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29 July 2011

The 6 Cases of Executive Meddling (That made things better)

You guys know what executive meddling is? It usually involves an executive’s dick, the creator’s ass, and no lube at all. It basically means they will take whatever an artist, a writer or anyone with a mind not driven by bills created, and rape it until there’s nothing left but chunky spunk. Executive meddling is infamously known for taking your favourite properties and destroys them until there is nothing left. It’s what killed Star Wars to begin with (A pox on your house, Rick McCallum!). But, like everything, there are good cases of this. Sometimes executives remind us that they have made lots of money for good reasons: They are, in the end, more intelligent than us about what sells and what doesn’t. And here I give you what I think are the six cases where executive meddling made things better, like for example…

6 – Fixing Megatron’s transformation.

This won’t be the last time you will see Hasbro around this list. It has nothing to do with the fact that I like them lately, they just know how to do things.

Say that you are a kid in the late eighties, early nineties, and you just got to watch Transformers for the first time. The show is really cool and it features robots that turn into cars, trucks, beetles, radio-cassettes, Nazi Lugers and beetles. Find the odd one out in that sentence. Megatron was well known in the toy making industry during decades because his design turned him into a Luger with a scope.

No, seriously, a fucking Luger.

His toy was like that because in the show he would turn into a gun that then Starscream will fire to kill the Autobots. Even as a kid I considered that pretty fucking stupid. That would be like if the Emperor from Star Wars turns into Darth Vader’s light saber. But it’s a cartoon based on a toy commercial, what can you do about it? So when Transformers by Michael Bay turned around the corner I was ready to roll my eyes at how they would handle Megatron’s transformation. As you guys know, they turned him from gun to Alien Spaceship.

Look at that thing! It’s an alien spaceship! Not a gun, or a cannon, or a weapon that your useless right-hand robot Decepticon is going to use, but a motherfucking spaceship! I have to applaud the fact that Michael Bay came across clean and simple and said: “Turning into a gun is stupid. We are making him more believeable, as believable as a toy’s commercial can be”. Not a fan of subtlety, eh? But he was right, goddamnit. “Transformers” was already silly, but it would’ve been even sillier with Megatron turning into a pistol. So, for what is worth, this made the movie better than what it should’ve been.
You know it will happen, you just don't know when.

5 – Saying no to Alien Sex.

Long story short: Sigourney Weaver loves interspecies sex. I am not making this up. Anyone who spends five hours watching the Alien movies with the audio commentaries on will realize how much Sigourney Weaver wanted to shag with the Alien protagonist. An early concept of the movie had her being stared to death by the creature. But of course, the execs of FOX got on the way and refuted this idea. They said it would destroy the entire movie by turning it into “Voyeurs in Space”. Oddly enough, the fans agreed with them.

However, this wouldn’t be the last case of this in the Alien Franchise. While doing Aliens, James Cameron was approached by Sigourney Weaver, who had three requests for him: She wanted to die, she wanted no guns, and she wanted to make love to the Alien. Of course, following something called common sense, Cameron said no to all of these requests, and Sigourney was okay with that. She had bigger plans in mind.

Simply put, you will take a story about humans fighting against a terrible foe and you will screw up the basic rule: If you make a movie about humans VS aliens, the good guys are the humans, make sure you will keep rooting for the humans! If you allow your lead to have sex with the aliens, take away all the weapons to kill the aliens, and kill herself at the end of the movie, what the fuck do you get?


By saying no to Weaver’s requests, Cameron and the Execs of FOX gave us two really good Alien movies, and we should be thankful for that. Many franchises die before reaching the second movie. Speaking of franchises, second movies and premature death…

4 – Making TRON Legacy’s OST bearable.

I will put it clear: I love Tron. I love the original, and I really like the sequel. I might be one of the few fans who watch Tron Legacy and go “Yeah, I like this a lot” without feeling ashamed. Tron has also the best fan base in the world. No other movie franchise has such a good, dedicated and passionate fan base out there, and they are clearly outnumbered and underrated. They will give the Star Wars fan base a run for its money, that’s how good they are.

So, imagine their happiness when they heard the music for Legacy was being made by Daft Punk. It was a really intelligent promotional tool. Our soundtrack for our movie from the 80’s is being made by the best techno group out there right now. Go watch out two hour long videoclip we made for them! Or at least, that’s what we would be saying. According to Daft Punk's ex-manager, the group wasn’t happy with the music they made for the movie because Disney asked them to include more orchestral segments and less techno music. What we had left was a blend between techno and instrumental.


Are you a fan of techno? If you are not, we are on the same page. I listened to techno music, and it’s the loudest, most repetitive music out there. Now, imagine that kind of music for two hours, while you wear 3D glasses. They will have to clean your brains out of the floor with a mop. Disney knew that people wouldn’t want to stand for two hours of loud techno, so they balanced the soundtrack with a lot of orchestral themes, and they actually did a pretty good job! By keeping the orchestral music you give the human element in the soundtrack, while making the techno themes a big part to represent the world of the Grid.

Now, if you want those tracks that were missing, you can get the Reconfigured album in any music store out there. Yeah, Disney execs are definitely not stupid.

3 – Pulling the money off of Halo to make District 9


When a movie gets its money pulled away it usually means something bad has happened. In the case of terrible movies that were about to see the light of day, that actually means a good thing. For example, we have a shit-load of videogame based movies getting through production without much trouble. Anything directed by Uwe Boll seems to have green card to be approved. The Resident Evil franchise is about to have more movies than videogames released. Pokémon is also guilty for this. But what about Halo? The rumors of a movie based on the overly overrated Microsoft game started back in 2006, and they seem to have died around 2009. Some say it was because Peter Jackson abandoned the project to make Tintin with Steven Spielberg. Those of us who watched the extras of District 9 figured out that Halo was going nowhere.

With the studio quite upset about the movie’s lack of activity, they pulled all the money and left Jackson and to-be-director-of-Halo Neil Bloomkamp with 30 million dollar. Instead of taking it all to Nevada and drown their sorrow in margaritas (you know, like any other Hollywood director would’ve done) they took that money and made District 9.

First, it saved us from another videogame adaptation and months of raging fanboys tearing it apart on internet forums. Do you have any idea how annoying that is? Because District 9 was based on Bloomkamps original short film, there was no videogame link to this movie, even though some scenes have a very FPS-y taste. Second, it also saved us from another barrage of promotional posters taunting the Halo movie to be a phenomenon. District 9 had a very normal promotion with a website and posters, and the only ones who blew up its quality were the critics. Third and finally, it gave us an intelligent sci-fi movie. Yeah, alright, it’s not as original as it claimed to be (Alien Nation did it before) but it was a breath of fresh air after a decade of carbon copies from other movies. And if you compare it to what they wanted to do, it’s like comparing a Volkswagen Touareg with a toy car your dog shit on.

2 – Stripping My Little Pony off of its story arc.


*Ahem* Anyways, yes, this show does have a case of Executive meddling going right. I told you before that Hasbro had another entry, and here it is. But to be honest with you, the entire article could be filled with good executive meddling coming from Hasbro. These guys are brilliant! I don’t get paid by them or anything! They are just genuinely good with their fans. But the best case of their executive meddling has nothing to do with us, but with how the show was conceived.

Lauren Faust’s original idea was to have Applebloom looking for her Cutie-Mark in the town of Ponyville. There was also a story arc developed throughout season 1 that ended with the battle against Nightmare Moon. This means that episode 2 of the show used to be the season finale. Faust pitched these ideas to Hasbro, but they quickly dismissed them and asked her for a “slice-of-life” kind of show. This means, they took that Story Arc and took it away like a body part you don’t need. This is not rare, and many shows have had this applied to them.

 Yeah, like this one right here.

With a show that has no over-arching story line comes the lack of continuity. This means you can watch the episodes in any order and it will still be the same. That is a brilliant idea. How tired are you of episode re-caps anytime you watch a show you want? I was unable to get through 24 without watching a season from beginning to end! Stripping My Little Pony off of its arc was helpful for all of the fans, and for all the newcomers to get into it. Plus, it also proved how skilled the writers of this show are. You will say, without an arc there is no character development. No way José! Each episode is a little snippet into the lives of these characters. So, even though they never mention what happens in previous episodes (except in a few cases), there is a noticeable development of their personalities.

And now, let's go back to the list. Sorry Trixie!

  1 – Erasing all of Pixar’s bitterness.

Yes, I bet you guys saw this one coming. This is not only a massive case of executive meddling, but a case that saved Pixar from disappearing completely off the map. You have any idea how close we were from missing on such movies as “Up”, “Finding Nemo” or “Wall·E”? We were so close, there must be an alternate universe where it actually happened.

When Toy Story was first made, there were many things different from the final product we saw. The most superfluous one was that Buzz Lightyear was tiny and red. The biggest one was that Woody was a massive jerk. I don’t say it, John Lasseter himself claimed that! Woody was a dominant toy and he abused from the other toys physically and verbally. He also looked like a mix between the diabolic doll and James Cameron’s nightmares. His attitude was destructive, so destructive he made the execs of Disney think about destroying Pixar with their bare fists. They warned them that if they didn’t fix all that, they would close the company.

Nightmare fuel Woody.
Thankfully, they did fix the problem. The first thing they did was kicking Jeffrey Katzenberg out. If that name sounds familiar it’s because he created (and then killed) Shrek. Then they hired Joss Whedon to fix the screenplay of Toy Story with the help of John Lasseter and Andrew Stanton. The result is what we now consider a time capsule to our childhoods.


Look at these pictures.

Yeah, that's how it made things better.

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