We all thought the biggest plot twist in the M Night Shyamalan narrative performance piece of a life was the revelation that he wrote She’s All That. Wrong! An interview from The Last Airbender promotional tour has been making the rounds online recently, and boy does Mr. Night sound like a jerk. He sounds exactly like the kid in your freshman year film class. You know, the one with the beret and the unnecessary glasses that rub his chin before he speaks and constantly references Godard and Lynch for reasons that no one, not even the professor, understands. Let me explain.
In this interview, Shyamalan makes a couple of hall of fame level assertions. First he complains that American critics, “never got [him], and it’s getting worse.” A few quick comments. First, this just isn’t true. Unbreakable, The Sixth Sense, and Signs all received mostly positive or even great reviews in America. Second it seems like he’s missing the point of being a commercial filmmaker. It’s his job to make his movie accessible if he wants people to like it. It’s not really fair to blame the audience for not liking your movie, especially when that disdain is so unanimous.
The other eyebrow raiser was a real doosie. “I’m very used to getting on a plane from the U.S., having been savaged by them, and then going to, like in this case, I went to Japan next, and then they’re like, ‘Genius!’” Oh really M. Night? You’re huge in Japan? Even if that is true, which it’s not according to Boxoffice.com, where it’s reported that After Earth opened to nearly twice the results of The Last Airbender. (AFTER EARTH!!!!!!) That’s still a pretty embarrassing thing to say. It’s also confusing because he was making an explicitly American movie, so it seems like he did a pretty bad job no matter how you look at it. He’s definitely no Jerry Lewis.
My point is this. The dude has talent. He’s shown that on numerous occasions, but as long he’s so wrapped up in his reputation and his aesthetic appeal he will run into problems. M. Night, I’m begging you, just listen to the critics. No one wants to see you fail. We all root for movies to be good. That’s what makes us cinema fans. No one is trying to hurt your feelings we all just think your shtick has worn thin. You are more than good enough to make a movie that reverses public opinion, so instead of whining about the opinions of a bunch of people who dream to be where you are just do what you do!
Do you guys think there’s hope for M Night Shyamalan? Discuss. But do it in the comment section so I can follow along.
I really enjoyed this article. A lot of people say this already, but it’s true that M. Night started running into trouble as soon as his first films (Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, Signs) hit it big. He fell into the same trap that a lot of newcomers fall into, which is based on the belief that “because I am a success, I can tell any story I want in whatever way I want to tell it and people will eat it up.” However, he’s not smart enough to realize that and just digs a deeper hole for himself by lashing out at his critics instead of really asking himself what he can do to improve his style. Granted, his first three films weren’t wildly original, but they didn’t talk down to the audience by filtering half-baked ideas through a pseudo-intellectual façade (Lady in the Water was more guilty of this than The Crappening). As far as The Last Airbender is concerned, though, I don’t know if we’ll ever figure out what he was thinking there.