• Donate and support Agora Road's Macintosh Cafe to keep the forum alive and make any necessary upgrades to have a more pleasant experience! Update: I configured the site with Brave Browser, so you can send tips to the site with BAT.

    - Upgrade now for supporter only awards! In Three Tiers

    -- Agora Gold

    -- Agora Silver

    -- Agora Bronze

    Upgrades like "moods" username customization, profile customization, custom backgrounds, banners and much more!

    It will be under Account Upgrades

    Submissions for Tales of Agora Road Issue #4 is OPEN! MAKE AGORA CHAN ART BY CLICKING HERE

It's Time for the Smart, Wisecracking 'Meta-Movie' to Die

ghotstface.png


The new "Scream" sequel, "The Matrix Resurrections" and every Marvel film ever indulges in nudge-nudge moments of fan service now.

(This is an article from vice. Proof that a broken clock is right twice a day.)

Remember when being a nerd was uncool? If you were born in or after the 90s, the answer is likely no. That was the decade when the geeks dusted themselves down, de-wedgied their underwear and claimed popular culture as their own, filling our cinema and TV screens with a generation of icons whose real-world inspirations needed little decoding.

Quentin Tarantino's movie gangsters bickered about gangster movies. Kevin Smith's clerks squabbled over Star Wars. Both film-makers shot to overnight prominence. All of a sudden, films took place not in movie-world but in ours, and any screenwriter looking for a hit had to lay their cultural credentials on the table – the trashier the better. The dead-end video-store job was transformed from a red-flag of loserdom to an essential qualification on the path to Hollywood glory.
On the small screen, Buffy's crew of suburban crimefighters called themselves the "Scooby Gang" and could be heard quoting everything from The Untouchables to The X-Files, while Seinfeld, whose characters' principal obsession was the Superman comics, mined its own format for laughs by devising a sitcom within a sitcom.
But one film stood out above all its meta-competitors: Scream, the slasher movie whose characters frantically dismantled the slasher-movie formula with a nod and a wink. The film was a postmodern triumph: Kevin Williamson's screenplay sent up the genre's rulebook with equal parts fondness and ferocity, inspiring a million earnest undergraduate essays in the process. It might just have been the coolest movie of the decade.
But that was a quarter-century ago. Last week saw the release of a new and rebooted Scream, and as a certain murderous supervillain once said: "There's nothing more pathetic than an ageing hipster."
Perhaps that's slightly harsh on the new film, which is a perfectly decent slasher in its own right and contains some standout moments of hugely innovative ultraviolence. But what was pioneering and smart about the original – the quickfire meta-commentary delivered by its central cast of teenage movie nerds – is exactly what falls flat in the new one. We've seen this movie before – a few too many times. Postmodernism got old.

It's not the only recent film hamstrung by the compulsion to bludgeon its way through the fourth wall and wink crudely at its audience: No Time To Die was littered with shots, lines and entire scenes that hark back to previous Bonds films; at two-and-three-quarter hours, it was also badly bloated.
At least that one was watchable. Less so The Matrix Resurrections, which devoted an entire five-minute montage to characters laying out various popular interpretations of the original Matrix film. Worst of all, it featured a scene in which a besuited bad guy tells us that "our beloved parent company Warner Bros has decided to make a sequel to the trilogy". The first Matrix had us questioning our existence; this one is only interested in justifying its own.

Bizarrely, each of the new Matrix and Scream films begins with a knowing, hall-of-mirrors rehash of the original movie's iconic opening scene. More bizarrely still, both manage to crowbar in a moment when the original movie (or a barely fictionalised stand-in) is watched within the new film, by the new characters. Sure, it's all very self-aware. But it's mainly just self-indulgent. Two films that struck gold by picking apart the world around them are now only able to look inward.
Maybe this is a symptom of the bleak state of Hollywood today, where franchises rule the roost and manufactured nostalgia – or "fan service" – is top of every producer's priority list.

But there's another problem, too. Back in 1995, the self-awareness that marked out Scream was a real maverick move. It positioned the film – and by extension its audience – as the savvy outsider, wise to mainstream conventions and scornful of the trash that followed them.
But it wasn't long before self-reflexiveness had itself gone mainstream. After Pulp Fiction, every movie hoodlum was a pop-culture savant. On TV, the mockumentary became the go-to format for whip-smart comedy, and there was an explosion of sitcoms starring comedians as fictionalised versions of themselves, not all of them any good. As if to confirm it all, the Scream films themselves were carved apart for laughs by the Scary Movie series. Horror films about horror films have since become a dime a dozen.
The meta-movie's slide into mediocrity has not been helped by the fact that many of those 90s trailblazers failed to recapture the genius of their early years. Smith's work quickly fell victim to the law of diminishing returns. Tarantino's films have become laboured monuments to his own fetishistic movie obsessions. Williamson's revitalising brand of wry high-school horror had burnt itself out before the decade was up.

There is an outlier here. Joss Whedon, the showrunner who dreamt up Buffy and her vampire-slaying bookworms, saw his star continue to rise over the next two decades to the point where his was perhaps the most sought-after signature in Hollywood. He has also, over the last couple of years, undergone the starkest fall from grace, his failings moral rather than artistic.
But the time before that had been spent winching himself into place – via various prestigious script doctoring, screenwriting and directing assignments – as the key figure behind the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which has built its brand on the same nudge-nudge irreverence popularised all those years ago. And at $25bn and counting, the brand is a lucrative one.

His wisecracking Scooby Gang, it turned out, were merely the precursors to the smart-arse superheroes colonising today's box-office charts. Two decades on, the ironically raised eyebrow, once the preserve of the acerbic outsider, has become the tone adopted by the biggest and most cynical cash cow in movie history.
The life cycle has come full circle. Sadly for Scream's hot new crop of would-be villains and victims, self-awareness is no longer commenting on the Hollywood formula, it is the formula. Now there's an irony.
 

№56

Self-Hating Bureaucrat
Gold
Joined
Mar 27, 2022
Messages
838
Reaction score
5,015
Awards
251
Website
no56.neocities.org
Two decades on, the ironically raised eyebrow, once the preserve of the acerbic outsider, has become the tone adopted by the biggest and most cynical cash cow in movie history.
1258825362810.gif
I know this was written last year, but still. People have recognized that cheap pop-culture irony was a problem since the 90s. The only thing that's changed since then is the situation deteriorating so hard that even Vice can't ignore it anymore.
 
Virtual Cafe Awards

Kyou

prodaucet by 戯画 2004
Joined
Aug 28, 2023
Messages
110
Reaction score
934
Awards
80
Maybe. It might be a bit of a hypocritical position to take, but I don't think I'm off here. If I watched movies, I would probably like most of them; but I do not watch them. I just think that maybe there should be less of them, or maybe not. It's easy to explain things as "consumer culture" and attack from that direction, but to fall into such easiness is as lazy as the opponent it's trying to attack here. Personally, maybe "review culture" needs an equal reproach.

Consider Vice; that such an article can be written; that it can be decided that meta-movies need to die—and TVTropes; that there is such a thing as a trope and——my, if there weren't a thousand reviews for every new movie that comes out! There is not a single "normie" that does not think of themselves as having critical standards and the desire to assert their own opinion. I promise you this, as some hick who grew up in the middle of nowhere, even in places fairly far removed from the touch of "pop-culture" , people tend to take similar attitudes which are not far removed from the entire range of culture and media critics. And so the limits of what form an opinion can take do not seem to have moved much since as long as I've been alive. Now, is that a natural, or a semantic limitation? idk

And well it's kinda hard to explain in non-autistic terms, but I hope you can see what cards I'm playing by bringing attention to these things.

It's a blunder to misinterpret laziness as some kind of counterculture move, or form of criticism. That's not to say that I'm any better, of course.
 
Last edited:

turntableToothache

Victim of the Demiurge's nightmare world.
Joined
Aug 28, 2023
Messages
44
Reaction score
157
Awards
21
I read a theory somewhere that the Wachowskies made the new Matrix bad on purpose to kill off the franchise because they didn't want Hollywood milking it to death like Star Wars or whatever.

Have no idea if it's true or not, but I kinda hope it is.
I would be inclined to believe that if any of their other movies after Matrix weren't just as bad.
 
Virtual Cafe Awards

GENOSAD

...or something equally edgy.
Joined
Aug 31, 2023
Messages
255
Reaction score
1,016
Awards
110
Website
genosadness.neocities.org
What I don't understand at all is why movies will criticize tropes while still playing into them, whether deliberately or not. Scream will say "Oh man, it sure does suck that these movies are so uncreative and follow an obvious formula" while still following that formula and not even considering a subversion of expectations. Marvel heroes will say "Man, it sure does suck when the villain does monologues," and then the villain will do a monologue. It's like watching someone give a lecture on workplace safety while sitting on a conveyor belt that leads to a wood chipper. You just want to flip the switch and teach him what happens when you pretend to know everything but don't even bother to improve the situation. Hollywood writers will pretend to be smart by pointing out tropes, all while proving how stupid they are by refusing to even experiment with the formula.
 
Virtual Cafe Awards

Kyou

prodaucet by 戯画 2004
Joined
Aug 28, 2023
Messages
110
Reaction score
934
Awards
80
I would be inclined to believe that if any of their other movies after Matrix weren't just as bad.
For some reason, there's something being said here that pisses me off. Or maybe vexation is a better term. But I don't know what it really is, so pardon my audacity and don't take me too seriously here; and, while I would normally dismiss these sorts of thoughts, I think I'm going to leave this post up.

There's so little being said here, and I haven't watched any matrix film, even the original. So what's my holdup? I'm not entirely sure myself, but I have to figure this out at some point. There's something being misjudged in order for this situation to take place. Maybe there's some sort of metaphysical(?) error in there somewhere, and it may be contemptible. Does it come from being in a position where this can be said in the first place? That's vague. So how to point this something out, or what conclusions to draw from it—I have no answers.
Where do I even begin then? It's an uphill battle and I feel the need to reinvent the wheel.

Or maybe I'm just getting too pseudo-religious while getting angry that people don't like movies that I haven't even seen, all the while also saying that I don't like movies in the first place.

I mean I'm doing something similar right now.
It's analogous to asking a question and not being able to find an answer. So it could be a lack of creativity, though I think it's deeper than that.
I find the psychology of writing really interesting, since it's not something that comes naturally to me. I haven't found much written on the topic, which means that either I'm just bad at searching, or otherwise it simply has not been explored yet—and in which case, what, then, can be said of their creativity, of their desire to experiment? I think about this a lot. What is the nature of someone who writes fanfiction? That sort of thing. I've tried writing myself, but I found myself literally incapable of doing it, so it's been the seed of quite a few mental rabbitholes.
 
Last edited:

SolidStateSurvivor

This is Extremely Dangerous to Our Democracy
Joined
Feb 15, 2022
Messages
1,102
Reaction score
5,225
Awards
245
Website
youtuube.neocities.org
I've pretty much stopped watching any new /tv/ for years now and this is just one of the numerous reasons why. The industry is filled with blowhard nepotistic hacks. I'd rather them make something earnest with the risk of it being "cringe" then all this jaded tongue cheek shit.

I would be inclined to believe that if any of their other movies after Matrix weren't just as bad.
Speed Racer was surprisingly kino
1*4RjcmnVle0vTXf8nCUXP8w.gif
 
Virtual Cafe Awards

Vaporweeb

Its n-not like I like you or anything!
Bronze
Joined
Feb 24, 2021
Messages
704
Reaction score
4,492
Awards
217
Website
falsememories.neocities.org
What I don't understand at all is why movies will criticize tropes while still playing into them, whether deliberately or not.
This has been happening in games too. First one that comes to mind is in DmC: Devil May Cry intro when a white wig falls on Donte and he looks into a mirror before scoffing and saying "not in a million years" but then he fucking gets white hair in the end anyway, so what was even the point of fucking lampshading it in the first place?

Going "We're not like the other DMC! We're cool and unique! old DMC is lame!" and then converging back to base anyway just comes off as uninspired and unconfident.

Joss Whedon and his consequences have been a disaster for narratives.
 
Virtual Cafe Awards

Gift of Denial

Mental Traveller
Joined
Oct 7, 2023
Messages
36
Reaction score
131
Awards
19
One thing I can't stop but noticing about modern films is how "timeless" in the worst of ways they are - while one could identify some of the products of mass entertainment as somehow representative of a time, like for example this scene being clearly a product of the "aesthetic" of the mid 00s,



, has there been any change to film aesthetic since the year 2008 in any significant way? How are movies different? Marvel's capeshit, which remain the highest grossing movies in box office (allegedly), look pretty much as they did 15 years ago, when the first Iron Man flick was released. This is doubly disconcerting once considering that the way of watching movies has radically changed, as well as how much people actually engage with video - basically, everyone can and does record everything, everyone watches homemade videos in their spare time, and many people actually produce them, the shape these videos have rarely follow the "institutional" way of doing things - only for this to have near absolutely no impact on the way films have been made since - it's baffling to me. The decision of the Californian government during the 40s to give out cameras for free as part of a cultural program during the 40s had a greater impact on how films have looked since than literally everyone being hooked to video feeds since then.

"Irony" is just a symptom - nobody has the confidence necessary to make movies anymore. Nobody seems to have the confidence to do anything. I would really welcome anything bold even to the point of being obnoxious, even if just as a corrective. We need more ego in the film industry.
 
You vote with your wallet or with viral advertisement. As long as you vote in favour of a movie type they will make more. It is simple stupid really.
What you thought about the meta jokes or how you think these movie writers wrote some pretentious bullshit is irrelevant to them, you talked about it, they counted that as advertisement and when they make other bad movies they will expect you to talk about how bad it was. You are the target auidence of every medium you interact with, you pay or you don't
 
Virtual Cafe Awards

Gift of Denial

Mental Traveller
Joined
Oct 7, 2023
Messages
36
Reaction score
131
Awards
19
I assume everyone in this forum pirates most films. At least I hope so. With streaming services you can't even vote with your wallet for of against individual films, you have to take their content as a whole, or don't pay for streaming (which of course is the better option)
 

LostintheCycle

Formerly His Holelineß
Joined
Apr 4, 2022
Messages
933
Reaction score
3,692
Awards
240
I wrote a decently sized essay on what I am about to say which I've not yet published as it's not in a decent state. But my contention is we collectively abandon the medium of film as our dominant medium. My reason is mostly that the medium of film is inherently hostile to people who aren't rich.
Anyone can get some pencils and write or draw. These days anyone can make almost any kind of music they like with a computer. Painting is costly but viable. Even games can be done independently with little cost, and even be financially successful! Braid, Songs of Syx, Rimworld, etc.
See how many mediums are accessible to us? Yet film remains very dominant, and has one glaring problem. It's the total inverse in accessibility.
For any particular expression you wish to achieve, no amount of skill alone will let you achieve it. It's more important to just have resources. The cost of merely two (2) actors in your film will be two wages out of your pocket. Assuming you're filming on your iPhone 12, which nobody except the wankest of film festival goers, would bear to watch.
Though I would prefer not to call media our culture, it is, regardless of what I think. With film as the dominant media our culture gets systematically man-handled by the the upper crust of people. Why should we not even have a chance to participate in our culture? Is it really our culture, or is it merely prescribed to us?
Well I'd rather anything else take the place of film. Even books, though I know most people would just read flavour-of-the-month genre books, that doesn't matter. It's only a matter of freedom, that the door to enter could be open instead of there being no door at all.
Even better than all this would be for people to value all media less, to focus on their lives rather than filling it with surrogate experiences.
 
Virtual Cafe Awards
View attachment 78636
I know this was written last year, but still. People have recognized that cheap pop-culture irony was a problem since the 90s. The only thing that's changed since then is the situation deteriorating so hard that even Vice can't ignore it anymore.
Anyone that wants to read an excellent, in depth analysis of this situation and its effect on fiction writers should check out the essay "E Unibus Pluram" written by David Foster Wallace in the 90s.
 

Regal

Well-Known Traveler
Joined
Nov 20, 2022
Messages
319
Reaction score
1,140
Awards
105
Nostalgia sells and when you see these kinds of things, you have to ask yourself if you are the target demographic. If you're under 25, chances are the new Scream and Matrix aren't made for you. They are targeting middle-aged folks who loved these things in their youth and now can be milked for all their money. I'm sure in my 40's they'll come for me with Pokemon nostalgia or something. Lol

I am neutral about it. However I do eyeroll when it is egregious. Either when the newest Marvel movie has an unexpected cameo to artificially create a viral moment or when it is clear the writers have no idea what they are talking about (Big Bang Theory, etc).
 

GENOSAD

...or something equally edgy.
Joined
Aug 31, 2023
Messages
255
Reaction score
1,016
Awards
110
Website
genosadness.neocities.org
See how many mediums are accessible to us? Yet film remains very dominant, and has one glaring problem. It's the total inverse in accessibility.
Ever watch Clerks? Who Killed Captain Alex? Literally any independent film made in the past decade? Have you spent an hour on YouTube?
If you have, you might want to reconsider your thesis.
 
Virtual Cafe Awards

Similar threads