Ok, now before I get into it here… let me say a couple of things.
1) I LOVED Sixth Sense
2) I LOVED Signs
3) I think M. Night Shyamalan is very gifted.
There… we clear on that? Good.
It’s no big secret that prior to the production of “Lady in the Water” that M. Night Shyamalan and Disney had a parting of the ways. Fair enough. That happens all the time in business relationships. No big deal. But now according to the guys over at Filmrot, there is a book coming out about the split being told from Shyamalan’s point of view called “How M. Night Shyamalan Risked His Career on a Fairy Tale”.
The long and the short of it is this. Shyamalan describes how everything fell apart with Disney. It all basically happened over a dinner meeting with Disney production President Nina Jacobson. In the dinner meeting, Jacobson describes her concerns with Shyamalan’s script for Lady in the Water:
At a disastrous dinner in Philadelphia last year, Jacobson delivered a frank critique of the “Lady in the Water” script. When she told him that she and her boss, studio Chairman Dick Cook, didn’t “get” the idea, Shyamalan was heartbroken. Things got only worse when she lambasted his inclusion of a mauling of a film critic in the story line and told Shyamalan his decision to cast himself as a visionary writer out to change the world bordered on self-serving. But Shyamalan gets his revenge on Jacobson in the book, in which he says he had felt for some time that he “had witnessed the decay of her creative vision right before his own wide-open eyes. She didn’t want iconoclastic directors. She wanted directors who made money.”
Ok, now most internet pundits (whom I respect very very much) are jumping on this story and yelling “YEAH M. NIGHT!!! You stick it to the man!!!” Because we all know how evil and dumb the studios are right? Right? RIGHT?
The problem is that “the studios are dumb” is an inaccurate fall back position we often take when we don’t actually want to THINK about the issue at hand. Studios are actually filled with brilliant people, who from time to time do very very very stupid things (if you’ve read The Movie Blog for any length of time you know I slam the studios almost as much as anyone sometimes).
But you know what I see when I read Shyamalan’s account of that infamous dinner meeting? I see a spoiled and arrogant filimmaker who thinks he can do no wrong who refused to listen to criticism from anyone. I see a filmmaker whose last film (The Village) totally sucked ass, and yet has his nose so far up his own ass he thinks that if people don’t like his work, the problem must be theirs.
And you know what? I think Jacobsen was right! Putting himself in that role DOES seem totally arrogant and self promoting. Having a film critic attacked DOES seem like he’s got the maturity of a 5 year old and he’s lashing out at someone who dissed one of his films. So yeah.. I think it was totally fair of Jacobson to raise those issues.
So what does Shyamalan do??? Does he say “Thanks for the feedback. Let me think about what you said”? Nope. He throws a hissy fit that comes across as “HOW DARE YOU CRITICIZE THE GREAT AND POWERFUL SHYAMALAN!!!! DON’T YOU KNOW WHO I THINK I AM!?!?!” He walks out, finds another studio that will kiss his ass, and then has a book written to vilify those who would dare question him. What a bitch.
So yeah… while everyone else is cheering this guy for what he did… all I can see is a childish little suck who didn’t like being told he wasn’t perfect… took his ball and went home… then cried about how he wasn’t worshiped at Disney for the god he thinks he is in a book where he calls a lot of people a lot of names. That’s what I see.
The studios can be idiots sometimes… yes. They can be driven by greed many times… yes. They can lack vision sometimes… yes. All very very true. But NONE of that changes this issue. To me, M. Night Shyamalan acted like a little whinny suck at that dinner… and now is acting like a little whinny bitch with a book. Slam me all you want… but that’s how I see it.