Op-Ed: Why “Hollywood’s Greatest Trick” Misses The Mark

This movie features “Narraration” by David Coburn (see credits).

On Wednesday, a new documentary released called Hollywood’s Greatest Trick produced by Sohail Al-Jamea and Ali Rizvi. The film runs a brisk 24 minutes and is basically a walk-through of the present state of the VFX industry here in America and in other Western countries around the work (that word “Western” will be key in a minute). Included in the documentary are people that work in the VFX business the majority of which are pulling for fair pay by way of a union that would hopefully negotiate a bigger piece of the pie in terms of profits from major motion pictures that employ the services of these VFX workers. We also get a few registered complaints from VFX workers that have worked on movies with say James Cameron and have received complaints about certain shots and this was an opportunity to air those grievances out if you will.

Here’s where the film starts to show its stress fractures in terms of making a point. While I do agree that I believe everyone should get paid as much money as they can get, anytime I hear people register complaints about a job or working for a company for long hours with no overtime pay and whatnot, I always surmise…”Do these people look down on their phones much?” Or “Did they enjoy watching their big-ass TV?”

I bring these points up because while animators and VFX artists may complain that their jobs are getting outsourced, and the gigs they do get require them to work long hours which is touted as being unfair, non-unionized workers work all over the globe in egregious working conditions so that we, as Americans, can enjoy the fruits of their labor. You know that Apple iPhone you kids love? At retail it costs around $700 say, yea? Today, that device you can’t possibly live without is produced in mass quantities in countries like China where work unions rarely exist and workers end up going home for pennies on the dollar. Is it right? Of course not! It’s pretty much slavery with the sole reward being the workers get to live in the slums of China under mass smog clouds guaranteeing that they won’t make it to 55 anyway all the while you kids get to sit on the shitter and Snapchat about how big your poop is. But, for animators and VFX artists to complain that their industries are unfair, I find it ironic that they too enjoy the fruits of non-union labor. Shit, at least you’re in a country that allows you to be in a movie to talk about it! Try that shit in the Nike shops in Taiwan, and see how long you last.

It’s just one of the many ironic complaints that I hear. Workers in the States complain that their jobs go overseas, yet everyone in California votes Democrat in an election where every candidate wants to implement further free trade agreements that would do nothing but continue that practice. Donald Trump gets cursed out by those same California voters (and yes, he should be) for racist/sexist remarks, but also leads a campaign about bringing jobs back to the U.S. like say the Ford and Chevy jobs being sent to Mexico. Those jobs are sent to Mexico so us kids can drive around in $12,000 Darts and Cruze’s instead of paying the over $30,000 it costs to drive say a Malibu that’s made here in the States. Sitting there and drinking a $4.99 “Naked” juice? Welp, hope you enjoy the sweat labor undocumented workers put in at $10 an hour versus an American worker who is going to demand $15 and change with benefits. VFX producers and animators want more money, but complain when movie prices hit an all-time high, then go and seek out a Pirate Bay or get a reviewer’s screener for free access and never wonder why movie studios are spending more marketing dollars in China and India than they are here in the States in an attempt to make that movie’s $200 million tag MAYBE break even. If those same animators and VFX producers want to double that movie’s price tag with a union, totally fine with it, but don’t complain when those movies don’t break even when the inevitable blockbuster bubble bursts after fans balk at your $30 movie ticket prices, and you guys are all out of work and looking to start your own independent studios to help kick off the bidding war that commences in the most viable entertainment industry these United States have to offer…COMMERCIALS!

So I guess what I’m trying to say is, I hear your complaints animators and VFX producers. I get where you are coming from and you have every right to complain about how unfair it is being in this industry. Fairness is in the eye of the beholder and yes every worker on Earth, be it man, woman, or otherwise, deserves equal pay for the same job so don’t worry much about “Hollywood’s Greatest Trick”, maybe think about “American Consumerism’s Greatest Trick” and start there. Don’t forget you same VFX kids are taking PLENTY of advantage of other industries that do the same damn shit, if not worse, and I can guarantee none of those Chinese workers that build your Fitbits are driving around in Porsche 911s Turbos.

John Schwarz

John is the Chief Editor and Founder of Bubbleblabber.com. While at first a part-time project, Bubbleblabber quickly grew into a full-fledged operation and officially became a company in 2014. When John isn't running a business full-time, he likes to go to concerts and also spends time with his dog, Mitsy.

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