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The Accidental Turitz: A Holiday Hater’s Anti-Valentine to Hollywood, Including the Studios Killing Midsize Movies

I always hated Valentine’s Day. I thought it was stupid — a made-up holiday meant to force people to spend money on their significant others while shaming single folk into feeling even worse about being alone than they already do. Seemingly overnight, candy and flower shops would raise their prices just to gouge customers’ wallets as companies like Hallmark and Victoria’s Secret raked in a fortune. The whole thing was nauseating.

But then I got married to a woman who not only enjoyed Valentine’s Day but also pointed out that it was far from the only manufactured holiday on the calendar. As I protested that I showed her great affection and care every day of the year and didn’t need to be reminded to do so on a specific day in February, she asked if I sent my mother a card on the second Sunday in May and my dad one on the third Sunday in June.

“Don’t you tell your parents you love them every time you talk?” I nodded in the affirmative, seeing quite clearly where she was going with this, but unable to formulate a proper retort. “And yet, you don’t complain about spending money on them that specific day, right?”

Needless to say, I am now a “big fan” of Valentine’s Day. I’m taking my wife to dinner at our favorite place tonight, and I even bought her flowers (and a card) this morning. I’m very excited about all of it. We’ll have a lovely time this evening and she’ll appreciate my taking care of her on this special day that’s dictated by corporate interests.

Speaking of corporate interests, if I must observe this “holiday,” I might as well spread the “love” to others who deserve it. To that end, I’ve written a few anti-Valentine’s cards to those Hollywood entities that truly deserve to hear from me on this special — and especially expensive — day. While I often say that I love what I do but don’t always like the business I’m in, the truth of the matter is that I couldn’t imagine doing anything else, so please take these love taps in the spirit with which they are intended.

Netflix tweet
A poorly-aged Netflix tweet as seen on The Today Show/NBC

Let’s start with Netflix, which gets a “valentine” for its new password-sharing penalty program. I’ve been sharing my Netflix account with my parents for years now, and when this thing comes down, sure, I can make my folks pony up, but it’s more likely that I’ll have to be a good son, bite the bullet, and pony up a few extra bucks a month to cover their freeloading viewership. Of course, given all they’ve done for me over the years, it’s the least I can do — literally, the very least — but I shouldn’t have to shoulder the cost of Netflix’s largesse these last few years. I mean, am I made out of money here? Sure, my mom loves those Korean dramas and my dad enjoys, well, I’m not sure he enjoys anything, really, but in terms of my own watch list, Netflix has been sinking below other streamers, and now there’s a heavy anchor tied around its neck.

I wish Netflix the best of luck with its password-sharing crackdown, but I fear that the streamer will be the one to suffer most in the long run, especially if the streaming behemoth keeps antsy viewers waiting for Season 2 of Squid Game and the much-hyped final season of Stranger Things. Churn can giveth and churn can taketh away, but no matter what, you’ll always have this digital valentine, Netflix. Thanks a lot.

Then again, an extra hundred or so dollars each year is a small price to pay to put a smile on my parents’ faces and keep them so glued to the TV that they forget to call me and ask when I’m visiting them again.

My second “valentine” goes to Zack Snyder‘s fans for refusing to let go of… well, anything, really. Oh, how I adore all of you.

Army of the Dead
Zack Snyder on the set of Army of the Dead/Netflix

Snyder was fired from Justice League — and he was fired, for the record — and now, more than five years later, they’re still harping on the so-called Snyderverse in all its execrable glory. They threw a fit when he was fired, they all but begged for a restoration of what they believed his “vision” for the movie would be, and Warner Bros. made an enormous mistake by giving in to their bullying demands, which, naturally, only spurred this ridiculous band of spoiled brats to make more demands — including that Warners sell the Snyderverse to Netflix, which, hard as it may be to believe, is one of the top 20 stupidest things I’ve ever heard.

Meanwhile, Netflix deserves a bonus “valentine” for continuing to throw money at Snyder so he can keep rehashing old ideas and turning bad Star Wars concepts that were previously rejected by Lucasfilm into a new franchise (Rebel Moon) for a streaming service in desperate need of one, no matter the source. Snyder’s love-struck fans are Netflix’s problem now, though we’ll see if that relationship is built to last.

Speaking of online trolls, you deserve a “valentine” for your stunning ability to complain about every single thing that doesn’t meet your exact standards, no matter how ridiculous or unrealistic. Take, for instance, the general reaction to Sasha Calle‘s Supergirl in the new Flash movie trailer. Because of course that’s a source of psychological injury to these snowflakes. “She’s not blonde, like in the comics!” “She’s got a full bodysuit and we can’t see her legs, like in the comics!” “This casting retroactively ruined my childhood!” These poor, poor souls. If something like that — or say, a female Ghostbusters movie, for instance — retroactively does anything at all to your childhood, then I’ve got news for you: it wasn’t that great to begin with. I’m sending all of you a valentine because clearly, you need one, and I’m happy to provide it alongside a little candy heart.

Anti-Valentine’s Day Conversation Heart Cookies
Anti-Valentine’s Day Conversation Heart Cookies image via Etsy/YourCookieConnection

I still have one “valentine” left, and I’d like to send it to the Hollywood studios for doing their very best to kill the midsize movie, as well as their continued refusal to reexamine their business models and greenlight more films of various genres outside of superhero movies and the like. That’s not to take anything away from a good superhero flick, but since fewer and fewer of them are any good at all, and there’s so little else in theaters to draw audiences, it’s a shame that the studios that are bitching about how they can only draw a certain kind of viewer are doing little to change that. We eat what’s on the menu, and as long as people can keep ordering dessert (i.e. comic book movies) before everything else, our cinematic diets are unlikely to change.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: studios need to diversify their film slates and include films with smaller budgets if they hope to bring back the millions of viewers who have no interest in the superpowered CGI-fests they keep making. Hollywood needs to get back to making the kinds of movies that made us fall in love with the medium in the first place, and they need to commit real marketing dollars behind those films rather than dump them in a few hundred theaters before they make their way to streaming. So yeah, thanks, studios. This “valentine” is for you.

If it sounds like I resent all the money I’m forced to spend on flowers and dinner and other accouterments on Valentine’s Day when I really do go out of my way to make my wife feel special the other 364 days of the year, well, I have no idea what you’re talking about. I swear I’m a changed man. A genuine convert. That’s why I offer the above “valentines” with nothing but love.

I wish Hollywood all the best, even if it wishes I’d just shut up and fork over my money, be it for streaming services I rarely watch or comic book movies I rarely enjoy anymore. As for you, dear reader, from the bottom of my heart, Happy Valentine’s Day. I mean it.

Really.


Neil Turitz is a journalist, essayist, author, and filmmaker who has worked in and written about Hollywood for more than 25 years, though he has never lived there. These days, he splits his time between New York City and the Berkshires. He’s not on Twitter, but you can find him on Instagram @6wordreviews.

You can read a new installation of The Accidental Turitz every Wednesday, and all previous columns can be found here.

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