I've figured out the meaning of life: everything is bullsh*t, everybody is full of sh*t, and nobody gives a sh*t. What -- you thought there was more to it? Nope. That's it. Sorry about the profanity.
But what really intrigues me are the mysteries of Hollywood. Oh, I know you've seen these types of columns before. You think you already know the truth behind movies' urban legends. And, yes, what looks like a guy hanging himself in the Three Men and A Baby background is just the shadow of a prop. (The prop being Steve Guttenburg's later career choices.) And The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is not really "based on a true story." Yeah, somewhere a psychopath killed a few people. But that's a pretty thin connection. That's like saying Transformers is based on a true story because my Jeep Cherokee turned out to be a piece of crap. Oh, and Walt Disney's head isn't really being kept cryogenically frozen... which I thought would be explained in more detail in Disney's Frozen... which, as it turns out, was not what the film was about. (It's about young women making bad relationship decisions.)
Nope. I believe there are even greater, more inexplicable questions surrounding the world of entertainment. These enigmas have never been answered to my satisfaction. Actually, they've never been asked to my satisfaction. Nevertheless, I'm legitimately curious. No joke.
1. Why Do People Hate Tom Cruise?
I don't get it. He's a great actor with a unique style, his movies for the most part are solid entertainment, and by all accounts he is a nice person. He is never in trouble with the law. He doesn't get annoyingly political. (I'm talking to you, Joe Biden.) You never see him drunkenly staggering out of L.A. nightclubs with groupies (I'm talking to you, Joe Biden.) But I know so many people who just can't stand him. Read the Internet comments underneath any article about Tom Cruise. There are some angry, harsh, unforgiving words. They're like my comments when people post Facebook pics from their family vacations.
Is it just because he's a Scientologist? Why should I care if he's into Scientology? So what if it's a crazy religion. Do you know what else is a crazy religion? Religion.
Yeah, like your religion is the "logical" one.
Look, I don't know much about being a Scientologist. But how bad can it be? I like science and I like getting the gist of things. And whatever the practice entails, it has obviously worked out well for Cruise. He's a famous, wealthy movie star. Some of the most successful people in Hollywood are Scientologists. What has your religion ever done for you? Heck, I'd be willing to give Scientology a try... I mean, if they'd agree to read my screenplay.
People are still complaining that Tom Cruise jumped up and down on the couch on the Oprah show. Does that make him a bad person? What's wrong with jumping on a couch? In a town of wife-beaters, drug addicts, child molesters, and murderers (i.e. the guest-list at the MTV Music Awards afterparty), there are worse things one could do than jump on the couch and profess your love for a woman.
And people were so agitated when Tom Cruise said that psychiatry is a big scam. News flash -- it is. If you break your leg, and after three years of medical treatment, your leg is still broken, wouldn't you start to question the doctor's competence? Meanwhile, suckers are still going to the same psychiatrist for years, without any results.
Okay, but even if you're "pro-psychiatry", is Cruise's opposing viewpoint enough to prompt a boycott of his films? That's a little petty on your part, don't you think? How does your mailman feel about psychoanalysis? You don't know? You don't care? Will you boycott your mail? No? Then give Tom Cruise a break. And go back and watch Minority Report. It's really good.
2. Why Was Jennifer Aniston Able To Make The Jump To Movies While Courteney Cox Was Not?
I still don't get it. They both became stars on Friends. Their acting talent is about the same. They're both equally pretty and likeable. But as soon as Friends went off the air -- in fact, even before that -- Jennifer Aniston was starring in major film studio releases. Granted, these were usually dopey romantic comedies. And she's given pretty one-dimensional roles. But, well, that is not such a mystery. Meet the men who run Hollywood, a world where most actresses have "stripper-with-a-heart-of-gold" at least four times on their resume and where it's not uncommon for wealthy producers to be dating their granddaughters' sorority sisters.
I don't get it. I'm legitimately curious. After the premiere of Friends, Jennifer Aniston was starring in big-budget movies with Jim Carrey and Scarlett Johansson. According to the Internet Movie Database, which I'm looking at right now, during and after Friends, Courteney Cox was in, among others, the following films: Zoom, November, The Runner, The Tripper, Commandments, Get Well Soon. Are these real movies? I've never heard of any of these titles. These are like the DVDs they used to leave out in the front bin of Coconuts; they were like $2.99, but the sign usually made it clear that if you stole them, the store wouldn't press charges.
Okay, Courteney Cox has done some network television work. But nobody watches TV anymore. Actors want to be in movies.
So why is Rachel a movie star, while Monica is not? It's not like Courteney Cox was given the opportunity to star in a few big budget films that then flopped at the box office. She was never really even given a chance. And Jennifer Aniston isn't really a big draw, but she is still in big movies. Is it their agents? Did Jennifer Aniston get better career advice? Did it have something to do with focus groups? Was it the Brad Pitt thing? I really don't know.
The world of acting is a weird thing. Some actors, we're told, have that movie star quality. Meanwhile, other actors are pigeonholed as "television" actors. Of course, it's all becoming irrelevant since most of the stuff we watch now is on Netflix.
3. How Come Spider-Man Isn't In The Avengers Movies?
Iron-Man is in the Avengers movies. Thor is in the Avengers movies. Cobie Smulders is in the Avengers movies. Where's Spider-Man? He's a Marvel character, too.
Yes, Comic Book Fanboys, I get it. Please don't explain the licensing to me. I already understand that Sony owns the rights to Spider-Man. Hence, Spider-Man is not part of the Marvel cinematic universe. But this is not a law. I can't work out an arrangement with the bank to rob it. You and I can't agree to murder you. But legally, Spider-Man can fight alongside Captain America. This is not a crime. (The Amazing Spider-Man 2, incidentally, was a crime.)
I've calculated the numbers. And according to my data, if Spider-Man appears in an Avengers movie, the film will make $402,225,624,156,999,208. And that's not even taking into account the higher ticket price people will pay to see it in 3D.
I own the rights to my football. But I'd be willing to let Peyton Manning throw it around every once in while. Wouldn't that make my football more appealing? I wouldn't let Eli touch it, though. He's a whiner.
There are restaurants in Los Angeles, right? Doesn't Wolfgang Puck have a few pizza places in the area? (Side note: Does Wolfgang Puck own the rights to his name? I think it would work well as an X-Men character.) How about if some executives from Marvel Studios meet up with some executives from Sony Pictures for a quick lunch? Work out a deal. Sign a few contracts. Throw in a separate storyline where the Hulk gets angry and tries to smash a little human spider. But then Hulk calms down and the two superheroes become friends. And they fight the bad guys together. Marvel will make an extra zillion dollars. Sony will make an extra zillion dollars. And audiences will be very happy. Wouldn't that be nice? Everybody wins... except for Hawkeye, whose screen time might be reduced with the additional character. I've done the calculations. Without Hawkeye, the next Avengers movie will only make $402,225,624,156,999,008.
Oh, hey, if there are any Marvel executives reading this, I have a great idea for a Black Panther origin story script. And if there are any Warner Brothers executives reading this, I have a great idea for the next Man of Steel movie, which is to open the film with an apology for the previous Man of Steel movie. Ugh that was horrible.
4. Was Saved By The Bell Horrible On Purpose?
If you've never watched Saved By The Bell, then, one, you and I can never be friends, and, two, just replace Saved By The Bell with any sitcom on ABC Family Channel or Nickelodeon or Full House or any other lazy drek in which dim-witted characters trapped in recycled plots blurt out punchlines that we only understand to be "jokes" due to the shrill sounds of canned laughter that follows each tepid line of dialogue.
So here's my question. And I'm being totally serious. Did the producers of SBTB create the show exactly how they envisioned it and they just have bad taste? Or is it that the writers simply weren't talented enough to come up with clever dialogue or plot points that don't make you watch and say, "But in real life, wouldn't the guy just..."
Take, for example, a bad show like 2 Broke Girls or The Millers. Yes, they're not funny. And you feel the awkwardness of the actors having to recite some of the lamer jokes. But at least these shows aren't horrible to a point where you watch in disbelief, like, for example, anything with Urkel. I have a theory. I think the writers of 2 Broke Girls know what is funny. I think the writers of 2 Broke Girls understand that, say, Parks and Recreation is a funnier show. And the 2 Broke Girls writers want to write their show like that; the 2 Broke Girls writers just aren't good enough. And they know it.
But Saved By The Bell and its ilk are a different animal. While watching the unwatchable Mystery Girls starring Tori Spelling and Jennie Garth on the ABC Family Chanel, one gets the sense that the writers are really proud of what they're doing. They're thinking, "Yeah, this is really good stuff." Or maybe I'm wrong. I've worked with some of the people writing the quality comedies on television. They've very funny, talented people. I've never met any of the writers from Saved By The Bell. Are they funny in real life? If they had to write a decent joke, could they? And perhaps when they were writing Saved By The Bell, they were simply dumbing down their own talents to create their perception of what the typical brain-dead television viewer wants and expects. In a way, it takes talent to write a show like Saved By The Bell. It can't be easy to write something that awful. Ernest Hemmingway, after all, spent years working on The Old Man and the Sea.
Yes, the sitcoms on the Disney Channel are designed for kids. One doesn't expect Hannah Montana to be Shakespeare. ("To twerk or not to twerk...") But The Wizard of Oz was designed for kids, too. And, unlike my wedding, it didn't need Screech to entertain.
5. Why Do Movie Audiences Leave Before the Credits?
The ending credits are part of the movie. The credits give you a chance to collect your thoughts, to reflect on what you've just watched, to finish up the cell phone call conversation you've been having throughout the film. But also, the credits give you a chance to take a breath and relax.
Where is everyone going? Why is everyone in such a hurry? After finishing your dinner at a restaurant, you don't immediately get up to leave... except for that one time I forgot to bring my wallet.
I believe in the full movie experience. I can't watch a movie if I miss the first few minutes. I don't like watching edited versions on television. And I don't like interruptions. And I enjoy watching the opening and closing credits. It's part of the movie.
Many movies now include additional scenes after the credits. Audiences know this, and many of them still leave the moment the see words on the screen... especially if it's a foreign film with subtitles.
Leaving a film at the credits is not instinctive. I suspect that when movie theaters first opened, everyone stayed in the building until the screen went dark. Somewhere along the way, impatient viewers started leaving earlier and earlier.
One of these days, when I'm at a movie theater and the credits start to roll and the people around me are all leaving, I will ask one of those people, "Why are you leaving?" Oh, he or she will probably respond, "The movie is over." But the movie isn't really over. So then I'll put my hand on this person's shoulder and gently ask, "No. Why are you really leaving?"