Miscellaneous Mental Musings of an Emerging Artist
The movie I’ll pitch is not this movie. This movie, you’ve already seen.
In this movie we view what is meant to be an average American high school, populated by average American high school archetypes portrayed by physically perfect college-age actors.
There is a small, bookish lad, socially awkward but sweet. There is the bookish lad’s best female friend from childhood, herself a bit of an outsider, who used to be the best arm on the softball team until she refused to suffer a PE teacher’s chauvinism and broke his jaw with a supposedly errant underhand fastball.
There is the glowing Aryan Adonis, King of the Jocks, who seems to have nothing better to do in high school than seek out and torment the bookish lad, walking away laughing as our hero collects himself from off the floor, angrily pulling his arm away from his best friend and walking briskly, hot tears welling in his eyes, off to his next class with knowing, sympathetic science teacher Mr. Independent Film Star Collecting A Paycheck.
There is King Jock’s deceptively shallow cheerleader girlfriend who is a natural chess player but whose self-esteem issues have kept her relegated to the role of trophy.
Ultimately, of course, everybody understands the value of the bookish lad, who, while small and awkward, has the wherewithal and resources to solve an unforeseen crisis at the school. The cheerleader is seen handily dispatching several Russian exchange students with an advanced Durkin Opening, the best friend is allowed back on the team as a reliever in a dire situation, and our hero finally understands, watching her pitch out of a no-out, bases-loaded jam, that what he wanted all along was always right in front of him–all he had to do was Be Himself.
And, oh, let’s say that King Jock ends up covered in leftover cafeteria lasagna.
As I’ve said: this movie, you’ve already seen. This movie has a title like High Cruel and the poster has a tagline like “Fake It, Make It, or Break It.” I don’t need to pitch this movie.
I’m going to pitch the sequel to this movie.
In the sequel, the bookish lad has now become the head of the Student Council. He has a lot of plans to remake the school and even the administrators are impressed with his initiative and spirit. The student body is behind him every step of the way.
Well, almost all of the student body. The Jocks haven’t really forgiven him for that thing with the lasagna. They scheme to ruin him. His best friend, who is now his girlfriend, tells him that he should watch his back. The cheerleader, who spends most of the movie on a Skype screen from Europe, where she is locked in combat with Deep Blue 5.4, relates all of her advice in chess terminology that will be important later on when the lines are repeated in echo-y voiceover.
You know exactly where this film is going. The schemes of the Jocks will come close to ruining our hero, but ultimately, by understanding that he has friends and that what he is doing is the right thing, he will prevail.
Wrong. My film is different. My film has a twist to it.
In my film, the Student Council President decides to undertake a project for the benefit of the entire student body–say, a state-of-the-art computer science lab–and he asks the Jocks for help with it.
His girlfriend asks him what he’s doing. He says that the project will need the help of the Jocks in order to be a success.
His girlfriend reminds him that there are over 1500 students in the school and for whatever reason there have only ever been four or five Jocks who do anything but hang out in the parking lot, leaning against their shiny sports cars and sneering. The cheerleader, on a five-second satellite delay, asks if this is a complicated King’s Indian Defense.
He says that it’s important to him, that King Jock is an important part of this school and therefore he should be a part of his endeavor. She reminds him that King Jock used to trip him in the hall and shout “Timber!”–a gag that is not particularly clever and that will be attempted by at least one member of the film’s audience later that week.
He walks away from her in a huff and makes a grand display of shaking King Jock’s hand. She walks up to him, unbuttons the top button of her blouse, and tells him that unless he stops behaving like an idiot he’s never going to see these again. The ratings board immediately assigns the film a PG-13 designation.
At the day of the ground-breaking on the new building, he realizes that none of the people who ever believed in him are there, not even Mr. Independent Film Star Who Has Since The First Film Starred In A Tony Scott Spy Thriller. In fact, the only people who are there…are the Jocks. Who, in a strangely dark turn, hit him over the head with the shovel and then bury him alive in the building plot, claiming that they’ll let him out when he’s learned his manners, but then go off to get drunk instead.
Fortunately, his girlfriend, who can’t stay mad at him forever, saw the whole incident. She digs him out. They hug. She calls him a knucklehead. The cheerleader’s image on the impossibly advanced SmartPhone arches an eyebrow and says “It’s time for the endgame.”
At which point our hero walks up to the drunken Jocks, eyes blazing…
…and asks them what he can do to make the project more to their liking.
An animated thunderbolt crackles across the heart of his girlfriend. In Europe, Deep Blue enacts an unforeseen self-destruct program rather than be checkmated, killing the cheerleader and setting about a chain reaction that irradiates the population of St. Petersburg with deadly polonium. The Student Council president placidly awaits a response from the Jocks, hand extended in sincere friendship, who grin at him like hungry jackals. An auto-tuned fake-punk cover of a Jimi Hendrix song begins to rise in volume as the screen cuts to black.
I’m going to title this film The Democratic Majority.
I’m going to attend the premiere and spend the whole time yelling at the protagonist to stop being such a silly ass, even knowing, as the filmmaker, that he will not stop being a silly ass. I will be escorted out of the theater and the tabloids will speculate that I had a bad reaction to designer drugs. Kim Kardashian will be working the line for reasons nobody can fathom but they will nonetheless spend an hour photographing the thousand-dollar fabric straining against her posterior.
The third film in the series will have been greenlit already, a film that will be about the Jocks telling lazy Mexican jokes and smashing bricks into the skulls of the queer students and telling “you, Abdul Osama Saddam” at the convenience store that they’re takin’ this case of PBR. It will be this for two-plus hours. It will be marketed as a family comedy for real American families. The audience will watch this third film and moan “oh, that’s wrong” after fits of uninterrupted giggles. When their friends ask them about it they’ll say “well, it was entertaining, at least,” and the studio will greenlight a fourth based on the box office.
They’ll greenlight a fifth based on the DVD sales in Utah, where all of the really suggestive sexual material has been edited out to protect families but the violence has been re-rendered in sparkling HD.
They’ll greenlight a sixth because they have no more new ideas and the rights to adapt Cop Rock into a feature-length movie have been tied up in court.
One day a recently anointed studio wunderkind takes a look at the state of the franchise and decides that it’s in need of a reboot.
The first new film in a decade wins over the hearts of millions, who claim that at last the series has gotten back to the heart of what it was always supposed to be about.
And somehow everybody forgets just how terrible the previous franchise became, even for one that was not without its flaws from the start. They forget the failures of screenwriting that ran the first franchise off a cliff and then desecrated the remains.
But I don’t. I never forget these things.
That might be why I’m so annoyed today.