The Plan

Shelton Bumgarner

By Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

Things are moving faster again with the novel. At the same time, however, I find lingering frustration. Something happened recently that left a bad taste in my mouth. I suddenly find myself interested in writing a screenplay. As such, I’m probably going to buy FinalDraft sometime in September. I also hope to buy a few screenwriting books as well.

In the past, my biggest problem has been thinking up plots. I have plenty — plenty — of great ideas for movies. But I’ve always struggled with plots. But using the skillset I’ve developed from working on the novel, I believe I have a better chance at writing a successful (relative to me) screenplay. Or two. Or three.

I’ve vowed to myself that whenever I finish a screenplay, I’ll give myself permission to head to LA for a few days to poke around. But I won’t do so without a least one screenplay I can show people. While I’m quite pleased writing a novel and that’s my main creative project right now, I want to at least attempt to write a screenplay as well.

The issue is I have numerous ideas for movies because they lend themselves to something visual, something seen on the big screen. Add to this that I natively have a very extroverted personality, I believe if I put in the hard work of writing a screenplay or two, I might have at least a slim chance of being able to find someone in LA willing to take a look at it.

But, of course, I realize this is being extremely naive. Given my age, where I’m from and pretty much everything else about me, the possibility I would actually manage to pull this dream of is, in real terms, slim to none. But, if nothing else, it gives me something productive to do with my spare time as I work on the novel.

‘Hobbs & Shaw,’ A Political Review

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

When I living in South Korea, I once found myself near the DMZ at a English Camp designed to give a young Korean the experience of living in an English speaking nation. While I was there, I saw in a waiting room a video of a kid’s show. What was notable about the cartoon was the name of the villain — Darwin.

This little bit of creatist propaganda has lingered with me over the years. That the show’s writer thought they could get young, impressionable minds to associate Darwin and by extension evolution with villany was both extremely annoying and impressive.

Before I begin, I would also like to note the “explanation” of Top Gun in the movie Sleep With Me.

Anyway, let’s get the point — the deeper political meaning in the otherwise summer popcorn movie Hobbs & Shaw. It has taken me a few days, but I feel as though there is a lot more going on with this movie than initially meets the eye. There’s a lot of sly politics in the movie that is so open to interpretation that it might leave one scratching their heads.

Let’s talk about the general plot. — spoilers ahead.

The plot, as much as there is one, is about a nebulous “deep state” type of company that wants to use its Snowflake programmable virus to kill off the weak and do a very Thanos-type restructuring of society. Two guys who ostensibly hate each other — The Rock (Hobbs) and Jason Statham (Shaw) join forces to defeat the bad guys and save the day. From what I saw of the movie, the only reason why I don’t think this movie’s politics is quite what you might this is comes from the people involved.

Given the fan service the movie does to The Rock’s WWE fandom, I’m led to believe the producers of this movie see its market as center-Right. At the same time, given how liberal-progressive Hollywood is, I am reluctant to believe that there aren’t air quotes around the movie’s superficial politics. I don’t know The Rock’s politics, but I struggle to believe he’s anything more than closer to center-Left than center-Right

Let’s break down some of the plot to see what’s going on.

The McGuffin is a woman — the sister of the Shaw character (22 years younger than he is, natch)– who has shot the virus into her bloodstream. If you REALLY wanted to get deep about the politics of this movie, you could say that it’s supposed to be, in a sense, about the “special relationship” between the United State in post-Brexit, post-Trump geopolitical world. I only say this because The Rock obviously represents America and Statham the UK. They are alone in the world and have to work together to save the day. (That a Russian helps save the day is an interesting twist to all of this.)

Anyway, there are some other things I noticed. That the programmable super virus is called “Snowflake” can be interpreted two ways. Either we’re meant to think of that obviously the Bad Guys are evil liberals (snowflakes) or we’re meant to laugh that the thing that could end the world is a bunch of snowflakes.

The reasoning that the villain gives for ending the world a very conservative-interpretation-of-the-liberal-worldview. Hollywood these days they find themselves having to square the circle. They want to appease a center-Right audience (to make money) but they also have to do so in a way that allows them not to hate themselves. That’s why, I feel, the politics of this movie are extremely muddled, but obviously there.

And, yet, I simply am not prepared to accept that this is Brad Bird Hollywood conservatism. For starters, Bird’s work is much more nuanced than this movie and has a stronger idology. This movie, meanwhile, seems to want it both ways. It wants to appease its center-Right audience, while at the same time looking slant eye at center-Left people in the audience in a way that suggests, “Can you believe what we have to do to appease the Right?”

I liked this movie because it did want it set out to do — entertain you in a cool theatre for a few hours on a hot summer day. I find it interesting, however, that the corrosive politics of the Trump Era has even seeped into what might otherwise be just a dumb summer movie.

Anyway, I probably will never know how close to the truth I am on this subject. I would like to believe I have dug up something interesting, however. There’s no way they would name the super virus “Snowflake” without there being an ulterior motive.

Shelton Bumgarner, a writer living in Virginia, is working on his first novel. He may be reached at migukin (at) gmail (dot) com.

Why I Walked Out Of ‘Booksmart’ (But You Should See It)

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls
Instagram: WriterShelt

I hated Booksmart.

I hated it — and hate it — so much that I begin to seethe with rage at the idea of it. And, yet, it’s nothing personal against Olivia Wilde and the movie itself is probably pretty good — if you’re a woke, bi curious Generation Z girl taking your SATs for the first time.

I walked out of the movie at just about the inciting incident because first I despised that clueless rant about lesbian sex, I hated how bad some of the acting was obviously going to be — Billie Lourd, sigh — I hated how much of an updated rip off of Heathers the movie was and I hated the entire premise of what I was expected to sit through for the next hour and a half.

So I bounced.

This is coming from a person who bounced from an equally critically acclaimed Bird Man. I hated that movie and walked out of it, too.

Now, the reason why I even talk about any of this to begin with is while movies like Booksmart serve an admirable purpose and help proto-lesbians see representation in film, they also have a corrosive effect overall. What I mean by this is Booksmart is a prime example of how Hollywood — or at least a woke subset of it — apparently has completely given up on 48% of the audience and just wants to suck its own dick (to quote The Mooch.) There’s a reason why Sniper was such a huge hit — there’s a pretty big untapped market for center-Right heteronormative storytelling. (Not to cast aspersions on non-heteronormative stories, just to observe what’s going on.)

Again — I was not the audience of this movie and only went because I keep seeing ads for it in my center-Left social media echo chamber. It was like I was being guilt-tripped into seeing it. I did not want to see it, knowing I would likely hate it. But I decided to give it a chance. And, guess what?

I fucking hated it.

The great sin this movie committed is it allowed its ideology to take over and warp the narrative of the movie to such an extent that I couldn’t get pass the inciting incident and left the theatre altogether.

But given that I was not the audience and I did not see the entire movie, I still feel comfortable recommending it to other people. If you’re younger than me, or more of a Leftist, you probably really will love the movie as much as the entertainment-industrial flack complex tells us you will.

Anyway, I’m writing a novel that deals with a lot of the same issues as Booksmart. But, given that I’m a smelly brutish male, I’m sure even if I’m as empathetic as possible to the stories of people don’t look like me, someone, somewhere, will discount the novel as simply another member of the patriarchy exploiting the lives of women, minorities and members of the LGBQ+ community for their own gain. (I’m being a bit sarcastic, dummy.)

All I can do is keep my head down and try to tell the story I want to tell. I think Wilde did a great job, you should go see Booksmart and ignore everything I just wrote.

Who would listen to me, anyway?

V-Log: My #Novel, #Hollywood, Lisbeth Salander, Natalie Portman & A Summer Tent-Pole Movie

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

As I enter the second act of the scifi novel I’m writing, I’m dwelling on the big ideas this story addresses. The story itself is kind of weighty and cerebral and deals with some issues that don’t see all that obvious to the average person, but I hope if I insert enough drama, action and innate conflict into it that someone, somewhere will find it entertaining enough to finish.

Two books I may read and reference a lot in this novel are The Clash of Civilizations and Harold Bloom’s Shakespeare and the Birth of the Human. A lot of this novel deals with the critique of the Western tradition from both the Left and the Right and how Humanity would deal with the innate conflict associated with an outside force’s decision to “pick a winner” in the clash of civilizations. I have been thinking about this concept for the better part of five years, so really most of my thought is going into character development at this point.

The series I really want to replicate the success of is the Millennium series. That was a really entertaining, really accessible series that you just couldn’t put down once you got into it. But I have extremely low expectations. I’ll be happy if I can just get, like, one person I don’t know personally to read the first book and ask me when the next book is coming out. That’s how low my expectations are at this point.

As it stands, what I’m interested in, what my goal is, is to write a female character as interesting as Lisbeth Salander. My character would be a little bit older, maybe about Natalie Portman’s age, but she still would be compelling. It’s urgent I have at least one character who draws people in given how otherwise cerebral the story is in general.

#FOTUS: Hollywood, Here’s Your Chance To Save America

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

I don’t ask much of you Hollywood community. Produce good movies, show me hot chicks naked every once in a while and bring down Donald J. Trump, the 45th president of the United States by asking around and finding out who Shera Bechard was dating between 2015 and 2017.

The cover story is it was fat fuck Elliot Broidy.

Maybe it was.

But, fuck, guys, stop doing blow long enough to simply ask around. She’s in Beverly Hills doing her thing and someone, somewhere in the Hollywood community must know what was going on. This is a no brainer. This such a simple thing to do. If you’re a big enough star, it might take 20 minutes of your time.

Really.

Isn’t America worth it?

What proof do we have that Broidy is Shere Bechard’s babydaddy?
The NDA. That’s it. That’s all I got. We have no other proof, no other datapoint that says they had a romantic relationship.

What proof do we have that Trump is the babydaddy?
We don’t have any proof, but we have some really odd connections. The two most glaring of them being her selection of Keith Davidson as her representative and the fact that Broidy got direct access to the White House the day after the first check of the NDA pay off to Bechard cleared. We also have tenuous evidence via her social media and his schedule that they were in proximity to each other at the time of conception.

While I may keep writing about this out of boredom, I keep expecting someone to bang me over the head with something I’ve missed or some obvious proof that it’s Broidy that has been there all along. I’m feeling sheepish already thinking about how embarrassing this is all going to be.

#Feminism, The #Bechdel Test & Women in #Movies #screenwriting #Hollywood

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

This is not perfect, but it’s really interesting. I go into a lot of depth about women, feminism, Hollywood and screenwriting in the context of telling a great story.

V-log: Of #Hollywood, #Screenwriting & #Storytelling

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

In these two videos, I go into great length about my personal views on Hollywood, screenwriting and storytelling. These videos are meandering and rambling, but pretty good, all things considered. It’s too bad that people aren’t willing to watch videos.

But, in short, I talk a lot about how Hollywood establishes traditional gender rolls and then plays with them for dramatic effect. I also talk about my movie concept that would be a homage to The Big Chill. Like I said, these two videos are really interesting if you’re into storytelling.

The Deafening Silence From Hollywood Regarding Trumplandia Is Perplexing

By Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

I have repeatedly questioned why instead of pretending to cut Donald Trump’s head off, why Hollywood doesn’t collectively turn its guns on Trumplandia. I am well aware that it takes time to conceive of, develop, write and produce a scripted drama of any sort. It just takes time. I get that.

But you’d think the little media bubble that I live in would be at least occasionally punctured by buzz that this or that anti-Trump movie or TV was being produced. And, yet, to date, I have heard of nothing. It’s all very odd.
I just don’t get it. Is it that Hollywood is too shook or is it that the executives that would be the ones to greenlight such things are complicit in Trumplandia and they simply won’t risk losing money on an obvious anti-Trump metaphor while events are actually happening. It’s just too soon for them to think about alienating that core 30% of the population that supports Trump no matter what?

And, remember, the last time that Hollywood actually went to war was, well, a war — World War II. And it could be that Hollywood executives with some institutional memory know that during Watergate people kind of tuned out of politics in pop culture. The only relatively contemporaneous piece of art to come out of Watergate was All The President’s Men.

But having said all that, here are my suggestions for movies to be remade in this age of Trumplandia. Given that Hollywood apparently has completely run out of ideas, Hollywood might be more receptive to remakes than original content.

Or something.

1984
This movie is so obvious in the age of Trumplandia that it seems like it would be greenlit the moment someone suggested it seriously. The book itself is apparently doing gangbusters again and it seems that there would be both a market and an audience for another remake.

The Caine Mutiny
The final scene of this movie might cut a little too close to home. The whole movie, with its mad captain might be something people would really get into. And it’s great source material it would be so obvious a metaphor for the Era of Trump that it probably would do quiet well.

Being There
This movie would require a deft touch. The reason is it would be too easy to re-interpret the source material as an angry diatribe against Donald Trump’s presidency. The movie is, in its own way, already a metaphor for Trumplandia, if albeit in a much more innocent manner than we are currently suffering. But if you updated it technologically, it would be really funny and tragic and scary. Kind of like our real world is right now.

Network
This is such a perfect movie — especially in the context of Trumplandia — that the only reason to remake and update it is we live in desperate times and simply re-issuing it wouldn’t be as culturally significant. We really need this movie remade as soon as possible. But I would suggest doing something with it other than a shot-for-shot remake. That would just be dumb and unproductive.

Seven Days In May
It is temping to simply use the name and not do much with the source material. Events this May really were shocking enough that you could give them a narrative arc and go from there. But, really, you could simply do somewhere where by there’s a coup attempt against a mad president or some such.

Mr. Roberts
This movie is about honor and the responsibilities of power and if you remade it, it could be a sly commentary on Donald Trump’s presidency. At least it makes a lot of sense to me.

Anyway, having said all that, let’s talk about some original concepts one might look into.

A Movie About The Mule</strong>
This one seems so obvious that it’s sad that generally no one listens to me and thus nothing will happen. It would be different if I had the rights to The Foundation Saga and, like, was a screenwriter of any note. I would just write a screenplay myself and pitch it. But HBO is supposed to have the rights right now, so you’d actually have to have some money to make that a reality.

A sequel to Idiotocry
This is pretty obvious. Just update that movie to today’s insane reality and run with it.

A movie about the Fall of France in 1940
The Fall of France was a lot like Election Night 2016, and I think people would really see the comparison being made if someone produced a movie about it.

Regardless, Hollywood needs to get its act together. It needs to address this really important subject as quickly as possible. If the gears are put in motion now, maybe a really cool movie will pop out about Election Day 2018. That’s all we can hope for at this point.

A Personal Appeal To Hollywood To Produce Movies About Trumplandia

By Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

I have made similar appeals several times before, but the continuing epic silence on the part of Hollwyood when it comes to Trumplandia leaves me puzzled. I have not heard about any remakes of Being There, or 1984. I have no heard of any movies in product that would adapt The Mule portion of The Foundation Saga.

If there was a lot of buzz about such movies being produced, then I would at least have some sense that the shock and awe that Donald Trump evoked within civil society might finally have been overcome. But, as of yet, I am not hearing any such buzz. Movies don’t happen in a vacuum. You can’t just make one without someone, somewhere taking note of it being in production.

I am aware that it takes time for scripts to be written and produced. That goes without saying, but you’d think some really talented coke head in Hollywood would have at least finished a script by this point that would be something of an Apocalypse Now of the Trump Era.

I think maybe some of the problem is civil society has yet to figure out what all this means. Is this Watergate? Is this Vietnam? Is it something else completely? I guess I’m being extremely impatient for more than one reason.
All The President’s men came out after Watergate, as did Apocalypse Now. So, maybe if I want civil society to respond contemporaneous to these tragic, surreal events, I’m going to have to rely upon Saturday Night Live or the monologue of The Late Show.

And, yet, given that there is obviously but an audience and a marketplace for art that addresses Trumplandia head-on, you’d think the process might get sped up a little bit. We live in unprecedented, bizarre times and what I wouldn’t do for a movie about Trump written by the folks that produce South Park or The Simpsons. The Simpsons, oddly enough, of late have become more relevant through some the shorts they have been producing on the fly.

Maybe things just haven’t gotten as dire as they need to get for what I want to happen, to happen. Just looking at my twitter account, things seem to be pretty fucking surreal. Things really are dire enough for the usual years-long gestation for content to be sped up a little bit.

If anything, the delay on the part of people with actual talent makes me — someone with only marginal talent — want to produce my own content to make myself feel better, if nothing else. But hopefully civil society will strike back sooner rather than later.

It’s our only hope.

Don’t Rage, Engage: Hollywood, Do Your Fucking Job

By Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

The whole Kathy Griffin kerfuffle is yet another reminder that Hollywood has been oddly silent about Donald Trump in the way that matters most: actually producing content that helps civil society process what the fuck is going on. That’s the whole point of Hollywood.

Currently comedy on TV has been picking up the slack for Hollywood. Be it Full Frontal, or Saturday Night Live or The Late Show, late night comedy is where right minded people go in America to try to figure out how to understand this horrific dead-end that we’ve found ourselves in.

Both a market and an audience exists for movies and TV devoted to being metaphors for Trumplandia. I know I would shell out $11 to see a movie that addressed what a fuckwit Donald Trump is. Or maybe a remake of 1984. Or a remake of Being There. Hell, even a movie about The Mule portion of The Foundation Saga would make me feel better at this point. This is pretty basic stuff. If me, a hayseed rube in a flyover state can figure this out, then I’m sure someone at Miramax or Paramount can figure something so basic out.

But what do we have right now instead of quality content? We have silence. I have not heard of hardly any films in production and there are only a spattering of TV that are obvious meant to direction address Trumplandia. It makes you wonder why this is.

You would think that something as momentous as the rise of Trumplandia would inspire the Hollywood scribes and producers to generate all kinds of content. But all we get is Kathy Griffin pretending to cut off Donald Trump’s head. Everyone would be served if she were to not rage against Trumplandia in such a stupid manner but rather write a TV script for a sitcom about dealing with Trumplandia. Something, anything to bring people together, instead of dividing them.

The only thing I can think of is that producers are skittish about offending people, by, well, losing money. In other words, stars feel obliged to be offensive on a personal level, but the people with money who maybe oppose Trump aren’t willing to take the risk that Trumplandia will freak out if you produced a movie that obviously attacked Trump in some direct manner.

That’s the only thing I can think of. That makes the most sense. There might be something to the fact that Hollywood is still in shock that Trump won in the first place and they just haven’t gotten over the shock enough to begin writing scripts that directly tough that live wire.

But I think it’s the money situation. Corporate types think differently that the artists they support, so that reluctance to lose money by offending the ever-so-touchy Trumplandia base probably is the reason. As someone pointed out to me recently, Watergate really only produced one movie and that was after it was over. So maybe it makes a lot more sense that I realize for there to be no movies about Trumpandia produce while it actually exists. And, really, if you think about it, it took decades before there was a movie that dealt with the Vietnam war directly, though Apocalypse Now was produced a few years after the fact. The closest to a TV show about Vietnam was that occured while it happened was M*A*S*H.

And, yet, Trumplandia is a significantly more weighty event than Watergate. Trumplandia, at least to me, seems ripe for a great movie or TV shows right now. We live in a different era than the 1960s and 1970 and I think audiences would flock to see a movie about a Trump-like character. I keep thinking of The Mule from The Foundation Saga, but it’s possible that because of Star Wars stealing so much from that series that that isn’t really applicable anymore.

Regardless, it would be sad if we had to wait 20 years before Hollywood addressed in metaphor Trumplandia. I really don’t want to have to keep seeing liberal Hollywood actors destroying their careers by raging against Trumplandia in a stupid way. Don’t rage, engage.

Shelton Bumgarner is the editor and publiser of the Trumplandia Report. He may be reached at migukin (at) gmail.com.