My Photo


Stats & Etc.

  • All written content (c) 2005-2021 Billy Mernit, all rights reserved.

« Weepers of the World Unite (Redux) | Main | Clouds in My Coffee #14: Under the Influence of Jim »



Let's hope it's the beginning of a trend. The Great Recession has shaken the American psyche out of its world-renowned consumerist bubble and perhaps enabled us to see life more as it is, and our entertainment is starting to reflect that.

Who knows what's next: honoring our elderly? Bringing death out of the closet that we might live life more fully today? An overall humility and respect for the human condition, in whatever creed or color in appears to us?

Wow, I didn't know I'd be writing those words today. Thanks for your thought-provoking post, Billy.


I hate to bring up reality TV, but do you think that is also having an impact on our taste? I don't know how many people have told me that they enjoy shows like Survivor and Top Chef because they seem more "real" than packaged entertainment, even though we know that this "reality" is packaged itself. But viewers are getting used to having the villain win the million dollars, or have the front-runner kicked off the show by the third week. Remember when it was so shocking to have the star of Psycho killed off so early in the movie? I have a feeling it would be less shocking today. While I agree with you about the realism growing in our media, I wonder if it is less a reflection on our emotional maturity in storytelling, but in our being jaded.

Daniel Smith

Yes, it's a trend but not one I like. I'm not enamored by this new trend to reality-tv-ify hollywood. I'm an escapist at heart and the more hollywood looks like my daily routine the less likely I am to pay it attention (let alone money) to go watch.

So if some hollywood executive thinks this is a sure-fire way to make money long into the future, I predict another thing coming.


Scott: I say an "if only!" to your "what's next?" But we can always hope, eh?

Neil! So good to hear from you, Citizen. I'm afraid (as in, "slowly we turn, step by step...") that you're right about the influence of reality TV - which isn't real in the first place (talk about the game being rigged)...

Daniel: I don't think the trend, if it is one, comes from "Hollywood executives [trying to] make money" (if anything, such attempts to be "real" would spook many studio execs I know). I belive it's coming from screenwriters and directors who are reflecting what they feel in the surrounding emo-sphere.


I like this trend.

There will always be feel good films with completely non-realistic characters and plots, but the more we realize that life isn't always about instant gratification, the more conscious and thoughtful we're all going to be (ideally).

It's nice to see big studios allowing their imaginations to go a little farther than "hey, let's do that again because it worked 6894 times before..."

Rob in L.A.

mernitman: Would you say that there are any rom-com beats especially ripe for subversion?

Joanna Farnsworth

"We're living in the age of frustration ...". Ahhhhh, Billy, thank you.

As always, with perfection, you crystallize the human condition into words.

Re Moneyball and Contagion, I think they give us an "it's not just me" viewer recognition of own-experience, and provide us with screen buddies to share our burden, ie "if Pitt, Hill, Winslet can take it - so can I".

These characters may not overcome the bad guy, but they overcome the effect the bad guy has on them.

But I still think viewers get greater emotional catharsis and resolution from the metaphoric style of older movies, where instead of just observing onscreen characters deal with and overcome their personality issues, we overcome our own. And, instead of just BEING WITH the screen characters, we ARE BEING them.

You know me, it's all about BE.

So, yes, I'd like to see the trend continue, but with more character reality depth, and less so-called reality packaging.


JustMe: Agreed, and again, I think it's the writers who are spearheading this (i.e. I can't imagine a development exec telling a writer, "Hey, don't give the audience the emotional pay-off they expect in this scene - frustrate them, they'll relate!").

Rob, that's a "don't get me started" proposition. You know how I feel about the Race to the Airport trope, in terms of specific beats. In the larger picture, I'd say that one of the most subversive notions a 2011 rom-com could espouse is: The protagonist doesn't want to get married, ever, and we're okay with that.

Joanna: I'd like to get "More character reality depth, less so-called reality packaging" printed on a t-shirt.

E.C. Henry

"I'd like to get "More character reality depth, less so-called reality packaging" printed on a t-shirt."
As you well know by now that THAT can be arranged, BUT you can also find the answer to that in a place that's a closer than you think -- try the inside tag of a t-shirt that you recently got!! Sure is nice when you're the guy with the inside information for once. Hehehehe...

Judith Duncan

Hey Billy,
A very timely post. Though I haven't seen Moneyball or Contagion yet(they've yet to hit Aussie shores), I agree with the idea that they may be a reflection of the zeitgeist. For the last year I have worked for a charity that assists the families of seriously ill children. My biggest epiphany working there is that not everyone has an epiphany or wants one and many will do everything they can to avoid becoming conscious of their actions. So the Hoffman character and the official bitch in Contagion seem appropriate. I have had to deal with a father who has complained about not having enough money to feed his child who is facing the toughest health battle of her short life and a few days later he walks in with an ipod and a laptop,while the girl is left to eat dorritos and microwave snacks.Selfish prick! It's happened more than once.This has affected me so much that I've stopped the screenplay I was working on and have been writing a few short stories. I sent one to a friend because it was so different from anything I have ever written,I didn't really know what it was. She sent me back an email just saying wow,where did that come from? I want more. I'm usually a sucker for a good happy ending,but I haven't seen one for a while,so I guess it's bound to come out in my work.
I think as writers and creative people we are in tune to the subtle shifts in the zeitgeist and it's bound to reflect in our films and music and art and screenwriter's Sorkin & Zaillian & Scott Z Burns are doing just that.
:) Judith

Judith Duncan

hey Billy,
I just have to apologise for a word I used in my post when describing a situation were I work. I'm so sorry,I shouldn't have done it in a shared space,it came out of the moment and I hope I haven't offended you or anyone else.


EC: Glad to hear I can help provide the EC character depth factory with a fitting slogan...

Judith: Writers are indeed the zeitgeist monitors (and articulators). The good news in your otherwise bad news story is that you were impelled to write your way out of the disturbing feelings. Like I like to say, writing well is the best revenge.

And no offense taken, for language or thought. I'm glad you were able to vent and share.

Rob in L.A.

Maybe the next trend in romantic comedies will be the interspecies rom-com:

The comments to this entry are closed.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Billy's Books

Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 06/2005