There’s that great line in Blade Runner when Deckard and Rachael are talking about getting the shakes and Deckard tells her it’s part of the business, and Rachael—as a replicant—says, “I’m not in the business. I am the business.” I love that line and that scene for many reasons that I am not planning to discuss here.
But, thinking about that line this morning while editing, and while generally thinking about art and artists, a meaning or application of that line, strikes me, that I have never thought about before.
Joe Byron of the LA Film school says that if you watch enough movies you don’t have to go to film school. And I know that to be true, in general. But even as going to film school, watching movies, and working on films all teach you distinct sets of lessons, the more general playground is just your life. And that’s the playground artists really need to be paying attention to. Watching enough movies may be a substitute for having to listen to film school teachers break it down for you, but watching your life is the basic school for all art, all science, all business, all love. Movies made by people who mainly pay attention to other people’s movies—instead of their own life, or even other people’s lives—those movies suck. I always said, at film school, that cinematographers and sound people and production designers, yes, they should go to film school. But directors and writers, when they show up, the school should give them their tuition back and send them on a road trip. People who make the best movies are making them about their lives, or something they know about from life…not things they know from school, or even from other movies. We should, as artists, not be in the business…we should be the business.
Of course, with Deckard as an example, maybe it’s possible to do both.
“—Did you take my note about the ending?
—Some of it.
—Does he still die?
—Then you didn’t take my note.”
(The Squid and the Whale)
—An employee I had to let go.”
“—This work that you’re doing: is it the kind of thing that will lead to anything?
—I don’t know. Nevertheless, it is the kind of work that I do.”
(from Total Eclipse, the Rimbaud movie)
“Vampires have it easy.
They feed on others.
We have to feed on ourselves.
We have to eat our legs,
To have the energy to walk.
We have to come, in order to go.
We have to suck ourselves off.
We have to eat away at ourselves
‘Til there’s nothing left
We have to give, and give, and give crazy!
‘Cause a gift that makes sense
Ain’t worth it.
Jesus said, ‘Seventy Times Seven’.
They’ll never understand why you did it.
They’ll just forget about you tomorrow.
But you gotta do it.”
Since hearing this I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind. Not to pick on Michael Bay (I love some of his movies)—and I doubt most of my Hollywood friends will really grasp the severity of this—but this is an extremely bad sign for movie culture, and for wider culture itself. Not since Transformers II has there been such a clear sign from that industry that movie culture, and wider culture, is slipping into barbarism. (1) The prevalence of remakes and franchises, from the creator point of view, should be enough to show you that the people we’re paying to make movies, aren’t doing their job anymore. (2) That consumers, as a whole, don’t know that there’s an insurmountable chasm of difference between Michael Bay and Roman Polanski, indicates a shocking deficit in cultural IQ. (3) In a wider sense, the fact that a market majority will buy a ticket for Transformers II is an indicator that there is a high degree of homogeneity in people’s definitions of terms. That, in turn, is correlated to there being a high incidence of simplistically-defined terms. In other words people aren’t thinking, they’re not thinking for themselves, and hence they’re easily convinced. If you’re one of these people, don’t laugh, because it isn’t funny. This type of homogeneity, in plants, is what makes a species vulnerable to pandemics. In cultural species like ourselves, this type of homogeneity (homogeneity of thought) makes us vulnerable to cultural pandemics. That means Hitler, and all that type of shit, where one idea takes over everyone, and then everyone gets killed.
Drew Barrymore should make more movies. I like movies featuring pigs and food fights and roller skates. Very excellent much.