Friday, November 24, 2017

Sexual harassment and tribalism in America.

Over the last few weeks there have been an incredible amount of revelations about sexual harassment cases in the U.S. Ever since it became known that producer Harvey Weinstein had a long history of being a sexual abuser, things haven't been the same.

After all, it didn't take long before other big names were outed too. Celebrities like Kevin Spacey, Louis Ck, Charlie Rose, John Lasseter, Al Franken, Brett Ratner and Roy Moore among others were also revealed to be sexual abusers.

In most of these cases, being outed as a sexual harasser meant that your career came to an instant end. In most cases it didn't take more than 24 hours before the public outcry became so strong that your career was finished.

Yet, there have been two major exceptions so far in these cases. Of all the accused, Al Franken, a democratic senator from Minnesota and Roy Moore, a republican senatorial candidate from Alabama, have not paid the price for their deeds yet. 

When it comes to Al Franken (in picture), we're talking about four female victims. So far he's been accused of three counts of sexual abuse (forced french kissing, butt groping) and one count of sexual harassment (following a female victim to a bathroom)

In Roy Moore's case, the public accusations are more serious. Among other things, Moore is accused of trying to have sex with a 14-year old girl, attempting to rape a 16-year old and for preying on minors on multiple occasions.

In any even remotely functional society these kind of accusations would mean that your political career would be over. In any normal society these accusations would mean that you would either resign or that you would drop out of your senate race.

However, since we're talking about politics and The United States of America, things don't work that way. The tribalism in politics is so strong that as long you're batting for the right team, it doesn't matter what you've done.

What this means in reality is that in Franken's case, democratic loyalists are convinced that Franken has done nothing wrong. They are convinced that the women who accuse him are liars and that they cannot be trusted at all.

Corporate democrats and Hillary-loyalists are taking it so far that they even claim that it might be Russia who's behind the whole thing. It's Vladimir Putin (!) who's behind these outrageous accusations against Franken.

In Roy Moore's case, it doesn't seem to matter to evangelical voters that he's accused of pedophilia and that he's a serial child molester. It doesn't matter that there are at least a dozen witnesses against him and that they all seem to be credible.

After all, 'a man of God' like him would never do things like these. There's no way that an honorable judge like Moore would do anything like that, so all the witnesses and the evidence against him has to be false and made up.

This kind of tribalism is so extreme that it isn't even limited to just Franken and Moore anymore. This kind of insane party worship also extends to former president Bill Clinton and to current president Donald Trump. 

After all, even though there are dozens of accusations against president Clinton, they don't really count. 'Mr. Lolita express' is a good man and those things with Paula Jones, Kathleen Willey, Juanita Broaddrick and Monica Lewinsky never happened.

In the same way, it doesn't matter what Trump has been accused of doing either. Those 'grab 'em by the pussy' tapes were only locker room talk and those other 14 sexual harassment cases against him don't amount to anything either.

So in that sense, when it comes to these sexual harassment cases, things could certainly be a lot better. Thing could be better, even though it's a good thing that women are finally coming forward and in many cases they're being taken seriously.

Especially when it comes to accusations against high-profile politicians, their victims aren't being taken seriously enough. Both tribalism and party loyalty run so rampant that no amount of evidence seems to be enough when it comes to these acts.

In the end, that's really unfortunate, because this kind of behavior is simply unacceptable for the nation as a whole. It's unacceptable, which is why it's so important to get rid of these politicians who are guilty of sexual abuse and harassment.

In that sense, I just wish that at some point people would stop playing politics when it comes to sexual abuse. I just wish that people would stop putting party over the people and would finally start taking these cases with the seriousness that they deserve.

After all, if we did that, things could get at least a bit better for sexual abuse victims. Things would get better and it would show everyone that nobody is above the law and immune from the consequences of one's actions.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Good story is the most important part of a film.

When it comes to making a quality movie, the most important ingredient in the process is the screenplay. There's nothing more important in the production of a movie than having a good story that you can build your film on.

After all, if your story isn't good enough, no amount of money is going to save your movie. If your story sucks, it doesn't matter who is going to direct the film, or who are the actors and the actresses that are going to be in it.

So whenever I read that the biggest reason that a movie sucked wasn't because of its story, in most cases I can only roll my eyes. In most cases, the person who is talking about the film has no clue what he or she is talking about. 

To give you an example, a couple of days ago I finally had the chance to watch the film 'Wonder Woman' with my friend. We managed to watch this DC comics superhero movie after having postponed seeing it for quite some time.

When it comes to our opinion of the film, I think we both ended up liking it quite a bit. We liked almost every aspect of the movie, including the beautiful Gal Gadot, who managed to play the 'Wonder Woman' character pretty well. 

The only obvious problem with the film had to do with its story. It's pretty safe to say that in the third act of the movie, the villain - no spoilers here - made very little sense, and that the motivation for the character was weak and convoluted to say the least.

Nevertheless, when I kept reading negative reviews for the movie, it was hard to find instances where the main complaint had to do with this aspect of the film. It was hard to find complaints about the story or the villain character.

In most cases, those negative reviews had to do with all those other things instead. Almost every aspect except the story was mentioned, like for example Gal Gadot supposedly not being good enough for the role of Wonder Woman.

There were other complaints too that didn't have anything to do with the story. Things like how there weren't enough jokes, that the director was a woman, that the germans shouldn't have been the villains or that the action scenes weren't creative enough.

When it comes to these supposed problems, I'm obviously not saying that the reviewers were absolutely wrong about their views. I'm not saying that there weren't any problems with the movie and that you're not allowed to criticize it in any way.

After all, there were certain moments and scenes in the film that could have been better. Certain scenes went on for too long and perhaps those action scenes actually could have been more 'inspired' than what we saw on the screen.

At the same time, if none of those story and screenplay issues made your top five complaints list, you're not making much sense. It's really hard to take you seriously if you don't have any issues with those aspects of the film.

That's because in the end, it's still the story that counts more than anything else in movies. It's the premise, the characters and the storylines that count more than those other things when it comes to deciding whether the film has any value or not.

As a whole, even though it's true that special effects and action scenes sometimes do matter, they aren't the most important part of the film. These aspects in most cases do not decide whether watching the movie is going to be an enjoyable experience or not.

In reality, the truth is that quality films will always be more than anything about the story. The most important thing about a good movie is always going to be that the screenplay for the film works as well as possible.

In that sense, if you're not paying enough attention to storytelling in a movie, you're not getting it right. If you're not paying attention to story aspects that matter and that define the value of a film, you're not getting what movies are supposed to be about.

Friday, November 10, 2017

What to do next with my movie screenplay?

As I wrote earlier here, this is the year that I finally managed to write my first movie screenplay. I managed to write it this summer when I felt that I absolutely needed to give myself a chance to see if I had it in me as a writer.

The script, called 'Valerie and The Girl', is about a young girl who doesn't have a father in her life. The screenplay is written as a stop motion animation and it doesn't currently have any intelligible dialogue in it.

The reason that I'm bringing this up now is because a couple of days ago I finally got feedback from the script. One of my friends had managed to read it and was kind enough to give his opinion about how good or bad it had turned out to be.

Getting feedback from the script was really important to me, because in all honesty, I had almost forgotten that I had written the script this summer. I had been so busy at work that I hadn't had that much time to think or worry about it.

After all, once I had finished writing 'Valerie and The Girl' in late July, I didn't give it another look for almost three months. I didn't read it, because I didn't have to actively pay attention to the characters and the storylines anymore.

Nevertheless, when it comes to the script, he liked how the screenplay was written and how clear the storylines were. He liked how I had managed to keep the storylines as simple as possible without making them look too simple.

When it comes to the characters, he liked how I had managed to make them relatable and likable. I managed to make them likable and had given them personalities and characteristics that made them feel worth caring about.

He also liked how I had managed to make the script funny in a natural way. The comedic moments in the script worked so well, because I was able to make good reads and knew where I was supposed to lighten up the mood.

When it comes to things that didn't work, he didn't actually have any clear complaints about the script. He didn't notice any moments where it was too obvious that I could have done a better job with how the story played out.

Not surprisingly, I was pretty happy about this, because even though I did have confidence in the script, I wasn't confident about every single aspect of it. I had certain doubts about some parts of the screenplay that made me hesitate a bit.

For example, when I had read the script right before he gave me his feedback, I had some problems getting in the mood at first. The lack of intelligible dialogue in the script meant that I had to pay attention to the story and feel it right away.

Fortunately, his comments made me feel better and made me think that even if there's some things that might need some polishing, it's still a solid screenplay. I had done a good job writing it and I should be proud of myself.

So as a whole, when it comes to the next step that I'm supposed to be taking with the screenplay, I guess I'm supposed to get those in charge to read it. I should find people that could consider my script and perhaps even get it produced.

After all, if produced, 'Valerie and The Girl' would likely turn out to be a solid animated film. It would likely turn out to be a good movie that would have the ability to keep the audience entertained and would make them happy.

In the end, the only really big problem here is that I don't have that many contacts in the entertainment business. I don't have connections outside my country that would help me in getting the script get the exposure that it deserves.

As unfortunate as it is, even though we do produce and film movies in my country, we don't make movies that require stop motion technique. We don't produce animated movies that would require ten to fifteen million dollar budgets.

In that sense, we can only hope that at some point something good would happen with this project. We can only hope that at some point someone in charge would say that this story has merit, that it makes sense and that it's actually worth filming.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

What to think of the released JFK documents?

Over the last few days there has been a lot of talk in the media about the assassination of president John F. Kennedy. All over the world the media has been talking about the 'new information' pertaining to his murder that occurred almost fifty-four years ago.

This new information - that consists of freshly released documents - supposedly proves that Lee Harvey Oswald murdered the 35th president of the United States. There was no conspiracy behind the assassination and that it was simply a random act of violence.

The problem with this 'conclusion' by the media is that there's nothing in these declassified documents that would indicate that Oswald killed Kennedy. Nothing in these 'new' documents manages to even slightly point at Oswald's guilt.

For example, in these documents there's nonsense like Russians reacting to the possibility of Oswald being the assassin. The Russians, *gasp*, thought that Oswald must have been crazy *if* he assassinated the president.

There is stuff about how Jack Ruby - the assassin of Oswald - denied that there was a conspiracy in killing the alleged assassin. Ruby was adamant that he was not assisted by the Dallas police department officers in his deed.

There is also stuff that includes former director of the CIA Richard Helms testifying that Oswald was not working for the company. There was no chance that the alleged assasin had been on a CIA payroll at any point in his life.

In reality, not only are most of these 'revelations' decades old, but they don't really contain anything new. There's nothing new about important aspects that have to do with the case, like the eyewitness testimonies, the autopsy or the medical evidence.

Perhaps that is why the media was actually so happy to sing their usual 'Oswald did it song'. Since there was nothing incriminating here, they were boasting how this was the final nail in the coffin and that the 'conspiracy theorists' should give up.

In reality, unlike what the media is trying to say, the research community isn't actually looking for any 'smoking gun'. They aren't looking for that missing piece of evidence that would show us that there was a conspiracy to kill JFK.

In fact, every serious non-CIA backed researcher already agrees and knows that president John F. Kennedy died as a result of a conspiracy. Every serious student who has looked at the evidence knows that there was more than one gunman involved.

We know that the assassination was a conspirary because of the evidence that is available. We have the eyewitness testimonies, the autopsy report, the Zapruder film and the shooting reconstructions that prove that Oswald couldn't have been the lone assassin.

In fact, when it comes to these 'final nail in the coffin' claims, one of the most important moments already happened 25 years ago. This is when the Assassination Records Review Board declassified the eyewitness testimonies of JFK's autospy.

This is when it was revealed that for almost three decades we had been lied to. All the doctors and the nurses present agreed that unlike what we had been told, there was a big hole in the back of JFK's head and that the fatal bullet had come from the front.

This meant that Oswald couldn't have been the lone assassin because he couldn't have been at two places at the same time. He couldn't have been shooting from the 6th floor of the book depository and also from the grassy knoll at the same time.

So in that sense, whenever you hear the media talking about how there has been no 'smoking gun' in the case and that the 'conspiracy theorists' should give up, they are wrong. They couldn't be more wrong about their proclamations.

After all, just because they again paraded their usual 'experts' - CIA stooges like Gerald Posner, Max Holland etc. - that doesn't mean that they were telling the truth. That doesn't mean that they were giving us accurate information about what happened.

Just because they tried to obfuscate and tried to make us not believe our lying eyes, that doesn't mean that we should believe them. It doesn't mean that we should believe their lies and think that we shouldn't question the official story.

In the end, even though it's not fun to accept the idea that president Kennedy died as a result of a conspiracy, that is actually what happened. That is what happened and everyone who's willing to look past the lies should be able to see that.

As unfortunate as it is, the truth is that the media and the government have, for the last 50+ years, been part of the cover up. They have been doing everything in their power to make sure that we wouldn't get to know what happened.

In that sense, when they keep telling us that we shouldn't question the official story, we should protest. We should protest and let them know that despite their claims, we know that they're lying and that president Kennedy did die as a result of a conspiracy.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

'Star Trek: Discovery' is a pretty awful series.

It's not exactly a secret that I have a hard time watching drama shows on television that tend to be too serious. As a writer, I don't like to watch television shows that are too dark and too depressing for no reason at all.

This is especially true when it comes to remakes and reboots of classic shows. I don't like it when these remakes and relaunches decide to be extra serious simply in order to look more 'credible' than their predecessors.

So when I heard that there was going to be a new, 'darker and grittier' Star Trek series, I wasn't looking forward to watching it. I wasn't excited about a new show that wasn't going to be like the original Star Trek shows were.

After all, the reason that I liked the original series and the 'Next Generation' is because they managed to be uplifting as shows. They gave you hope that things were going to be okay as long as we as people managed to work together.

So after having now seen the first two episodes of 'Star Trek: Discovery', it has to be said that the new series isn't any good. The new series manages to get almost everything wrong and has almost nothing to do with the original Star Trek franchise.

What I mean by that is that unlike in the original series or TNG, in 'Star Trek: Discovery' you'll get an universe that is incredibly dark and bleak in almost every imaginable way. There's nothing that would make you feel that the show is going to cheer you up.

Instead of giving us an universe and a premise where everything is possible - like in the original shows - on this show there's no hope for mankind. Pretty much all is lost and nobody has a positive outlook on life anymore.

Not only is the show dark and depressing, but the new series also manages to be incredibly illogical when it comes to its characters and its storylines. Almost nothing that we see on our television screen makes sense or feels organic.

When it comes to the characters on the show, the biggest problem here is that they're completely unrelatable. Especially when it comes to our main protagonist, first officer Michael Burnham (a female character), it's impossible to like her.

For example, in the very first episode, our protagonist, incredibly enough, wants to do a pre-emptive first strike on Klingons. She wants to kill as many of them as possible, even though it's not even clear that the Klingons are their enemies.

A bit later, when her bellicose suggestion is turned down, she decides to stage a mutiny (!). She knocks down the captain of the starship,  takes charge of the ship and orders the pre-emptive strike to be launched by herself.

This, of course, is something that would never have happened on the original Star Trek or on The Next Generation. It goes completely against what the Star Trek franchise, its ideals, intellectualism and values were about.

Neither captain Kirk or captain Picard would ever have gone full blown gungho against a potential enemy in their respective shows. They would never have acted like warmongering sociopaths like our main protagonist did here.

When it comes to those other aspects of storytelling on the show, it has to be said that they don't make sense either. The focus in the series is completely missing and there are numerous basic storytelling mistakes in the pilot.

For example, instead of the series starting with our main protagonists,it actually starts with showing us the Klingons first (!). We get a bizarre two minute introduction to our rivals instead of getting to see our protagonists first.

This is something that is completely idiotic and goes against even the most basic rules of screenwriting. It's simply incredible that the writers of the pilot decided to ditch the basics and decided to be 'cool' and 'hip' instead.

As I reluctantly kept watching the episode, it became obvious that were even more major problems with the story and the storytelling. These other major mistakes didn't make it any easier to keep watching the show either.

One big mistake in the first two episodes was that there were very few characters that we actually got to know at all. Unlike the original shows that were about the whole crew, this new show seemed to be  mostly about Klingons and a couple of human beings.

In practice, what this meant was that during the pilot there were so many characters that we knew absolutely nothing about. There were so many 'red-shirts' on board that the episode almost became a parody of itself. 

When it comes to the pilot episode, it also has to be mentioned that the episode suffered greatly from too many ill-timed flashbacks. These weird flashbacks made it increasingly difficult to follow what was going on and what was real.

At least in my case, at the beginning of the second episode I even thought that the first episode had only been 'a bad dream'. Based on the flashbacks it felt like it had simply been a simulation to test our captain's reaction to our idiotic first officer.

So as a whole, when you combine all these mistakes and flaws in the pilot, it shouldn't come as a surprise that I had huge problems watching 'Star Trek: Discovery'. It shouldn't come as a surprise that I had a hard time even finishing the pilot.

After all, when you have have a show that doesn't know what it should be about, the series is bound to be in trouble. When your premise, your characters and your storylines are all badly thought out, you can't really expect much from it.

In contrast, the reason that the original shows worked so well is because they were about optimism and about the idea that we all could get along. As long as we were open minded and were willing to go where no man had gone before, everything was possible. 

In that sense, it's so unfortunate that this new Star Trek series doesn't represent any of these values. Instead of being an uplifting show about hope, it spends most of its time depicting the universe as a place where mankind doesn't have much of future.

In the end, the truth is that I can't recommend 'Star Trek: Discovery' for anyone who grew up watching either the original Star Trek series or Star Trek: The Next Generation. I can't recommend it for anyone who was a fan of either of those shows.

As unfortunate as it is, 'Star Trek: Discovery' doesn't work because it fails at what it's supposed to do. It's not well written, it doesn't have any substance in it, it doesn't make us think and worst of all, it doesn't inspire us to become better as human beings.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

'The Orville' is a surprisingly good Sci-fi series.

When I first heard about Seth Macfarlane making a comedy version of the classic Star Trek series, I didn't exactly have my hopes up. I didn't think there was much of a chance that the show could work and that it could be worth my time.

Especially knowing that the series was created by the guy who has been responsible for shows like 'Family Guy' and 'American Dad', my expectations were low. I thought there was no way this guy could create a solid, enjoyable series.

Nevertheless, after seeing the first two episodes of 'The Orville', I have to say that I have been positively surprised by the quality of the series. Even though the show hasn't been perfect, it has been much better than I had thought at first.

One of the biggest reasons that the sci-fi drama/comedy works so well is because it manages to respect the original Star Trek franchise. It takes the best aspects of the original series and 'The Next Generation' without making you feel like it's ripping them off.

By that I mean is that the series manages to respect the idealism that the original shows were known for. There's a positive, lighthearted vibe going with the show that manages to lift your spirits and makes you feel good inside.

The reason that the show has such an uplifting and upbeat tone has a lot to do with its likable characters. I was surprised by how well the characters work together and how almost all of them are well drawn and relatable.

This is especially true when it comes to the captain of the starship, played by Seth Macfarlane. Even though he hasn't been known as an actor that much, he does a surprisingly good job as a comedic version of James T. Kirk from the original series.

When it comes to the storylines on 'The Orville', I was surprised how well they managed to keep my interest. It was good to see that the writers on the show managed to provide well paced storylines that had substance in them.

Even though it's true that the show has some comedic elements, these elements don't take the center stage on the series. They don't override the essential dramatic elements and are not what the series is really about.

That 'The Orville' works so well also has a lot to do with its solid production values. It's obvious that a lot of effort, time and money was spent in creating a universe and a show that looks both believable and authentic.

At least in my case, I didn't have any problems with the show's set design, character design, make-up or special effects. Almost everything looked really good and made you feel like those in charge of the production knew what they were doing.

So all in all, when you combine all these good aspects, it's no wonder that the show manages to have value and merit. All these good things have made it possible that we have another 'Star Trek' series that is actually worth watching.

As a whole, even though critics haven't been kind towards the show at all (metacritic rating of 32% and rottentomatoes rating of 20% fresh), that doesn't mean that the series isn't well made or that you shouldn't give it a chance.

At least in my opinion, 'The Orville' - despite its minor flaws - manages to provide solid entertainment and keeps us interested. It manages to create a world and a future where almost everything is possible, as long as we believe in ourselves. 

In that sense, we can only hope that the show will keep doing well in the ratings. We can only hope that people keep watching it, because at the moment there aren't that many shows on television that are worth watching and worth your time.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

'Young Sheldon' doesn't work as a comedy series.

When it comes to this season's freshman comedies, there's no doubt that one series was more anticipated than the others. Of all the new television shows that were to be aired, CBS's 'Young Sheldon' was the most anticipated one.

The reason that 'Young Sheldon' was so hyped as a series is fairly obvious. The series that it was based on, 'The Big Bang Theory', had been the most watched comedy series on television for so many years and had a huge fanbase.

So having now seen then pilot for the show, I have to say that it doesn't look like 'Young Sheldon' is going to be a success. Based on its first episode, it doesn't look like there's anything in the series that would keep the audience interested in watching it.

The biggest problem with this 'spin-off' is that it doesn't have a premise that is good enough. The premise of the show, in which the audience follows the early years of young Sheldon Cooper, simply isn't strong enough.

As unfortunate as it is, none of the elements that made the original series so good are present here. There is almost nothing in the new series that would remind you what made the original show watchable in the first place.
After all, the reason that the original Big Bang Theory managed to work so well is because it had a solid premise and likable characters. The show about four likable nerds and a girl next door had elements in it that kept the show going.

When it comes to this new show, it simply isn't enough to have one of the 'characters' from the original. It's not enough to transfer one popular character from the old show, give him a fresh new face and think that it's all that it takes.

Besides, we shouldn't forget that the popularity of Sheldon as a character has always been at least a bit exaggerated. He isn't actually that popular, especially when it comes to the character's likability and relatibility.
By that I mean that there are a lot of characteristics about Sheldon that aren't desirable at all. In most environments, his 'autism' and inflexibility as a character are things that will turn off the audience almost instantly.

In that sense, it's all the more unfortunate that the producers and the writers decided to take the absolute worst aspects of his character. All the good things about the early seasons that had to do with Sheldon's character are gone now.

Instead of making Sheldon curious about how the world works, all he does on the show is brag how much smarter he is than the rest. Instead of making us relate to him, all he does is complain and insult others like he's the only person left on the planet.

So based on all these mistakes and how badly the writers messed up Sheldon's character and the premise, it shouldn't surprise anyone that the show doesn't work. It shouldn't surprise anyone that 'Young Sheldon' is in trouble as a series.

At least in my opinion, the pilot had too many problems and there were too few, if any moments that made you smile. It didn't feel like any of the characters in the episode made sense or that the writers knew what they were doing.

As a whole, even though it is true that the kid who plays young Sheldon is a talented actor (Iain Armitage from Big Little Lies), that alone is not enough to save the show. His presence as a Sheldon is not enough to keep the series going.

In that sense, we can only hope that sooner or later CBS will do the right thing and cancel the show. There's no real reason to keep the series going, even though the first episode that aired did get somewhat decent ratings.