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Sex, Stupidity and Greed: Inside the American Movie Industry by Ian Grey

Author: Ian Grey
Book title: Sex, Stupidity and Greed: Inside the American Movie Industry
ISBN10: 0965104273
ISBN13: 978-0965104272
Publisher: Juno Books; First Edition edition (June 1, 1997)
Language: English
Pages: 240
Size PDF: 1723 kb
Size FB2: 1587 kb
Size ePUB: 1196 kb
Rating: 4.7 ✯
Votes: 371
Subcategory: Movies

Sex, Stupidity and Greed: Inside the American Movie Industry by Ian Grey

Grey probes the dark, sordid, stupid underside of the glittering, glamorous veneer of Hollywood. Packed with outrageous anecdotes, insider interviews, unbelievable skills and production sketches, this compulsively readable volume exposes the incredible scandals and lurid excesses at the heart of the film industry.
Reviews (7)
Rich Vulture
Ian Grey starts off "Sex, Stupidity and Greed" with a bang and quickly fades to a whimper. Instead of giving us the inside scoop on Hollywood, how it works, how it thinks, who's who in the zoo, he takes every opportunity to take a potshot at the Reagan-Bush years, parroting the liberal screed we've all heard ad nauseam,(and believed to be true until the advent of the nineties when suddenly the "greed" of the eighties became the "wonderful economy" of Bill Clinton).
Pa-leeze. When we buy books about Hollywood, we want to read about Hollywood. If we want to hear what a rotten job Ronald Reagan did twenty years ago, we'll buy political books.
While few filmgoers today would dispute the idea that Hollywood cranks out dozens of pieces of garbage for every one truly good film that is produced, Ian Grey's SEX, STUPIDITY, AND GREED: INSIDE THE AMERICAN MOVIE INDUSTRY is not, as its title and cover promises, a daring examination of Hollywood that "splits the carcass of the American movie industry from gizzard to groin." Employing a sometimes vulgar invective--one that he would surely cite as socially or culturally subpar were it to show up as part of the dialogue in some recent film--Grey frequently pits recently produced films against those from the pre-MPAA era as a way of illustrating how the Hollywood movie has "devolved" over the past four decades. Reading between these lines, the astute reader can't help but conclude that it is not the American movie industry per se that Grey hates so much, but what angers him instead is the fact that recent movies--with all their newfangled technical FX and new methods for storytelling--have usurped the beloved films of his youth in the projectors at the local cinema, an attitude that makes this read more like a reactionary rant than an exposé.

If one can forgive Grey for using the book as a soapbox for his personal rant, it is still difficult to surmount the other obstacles within these pages. One of the most glaring problems with Grey's arguments is his constant use of AD VERECUNDIAM logical fallacies. At least two major chapters in SEX, STUPIDITY, AND GREED: INSIDE THE AMERICAN MOVIE INDUSTRY are built around interviews with "authorities" that have little expertise in the American film industry, one centering on a publisher of soft-core porn magazines and the other a psychiatrist who apparently treats patients with self-image issues. Another irritating aspect of the book is its overall style. Rather than reading like a formal book-length exposé from an industry insider--which is what the jacket declares the book to be--the writing style is more akin to that of an amateur internet blog, with the same sort of abrupt shifts in thought and subtopic that one often sees when reading online diaries and such. And there is an apparent lack of professional editing, too, as one comes across numerous grammatical and punctuation errors throughout the text (again, the same sort of errors one commonly finds when reading entries on an amateur web site).

Also, the frequent comparisons of certain recently produced films against specific films from the pre-MPAA as a means of "exposing" the deterioration of quality and morality in Hollywood make it seem as if Grey is unaware of--or perhaps purposely ignoring--the history of filmmaking in America. With everything from the racism and blatant historical inaccuracies of D.W. Griffith's THE BIRTH OF A NATION (1915) to Roman Polanski's dalliance with an underage girl in the 1970s, the pre-MPAA movie industry in the United States certainly had its share of controversy regarding the morality and aesthetic quality of the films it produced and the people who produced them. Grey's arguments that such problems are something new to the industry simply fall flat in the face of history.

SEX, STUPIDITY, AND GREED: INSIDE THE AMERICAN MOVIE INDUSTRY is not without its merits. The chapter discussing the establishment of the MPAA in the late 1960s and the frequently inconsistent application of its rating system is very eye-opening, and Grey's interview with the sometimes reviled actress Sean Young is also an interesting read. Yet despite these way-too-infrequent good points, Grey's purported exposé of the deterioration of aesthetics and quality in the Hollywood movie-making juggernaut is actually little more than the reactionary ranting of a man who is miffed because "they" don't make movies like "they" used to, and being such, it will be of little interest to anyone hoping to get a genuine look at the inner workings of the current American movie industry.
This book really makes you sigh, in the end. It has been said for years that cinema is where art and commerce meet...and in the eighties art went home. Ian Grey basically explains how the little piggy that went home that is art--people with something to say--in American cinema, was told to go, and why it still is staying there.
The anecdotes can be funny; the social commentary is often fascinating. The double standards and schizophrenic ideals concerning the standard for portraying violence in film is such a powerful social statement on our society that it is worth the price of admission by itself (irony thy name is horror movie ratings system: the message behind the standards do more harm to society than the films that fall beneath it). The only problem is what is easily detectable in Ian Grey's outlook or personality. Ian sounds a lot like the famous preachers obsessively pointificating on the wages of sin in front of the bordellos: you know, the ones who are on a first name basis with the madams and the most expensive of the employees! In other words, there are few times in the book that you don't get the impression that he is one gig or sold superficial action movie screenplay away from refuting virtually all of what he wrote here and living it up with the very people he is trashing. There is a thin line between simple insiders and true heretics; Ian seemingly wrote a book that, instead of having him hung in effigy by the elite and run out of town, will seemingly merely have him be heretofore excluded from only all of the very Hollywood parties he no longer wants to go to. Which means, well, the obvious: the real elite of elites in Hollywood are having as much fun with his book as he is.
Just the same, whether the leit motif of sour grapes is or is not running through this symphonic critique of the devolution of the art form of American movies over the past two decades, you learn a lot about how the business is run--or how this Frankenstein runs itself. When I think of how difficult it must be to get a screenplay or acting career established in Hollywood, his book simultaneously deflates a lot of secret hopes, and reinspires a belief in the redemptive power of artistic integrity over fame. And then it makes you laugh with a new sense of hope; after all, if some of these characters in the business could actually become famous and successful, anyone could!

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