Major Caveat 1. I don’t like the The Three Stooges to begin with. I don’t get them. Even as a kid, before I knew how to be all snobby and shit, I didn’t get them. That’s not to say I don’t understand them or why people like them. I just don’t think they’re funny.
Major Caveat 2. I have no basis in fact for anything I’m going to write. None.
If you’re reading this, I’m hoping you’ve seen the movie In Bruges. It took me awhile to get to this movie because the trailer sucked. We visited Bruges when we took the kids to Europe and it really is “a fucking fairy tale place.” The trailer for the movie made it look like some wacky comedy about hitmen. What it left out was the depth and complexity of possibly one the greatest screenplays ever produced. Watch it a couple of times. Track the use of the word “bottle.” The fat American guy at the beginning of the movie comes back at the end of the movie with the line, “The Tower is closed. An American had a heart attack.” That, my friends, is skill and craft. And, if you’re paying attention, it’s hilarious.
Americans, though, don’t care about paying attention. They want it, to use the title of a documentary by Erol Morris, “Fast, cheap and out of control.” Well. Not cheap, per se. They spent $40 million dollars to make The Three Stooges.
Let’s pause there a moment to think about that. Forty. Million. Dollars.
In Bruges cost $15 million.
Let’s think about how The Three Stooges got made. Movies start with ideas. I can think of several ideas that started production of The Three Stooges
- I really love them. They were an influence on my life. So, I’d like to pay homage to them by…bringing them into the 21st century.
- I can do this better than they could
- What icon of Americans’ childhood haven’t we raped yet?
- We need a film that’s gonna make a lot of money.
- I’m a lazy fuck so let me just repackage something that already exists.
To my mind, none of these reasons even come close to justifying even the consideration of piece of shit.
- If they were such an influence, go out and prove it by creating an actual homage that celebrates what you loved about them.
- No. You can’t.
- Nuff said
- Nuff sad
- Nuff said
How does this tie in to what’s wrong with America? Simple.
For the cost of The Three Stooges, three In Bruges could have been produced.
To put it in context:
For the cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, we could have probably turned around al Qaeda’s demonetization of America. Rather than bomb, cut and run in the 80’s when Reagan referred to the Taliban as “freedom fighters”, we could have stayed and helped them rebuild everything that got blown up. We could have kept them on our side. Instead, we took that money and made the geopolitical version of The Three Stooges. Why? Because America isn’t about substance.
Americans don’t like substance. Americans want pure, straight out entertainment. I’ll refer you to Paddy Chyefsky’s visionary movie, Network, in which he predicted the decline of the American news industry. It’s no longer about news. The death of a has-been celebrity will take over the news cycle for anywhere from 24 hours to a week. Literally, take over. This is well beyond the old axiom of “if it bleeds it leads.”
In a brilliant example of self-reference, the phrase “media circus” gets invoked…by the media…to talk about the circus….created by the media…that poo-poos the “media circus”. Everyone gets all up in arms about it. But no one changes the channel. They’d rather watch The Three Stooges for a cheap, thoughtless thrill than In Bruges which is funnier, deeper and, ultimately more satisfying. They’d rather vote to keep recycling the same, comforting ideas they’re familiar with rather than try something new that might bring about an actual change.
I’m guessing The Three Stooges with make a ton of money and we’ll see The Three Stooges Two. Who could resist a name like that?! And The Three Stooged Cubed! Boy, oh, boy! I can’t wait! God bless America….again.