Haji Outlaw has also performed and written for some of your favorite programs including The Eric Andre Show. And now Haji is adding author to his already impressive resume. These Movies Suck is about movies, but it’s also about time someone called out some of these movies for sucking. Whether you agree with Mr. Outlaw’s sucky movie choices is up to you, but before you judge, enjoy these three exclusive excerpts from Haji’s book These Movies Suck, available now in three volumes on Amazon.com.
STAR WARS (dir. Richard Marquand, 1983) — part III of IX
In the mid-nineteen seventies, George Lucas held a series of meetings with his creative team, which featured three members, only one of whom spoke. It was in these meetings that George and company settled on the plot lines and character names for the Star Wars franchise. Below is the third portion of those secretly recorded meetings’ leaked transcripts: (GL stands for George Lucas. CT stands for Creative Team.)
CT: “Before lunch is over, quick question. What is a parsec?”
GL: “It’s a uhh… Unit of measurement.”
CT: “Yeah yeah yeah I know that. But what is it?”
GL: “What do you mean what is it?”
CT: “I mean, what is it? One foot is twelve inches. A mile is five thousand two hundred eighty feet. I know it’s a unit of measurement. But what is a parsec?”
GL: “It’s uh… Five foot-miles of distance, over the time it takes a falcon to flap its wings a thousand times. More commonly known as a millennium.”
CT: “So a millennium falcon flaps. Over five foot-miles.”
CT: “You have no idea what the fuck a parsec is, do you?”
CT: “You just took the word part and the word second, mashed them together, and figured your work was done.”
GL: “That’s lunch, everybody. What’s next on the docket, Bob?”
CT: “You lazy motherfu… Next on the docket is Little Green Yiddish Master.”
GL: “And this is a name we’re looking for, not a plot point, right?”
CT: “Right, George.”
GL: “Hmm… Little Green Yiddish Master… Let me think… YODA! (in Yoda voice) Hmm.” CT: “That’ll do. Next! Leia and Luke are siblings, right?”
GL: “Right-amundo. Brother and sister.”
CT: “And Vader is their father?”
GL: “Right again.”
CT: “So why do you have Leia kissing Luke?”
GL: “Oh that’s a kiss, but it’s not a kiss-kiss.”
CT: “What’s a kiss-kiss?”
GL: “That’s a kiss where you mean it.”
CT: “Thus the doubling up of the word kiss.”
CT: “Then why do you explicitly say—
*Papers are rifled through.
CT: “And I quote, Leia kisses Luke on the lips with sustained, deliberate passion?”
GL: “I don’t recollect saying that.”
CT: “I do. That’s why I wrote it down.”
*Sustained and deliberate silence.
GL: “Look. I’ve got this idea where in the middle of the desert there’s a huge vagina with teeth and multiple tentacle tongues. I call it a sarlacc. What do you think about that?”
CT: “I think that is the single hardest change of subject I have ever heard.”
GL: “And Princess Leia will be in a bikini made of steel.”
CT: “Well, that seems uncomfortable and unnecessary.”
GL: “Does it?”
CT: “Yes. I mean if the princess is into incest, she’s into incest. There’s no need to punish the actress playing her.”
GL: “It’s not a punishment! There’s no punishment!!”
CT: “Calm down, George. Calm down.”
GL: “I’m calm! I’m calm!”
CT: “Right… Last question for the day. What is the Force?”
GL: “The Force is the ubiquitous power that binds the universe and can only be harnessed by a select few, like trained Jedis.”
CT: “Yes. But what is it, really?”
GL: “It is the ubiquitous power that—”
*WHACK of George being punched in the face.
CT: “So it’s sort of like that?”
GL: “Precisely! Now imagine not having to move a muscle in order to punch me in the face, but being able to do that with your mind.”
CT: “That’s the Force?”
GL: “That is the Force.”
CT: “Hmm. That just might work.”
GREEN BOOK (dir. Peter Farrelly, 2018)
Green Book won the Academy Award for best picture, as I predicted it would since there was no way in Hell that the Academy would give the award to a Netflix film. For those who don’t know the story, here is a short synopsis: Doc Shirley is a prominent black pianist in the 1960s who, before embarking on a music tour with his white bandmates in the South, hires a white New York nightclub bouncer, Frank Vallelonga, to drive and protect him from anything that might cause him to miss a date—most notably the ramifications of rampant racism in the South. It is during this tour of the South that Frank, despite his own racism, comes to see Doc not by his color but by his character. Meanwhile, Doc finds a family, as he’s estranged from his, in his new best friend Frank and his family.
It is along this journey that we discover some good old American suck-holes with the film, the first of which being that Doc could have made three times as much money touring East Coast cities as opposed to cities in the South. Which begs the question, what American is ever willing to take that type of pay cut? Then what African-American is willing to take that pay cut on the principle of showing white Southerners an upstanding and dignified negro in person? Then why in the Hell would Doc’s white-owned capitalistic label allow him to tour the South, knowing the dangers in addition to pulling in vastly lower tour profits? Which brings us to suck- hole number two.
During Doc’s tour, he gets drunk in a white bar and gets beat up until Frank saves him. Later he engages in sex with a white man in a YMCA. Questions abound yet again—what kind of black man, knowing the South as Doc obviously did based on his own history and his vetting and hiring of Frank, engages in these types of activities which were well known to be damn near suicidal if not worse? The answer is simple—Doc Shirley knew that he needed to make wildly irrational decisions with his own life, so that the film that would be made about him over fifty years later would be sufficiently entertaining to audiences.
Suck-hole number three comes courtesy of Green Book executive producer, Octavia Spencer. Peter Farrelly stated in interviews that when they were writing the script, the story was favoring Frank, who would be played by the incomparable Viggo Mortensen. This may have been due to the Shirley family’s not being involved in the filmmaking or the fact that Vallelonga’s son was a co-writer. Maybe it was both. But Peter decided they needed help with crafting Doc’s character and voice. Enter Octavia Spencer—who was not alive in the 1960s, has never been a professional musician, and does not have a penis. Which makes her seem like an odd choice, until one can believe that Peter and company wanted a black face on the writing team who would go along with their vision of the film and not question the illogical Doc Shirley actions crafted by said writers. When they could have hired someone like Harry Belafonte, who was not only a professional musician but also an actor in the 1960s, has a penis, and just so happened to know Doc Shirley personally, as he had an office directly across the street from Doc Shirley’s.
So why would the Green Book braintrust not hire Harry or someone like him? The answer here seems rather obvious—Mr. Belafonte has never been the type to be the black face for a vision that he does not share, especially a white vision that he does not share. Plus bringing him onto Green Book would have irrevocably moved Doc’s character in a far more sensible direction, or more than likely led to Mr. Belafonte’s being fired from the project over creative differences.
When Peter Farrelly was asked why he made Green Book, especially after having had so much success with comedy blockbusters like There’s Something About Mary and Dumb And Dumber, he said, “I hate racism.” To that I ask, “Are you sure?” Because I have doubts.
As much as I enjoy what occurs on the big screen, I also enjoy delving into what happens behind the big screen, as this can often be more titillating than you can imagine.
When it comes to making films, most people believe that it all starts with the writer. While that sounds nice, it is not correct. The producer, more often than not nowadays, options some piece of intellectual property. Be it a book, article, life rights or whatever seems as if it would make for two hours of entertainment. From there the producer hires a writer to take this intellectual property and turn it into a feature length screenplay. Said producer then uses that screenplay and IP to attract a director or star or both, then goes about shopping that entire package of talent and material for funding. These are all well-known knowns within the film industry. The only thing no one quite knows is exactly what a producer does outside of what I just explained. That is if a producer even goes about all or even half of the previous steps. Only those in the know for the project in question, do know. I understand that may seem a little confusing, but film producers can be that way. So let me attempt to clarify things with an example.
Jon Peters was a prolific film producer for decades. A few of his producing credits include: A Star Is Born (1976), Caddyshack, Batman (1989), Man of Steel. He was also a producer on The Color Purple. But Steven Spielberg, the film’s director, had a clause in his contract that explicitly stated that if Jon Peters set a single foot on his movie set, he could legally quit on the spot and the studio would have to pay all of his director fees. Which begs the question, if a producer is barred from his films set by the very people who are paying his producing fees, then what does a producer truly do, at least in terms of actually producing the film? Also, what did Jon do to Mister Nice Fellow himself, Steven Spielberg, or his film making process, to cause such a clause to be put into his contract, let alone have it accepted by the studio? Seriously, Spielberg has a sterling reputation on top of Oprah’s asking him, a white male, to direct The Color Purple. How do you manage to cross that guy?
Now to Harvey Weinstein, the guy who typically does the crossing. When the story that essentially kickstarted #MeToo broke on Harvey in the New York Times during October of 2017, I followed it with a demonic glee, because I’m enthralled with these sorts of backroom, Mafia- lite, dealings. And as I delved into the information like I do with films, I once again found a number of “glitches.” In fact, there was one glitch in particular that seemed to burrow under my skin and never let go. Based on the words of ninety-plus Weinstein accusers, a clear pattern took shape. This pattern consisted of three points. The latter two of which were often intertwined with each other.
Point #1—Harvey would get a young actress and/or model alone in a room.
Point #2—Harvey would tempt said young actress and/or model with career advancement. In other words, the casting couch.
Point #3—Harvey would engage in sexual misconduct with said young actress and/or model, ranging from innuendo to forcible rape.
Harvey Weinstein engaged in this same three-point pattern for twenty-plus years, during which he was a power player in the film business. This in itself is heinous. A powerful man at the top of his profession being an active serial rapist without consequence. But this was not the part that would not let go of me. That came with the fact that of all the courageous women who came forward against Harvey Weinstein, not a single one admitted to consensual sex with him. Which means that Harvey’s consensual sex ratio for twenty-plus years with actresses and/or models was zero percent—ZERO. This is simply not plausible or probable. Possible, yes. But if you believe that a man has the same method for sleeping with women for twenty years and fails every single time, then you must also believe that global warming is a hoax. What makes this improbability even harder to believe is the fact that it has come to light that Harvey actively sabotaged the careers of women who rebuffed his sexual advances. Three of those women being Rose McGowan, Ashley Judd, and Mira Sorvino.
Then in December of 2018 a woman filed a lawsuit against Harvey Weinstein in Los Angeles County wherein she alleges that in 2013 Harvey forced oral sex, ejaculated on her skirt and told her, “I slept with Jennifer Lawrence and look where she is. She just won an Oscar.” Jennifer Lawrence won the Oscar for 2012’s Silver Linings Playbook (dir. David O. Russell), which was distributed by The Weinstein Company. Jennifer Lawrence has denied this allegation. Despite her denial and the fact that she is a good actress, I do not believe her. For three primary reasons. #1—I tend to believe people who talk through the legal system where there are consequences and repercussions for lies. #2—I trust the word of people whose job does not require them to provide a marketable narrative to the public. #3—Everyone has at least one sexual partner they regret, and rarely if ever does said sexual partner lead to great fame and fortune. Thus I believe that the vast majority of Americans, including J. Law, would happily take one regrettable penis with fame and fortune being the prize, even if one’s sexual diet did not include penis until that point in time.
This Weinstein ordeal was but a single “glitch” in the Hollywood system. Unfortunately, there are a number of “glitches” at work in Hollywood. Les Moonves and Bill Cosby are two that immediately come to mind. But these “glitches’” victims are women. Wait until the world learns of the “glitches” that have targeted and continue to target children. Some of you may have heard about the documentary film, An Open Secret (dir. Amy J. Berg, 2014). If you haven’t, I suggest you take a gander. I bring this up, in addition to Kevin Spacey and his dastardly deeds, because it seems crystal clear to me that Hollywood does not have a “glitch” problem, but a “glitches” problem. One could say that Hollywood’s daily operation is that of a corrupt system. And the only proper cleanser for a corrupt system is light. Dave Chappelle spoke on this when he told the world that Hollywood needs South Africa. What Chappelle was referring to was the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was set up to deal with what happened during apartheid. The Commission had three goals. Goal #1—Make sure prior human rights violations were recorded and acknowledged. #2—Allow for both reparation and rehabilitation of the victims. #3—Permit perpetrators to fully confess and perhaps receive amnesty.
In other words, if Hollywood perpetrators were given a chance to admit all of their wrongs, the world would see how a corrupt system can and does corrupt seemingly good people, in addition to the already despicable ones who don’t need further corrupting. The system would then be able to move forward and create a better and less corrupt system. But as it stands now, Hollywood seems content to shame individuals as if they are isolated incidents, which is not true. To give you an example, Josh Lieberman, a major manager with 3Arts Entertainment told me how The Carsey-Werner Company, which produced The Cosby Show (1984-1992) and Cosby (1996-2000), had a company-wide rule for years, that no woman was ever to be alone in a room or elevator with Dr. Bill Cosby. This was not precautionary, as it occurred many years before Hannibal Buress helped bring Cosby’s sexual infractions to light. This was due diligence because they knew of, or had a strong belief in, Bill Cosby’s criminal acts against women. I say this to illustrate that there are no rogue individuals in Hollywood, but a system at work. Layers upon layers in the form of managers, agents, publicists, corporations, and others, who allow predators who turn hefty profits to operate without retribution in said system.
For a bit of perspective, one could say that Jennifer Lawrence by sleeping with Harvey Weinstein for career advancement is a victim of this system. One could also say she gamed the system in such epic fashion that she managed to walk off with the ultimate prize of a little gold genitalia-less man. All depends on your point of view.
As it stands today, the Hollywood system will be forever “glitched” as those inside and running said system would rather push a truthful-sounding narrative as opposed to the truth. And honestly, what more can we expect from an industry that makes pretend for a living? In the future, the best outcome Hollywood can hope for is that another major film producer will be exposed after twenty-plus years of sexual misconduct. Only this time the producer will be a woman. And in the film adaptation of that story the female producer will be played by a non-white transgendered actor, who somehow said not a single bad thing about any person or group on any social media platform ever, and got the role on acting talent alone and not nepotism, bankability, or who said transgendered actor slept with.
Who is Haji Outlaw?
Haji Outlaw has written and performed for television (The Eric Andre Show, Why? with Hannibal Buress, @midnight) and film (Humor). In addition he has written a number of titles available exclusively on Amazon.com, ranging from a non-fiction series about his time as a bouncer (Hey Doorman) to a fiction novel (The Kid Dies) to a fiction novelette series (Caramel). He is currently attached to a number of television projects in development, including one with FX network. These Movies Suck Volume I marks the first of Haji’s latest and most daring ebook series to date.