A writer needs three things, experience, observation, and imagination, any two of which, at times any one of which, can supply the lack of the others.
Ah, William Faulkner, if only you could be alive and in Hollywood and somehow involved in making blockbuster movies. Or, well, anything that comes out of Hollywood.
Billy and I went to see a movie this weekend, in the theater, for the first time in … I don’t know, months. We tend to get to movie theaters early — Billy has a thing about getting good seats and hates to arrive less than a half hour before a film despite my occasional protests (and lateness).
The point is, there we were, sitting in excellent seats, for a half hour before the previews began. I don’t mind this so much; it’s good people watching, for one thing, and for another, unlike most movie-goers, I tend to like watching the junk that comes on before the previews if only to make fun of it. In this case it was a long half hour, as the pre-show was devoted to promoting some former “American Idol” contestant’s new album. As anyone who knows me is likely to know (here I pause to brace for the hate mail from those who don’t): I hate “American Idol.” And my hatred was confirmed 100 times over as I was forced to listen to a half hour of American Idol-esque music. Why hasn’t anyone realized that all of the music that show produces sounds the same? Bor-ring.
Alas, I am already ranting and I haven’t even gotten to the point of this post yet. So: After enduring the half-hour of music that Billy described as “like monkeys beating coconuts on my brain,” we were starting to look forward to the previews in a way that we might not have been under normal circumstances. Actually, I am one of those rare people who like previews, because I am usually woefully underinformed about current cinema happenings. But: The previews began — and to my great, great disappointment, so did another half hour of boredom so pervasive it’s possible I fell asleep and a piece of my brain leaked out in the form of drool. The previews before our movie were for the following films:
• “Shrek the 3rd”
• “Spiderman 3”
• “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” (the third installment, for those of you who haven’t quite picked up on the theme yet…)
• “Ocean’s Thirteen”
Now, I’m not necessarily proud of it, but I happen to have seen “Shrek,” “Shrek 2,” “Spiderman,” “Spiderman 2,” “Ocean’s Eleven,” “Ocean’s Twelve” and “Pirates of the Caribbean.”
Which is why all of the these third installments had me snoring so. Watching these previews was like watching that one episode of “Friends” for the 400th time, you know, the one where Monica and Chandler get engaged: You already know how it’s going to end, and the getting there isn’t worth the outcome because Chandler is puffy and whiny, Monica’s annoying, and it doesn’t make any sense why anyone would choose Matthew Perry over Tom Selleck.
Whether or not these third films are any good or not is beside the point. As a writer, I can say for sure that (shocking but true!) there are other stories out there. As Faulkner suggested, imagination and experience and observation are at work all the time. Writers, both of the employed and dreamily unemployed variety, are hard at work on new (maybe even different!) screenplays all the time.
Except, apparently, in Hollywood.