Here’s my thoughts on Avengers Infinity War.
No spoilers here.
I don’t believe there are any.... don’t flip out if I missed something. It’s not the point of this post anyway.
This is my brief, 809 word understanding of the entire franchise, not a recap of what good guy beat up what bad guy etc. Hint: they beat each other up. And it was awesome!
But I digress...
Infinity War and the rest of the Marvel/Star Wars/Pixar/Mickey Mouse movies are totally fun. They’re also intensely calculated and thrilling theme park rides produced by the king of theme park, Walt Disney. And that’s what to expect. Not much else. But also not necessarily a bad thing in a movie. Any comparison between the quality of superhero films today with those made before 2007 is absurd. Ang Lee’s “Hulk” was slightly less engrossing than today’s “Black Panther.”
There are downsides to proven consistency, though. Disney also owns Star Wars. And as a life-long Star Wars fan, it’s unfortunate that their addiction to calculated theme park thrills and tomato scores and sales techniques are so difficult to break from. That mold has so far proven to hinder innovation, as seen in the last two episodes. But I digress.
We are in a new, sharper and more violent age now. A Game of Thrones Age. An age desiring entertainment, maybe even art, which satisfies our most deep, desperate and primal compulsions. Video games are killing simulations and our shock factor television is ultra-violent and our playboy softcore centerfold turns hardcore porn. Even our pg-13 blockbusters follow suit.
In this fantasy world, everything is hyper extended. Cartoon characters portrayed by adult artists, in front of green screens in front of cameras under circumstances no one can believe driven by totally unrealistic cliché motives. Violence, torture, suspense. Our addicted heart beats only race when shaken at the G-spot of violence we desire. And as we become desensitized we need more. Slaughtering aliens is fine now. Seeing their flesh more vividly alive doesn’t hold a candle to the More, for which we’re all collectively searching.
We crave to glimpse our fearful limits of annihilation.
North Korea and the US desire to pretend to find it necessary to have a nuclear war. We obsess over the Russian madman. We incentivize the best of our humanity to create devastating torture weapons. We reach for an itch to satisfy our collective frightened urge to experience a karmic nuclear devastation.
Holy shit. How did we get here from avengers?
These films are shining a light on our consciousness. It’s not articulating new feelings as art is designed to do. But because it makes so much damn money, they instead feed our insecure desires.
Disney, that drunken, money-making mouse, carefully serves calculated captivation to millions and millions of people. All of those people are paying for specific tailor-made subject matter. And in Avengers, that subject matter is the annihilation of half of the human population.
We are toying with these ideas. Longing for them.
And perhaps (in contrast to this Stark tone) this is a healing process. Perhaps this is how we work those urges out. Perhaps we kill in video games because we’ve killed for millions of years and our evolution is still filled with those intense impulses which have nowhere to go. Maybe it’s collective therapy so we don’t have to feel like we have to do it in real life. Maybe hardcore porn is there because, perhaps, sex wasn’t always nice. Maybe bdsm is a controlled and safe environment alleviating our risk from secret pleasurable desires and fears to be tortured and to torture others. Maybe our tv watching. Our news on nuclear Russia. And North Korea. And electing a fascinating and capricious reality show host with nuclear codes. Is all a part of our obsessive fear of disappearing one day. Maybe if we find ways to actively engage with those fears, we’ll find a way to look their results in the face and as we see the reality of horror we can quickly snap our fingers and start time over again. To come so close and satisfy an urge within us. To see it. To know it’s not just in our heads. And then we can move on.
And so we have movies. Like Infinity War. Hyper satisfying adrenaline films depicting absolute extinction of life in the universe.
This is just the basic plot, not a spoiler. I won’t say what happens at the end. Because I hate spoilers.
It probably could be considered a successful film. Its outrageous success may be us healing. Acknowledging our most frightening urges, looking at them, and then starting over. Allowing the dust of some of those fears to gently drift away. And then we start again. The same recurring fears. On a continued cycle. Marching to Infinity.
I was in a really great meeting with Frank and other members of Greenhouse yesterday (technically two days ago), discussing an upcoming Greenhouse Project (which is going to be amazing. And I can't let you know anything about it, muahahahaha.)
After several meetings like this one, with different people, the recurring observation of how large an undertaking Dads Dates and Other Disturbances was, continued bubbling up to the surface. And a difficult subject is broached. That I, the leader of this company, had bit off more than I could chew. Immediately I rejected this idea. "There is nothing I can not chew! I am the worlds greatest chewer! You're all fired!" That's not actually what the reaction was. At least not entirely. I can't say its not a delicate/painful subject to ponder. But at the end of the day. I do not believe, under any circumstance, that this was too big a project for Greenhouse. I also don't believe it was too big a project for me as a director, even directing 6 plays and 4 films. But too big for me to also shoot, edit, design.................................
Teamwork. My greatest lesson learned. The most humbling reminder. Theatre and film is the culmination of many peoples' collective efforts.
I have two friends I was texting with today about my photography on instagram (by the way- follow me and LIKE EVERYTHING I POST!). Anyway. My two friends are horrible people. Terrible, horrible people. (In reality, they are as dear and as close to family as anyone could be). But they were making fun of my instagram pictures... RELENTLESSLY.
However. One nice thing that arises from an onslaught of totally-uncalled-for criticism is a lesson. And that lesson moved me to reflect on Dads, Dates...
My friends are total douche bags. That's not the lesson. They are douchey, douche bags. Of the Vilest Sort. And I love them as I love my family. But my photography can not (currently) be compared to my acting and directing. And neither can my painting/pastel work (currently). I simply don't have the same technical capability to articulate layered emotional experience. I still like doing it. I'm not going to stop taking pictures and posting on instagram (remember to follow and LIKE EVERYTHING!) any sooner than I stop painting or working with pastels. But for the purposes and responsibility of providing audiences with insight into their emotional lives, through theatre and film, respect must be given to the many art-forms that make up those mediums. Like design. Like cinematography. Like audio. Like editing and lighting and costumes and make up. You must humble yourself when you realize someone else can AND SHOULD do a task with greater sophistication, articulation and love.
One of my teachers, Jack Garfein, once said, "Theatre has the potential to be a Masterpiece on top of a Masterpiece on top of a Masterpiece." This is the disservice I'm talking about when attempting to do everything yourself. In order to create a masterpiece, you need the technical capability to create Art. In an attempt to do everything yourself, you allow yourself to treat artwork like a hobby. And audiences deserve better.
And now, with this lesson learned and MY FIRST BLOG POST EVER WRITTEN, I know to focus on team work. I'm inspired to work with new dynamic teams of artists to more effectively tackle these incredible Greenhouse projects.
I'll also continue doing exactly what I've always done before;
Let my eyes rule my stomach
and take another bite
from the unknown.