Will You Help Me Write a Movie Book?

Will You Help Me Write a Movie Book? Yeah, for some reason, I’ve started writing a book. And I’m something like five chapters in? But maybe I should have spent my time playing the Ted slot video game instead. Here I am though writing a book instead. But the basic premise is simple enough. I believe that Hollywood crafts movies that are really bound by justice. They create movies that have protagonists that are good. Why? Because it makes them more money. If they had learned that it was easy to make movies about Siamese Twins – guess what would happen? Well, because you aren’t stupid, you already know – all our movies would be about Siamese Twins. Literally, tomorrow. Here is a quote from a screenplay consultant talking about the problem:

I can tell you that if you don’t write a protagonist who is likable—or at least fascinating in his rottenness and recognizably human—nobody is going to like your script. But, how do you make your hero likable or fascinating?… First, it’s important to figure out what kinds of personality traits will prove appealing to a film audience. Luckily, these qualities are very similar to what people like about others in real life: compassion, humor, expertise, stick-to-itiveness, self-sacrifice, charm, generosity, empathy, courage, integrity, reliability, honesty, etc.

Now, obviously, I’m talking about trends here. Sure, there are exceptions to the rule. Anti-Heroes and unsympathetic protagonists. Fair. But generally speaking, Hollywood has codified the need for good heroes that audiences will sympathize with. A great example of this, is in the really dark, extremely bloody film, The Devil All the Time. While surrounded by true and incarnate evil, Arvin actually was the one bright light that shown as he meted out justice that was desperately needed in this seedy tale. Was Arvin perfect? No. But he stood well under the chaos of his backstory. He desired to protect the innocent and destroy those that abused their power.

So yeah – I’m writing a book. I think. My plan was to open it with 4 or 5 chapters explaining my suppositions. Then spend X number of chapters talking about movies that play out this truth. And then at the end, I want to talk about what that means to society and the people that watch movies all the time. Talk about the truths that Hollywood’s focus on revenue have had on society at large. Etc. etc. So I’m looking to you guys to help me find and codify these examples.

Thou Shalt Not Steal

For example, one of the unbreakable rules is stealing. A hero can’t steal. Are you kidding? Well, they can be a thief, but they must be reforming. Unless of course we are talking about the Ocean’s movies. And even then, it is the game of stealing, it isn’t the moral question of stealing. In the movie Aladdin, he steals an apple in the opening. But does he eat it? NO! He gives it to a kid that is very hungry. And as a result Aladdin takes the moral blowback of taking the apple, while not the benefit. That is a heroic move.

Thou Shalt Not Lie

Yeah, these do sort of follow along with the Ten Commandments, but not exactly. There are certain rules and morés as a society that we value higher than others. Heroes can be sexually promiscuous for some reason, but they cannot lack integrity. Which is why lying won’t be tolerated. And yet, they can lie all they want if it will further the hero’s journey. That is a morally justifiable action. But to just lack backbone, and integrity, is not a character trait we desire in our heroes.

Thou Shalt Not Murder

Heroes cannot murder. By this I mean, unjustifiable murder. In my example above, Arvin killed people, but each one was “justified.” Maybe the perfect example of this is John McClane of Die Hard. He kills people left and right! But each and every killing was in self defense. Each and every killing was in defense of protecting innocent people. In short, every hero will religiously follow the rules laid out in the Just War Theory created by Aquinas. They should work really hard to negotiate, and resolve the issue without violence. But baring that, the violence should be proportional and in defense of the weak. Etc. etc.

Thou Shalt Never Kill a Pet

You think I’m kidding here? No. I am not kidding. Pets are sacrosanct. I mean, the most obvious example of this rule, breaks it. But in so doing, points out the rule and supports it all in one fell swoop. John Wick. Right? 3 movies, and all of them are about the death of this dog in the first movie. A trilogy revenge movie for a dog? Yeah. Don’t kill pets. It’ll earn you a body bag so fast it’ll make your head spin.

You get the idea. Maybe you have more Thou Shalts? Would love to hear if you’ve seen other Movie Commandments that our heroes should not break. And examples? Have you seen examples of these movie rules being played out? I’d love to write about these examples and these ‘Thou Shalts’.

Thanks for your help if you can think of any.


Edited by: CY