Blog Post: Bad Writing

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Feb 3, 2024
New blog post by Jake E – discussions in this thread, please
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Lately, I’ve been hearing lots of complaints about awful writing. Not mine – people aren’t saying it to my face anyway – but some movies and television shows that are getting some scathing reviews.

Some cry that this is racism, homophobia, sexism etc. That these criticisms don’t hold water because of the place from which they are thrown.

Fair enough. I am almost certain that a fair number of these reviews are tarnished by the reviewer’s personal -isms.

But all of them?

I decided to look for myself.

Under fire are:

  • Doctor Who
  • The Acolyte
  • The Rings of Power
  • Rebel Moon
  • Damsel
  • Furiosa

I can’t possibly watch all of these and condense it into one blog post, so I chose one, I will watch the others and perhaps talk about them in the future.

I watched The Acolyte. A Star Wars series that is getting raked over the coals. Much of what happens in the episodes that I watched (1-2) did not make any sense at all. Lots of contrivances, contradictions and deus ex machina littered the plot, and I found it very hard to get on board.

First, the titular Acolyte, goes after a Jedi Master with the goal of killing her. So instead of, you know, shooting her with a sniper rifle or blowing her up with a bomb or something, she fights her in hand-to-hand combat. Sorry, what?

I understood straight away that this was just because the writers wanted a cool fight scene, and to be fair, it is pretty flashy and cool. The issue, though, is it doesn’t make sense for them to fight like that. The jedi has a light sabre which she doesn’t use*, and the assassin, who seems to be trained in the force too, doesn’t.

There should be no fight here. If the characters were acting logically, the jedi would’ve simply stood up, ignited her sabre and either cut the assassin down, or force pushed her ass out into the street and alerted the space cops (Or something). A hand-to-hand fight had no place here.

Next episode, the assassin goes after another Jedi Master and tries to fight him with her bare hands as well. Despite the last attempt going very poorly (She only won because she tricked the other master into letting her guard down**).

The writing on this show smacks of a team of writers forcing (Laughs in Star Wars fan) the plot on the characters and world, instead of letting it unfold organically. Characters make decisions that don’t make any sense, and the plot just rolls forward despite the head scratching**.

She kills the next Master by convincing him to drink poison**.

And that’s only the half of it. On the other side of the galaxy, her twin sister is going about her business (with the exact same hair cut for some reason**) when she is arrested because a bartender ID’d her as the culprit of the murder despite only having a physical description. In a galaxy far, far away, that is populated by untold quintillions, they managed to find her ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE GALAXY and knew she’d done it.

The worst part? In order to make the arrest make sense, the writers had the barman travel with the jedi and point at her and say, “Yep that’s her.”

Why? Why would you bring a random barman to your arrest?**

It made me chuckle out loud. I saw what they were doing, I’ve done it myself… in first drafts.

It shows a lack of care, understanding and, frankly, belief in the audience’s intelligence. People are smart, despite what warning labels would lead you to believe, and they can spot a contrivance or forced plot point a mile off. Maybe even from the other side of the galaxy.

Lazy… Is the word I want to use, but I think it’s worse than that. I think that the new breed of writers coming in to write our shows and movies are just not very good.

I don’t think they’ve put the work in. I don’t think they’ve learned their craft, and I don’t think they even realise it.

My only hope is that they improve with experience and learn from their mistakes, because if this is the future of storytelling, then, oh boy, have we got problems.



J



*She does use it. But only to cut some throwing knives out of the air, then she puts it away again for some reason**.

**Because the writers said so.
---

By @Jake E
Get the discussion going – post your thoughts & comments in the thread below…
 
New blog post by Jake E – discussions in this thread, please
---

Lately, I’ve been hearing lots of complaints about awful writing. Not mine – people aren’t saying it to my face anyway – but some movies and television shows that are getting some scathing reviews.

Some cry that this is racism, homophobia, sexism etc. That these criticisms don’t hold water because of the place from which they are thrown.

Fair enough. I am almost certain that a fair number of these reviews are tarnished by the reviewer’s personal -isms.

But all of them?

I decided to look for myself.

Under fire are:

  • Doctor Who
  • The Acolyte
  • The Rings of Power
  • Rebel Moon
  • Damsel
  • Furiosa

I can’t possibly watch all of these and condense it into one blog post, so I chose one, I will watch the others and perhaps talk about them in the future.

I watched The Acolyte. A Star Wars series that is getting raked over the coals. Much of what happens in the episodes that I watched (1-2) did not make any sense at all. Lots of contrivances, contradictions and deus ex machina littered the plot, and I found it very hard to get on board.

First, the titular Acolyte, goes after a Jedi Master with the goal of killing her. So instead of, you know, shooting her with a sniper rifle or blowing her up with a bomb or something, she fights her in hand-to-hand combat. Sorry, what?

I understood straight away that this was just because the writers wanted a cool fight scene, and to be fair, it is pretty flashy and cool. The issue, though, is it doesn’t make sense for them to fight like that. The jedi has a light sabre which she doesn’t use*, and the assassin, who seems to be trained in the force too, doesn’t.

There should be no fight here. If the characters were acting logically, the jedi would’ve simply stood up, ignited her sabre and either cut the assassin down, or force pushed her ass out into the street and alerted the space cops (Or something). A hand-to-hand fight had no place here.

Next episode, the assassin goes after another Jedi Master and tries to fight him with her bare hands as well. Despite the last attempt going very poorly (She only won because she tricked the other master into letting her guard down**).

The writing on this show smacks of a team of writers forcing (Laughs in Star Wars fan) the plot on the characters and world, instead of letting it unfold organically. Characters make decisions that don’t make any sense, and the plot just rolls forward despite the head scratching**.

She kills the next Master by convincing him to drink poison**.

And that’s only the half of it. On the other side of the galaxy, her twin sister is going about her business (with the exact same hair cut for some reason**) when she is arrested because a bartender ID’d her as the culprit of the murder despite only having a physical description. In a galaxy far, far away, that is populated by untold quintillions, they managed to find her ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE GALAXY and knew she’d done it.

The worst part? In order to make the arrest make sense, the writers had the barman travel with the jedi and point at her and say, “Yep that’s her.”

Why? Why would you bring a random barman to your arrest?**

It made me chuckle out loud. I saw what they were doing, I’ve done it myself… in first drafts.

It shows a lack of care, understanding and, frankly, belief in the audience’s intelligence. People are smart, despite what warning labels would lead you to believe, and they can spot a contrivance or forced plot point a mile off. Maybe even from the other side of the galaxy.

Lazy… Is the word I want to use, but I think it’s worse than that. I think that the new breed of writers coming in to write our shows and movies are just not very good.

I don’t think they’ve put the work in. I don’t think they’ve learned their craft, and I don’t think they even realise it.

My only hope is that they improve with experience and learn from their mistakes, because if this is the future of storytelling, then, oh boy, have we got problems.



J



*She does use it. But only to cut some throwing knives out of the air, then she puts it away again for some reason**.

**Because the writers said so.
---

By @Jake E
Get the discussion going – post your thoughts & comments in the thread below…
OR........ The real acolyte here is AI doing its apprenticeship. I actually saw some good reviews for this. But it was in the Guardian which is always a red flag for me.
But nobody gets to this level of seeing your script produced without paying some dues. I would say the writers here are doing exactly as they are told because the studios putting up the money do not want George Lucas of the 70's, you know a guy whose creativity is off the scale. Apparently market research shows that the target market, young people who buy stuff, do not want complicated plots that would take their mind off the game they are playing or whatever. They want background wallpaper like the videos that play in a club behind the DJ.
So lazy is not quite the right word. Craven sellout seems more accurate. The kind of guys who would prostitute their own grandmother.

Though a bartender who can mix a good space margarita would be worth taking along if you've been given an unlimited space expense account.
 
young people who buy stuff, do not want complicated plots that would take their mind off the game they are playing or whatever.

So true. My kids are constantly on their phones, half watching everything. I suspect a bit of being told by producers/execs only interested in money, and a bit of writers' short-cutting on their skills (I think it's human nature to try and shortcut).
 
I often think 'Who am I to judge whether writing is good or bad?' but I have to admit that recently I've been critical of popular song lyrics. Many are so simplistic, bland and juvenile. The similes are unoriginal and quite frankly what children would come up with. Perhaps it's a just a sign that I'm getting old, gah!
 
I often think 'Who am I to judge whether writing is good or bad?' but I have to admit that recently I've been critical of popular song lyrics. Many are so simplistic, bland and juvenile. The similes are unoriginal and quite frankly what children would come up with. Perhaps it's a just a sign that I'm getting old, gah!
Or childhood more commercial. On the other hand there is a growing demand for CD's and LP's of old music by young people rejecting the commercial pablum marketed to them. MY next prediction is people starting their own radio stations again.
 
I often think 'Who am I to judge whether writing is good or bad?' but I have to admit that recently I've been critical of popular song lyrics. Many are so simplistic, bland and juvenile. The similes are unoriginal and quite frankly what children would come up with. Perhaps it's a just a sign that I'm getting old, gah!
I used to think this.

Writing is often not a good/bad dichotomy and is usually a matter of taste. I don't like reading stories in the 1st Person. I don't like being that close to the protag. That doesn't mean writers who write in the 1st person write badly, just not for me.

But some of the shows I've watched recently have just been objectivly bad. Nonsense plot points, miraculous characters appearing out of nowhere, Mary-Sue characters... I watched Damsel with my daughter shortly after posting this blog, and, oh boy, was that a mess.

Acting was fine, sets alright, CGI was, well, CGI. But the plot made no sense. Even my daughter shouted out, "That's stupid. Why wouldn't she just..."
She's seven. Even a child is calling BS.

A lot of what's made now seems to be first draft level. No one has gone through it to check for inconsistencies or plot holes and people are starting to notice.

So lazy is not quite the right word. Craven sellout seems more accurate. The kind of guys who would prostitute their own grandmother.
I think this is true; however, it doesn't account for the bad writing.

A lot of people have issue with the agenda being pushed in Disney Star Wars. The LGBTQ+ stuff, and I think that distracts from the real problems within the writers rooms. Representation is important, but the work has to be put in. You can't write a mediocre piece and say, "It's alright, it has a lesbian in it."

And that is what it feels like is happening. As long as the diversity check list is ticked off, it's good to go. Quality no longer matters.
 
think this is true; however, it doesn't account for the bad writing.

A lot of people have issue with the agenda being pushed in Disney Star Wars. The LGBTQ+ stuff, and I think that distracts from the real problems within the writers rooms. Representation is important, but the work has to be put in. You can't write a mediocre piece and say, "It's alright, it has a lesbian in it."

And that is what it feels like is happening. As long as the diversity check list is ticked off, it's good to go. Quality no longer matters.






I think this is like blaming reporters for what gets into print. The people who hire the reporter, the editors, and pay for the printing decide what gets into print. Only the reporters who are acceptable to those who make the decisions get hired.
My point is the writers probably have scripts at home that cannot get produced because they are too good. They probably graduated from prestigious screenwriting programs. The know how to write well. They are not allowed to. It is superfluous to what is required by the people who make the decisions.

Your arguments posits that the writer has SOME control over what gets made.
My son is a stuntman and sword choreographer who has worked on a number of movies now. When you are on set it is very clear the writer is less important to the finished product than the caterers.
 
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think this is true; however, it doesn't account for the bad writing.

A lot of people have issue with the agenda being pushed in Disney Star Wars. The LGBTQ+ stuff, and I think that distracts from the real problems within the writers rooms. Representation is important, but the work has to be put in. You can't write a mediocre piece and say, "It's alright, it has a lesbian in it."

And that is what it feels like is happening. As long as the diversity check list is ticked off, it's good to go. Quality no longer matters.






I think this is like blaming reporters for what gets into print. The people who hire the reporter, the editors, and pay for the printing decide what gets into print. Only the reporters who are acceptable to those who make the decisions get hired.
My point is the writers probably have scripts at home that cannot get produced because they are too good. They probably graduated from prestigious screenwriting programs. The know how to writ well. They are not allowed to. It is superfluous to what is required by the people who make the decisions.

Your arguments posits that the writer has SOME control over what gets made.
My son is a stuntman and sword choreographer who has worked on a number of movies now. When you are on set it is very clear the writer is less important to the finished product than the caterers.
You're probably right. I'm not inside the industry so it is all speculation on my part.

Whatever the reason, stories that are told are not of a quality I'd expect of budgets in the millions $$$.
It's shoddy work, and I just hope it rectifies itself.
 
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