult. Getting a movie made, into wide theatrical release and then having people go see it is so difficult that, statistically, we might as well say it is impossible. A “movie” is now only made unless it is a “sure thing”. A sure thing contains one of these elements.

  • the project is a sequel
  • the project is a remake
  • the content previously existed as some other media; preferably a television show or comic book
  • it is animated
  • the project can spin off a toy
  • a combination of any of the above

The fine folks who are bringing you movies are finally realizing that having a “name” in the movie doesn’t even matter, though if you do have a “name” attached to your movie, you will have a better chance of getting it made. Not much, though. It’s not on that list anymore.

Let’s say that at least $100 million dollars will be spent on the movie that fulfills one of those requirements. After marketing and all the other crap, it will cost even more. Easily. (I did some actor math (bad math) and your payments on a $100million dollar home [30 year fixed] would be about $300,000 a month.)

That may be the tail wagging the dog. It might be because movies cost this much that they must have all of those elements, but maybe not.

An actor who is “single card, main title” in a “movie” will easily make at least a month’s mortgage payment on that house but more likely negotiations start at a cool million. If you’re one of the people in the end crawl credits, you’re probably hovering around SAG scale. Maybe more, but…

And that’s not the point. Lots of money is spent on movies, why shouldn’t actors who are recognized in them make a boatload? No reason not to. It’s a very good thing. More people should make more money. If you’re starting out and get to work for one day on the latest Michael Bay crap-a-thon, making 600 bucks for the day is plenty. It’s a trade-off. Them’s the rules.

I understand, deeply, that actors like John Malkovich, Frances McDormand, John Turturro and Patrick Dempsey need to make money. They used to be able to do a couple movies a year and make a few hundred grand. Maybe a million bucks or more with a back-end deal. The type of movies that made them stars are not being made and distributed the way they used to. If they are being made, they’re being made for a relatively small amount of money. So, John Malkovich makes an okay amount of money doing what we call an “indie” film once every couple of years instead of a couple times a year.

On the other hand, Malkovich accepts the offer for TransformersIII and pays off every mortgage his family has ever thought of.

John Turturro tells himself “Hey, I do this Transformers diarrhea flow, they pay me 5 million bucks, I can go off and make that Strindberg bio-pic with my friends that I’ve been wanting to do since I got into this crazy game.”

Frances McDormand, who is a national treasure, can just work. Seen any interesting roles for women over 30 lately? ‘Nuff said.

Patrick Dempsey gets to play a bad guy. He probably got to drive one of the cars shown in his “office”.

They are actors and actors act. They can then do stuff they want to do. TransformersIII is just a money job.

We can forgive them.


Can we?


Here’s the problem. It’s not that great actors have jumped, smiling and tap-dancing, through flaming hoops of anal vomit. Not really… probably.

This is the problem: Michael Bay and Steven Spielberg can go to bed telling themselves that they have the approval of John Malkovich, Frances McDormand, John Turturro and Patrick Dempsey.

Michael Bay believes he has directed John Malkovich. He believes he has had some creative input into John Turturro’s world. Spielberg feels a kinship to the Coen Brothers because McDormand and her husband came over for dinner and they talked lenses.

The fact that those actors are in it, make TransformersIII an even more reprehensible piece of cunt-snot than it already is. Their presence makes TransformersIII legitimate. (A fine word – legitimate). They legitimize Michael Bay and Steven Spielberg. They have been let into the club of artists. They bought their way in.

After the bride and I “saw” it, I told her that I’d rather our toddler son, Duncan, watch Japanese fist porn. In Japanese fist porn, there are consequences for behavior. He would learn that someone shoving a fist up someone’s anus causes the other human being to feel something.

There’s nothing even close to that in Transformers. Actions that are possible dangerous or pleasureable cause nothing but posing. It’s not even porn. It’s people who hate themselves playing with toys.

And, you know, I find taking offense at things to be tedious. If you are offended, you should leave. Leave it to the people who are not offended. I will. I will leave TransformersIII alone. But I would simply like to point out a few things, beginning with this: The new Steppin-Fetchit is now the Asian-Guy-Who-Acts-Gangsta.

I think it’s very soon where most movies are computer animated and actors simply provide the voices. That’s fine. I’m not whining “ah why can’t we return to the era of Canon films and art like Alien from L.A.!! I’m just pointing out that the only thing that is going to draw us out of our homes and into a theater is pure spectacle. We are in a world where all that is demanded by audience is spectacle. The Cirque Du Solielification of entertainment. Fireworks. No story necessary.

And, truly, that’s fine. I work 9-5. There is enough story in my life. There really is enough drama and comedy every day in the news. My son is a story. My wife and I laugh and play and have drama. Going to see fireworks on the 4th of July is fun. I love watching things explode.

But, an hour of fireworks isn’t a one act play. Cirque Du Soleil isn’t an evening at the theater. TransformersIII isn’t a movie.

If we can dismiss the amorality of massive anonymous bodycounts, using the memory of a national disaster to force emotion into a fireworks display and excusing hyper violence because “it’s only a toy”, TransformersIII is simply an evening of fireworks with great actors slumming and paying off some bills.

On the other hand, if there’s a shred of idealism left in us then, by our attendance and refusal to hold people who know better accountable, we are letting Michael Bay and Steven Spielberg shove Hasbro Toys right up there where the poop comes out of us.