Learning To Say No, Hollywood Style: A Helpful Response To Screenwriter Josh Olson

September 16, 2009, 12:43 pm

Since my post on the Teabag Protest has practically gone viral (many thanks to my colleague Bitch Ph.D. for the link) today’s post is just a follow up on advice given last week on saying no. Such as, No, I will decline to comment further on why I can’t show unconditional love to the beleaguered mommy lobby. However, thanks to my Cliopatria colleague, historian Ralph Luker, I want to pass on this charming tidbit published in the September 9 Village Voice by screenwriter and director Josh Olson. In “I Will Not Read Your Fucking Script,” Olson announces happily that it will cause people to think he is a “dick” that he does not want to take a look at even a two-page treatment for them. He tells every Hollywood wannabe with a dream that there is

an ugly truth about many aspiring screenwriters: They think that screenwriting doesn’t actually require the ability to write, just the ability to come up with a cool story that would make a cool movie. Screenwriting is widely regarded as the easiest way to break into the movie business, because it doesn’t require any kind of training, skill or equipment. Everybody can write, right? And because they believe that, they don’t regard working screenwriters with any kind of real respect. They will hand you a piece of inept writing without a second thought, because you do not have to be a writer to be a screenwriter.

OK, I am sure I have no idea how frustrating this must be for you Josh, particularly given how fucking busy and important you are. I am busy, but not important like you. People do not go around thrusting history fucking manuscripts on me right and left, nor am I fabulously well-paid and hearing the ching-ching of dollars leaking out of my pocket every time I do a favor for someone. In fact, Josh, our lives couldn’t be more fucking different. My whole fucking life more or less consists of doing favors for people, for less money all year than you make in a week. And actually, most people in America make dramatically less than I do, and probably do even more favors for more people — coaching Little League, working at homeless shelters, tutoring kids who can’t read, or helping a fellow worker at Walmart make it through her life. You hear me? Life as a little person is just less stressful than life as a big Hollywood screenwriter. I get that.

But since I am not so busy and important, I will do you the favor of fucking explaining to you why people “think you don’t have to be a writer to be a screenwriter.” There are three fucking reasons. The first is that everyone knows that without some kind of personal connection in “the industry” (and this goes for publishing as well) even good creative work never sees the light of day. This is why people who want to do what you do come to schools like Zenith, because if you fucking succeed in the film department here, you will automatically be hooked into the network of Zenith film alumni who will promote your career in Hollywood. Yes, Zenith alums are fucking well-educated and well-trained when they leave us, but lots of well-educated, talented people who go to schools that are just as fucking good don’t have successful careers in “the industry” at the rate our students do. And it is because they have the fucking connections.

Second, most of what passes for movies or television nowadays is unadulterated, culturally embarrassing crap, with implausible story lines and characters played by people who can’t fucking act, produced for people who are more or less in despair about the condition of their lives under advanced capitalism. They will go to movies about vacuum cleaners that fucking talk, and rent DVDs whose best-crafted feature is the size and expense of the enhanced breasts sported by the so-called “actresses.” So you can hardly blame people for thinking that anyone can write a fucking screenplay: anyone clearly does write a screenplay. It’s how the losers whose screenplays are actually fucking chosen for most of what is fucking produced that is the mystery to most of us.

Finally, the most successful television series and movies rely for their basic plot lines on people having outstanding, high-paying jobs dropped in their fucking laps for no fucking reason whatsoever; becoming successful, despite their autism/paralysis/poverty/lack of education/obscurity because they have (gag) “heart;” going from rags to riches because they believe so deeply in themselves; getting a professional fucking sports contract because they are such a good person and have a nice, supportive girlfriend; defeat complex evil plots because they have inner resources not tapped until that moment (and a great fucking body); receive a vast inheritance by surprise that allows them to follow their life’s dream to have their own wildly successful cosmetic line; realize suddenly that they have a calling as a fucking vampire for Christ’s sake; or have the wild and crazy notion that losing 300 pounds on television/imitating indigenous people on a desert island/beating out twenty other people to become somebody’s fucking fiancee can launch you into lifetime fucking superstardom.

So yes, Josh, you are a dick, but that is hardly the point: you work in a dick industry that mostly puts out a dick product. If you have any further questions, please get in touch with my fucking people.

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