Updated: May 31, 2020
I wanted to write this months ago, but I was too distracted and not ready. When ideas come to you at the very beginning, they are too raw, too immature to be uttered. An opinion should be locked up inside you, in the prison of your brain for a while, and you must knead it. You have to keep working it until it's ready and the conditions are ready as well. Then and only then will it find its real place. At least one hopes that it does. Sometimes it never finds its authentic moment of glory, and it becomes a tragedy. "Tragedy" is what I want to talk about.
Months ago, I was talking to a friend about work, writing, filmmaking, etc. He is a devoted comedy writer who only and only wants to do comedy and nothing else. There are many sound reasons why someone wants to do that. But I found it very bizarre, especially when I looked at my own work and dig deep inside my psyche. I've written comedy before, and they were relatively successful. But for some reason, I am more drawn to dramas. When I sit down to work, I become way too serious. Why is that? Why do we have tragedies?
What I am about to say is just one small aspect of the truth. There are many exceptions to this. But nevertheless, it has a streak of truth in it that worth thinking about.
People who are drawn to dramas have this -for lack of a better word- innocent belief that if people see the condition if people truly understand how stuff works and truly feel how others feel and what they are going through, that alone can cause change. This belief, in many cases, is not conscious. People who are drawn to dramas have this burning fire inside them to demonstrate emotions and hardship. They want to scream because they are sensitive. They can't help it but tell the story.
In many cases, people who are drawn to comedy have this pessimistic view of the world deep inside that we are a mess, the world is a mess, and there's nothing you can do about it. All you can do is laugh at it and have a good time while it's burning. Just let it go. "Why so serious?" At the very core, it is a very sinister view of the world, but it's funny.
When I listen to the late-night comedy shows when they talk about some severe stuff that affects the lives of millions of people, I always ask myself do the people who laugh at something, take it seriously? Are we mentally equipped to laugh at something and, at the same time, give a damn? If you don't feel the pain, the agony, the disaster, can you really care?
They say comedy takes the bitterness out of reality and makes it endurable. But endurable for who? Those who are in pain? Or those who are not? This brings up the question. Are there some subjects that comedy cannot touch? They say if it's funny, it's ok. I am not sure. I have to think about it deeply.
And there are other questions, can someone make a tragedy these days is this industry? There was one film in the recent memory in the American film industry that tried to be a tragedy, and it was the Warner Bros Joker. We all saw what a humongous success it was. Many were shocked by its success. As much as I personally believe that that film is not good at all, I was not shocked by its success.
The question is, are we courageous enough to go real dark? Can this country produce a Michael Haneke of its own? Are we willing to go deep into the darkest parts of our own society and courageously talk about it in our art?
I think, not only we need more dramas but also we need tragedies. Dark, gut-wrenching, devastating, traumatic tragedies. It is necessary to have it simply because there are none right now. People feel tragedies every day in the streets, in the allies, in their cars, in their kitchens, in the color of their skin, but they do not see it on the silver screen.
This is not about criticizing comedy, this is about the lack of daring dramas in the film orbit these days.
I remember a friend of mine after watching Joker told me, "It is a mistake. It is the only explanation. They didn't know they are making such a messed up film. It got our of their hands somehow."
Around the same time that these ideas rushed to my head, the universe put this George Carlin's interview on my lap. What he says here on the subject of comedy is how I feel.