Documentary Films to Create Cinematic Universe

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New York City, NY- A press release by Focus Features announces that the film distribution company will be partnering with multiple acclaimed documentary filmmakers to create a new cinematic universe. 

“Between February of 2020 and June of 2024, we’ll be in Part One of our six-part cinematic universe roll-out,” the press release said. “Each of the twelve documentaries that will be released in this time will have a larger storyline that tells a sweeping, yet intimate, story about mankind.”

Won’t You Be My Neighbor? and 20 Feet From Stardom director Morgan Neville told reporters, “All future documentaries from Focus Features will take place in the same cinematic universe, with crossover from different characters in each film.” Neville is reportedly going to direct the first film that will kick off the cinematic universe. 

Scott Hamilton Kennedy, best known for his Oscar-nominated documentary feature The Garden told reporters, “Cinematic universes are the newest thing. They’ve been a gamechanger, and we want to get on board.” Kennedy is another one of the first directors to contribute to the cinematic universe. His documentary, Ramsey, about the life and career of TV personality and 16-Michelin Star chef and restauranteur Chef Gordon Ramsey, will be released in August 2020 as the third installment.

“Part of my role is not only to tell a story that can stand on its own, but also weave together the previous two films and then set up the next storyline,” he explained. “The film coming after mine [the fourth installment in the cinematic universe] is a documentary about Sojourner Truth. It’s going to be told using old letters from her and some animation, really cutting edge stuff. Since they are a part of the same cinematic universe, though, we want Sojourner to make an appearance in my Gordon Ramsey documentary, to tease the next film and to give the fans something they’ve always wanted.”

When asked if seeing a CGI replica of Sojourner Truth be a cameo as a customer in one of Ramsey’s restaurant was something audiences have, in fact, “always wanted,” Kennedy said yes. “There’s going to be an in-universe explanation for why these two characters are interacting,” he added. “I can’t give too much away, but there is an organization that is bringing all of these figures together.”

“What is the point of the documentary cinematic universe?” Focus Features chairman Peter Kujawski wrote in a statement. “The point is to get audiences, who traditionally have overlooked documentaries, to give the form another chance. Watching a documentary can be really exciting when you realize it’s telling a larger story.”

The first film of the cinematic universe, Mammoth: Discovered, about the history of woolly mammoths, directed by Luc Jacquet (March of the Penguins) will be released on February 7th, 2020. It is rumored that the woolly mammoths in the film will introduce a secret time-traveling organization into the cinematic universe, which will be apart of the overarching storyline. 

The cinematic universe has no official title yet, but has been running under the unofficial name the “DCEU” (documentary cinematic expanded universe). 

 

[Editorial Note: This post is satire, and is thus fake, and exists basically to make you laugh]

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The Book of Ecclesiastes and A Series of Unfortunate Events

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Tomorrow, the third and last season of Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events will premiere. I plan to binge it starting the minute I wake up and weep until the moment I fall asleep. Based on the thirteen book series of the same name by Daniel Handler, (using the pseudonym Lemony Snicket) the Netflix series has been a beautiful adaptation that wonderfully captures the quirky and rich tone of the books.

A Series of Unfortunate Events, or ASOUE as I will refer to it from here on out, is technically considered children’s literature, and indeed I read it for the first time as a child. But, as with the best books, with every reread (I think I’m on number 5) the series becomes richer, and I truly believe it is for adults as much as it is for children.

In the summer of 2018, I began to reread the last few books of the series to prepare for the new season. About this time, Ricky Jones, minister at RiverOaks Presbyterian Church in Tulsa, began a series on the book of Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament. As I was listening to these sermons and reading these books, I came to a realization: ASOUE embodies the lessons of Ecclesiastes, and it does so better than any other book I’ve read.

So with that claim, I’d like to show you how this children’s series teaches the book of Ecclesiastes, and why you should read it to your children and/or to yourself.

What Are These Unfortunate Events?

ASOUE follows the lives of the three Baudelaire children: Violet, 14 years old and a gifted inventor, Klaus, 12, who is an avid reader and researcher, and Sunny, a baby (although “baby” is a loose term in this universe) who has sharp teeth useful for biting things and later becomes a chef. The series is a mishmash of all sorts of genre, but “gothic absurdism” is probably the best term for it. The TV show has been described as Wes Anderson meets Tim Burton, which is certainly a start, but that is not enough to fully encapsulate the stylism (and heart) of the series.

In the first book, The Bad Beginning, the children are orphaned by a terrible fire that also destroys their home. They are sent to live with a relative they didn’t know existed, Count Olaf. They find that Olaf is an evil man who only adopted them in order to steal their fortune, and was the one who murdered their parents for that sole reason. In the first book alone, he slaps Klaus, locks Sunny in a cage and suspends her on top of a tower, and his plan to get the Baudelaire fortune is to try to marry Violet.

(On a side note, I can’t believe a publisher read this and thought, yes, this is a good investment. And then some movie and TV executives were like, yes, this is a good investment.)

If that sounds all very questionable, hold in your outrage and keep reading. We’re going to put a pin in that.

Anyway, the Baudelaires succeed in foiling Olaf’s plan and reveal him to the authorities, but Olaf escapes capture. After this, the next six books appear to follow a formula. The Baudelaires are taken to another relative’s home, the relative either seems mean and incompetent or is kind and then quickly killed, and Count Olaf shows up in a disguise to try and take the Baudelaire fortune. He always manages to escape arrest because no adults believe the Baudelaires when they try to reveal Olaf under his disguise.

By the eighth book, the Baudelaires are on their own, on the run after being framed for murder, but Count Olaf still manages to find them wherever they go. As the series goes on, the Baudelaires find themselves doing more and more of the villainous things Count Olaf has done, like wear disguises, lie, and burn things down. They realize that maybe they were not as heroic as they thought and that anyone if pushed could commit evil deeds. The series ends at a point where the Baudelaires and Count Olaf are uncomfortably similar, have both committed the same evil deeds, and on the same (literal and figurative) boat. The heart of the story is the classic question of is there any such thing as purely good or bad people?

This is a coming of age narrative, as most children’s books are. Most children’s books tell children they are going to face hard times and will need to rely on love and friendship to overcome it. A powerful example of this is the Harry Potter series.*

But ASOUE, I believe, goes a step further by showing its protagonists doing really terrible things, which makes the story not about children overcoming evil with good, but about children coming to terms with the way evil is in all of us, and how that should shape our worldview and the way we deal with others. The series’s thesis, if you will, can be summed up in this quote that is repeated in several books:

“People aren’t either wicked or noble. They’re like chef’s salads, with good things and bad things chopped and mixed together in a vinaigrette of confusion and conflict.”

The series, while sometimes fantastical, are grounded enough in reality that the villainy of the various characters feels very different from other children’s books. Harry Potter, for example, has its villains kill other characters through magic. The magic element creates some distance between the reader and the action because we know magic doesn’t exist in our world.  

ASOUE is whimsical, subversive, and dead-pan in enough areas that the villainy displayed is not gratuitous or sensational, or even clearly recognized as the following things, but technically, ASOUE includes characters (both good and evil) kidnapping, physically abusing, abandoning, and attempting to perform non-consensual surgery on children. Characters also fake suicide, murder others, are shipwrecked, join cults, experience mob violence, and die giving birth.

At this point you may be saying, “Hold up. I am a good parent who doesn’t want my child to read about people, including the child protagonists, lying, stealing, and committing arson! And I don’t want a series that illustrates teachers, guardians, and other trusted authority figures doing all of those terrible things and other adults turning a blind eye.”

Put a pin in that too, we’ll return to that.

In ASOUE Lemony Snicket is the author and narrator. He is a character within the story, recording the events of the series. He constantly interrupts the story to say how he obtained this evidence, how he is related to different characters in the story, and offers advice to the reader. He is the Sarah Koenig of the fictional universe in ASOUE, recording the story of these children whose parents he knew. Sometimes his commentary is funny (“The children were not born yesterday… Neither were you, unless of course I am wrong, in which case welcome to the world, little baby, and congratulations on learning to read so early in life”). But usually, his commentary is melancholy and used to reflect on the themes of the series (“The sad truth is that the truth is sad”). He acts like the narrator, the preacher, in Ecclesiastes.

The Book of Ecclesiastes, Briefly Explained.

In “The Bittersweet Symphony,” Pastor Ricky introduces Ecclesiastes by telling us what the author (most likely King Solomon) is trying to say. Ricky says,

“The author of Ecclesiastes… wants to explain life to us. He wants to tell us how to avoid the potholes he himself has fallen into. It’s a hard lesson, a hard message. Grown-up messages usually are… He has to show us the emptiness of every ambition. The ambition for knowledge, for wisdom… for success, for money, for power. He forces us to face the bitter folly of chasing after those things. He teaches us the very simple truth: enjoy the life you have, it’s a gift from God, and wait upon the judge to make things right.”

Ricky goes on to use an illustration of a man who takes his kids to a junkyard. The man pulls his kids aside and points out the cars that are all rusted and broken up, and says to them, “You see those rusted out, junk cars? Those all made someone really happy one day.” He keeps pointing out items and saying, “All those things you think are so important? They’re all going to end up here.”

In the last book, aptly titled The End, the Baudelaires wash up onto an island, and the people on the island repeat several times that “everything washes up on these shores.” The children find all sorts of items, both from their own lives and not, have washed up on the island into a literal junkpile. The book takes a lot of time to express both sadness and relief that everything ends up such. In the worldview of ASOUE, like Ecclesiastes, there is comfort in the fact that nothing is new under the sun, and everything will be equal in the end.

Ricky goes on to talk about why Christians often hate Ecclesiastes, and it’s because most books of the Bible are studied by going through them verse-by-verse, which is great for other books but terrible for Ecclesiastes. If you only look at verses two through four, you get:

Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity. What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun? A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever.”

Wow, what a bummer. Might as well stop writing right now, as what’s the point?

Similarly, reading the first few books of ASOUE, which appear to be really repetitive, might equally frustrate you. But once you read the whole series, like the entire book of Ecclesiastes, things start to come into focus.

The repetition is purposeful. Ricky says that Ecclesiastes teaches that “life is a circle. Ignore that to your frustration, or embrace it and find peace…. Those circles frustrate people who are trying to get somewhere.” But circles are comforting for those who understand them. Circles and patterns of life help us know we’re not alone.  

The repetition of ASOUE, then, makes sense. Not just from a narrative standpoint but a thematic one. And yes, it is frustrating. When I was younger my dad read me dozens of books and series out loud before bed. He read the entirety of The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings, but it was ASOUE that nearly broke him, because of the repetitive nature of the beginning of the series.

Yet this is used to great effect. In the series, after the first few repetitions, the Baudelaires learn that no one is going to save them from Count Olaf, so they begin to proactively work to protect themselves. After a few more repetitions, they realize they are becoming more like the flawed adults in their lives, and so they begin to forgive those adults and ask for forgiveness themselves. And by the end of the series, they finally are able to find it in themselves to admit that they know their parents aren’t coming back, and are able to give up waiting for them and instead focus on parenting a child whose mother has just died, becoming parents themselves.

The book of Ecclesiastes teaches that, in Ricky’s words, “Meaning cannot be found under the sun. If you’re trying to justify yourself through your job, by your money, by your pleasure, by your family, by your wisdom, you will fail… by helping the poor, overturning oppression, you will fail. Wrong will only be made right when everyone stands before the judgment, and on that day, you will have meaning. You’ll understand why you are here and what this life was for…. On that day we will be comforted… But until that day, remember the Lord.”

In ASOUE, all of the above justifications are embodied by different characters, and all of those characters end up dead, sad, and with many regrets. Olaf is clearly driven by greed, pleasure, and ambition. Justice Strauss tried to help the poor and overturn oppression. Even Kit Snicket tried to live a noble life, but her ideals of bravery and family and goodness did not lead to satisfaction because she put her faith in a human- therefore flawed- organization. Through these failings of others, the Baudelaires see all the ways they cannot define their life.

A Misrepresentation

A shallow reading of ASOUE has caused some readers to come to the conclusion that this series, because of the multiple adult characters who fail to see a villain in disguise, is about adults being stupid and kids being smart.

That is not what this series is about.

It is made clear in each book that every adult who doesn’t help the Baudelaires or seems inept chooses to be so because of self-preservation, or it is inconvenient for them to intervene, or it doesn’t fit into their worldview. Many of the adults in the series are good and do try to help the Baudelaire, and many who fail them are later forgiven and do the right thing when given another shot. All of this is used to illustrate the series’s point that children see the world in black and white, and when they grow up, they realize how much more complicated it is, and that they will eventually be more like those people then they wanted to be.

In the climax of the series, Snicket summarizes this theme by saying, “Each story had its story, and each story’s story was unfathomable in the Baudelaire orphans short journey” (The Penultimate Peril). The series takes the, “you become your parents” saying quite literally. It is a not a ‘kids rule, adults drool’ tale. It is a tale about giving children the tool they need to have empathy and forgiveness for the adults who will let them down, and gently tells them that they will do the same to others.

The series, as a coming of age narrative, boils down to this:

Children, you are so bright and talented, and the world needs you. Your thoughts, your skills, and your experiences are all important and should be paid attention to.

As you grow up, you are going to see adults who are supposed to protect you, let you down. Many times, they don’t mean to. But as you grow into an adult yourself, you’ll realize that the world is very complicated. It is full of secrets and full of people not knowing what to do, and being forced to make very difficult choices. Everyone comes from different places and has limitations. You don’t know everyone’s story.

Join with people who, even when they make mistakes, never give up trying to learn more about other people and the world. Forgive everyone, because you need forgiveness, too. Sometimes you’ll do things you swore you’d never do, and that will help you realize that everyone needs a second chance. But sometimes people are never going to be healthy or safe to be around, and that’s when you need to cut them out of your life.

Everyone is full of good and evil inside of them. It is your job to try and bring out the best in others and yourself, and make the world a more peaceful place. That doesn’t mean hiding out in places where you feel secure. That means going out into the world, into the brokenness and danger, and loving it the best you can. Even if you never see it come on this earth, long for justice and peace. Sometimes your life will feel like a big mystery itself, and you will wish for answers. One day, you will get them. For now, love the life you have. It is a gift.

You may have noticed in that some similarities to Ecclesiastes. The mystery of our existence. The desire for a judgment day and comfort. Honesty about the state of the world.

Like Ecclesiastes, this is a very grown-up message, particularly for children, but I can’t think of a better one to impart (to people of all ages) in order to begin to sow the seeds of wisdom, empathy, resilience, and hope.

Nothing is Unproblematic

ASOUE is not a perfect allegory by any means. Daniel Handler is a self-described “secular humanist,” and that certainly comes through. The series is a cry for justice, but it ultimately comes to the conclusion that such a thing doesn’t actually exist, because humans can never be truly just, and the series offers no higher power. 

The books bravely explore the depravity of man but offer no hope except that people can just try to be the best they can and sometimes that will end up being enough. The books advocate forgiveness, hospitality, and sometimes, absolute truth, but there are no reasons behind those things except that it’s the moral thing to do. The themes of generational sin and breaking from it are all framed through the lenses of characters realizing their own capacity for evil, but ultimately choosing to do good, assuring readers that you are ultimately in control of your ability to be righteous. The Bible instead teaches that humans are completely depraved and are slaves to sin, and are only freed from that when saved.

These contradictions are most present in The End, which borrows imagery from Genesis’s temptation in the garden in a way that reinterprets God and/or religion as a strict and abusive parent that only serves as the opium of the people, Karl Marx style. Yet in the same book the Christmas story- God coming from a holy and perfect place to dwell among sinners- is beautifully illustrated.

Oh, and of course, the previously mentioned violence, which is very tastefully handled and not nearly as shocking in the context of the books as it is me putting it in a list, but can still be very grim for the target audience (although most of those things can be found in the Bible, and often in the stories that frequent children’s church and VBS).

And finally, there have been multiple allegations of Handler making inappropriate comments to women, and there was the infamous watermelon “joke” he made while presenting an award to Jacqueline Woodson 2014. I’m not going to go further into it, but this history does, for me, put Handler firmly in the category of “creative person I greatly admire but would never actually want to meet in real life.”

Yet I don’t think any of that should dissuade you from reading ASOUE, and here’s why.

Everything Can Be Holy

Pastor Timothy Keller writes that,

“The Bible consistently teaches what theologians have come to call ‘common grace,’ a non-saving grace that is at work in the broader reaches of human cultural interaction. This gift of God’s grace to humanity, in general, demonstrates a desire on God’s part to bestow certain blessings on all human beings, believer and non-believer alike…. God also shows common grace by revealing knowledge of himself through human culture, for human culture is simply a wise recognition and cultivation of nature… All artistic expressions, skillful farming, scientific discoveries, medical and technological advances are expressions of God’s grace.”

Boiled down, common grace is the idea that every human, no matter what belief system he/she ascribes to, reflects the image of God and that all human civilizations carry truths about God and his creation. Christians have much to learn from the art, teachings, and stories of non-Christians. ASOUE then is worth reading because of the truths it carries. I have just illustrated some of the wisdom that can be found from its pages.

Of course, as with consuming any type of media, everyone must determine for themselves how discerning they must be. Some children are not ready for the dark turns the series can take. Some adults may not have a firm enough handle on their faith yet to consider the philosophical attacks the series poses on Christianity. Some children are not able to understand the bad actions of the characters within their larger meaning and consequences. These questions ought to be thoughtfully considered.

But for those who are now intrigued and feel confident that they can read the series, here is what I think will be gained.

The Concluding Case

I rank ASOUE alongside The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings with books that, as an elementary/middle schooler, gave me the metaphors I needed to understand the world around me. These books helped me reconcile what I was experiencing in the world with the lessons I was learning in church. They showed me that the biblical lessons I was being taught contained answers that people, whether people in my life or these fictional characters, were looking for.

ASOUE, unlike Narnia, is not a straight allegory, and certainly not an intentionally Christian one at that, so when it asks questions, it doesn’t have an answer. In that way, the series is comforting to those of us who need to know its okay not to have answers, or need to be comfortable wrestling with doubt and pain. ASOUE is a lamentation for all sorts of things. In fact, at almost the very end of the last book, our main characters just sit together and cry, lamenting for all of the tragedies the series describes. It reads,

“There is a kind of crying I hope you have not experienced, and it is not just crying about something terrible that has happened, but a crying for all of the terrible things that have happened, and not just to you but to everyone you know and to everyone you don’t know and even people you don’t want to know, a crying that cannot be diluted by a brave deed or a kind word, but only by someone holding you as your shoulders shake and your tears run down your face” (The End).

Beat that, Percy Jackson and the Olympians.

I kid, I kid. But the resoluteness of ASOUE to face pain, hardships, and unknowns, and to not give superficial answers to children, strikes me as extremely admirable.

Now, as a young adult, not only does re-reading ASOUE give me a greater appreciation for Handler’s writing and the allusions and sophisticated jokes and puns that went over my head as a kid, but it also helps me in a different way. In this world of both overwhelming depressing news coverage and overwhelming distraction, it can be very hard to meditate on the role of pain in one’s life, and I find this series helping me do that very thing. I can also realize with greater clarity now that ASOUE isn’t complete.

If we take the four pillars of the gospel- creation, fall, redemption, and restoration, ASOUE only offers reasons for creation and fall. The whole series circles around a big question mark, a big question mark that we know is a savior, a redeemer. ASOUE, admirably, doesn’t lie about what that question mark is, but shrugs its shoulders and admits that it doesn’t know. To make up for not knowing, it offers some suggestions on how to make a better, more tolerable world, and how to do so in a kind and gentle manner that is beneficial to others. It certainly provides moralistic messages. However, that isn’t a sufficient answer. ASOUE’s version of morality is sophisticated and wise. But it is still vanity.

Let’s put it like this: ASOUE is the beginning of Ecclesiastes. It is the Ecclesiastes without the hope. And for a time, we need that. We need to acknowledge, reflect, and mourn on our own brokenness and that of the world. Revisiting that at any age is incredibly important as Christians. That’s why you should read this series.

Then after that, we need to find the rest of the story. And that’s where Jesus comes in.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

-Madeleine D.

P.S,

There are many, many more things I could say on this subject, and would be happy to drop everything and talk about it at literally any time! Come talk to me about the symbolism of the VFD eye, or how Sunny’s specialty of cooking furthers the theme of safe places. I’d love to discuss how underrated Daniel Handler is in his consistently good female representation, or how terrible Daniel Handler’s books for adults are compared to his ones for children. Or ask me about how I feel about the adaptational differences between the book and show (but do not ask me about the 2004 movie. We don’t talk about that one.)

*No intended disrespect to Harry Potter. I’m oversimplifying. He shares a lot in common with ASOUE.

Memo From a Hollywood Producer

A Satirical Follow Up To A Screenwriter’s Guide to Female Characters

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Dear Fellow Producers,

In our post Harvey Weinstein, #MeToo, #TimesUp world, women are starting to speak up about the harassment and abuse they face, apparently on a semi-regular basis. They say they’ve been talking about it for a while, but everyone knows something isn’t real until it is acknowledged by a man and given a catchy hashtag.

It looks like this thing is not coming to an end any time soon, so now it’s time to move forward, similar to how we did before, but with minor changes so SJWs won’t be angry at us.

As a well-established Hollywood producer, I have had the opportunity to greenlight many projects. My main criteria for choosing what to greenlight are basically these:

  1. Will it make money?
    1. With this, consider: what is the ethnicity of the main characters? Gender breakdown? Sexual orientation? How many stereotypes will not be broken in this film? Does it have Dwayne Johnson in it?
  2. Is it as low risk as possible?
  3. Does it fit my specific worldview and bubble, while also having the ability to be marketed as “exciting” and “progressive” based on the extremely low standards we have?

Going back to #1a, consider the new dilemma with this whole female empowerment thing. Women now want to be in movies, and not only do they want to be in movies, they want to be a part of movies, in a big way. Big is very hard to define. They want “complex roles” and “equal pay” and to “not be assaulted on set.” Those are clearly not clear expectations.

So I have discovered a solution, and it is this: don’t have women in your movie.

But wait! You may say. I have a woman in my life. I have a woman- wife, a woman-daughter, a woman-mother. I may even have a woman-friend. Last time I checked, women make up, like, at least 30% of the population.

I understand that, dear associates. But think about it this way. If that said woman-person saw your movie, and wasn’t pleased with how women were portrayed in it, then they’ll nag you about it. Wouldn’t it just be better to make a movie without women? That way, nothing bad could possibly happen, and everyone wins.

Suggestions for what movies to make so you don’t have to include women in them:

  1. Historical dramas. We here in Hollywood have never been shy about ignoring, white-washing, warping, and outright lying about history. It’s not like women have done much in history anyways. So just make movies that take place in a vague, historical period. If you do want female characters, they can be wives, maids, waitresses, nameless peasants, or whatever, because that’s all women were in most of history. Obviously everyone will understand and accept that. It’s tragic, but true.
  2. Superhero movies. Women are just not inherently heroic. Have you ever seen a mother protecting her child or defending her thoughts?  No? I thought not. Also- they don’t have an inward thirst for justice. The normal superhero story, of going from a marginalized, unheard, tread-upon person to an empowered figure is only a male story. How is #MeToo going to object to that?
  3. Political dramas. There are no women in politics, and if there are, they lose the electoral college after winning the popular vote.
  4. Horror. Either you have no women, or you kill them off in the first few scenes. Then, to keep people from critiquing it, you have a character say in a super meta-way, “oh man, the black guy and the girl always get killed first!” That way, no one will be mad because you are so totally hilarious and making a political point.

I call these movies with primarily or exclusively male casts ‘malevies.’ They represent an important tradition in Hollywood that is our duty to carry on.

Another important thing to consider is that if there are no women in your movie, there isn’t any possibility for pay disparity! Win-win!

As men who were birthed by women, we are all very clearly concerned about the finer points of this feminist movement. We are doing our best to listen to these women, or at least, listen to other men, who in turn heard a news report that reported what another news report said what a woman said, and make the necessary changes.

But it also must be acknowledged that this is a scary time for us. Because of all of these accusations, it is clear we cannot even say “hello” to a woman without her claiming it as assault. We can’t lock the door to our hotel room with the underage intern assistant inside anymore. We can’t even work without our pants off anymore. When will this craziness end? Who knows, but we must move forward.

Throughout all of this, we also have a responsibility as businessmen to keep the status quo strictly as it is. So remember, you can’t be sexist if you don’t acknowledge that women exist in the first place.

Go forth, and make great malevies!

A Screenwriter’s Guide to Female Characters

Dear Aspiring Screenwriters,

As a respected screenwriter, I have decided to pass on some of my knowledge to the newest generation of screenwriters. Hollywood is a hard business, and you’ll need all the help you can get.

One of my biggest achievements is being praised for my Strong Female Characters. In this day and age, my fellow writers, we can’t afford to be lazy in writing female characters. The Social Justice Warriors are rampant. In fact, they stand outside your homes and plot to kidnap you if you do one thing wrong. We can no longer go back to the glory days of Hollywood where there were all-male casts. Now there are films being made with almost half the cast being female! Between you and me, I understand how ridiculous and unfair this is, too. But alas, the times are changing, and we must adapt with it. Luckily, I have some tips to help you navigate these tricky new waters.

There are three types of women you can write, because there are only three types of women in the world. The Strong Female Character Who Fights, The Strong Female Character Who Cries, and the Strong Female Character Who Nags. They all must be Strong Female Characters, because if you don’t make sure to include that when you introduce them, people will crucify you on Twitter. But just so you know, Strong Female Character doesn’t require much, so don’t worry.

strong-female

The Strong Female Character Who Fights is a very popular character right now. She is a warrior goddess. She is thin, wiry, and white (occasionally can be something else, see below). Make sure to have her introduction scene be awesome, like, about half the quality of the Main Hero Man’s action scenes. She has to fight people by wrapping her legs around them, or another fight method that could be interpreted as being seductive, and she has to show the Main Hero Man how better she is than him. That way, no one can call you un-feminist. After that, you can ignore her as much as you like, because if people ask why she loses her fighting ability in the next scene, just remind them how awesome she was in the first scene. People will forget.

Make sure that if you have a Strong Female Character, make her natural. Men like natural women. Now, of course she has to wear makeup and tight leather, which I’m sure is easy to fight in, but never show her doing anything to her appearance. That’s girly and not at all Strong. Make sure she has witty, yet flirtatious comebacks. If she is in a group, she must be the only female character. A ratio of 1:5 is good. Remember: male audiences cannot relate to women on any level, so make sure they have plenty of diverse male characters to relate to. Also make sure that the Main Hero Man and Strong Female Character Who Fights get together in the end. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t set the relationship up. They have both punched people before, so their connection is obvious.

If your Strong Female Character Who Fights is going solo, be careful. Make sure that her motivation is strictly from either a bad relationship (women get emotional about that kind of stuff) or the death of a family member, particularly the men or children in her life. Women do not have the same inherent sense of justice that men to, due to them probably never being a victim of injustice (like men often are) and so everything about them must be attached to a relationship of some kind. Plus, this will add to her Layered Personality.

If you choose to have any of your main female characters be black or any other ethnicity, make sure to get the actress to be as light-skinned as possible, to make sure everyone is comfortable. And remember- it doesn’t matter if your female character doesn’t look like she could lift a stick. If you have a curvy or overweight actress, then you are glorifying obesity and will make the character a bad role model to young girls. On a side note, feel free to cast anyone from Chris Hemsworth to Jonah Hill as your Main Hero Man.

The Strong Female Character Who Cries used to be called the Romantic Interest, but social media doesn’t like that term anymore, so describe them with words like “Complex” and “Vulnerable.” She’s the character who stays at home and supports the Main Hero Man from a distance. She cries a lot, and hugs her children even more, because she is vulnerable and complex. You don’t need to show deep reasons for her pain. People will just get it, and the actress will probably get nominated for Best Supporting Actress. If you really want to make this character more interesting, have her be a victim of violence (if you want to go for the edgy Oscar, show this scene in grotesque detail without sympathy for real-life victims. Claim it is for the purposes of Art). Then the Main Hero Man will have a reason to fight besides his inherent sense of justice. You don’t need to examine the character’s growth after the violence occurs. Just make sure the Main Hero Man has righteous anger. If you’re afraid people will criticize you for the character, have her punch someone, cut her hair short, or say a curse word to secure her inner strength.

The Strong Female Character Who Nags includes girlfriends who want the Main Hero Man to marry them already, any Latina women, wives, grandmothers, mothers, mothers-in-law, and really any character that displays any distinctly feminine traits or have children (save for the Strong Female Character Who Fights, who only has dead children). Remember, for women to be strong and likeable, they need to be more masculine. Don’t even try to incorporate interesting observations on gender politics. Have a women punch a bad man in the face, and everyone will be happy.

Remember that in press interviews, refer to your female characters as Female Characters, and male characters are just characters. There is a distinct difference. Keep in mind, also, as you write that audiences are easily confused. Making your female character funny, or evil, or conflicted on any issues beside which shoes to buy, may confuse them, especially target-audience teenage boys who don’t regularly engage with girls and therefore don’t need to know about them.

Don’t forget this extra pro-tip: women love to use their sexuality as their first tool. Make sure your Strong Female Character That Fights uses her seductive powers in situations where her pre-established ability to fight could come in handy. It will appeal to every audience.

Keep writing, dear fellow screenwriters. I know it’s tricky new terrain, but using these easy tips, I think you will all be successful in creating an exciting and original career!

Sincerely,

A Hollywood Vet

Kleenex Shortage Points to Dory

TULSA, OK- Since the release of Pixar’s Finding Dory, the tissue-paper company Kleenex has had a product shortage.

“They’re definitely related,” Parent company Kimberly-Clark CEO Thomas J. Falk said. “We had similar numbers when Inside Out, Toy Story 3, and Up came out.”

Finding Dory Kleenex

When we talked to Pixar’s Chief Creative Officer, John Lasseter, he just shrugged. “That’s what we hope will happen. In all our movies, we try to have a really emotional core. Like, super emotional. We have test audiences cry into buckets, and if they don’t fill the buckets, we scrap the scene and add a death or animal farm and holocaust imagery. If a voice actor doesn’t cry while recording, we also take note. Once, an animator got so emotional while animating, we had to send him home early because he got water in the computer. That was the main computer for Cars 2.”

Kleenex said they are not upset with Pixar. “We love the business,” Falk said. “We can’t complain. This has been the biggest surge in business this year save for the weird shortage on July 4th this year in Oklahoma.”

Pixar’s next movie will be Cars 3, much to Falk’s reported disappointment.

-Madeleine D

 

[Editorial Note: This post is satire, and is thus fake, and exists basically to make you laugh]

Christian Films Prepare to Do Big Crossover Movie

HOLLYWOOD, CA- After the recent successes of faith-based movies such as God’s Not Dead and God’s Not Dead 2, along with Heaven is for Real and War Room, Christian film leaders are joining together to create a joint franchise.

“We have to compete in the secular market,” Alex Kendrick, co-director of the 2015 juggernaut, War Room, said in a statement. “We are doing very well box-office wise, but we need to reach a younger audience. We’ve decided to follow the leads of big movie studios like Marvel, Warner Bros, Disney, and Fox to create a cinematic universe.”

evangelists

“We’re teaming up to create a big crossover event,” Harold Cronk, director of God’s Not Dead and its sequel, said. “It’s going to be called The Evangelists, starring all the main characters of all the Christian movies that have come out within the last decade. They will come together, brought together by Captain Rayford Steele (played again by Left Behind star Nicolas Cage), and take down Hollywood and the satanists who run it. They will burn the entire place to the ground, building a mega-church in its place. It’s more or less Avengers, but with the love of Christ added.”

Kendrick already has ideas for a sequel, too. “For the sequel, we’re thinking a new president, a democrat, or a gay rights activist, tries to take down the church with the U.S Military, but the Evangelists take them down with prayer.”

When asked, Cronk stated that there will continue to be the beloved cameos in The Evangelists. “We might bring back Carrie Underwood, like in Soul Surfer,” he said. “Maybe the Duck Dynasty folks. I’m counting on Trump to be honest.”

Kendrick also confirmed that the theme song will be from The Newsboys, as they are locked in to a contract for the next eight years.

-Madeleine D

 

[Editorial Note: This post is satire, and is thus fake, and exists basically to make you laugh]