Saturday, December 27, 2008

I Have No Love For Hollywood But This Is Ridiculous

While I do find the occasional Hollywood film to love and rave about, I generally have no love especially for contemporary Hollywood. More and more bad films are coming out of it now than ever. But this, reported in the NST, is just sublimely stupid (a term I've come to appreciate more and more).

The Malaysian Film Producers Association has submitted a proposal to FINAS on how to help local films perform better at the cinemas. And one of the proposed move is:

to increase ticket prices of Hollywood movies to RM20.

Oh, yeah, that's a superbly smart move, if ever I'd seen one. Sure, if I can't afford a RM20 ticket, I'll go watch Cicakman instead. If the ticket to The Dark Knight is way too much for me, I'll definitely go watch Congkak instead.

A letter to the editor by a far more sensible reader of The Star today raised some pertinent but obvious points. Simply, the problem is not the ticket price.

It's a proven fact that those fighting a losing battle with no quick solution in sight often resort to blaming anything but themselves. If the Malaysian Film Producers Association would just get their thick heads out of the holes in the sand, they'd not be in denial that most local films are of piss-poor quality.

Says the letter writer:
"It’s time to get creative with the film-making and not get ridiculous with problem-solving. Raising the prices will only mean cinemas going bust. Pirated VCD/DVD pedlars will be throwing parties every day, and file-sharing programmes will become the most-used service in the country."

Raising the ticket price is not a solution when other cheaper alternatives for moviegoers, like Bittorrent, are available. The layman can see this, so why can't the "Malaysian Film Producers Association"? No wonder we make piss-poor films when our producers can't even understand simple economics and logic. Instead, we get delusional statements like this one from the association's president:
"... some of today's locally-made movies are on par with foreign movies in terms of quality."

Wow, really? Has he actually sat down and compared say, Antoo Fighter with Iron Man? With special effects that are almost 30 years behind Hollywood, sure, we're on par with others. With a massive handicap, that is.

He also goes on to cite Indonesia as an example of how the disparity between ticket prices has helped the industry there. I'm sorry to have to point this out to him, but Indonesia has the capability of making a simple but very enjoyable and imaginative movie like Janji Joni, which even I paid for a ticket to see in the cinema when it opened here.

Would I pay for a ticket to see Brainscan Topi Ajaib (or whatever crap it's called)? Nope, sorry.

An industry that wallows in denial and delusions of grandeur isn't going to go anywhere fast. I just hope some sensible heads in FINAS will prevail.

It's also not fair to put the blame solely on the industry itself. Those critics who blindly praise anything local are helping to perpetuate a culture of patting each other on the back. Honest, constructive criticism is the last line of defence against bad filmmaking, as are informed critiques and opinions. Too many self-appointed "critics" quoting Robert McKee and Syd Field are lending false hope to our filmmakers, who often do not believe in tough love.

But tough love is what is needed, as are sincerity and sensible minds. Too bad they're in such short supply.

Note: I predict that we'll soon hear a storm of protests from the cinema chains.

COPYRIGHT POLICY: It's simple: Steal my stuff and I'll kick you in the nuts