UPDATE - 1PM PST - The Bitter Script Reader's rebuttal to this post is now online and can be found HERE.
The Bitter Script Reader has taken an abrupt vacation. In his place is the Billy Martin to his Yogi Berra: Tripp Stryker.
When we left off yesterday, a rising "It Girl" had fallen in love with the first 60 pages of my action spec CALLING CARD. She loved the idea of playing a kick-ass "empowered" chick who was tough enough to lead an entire drug cartel and still be deadly sexy while doing it. She relished the idea of playing such a "liberated" woman. Little did she realize that I was about to turn the entire story on its head.
For those not in the know, an "It Girl" is an actress who's often of greater use for her notoriety than her talent. She'll probably never win an Oscar, but she'll be more than willing to strip down to lingerie for a "lad mag" shoot and talk about how she was never one of the popular girls in school, how she was awkward and picked on, and how she never, ever considers a man's attractiveness when dating him. Also, despite being photographed in only a thong and garters, she swears she never deliberately tries to be sexy, nor thinks of herself as such.
(Also, in most cases an It Girl tends to be the type who's not especially threatening to other women. Angelina Jolie - not an It Girl. Kristen Bell? It Girl.)
So having an It Girl isn't like having a Spielberg or a Hanks attached, but it doesn't hurt either.
This particular It Girl was the cream of the crop. How hot was she? Let's just say she's single-handedly (heh) responsible for the death of more sperm than cell phone radiation and knees to the groin put together.
I explained yesterday that I was looking push some boundaries and explore taboos in CALLING CARD. But I didn't just want to do the most outrageous stuff I could think of. I needed to give it a context - which is why the first half of the script was full of stuff that It Girl was over the moon for.
It bothers me a lot that it's open season on white men in screenplays. You can beat a man to death, but the instant a woman is slapped in a movie, it's clearly misogyny at play. Look at the flap over The Social Network's portrayal of women. Femi-Nazis got out their torches because a movie about a group of guys who alternate between hating women and degrading women didn't have a strong female role. Never mind it's based on real life and the only women who could stand those guys were the sort of vapid groupies the film depicts. Never mind that no sane woman would WANT to hang with those guys. No - just by showing those guys in their element and showing the women who naturally exist in that element, the Femi-Nazis declared that the people behind The Social Network hated women.
But shoot an Oprah Book-Club selection where every man is a cheating, abusive cad and see if anyone raises a concern about the way white men are treated in our media today. It's shameful PC-garbage and we've put up with this double-standard and these free-speech hating feminists for long enough.
In the first half of calling card, Eve brutalizes, sexual abuses and mutilates several men, and then degrades and humiliates several others. A scene where she makes one drugged Japanese gang banger dance around in a crotchless tutu is played for laughs, while a scene where she tortures a guy by cutting off his dick plays like a "You GO, Girl!" moment. The only note I got back from my agent AND the It Girl was, "Could we not have Eve shoot the bulldog to death? I don't think my fans would forgive me for killing a dog."
All of that was deliberate, because it set up the balance for what I was about to do in the second half of the script. Yesterday I talked about taboos, and the artists who discovered original humor by breaking those taboos. Well, the way I see it, there are only two subjects that no one has tried to make funny: rape and Two and a Half Men.
I'd written what amounted to possibly the most hilarious rape scene every committed to the page. After being on the defensive for half the film, Mac catches up to Eve and her own ineptitude isn't far behind. He's got every reason to want her dead - she killed his wife and baby - but he just can't make it happen. The gun fails. An effort to tackle her and snap her neck merely ends with her clothes getting torn off. He tries to get her with his belt, and his pants fall down. She tries to embarrass him by ripping off his boxers, but ends up pulling him down on top of her and well...
Look, it doesn't sound funny when I explain it like this, but trust me, the way the rape scene plays out it's at least as hilarious as Travolta accidentally blowing that guy's head off in Pulp Fiction. Then in a "what's good for the goose is good for the gander" revenge, he drugs her up, drops her in the middle of a wedding reception and leaves her make a fool of herself in front of witnesses.
So just so we're clear - nothing there is technically more offensive than the sexual mutilation and humiliation that Eve perpetrated on male victims in the first half of the script, right? And it was all funny then, wasn't it?
It Girl wasn't laughing. She said she had nothing against nudity if it was "integral to the story" and that she was in talks to play an exotic dancer so then problem wasn't that the wedding stuff was too racy for her. Her problem was that "It's misogynistic! You took this empowered independent character, and you degraded her in some of the most vile, ugly scenes I've ever read!"
I told her she didn't get my tone, and suggested she reread the scene. "The rape is supposed to be funny," I explained.
She hung up on me.
About ten minutes later my agent called. See, I didn't exactly send the script to It Girl through him. She and I had corresponded via email and I sent her the pages first. You don't usually do that, but I knew that my agent would never pass the script on if he had a chance to read it. As I predicted, he was livid when he got on the line. After a shouting match, I hung up on him.
I sent him the full script that night. A week later he called me.
"This is fucking funny," he said.
"Duh," I told him.
"This might be the funniest thing I've read all year. And balls-to-the wall action too."
And then of course he said, "No way I can sell this."
He wasn't wrong. He peddled it all over town and no one wanted to buy it - but EVERYONE loved it. I think half the people were just impressed by the stones it took to write some of that stuff but no one wanted to climb out on that limb with me. For years afterwards, I'd be at parties and still have people coming up to me saying, "CALLING CARD? Best script I ever read. What happened with it?"
What happened? Well, it became one of the more notorious unproduced scripts in town. Frankly I'm shocked it hasn't ended up on ScriptShadow yet. I got more meetings and assignments off that puppy alone than probably any of my other specs!
And all because I stayed true to my voice and wrote something that no one else in their right mind would have. If I told 100 "consultants" about what was in CALLING CARD before I wrote it I guarantee every last one of them would have begged me not to write it. But I did, and that's why I'm a writer and they're still "consulting."
Remind me to tell you someday about how CALLING CARD led me to write a TV pilot for a very A-list star. I'm outta time and it's a long story, so we'll chat soon, gang.
The views expressed by Mr. Stryker are Mr. Stryker's opinions and may not necessarily reflect the opinons of The Bitter Script Reader, Blogger, or any of affiliated sites linked on the side of the blog.
If you have an issue with Mr. Stryker, the Bitter Script Reader suggests contacting Tripp directly at his Twitter: @TrippStryker or his email address: TrippleThreat69@hotmail.com
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