3 Film and TV Concepts That Would Be Better With One Minor Change
TV has probably been around for almost a quarter of a century. Movies have been around for a little longer than that. The technology changes, the standards rise or fall, and wherever you go the idea of what is and what isn’t acceptable is different as night from day.
The bottom line is, there are times when public opinion, or even just the opinion of a very annoying few, takes things to their logical extreme and ruins it for those of us who simply can’t put the battle of wits to rest. I am one of those who must carry on the mantle of pointing out the stupidity and short sightedness of those in charge of what goes on behind the small and silver screens.
Let’s begin with a concept that has shaped the last five years of the 00’s.
3: The Twilight Franchise
Let me go ahead and alienate myself forever. I actually happen to believe that the Twilight books are very well written. The characters were well rounded and the books gave us some memorable quotes and scenes that have stuck with me to this day. (I especially liked the part in Breaking Dawn where Bella finally shuts the hell up.)
The movies were also very enjoyable. Though not nearly as enjoyable as hearing a theater of prepubescent girls “oohing” at the sight of shirtless Jacob, only to have one girl very loudly declare “eww” when poor Robert Pattinson disrobes. (An act, which elicited a choir of unintended laughter at the screen)
Say what you will about Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart’s acting. Robert portrayed Edward as a domineering, mentally abusive control freak from another time period. And Kristen portrayed Bella’s codependent and emotional manipulation right down to a T. Both actors portrayed the characters exactly how I viewed them.
The problem is not the writing. It’s the marketing.
The Twilight Franchise is marketed as a “Teen Romance”. Millions of impressionable girls around the world are under the belief that Bella Swan and Edward Cullen have the perfect relationship, because to quote my twelve year-old cousin, “They’ll do anything for each other.”
This is the same cousin who was inspired to set up a secret liaison with a mentally challenged nineteen year-old “boy” through her Facebook account. Fortunately nothing came of it and my cousin is now effectively banned from the Internet until she turns forty.
I don’t blame the marketing for my cousin’s reaction. After all, she has a mind of her own. But with all of that hype going on, you can see how younger kids are being effectively sucked into the idea that it’s perfectly acceptable for your boyfriend or significant other, to trash your car because he doesn’t think you’re safe in it. Or that it’s okay for said partner to tell you who you can and can’t hang out with.
And lets not forget the other player in this “love triangle”, who could at any moment, give into his wild urges and strike Bella, causing permanent scarring. But it’s okay, because “he can’t help it.”
What I would Change
What if Stephanie Meyers had taken a completely different angle with the Twilight Saga? What if instead of marketing Twilight as a “teen romance”, they instead approached it from the angle of Bella and Edward actually having a very effed up relationship?
The blurb in the back of the book would read something like this.
“Bella Swan has moved to Forks and fallen in love with Edward. But Edward is not what he seems. In addition to sneaking into her room at night to watch her while she sleeps, Edward appears very domineering and stalks her wherever she goes. Even when he claims to be protecting her, his actions constantly place her in danger, as well as the lives of their family and friends…and Bella is madly in love with him.”
So, it’s basically the same story. But the marketing is more honest and now, kids who still believe that this is the right kind of relationship for two people to have are easily identified as needing intense therapy.
Would Twilight have gone on to become the American answer to Harry Potter? Probably not. But at least I wouldn’t have to worry that my cousin is going to find a way around her “Internet Ban” to chase after the next guy who has been “17 for a while”.
Here's a Show that really Broke Ground in the 21st Century...what, no of course I'm not exploiting Charlie Sheen for hits, why would you think that?
2: Take the "F" and "S" words off the censor list.
Why do Americans love watching BBC sitcoms? I’ve long held to the belief that Americans like to watch British television because they want to feel cultured without having to go through the effort of actually having to learn another language. But that’s the blanket explanation for what we find so fascinating about Europe in general. Or, to answer a friend’s question, “What is it with all of the Anglophiles in your country?”
In the end, the real reason why so many people love British shows is the fact the characters really hold nothing back. With the exception of shows like Coronation Street, which is basically a daytime soap opera, and shows geared towards audiences of all ages like Doctor Who, the BBC is fairly liberal on the use of certain words that American audiences aren’t used to hearing on television.
Words that would normally get the culturally iconic “bleep”, are dropped very casually in sitcoms like Coupling and romantic dramas like Ny-Lon. Americans are not naïve twelve year-olds (most of us anyway). We know what’s being said, or what’s being casually referred to. Even Angus T. Jones finally points it out to Charlie Sheen in an early episode of Two and a Half Men, which was probably one of the most tongue-in-cheek commentaries on American television since Archie Bunker last graced the screen.
What I Would Change
Pretty much every show past six PM would be free to use whatever language it wanted. During the day, yes, you have to protect the virginal ears of our nation’s youth. But in the evening when kids should be doing homework, in bed, or playing Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas on the X-Box, the gloves come off on TV censorship.
Brilliant writers like Joss Whedon (testify) and J Michael Straczynski (praised be his name) would flock back to television like seagulls to the dumpster of a fresh bread factory. Believe it or not, some crappy shows would actually benefit from the extra freedom and we wouldn’t have to cringe in terror every night over the idea that the SyFy channel will one day get the rights to air True Blood in all of it’s censored glory. (You could make a great drinking game out of just listening for Terra’s use of the F-bomb throughout the first two seasons of True Blood)
Kids should Be Devoted to More Wholesome Activities while the Adults watch TV...
1: Set in America, Filmed in Canada
I get it. It's cheaper to film your movie or TV show in Canada than in the US. Plus there are great incentives for film makers in Canada. The biggest plus is that about 80 percent of it is largely uninhabited and therefore it's easier to set up period pieces.
Now, this works for shows like Stargate: SG-1, where the setting is usually in fairly nondescript areas like a military base and an alien planet. Or in Highlander the Series, where parts of Vancouver are similar to Seattle as to not make a difference to the casual observer.But when it becomes annoying is in shows like Highlander: The Raven, where the setting is Chicago, but it's so very obvious that it's Toronto.
At about 3:44, you can clearly see the Canadian flag. Because that's such a common decoration in an American ballpark.
What I Would Change
Need to film your show in Toronto, or Ontario? Sweet. I love Canada and I remember Montreal with fondness. I'm not so jaded an American that I instinctively hate everything North or South of the border.
So, if you're going to film in parts of a major Canadian city where it's going to be readily obvious that it's not the American city you want us to believe it is, then why not just change the setting of the show to the Canadian city?
Again, for me, it's all about the honesty. Maybe it's nit picky, but at least I'm not going to cringe when I see the red maple leaf at the "White House".