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"I have been an accomplice to the murders of untold numbers of human beings..."
August 9, 2002 11:45 AM   Subscribe

"I have been an accomplice to the murders of untold numbers of human beings..." One of Hollywood's most notorious screenwriters claims he and Hollywood are partly responsible for the cancer deaths of smokers. Doesn't Hollywood usually claim they are not responsible for their viewers' actions?
posted by Fabulon7 (30 comments total)

 
Dear Joe,

Showgirls sucked. Karma exists. You have cancer. Get the picture?
posted by DragonBoy at 11:55 AM on August 9, 2002


"I have been an accomplice to the murders of untold numbers of human beings. I am admitting this only because I have made a deal with God. Spare me, I said, and I will try to stop others from committing the same crimes I did."

Oh please spare me! I have no pity for this guy. Would he ever have admitted his culpability or his stupidity if he hadn't developed cancer? Has he checked to see if god is interested in his deal?
posted by gordian knot at 11:56 AM on August 9, 2002


I also blame Joe for my love of giving lapdances.
posted by ColdChef at 11:59 AM on August 9, 2002


"I have been an accomplice to the murders of untold numbers of human beings. I am admitting this only because I have made a deal with God. Spare me, I said, and I will try to stop others from committing the same crimes I did."

While I'm sorry that Joe has cancer, I have to say he sounds like he's going off his rocker. Crimes? So depicting a behavior is seen as not only a sanction to commit said behavior, but an undeniable command? Because he depicted people who smoked he's making the assumption that we are powerless to resist smoking ourselves. Sounds a bit egomaniacal. He also depicted murder, so if we commit murder, he's responsible for that as well?

"My hands are bloody; so are Hollywood's. My cancer has caused me to attempt to cleanse mine," he writes. "I don't wish my fate upon anyone in Hollywood, but I beg that Hollywood stop imposing it upon millions of others."

Bloody hands? OK, whatever you say, Lady Macbeth. But Hollywood doesn't impose anything on a responsible adult that said adult doesn't choose. To say otherwise is to treat people like drooling, brainless drones with no agency of their own, which is something Hollywood and Eszterhaus are very skilled at.

The writer of other guilty-pleasure movies, including "Flashdance," "Sliver" and "Showgirls...

There's your unspeakable crimes right there.
posted by evanizer at 11:59 AM on August 9, 2002


As a person who looks to Flashdance as a template for appropriate modes of behavior, I can honestly say that Joe has a point. Many nights I sit and watch the Sliver special edition DVD for hours, looking for any tips I can find on how to be cool, hip, and generally more Baldwin.
posted by Doug at 12:01 PM on August 9, 2002


In response to your question, Fabulon, it would appear that he was unceremoniously drummed out of Hollywood about five years ago.
posted by GriffX at 12:02 PM on August 9, 2002


What a fascinating trainwreck of abject fear ("Invisible Magical Overlord! Save me!") coupled with supreme arrogance ("My peers and I have murdered millions through our art, and I must now call on them to stop!").

When my day comes, I hope I can retain just the teensiest bit more composure than Mr. Pantload here.
posted by UncleFes at 12:07 PM on August 9, 2002


I walked into smoking with both eyes open and a family history that told me it was a stupid thing to do. I finally quit in September after 14 years. The media didn't start me up, nor did it stop me (those obnoxious "infect TRUTH" ads make me want to start again actually).

Also, Joe Esterhaus ain't got nothing on Yul Brenner's "I'm dead now..." PSA. Anyone know where I can find a copy (my google fu is very beatable today)?
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 12:11 PM on August 9, 2002


Hack, Hollywood, Hack.

Read it any way you want.
posted by dhartung at 12:19 PM on August 9, 2002


Part of me clings to the theory that in 20 years, Joe Eszterhas will be recognized as a misunderstood, brilliant artist, a sort of P.T. Barnum by way of Andy Warhol. His work has a strong "well, here's what you came here to see" undercurrent, punctuated by an almost willful refusal to rise above itself. Consider Showgirls- its badness is not the result of carelessness or incompetence, but is purposeful and calculated. And what of Burn, Hollywood, Burn! (which, I confess, I've never seen)? It's about a director, see, who makes a movie that the studios wreck so much he wants to take his name off it, but see, he can't because he's named Alan Smithee (the "official" pseudonym of directors who take their names off their films, which really happens). Only it turns out that the movie itself (the real one) is so bad that the director takes his name off, so the "Directed By" credit is... Alan Smithee. Is it simply a bad movie, or a brilliant postmodern joke?
posted by mkultra at 12:26 PM on August 9, 2002


It is simply a bad movie, with some funny parts, almost all of which feature Chuck D.
posted by Fabulon7 at 12:37 PM on August 9, 2002


Simply a bad movie. Joe Eszterhas is not a good writer. It's that simple. He doesn't deserve cancer -- no one does -- and I'm genuinely sorry for him, but his movie scripts started out as awful and got steadily worse over the years.

In his review of Showgirls, Roger Ebert wrote: "Eszterhas is the highest-paid screenwriter in Hollywood history. His credits include 'Jagged Edge,' 'Basic Instinct' and the forthcoming 'Jade.' His insights into human nature come from pulp fiction, and a fear of women palpitates in all his best work (they'll kill you - but if you're lucky, they'll have sex with you first, and maybe put on a lesbo show)."

Which would be okay, I guess, if the movies he wrote were watchable, but even almost non-stop nudity couldn't help crap like Showgirls.
posted by UnReality at 12:41 PM on August 9, 2002


Apparently Bloomberg agrees that cigarettes should be "as illegal as heroin " (to quote Joe): he's proposing a ban on smoking in NYC bars and restaurants. Idiot.
posted by insomnyuk at 12:47 PM on August 9, 2002


The only person Joe Esterhaus has killed is Alan Smithee. Sidebar on the left.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 12:48 PM on August 9, 2002


evanizer: There's a reason companies pump billions of dollars into advertizing, you know. They're generally not stupid when it comes to spending that amount of money.

Not that I agree with the notion that Hollywood is responsible or anything, but I certainly don't agree with your assertion that they were simply depicting a behaviour without any sort of underlying value judgement. Displaying something in a certain way in films is definately going to have an effect on the public.
posted by ODiV at 12:49 PM on August 9, 2002


but even almost non-stop nudity couldn't help crap like Showgirls.

Dude, you're not watching it correctly - two words: Mute Button. It's a THOUSAND times better!

Displaying something in a certain way in films is definately going to have an effect on the public.

Must... grow... second... head
posted by UncleFes at 12:52 PM on August 9, 2002


Pink: Thanks for that. I had no idea.
posted by Fabulon7 at 12:55 PM on August 9, 2002


While I'm sorry to hear that Eszterhas has cancer, I am highly suspicious when a screenwriter suggests that a trashy Hollywood script contains added subtext and when that subtext involves cigarettes. We are after all talking about a movie that features sex scenes so ridiculous that it's almost as if Chuck Jones somehow managed to get Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner to fuck like minks and raise rugrats.

In a sane universe, Basic Instinct would be confined to the gloriously trashy milieu of late-night Showtime softcore and not receive this kind of scholarly second take just because its screenwriter has cancer.
posted by ed at 12:56 PM on August 9, 2002


No, he's right--that smoking/addiction/seduction subtext is definitely in the movie, and it's pretty obviously there on purpose. It's a pretty standard screenwriter gimmick. But since she's the evil one in the movie, wouldn't that subtext make people want to avoid smoking? I think if you follow through with his analysis of this subtext, you'll find that he's saying that smoking seduces you, then tries to kill you. Apparently Joe doesn't even understand his own scripts. He actually wrote an anti-smoking film. He can call off that deal with God now.
posted by Fabulon7 at 1:04 PM on August 9, 2002


two words: Mute Button. It's a THOUSAND times better!

And miss dialogue like:
"I'm a DANCER!"
"We're all whores, darlin'"?

You must be crazy.

*slinks away, realizing he's revealed how many times he's watched showgirls*
posted by owillis at 1:15 PM on August 9, 2002


Nothing like hypocrisy. "It wasn't bad before, but now I've lost my foolish gamble, so everyone MUST STOP NOW." Bah.

The only thing I like less than a smoker is a hypocrite.
posted by rushmc at 2:20 PM on August 9, 2002


Great piece of info. Pink! Thanks!
posted by RunsWithBandageScissors at 2:36 PM on August 9, 2002


One of the many reasons I started smoking at the tender age of 14 was that I thought Motley Crue looked so cool in all those pictures in Hit Parader with cigarettes hanging out of their mouths (plus peer pressure and all that).
posted by monkeymike at 3:10 PM on August 9, 2002


Smoking... Basic Instinct... Yul Brynner's commercial...

Man, this thread is screaming for some Bill Hicks.

But I'm trying to cut back.
posted by nath at 3:28 PM on August 9, 2002


Dude, you're not watching it correctly - two words: Mute Button. It's a THOUSAND times better!

Nonono... the dialogue is the best part. ("It must be weird, not having anybody cum on you.")

That, and the forced acting.

Oh, and the epileptic-sex-in-the-pool scene.
posted by Dirjy at 3:39 PM on August 9, 2002


The impression I get is that he was sucked in by the "smoking is cool" idea, and feels bad he helped perpetuate it.

What other reason is there to smoke? What percentage of smokers started smoking in the teens because it was cool?I didn't smoke, but I wasn't sneaking shots of whiskey with my friends because we liked the taste.

Then again, maybe I'd have less compassion if I'd seen any of his movies. If showgirls is as bad as it looks...
posted by Adam_S at 4:30 PM on August 9, 2002


I'm proud that he has thought of this and realized that smoking in films is a poor way to emphasize a person's "bad boy" characteristic. I just wish that he could've figured this out before it hit home for him. Then it would seem less selfish.
posted by GirlFriday at 5:35 PM on August 9, 2002


(scratches off the Shire)
man after the balrog, i needed a smoke...er
posted by clavdivs at 6:49 PM on August 9, 2002


You know, it's not like we are running out of people.
posted by crunchburger at 10:10 PM on August 9, 2002


"So what are you going to do, charge me with smoking?"
posted by bingo at 11:48 PM on August 9, 2002


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