Friday, August 03, 2007

A Defense of Blandness - by Marc Deckter


MARC DECKTER

Marc Deckter has the makings of a top Hollywood animation executive. He's figured out how they try to rationally justify what they do every day by amphibian instinct.

He has concocted an executive-style argument for blandness and through the goodness of his heart has agreed to share it with the unwashed masses that Hollywood loves to bilk.


I just want you to know that Marc himself hates blandness and likes only the cartooniest of cartoons.
In fact anything that tries to sneak in a story or inspirational message or tells him it's ok to be the best Marc Deckter that he can be completely enrages him. The other day, he gave me his review of the latest monstrously expensive bland feature and it wasn't pretty.

Marc
is one of the good ones.
But he does love defending the rights of the insincere, lame and tasteless.

So far he has come to the aid of poor misunderstood industries like McDonald's, Rap and Muzak. He hasn't defended Christian Rock yet, but I'm confident he is working up his arguments.

Today he rescues Animated Features.




THE DEFENSE OF BLANDNESS

by Marc


Being bland is a strategy big studios use to guarantee audiences won't hate their product.
Thus guaranteeing a profit will be made.

This is not an argument about making good entertainment - it is about being a safe studio.

This strategy is not good for making audiences love your work, it's only good at making audiences not hate your work. This is an important distinction.





BLAND IS SAFE

- with a generic/bland character, you don't have to worry about your audience hating the character, because there is not enough substance to hate. It'd be like hating a blank piece of paper. What is there to dislike?

Once your character starts making opinions and having specific characteristics, some people may like the character - and some people might not. So you have immediately created a potential for losing some of your audience.



BIG STUDIOS NEED TO GUARANTEE THEIR MOVIES ARE GOING TO MAKE BIG BUCKS

- the studios are investing a lot of money into these features. And the investors want a guarantee that they will make their money back. The studio can't afford to have their features flop. So what's the safest way to guarantee financial success?

1. copy a subject that has already been proven succesful. CG bug movies are popular? Let's make another one. The mom in the video store looking to buy her kids a movie to watch will remember she liked one bug movie, and she'll buy another one. And another one. And another one....

2. use pre-existing characters that already have a fanbase. Scooby Doo. Garfield. Alvin and the Chipmunks.

3. make characters that are difficult to dislike. The more bland and generic a character is, the less there is to dislike. Look at Mickey Mouse. His personality is like a blank piece of paper - there's nothing there. And look how popular he STILL is! I see people wearing Mickey Mouse t-shirts at least once a week. You might not love Mickey, but I'll bet you don't hate him - there's nothing to hate.




CREATIVITY AND EXPERIMENTATION IS RISKY

If you are actually creative and experiment with your art, you are taking a risk. People may love your product, but there is also the risk that they will not love it. And a big studio just can't afford to take that kind of risk.

So the big studio keeps their eyes on the smaller studios - the ones that are experimenting - and then when a smaller studio has success, the big studio will superficially copy their experiment and make a guaranteed profit.

So you see, I'm not defending blandness as an artistic choice - but as a smart economical choice on the part of a big studio that is investing millions into these features.

Now the argument, of course, is that if a big studio released a creative and not-bland feature, everyone would love it. Well maybe - but maybe not. But there is always a GUARANTEED audience (guaranteed profit) being safe.



IN CONCLUSION

Basically my point is that it is not idiotic that these big studios want to play it safe.

Big studios with Big Budgets cannot risk Big Failures. It's as simple as that.





HOLES IN THIS THEORY

The hole in this theory, of course, is that there are plenty of bland films that were not great successes. John has explained to me that there were tons of Disney rip-offs in the 90's that all failed (Ferngully, etc...) and did not make profits.


But in the past 10 years or so, the bland theory seems to be ringing true. I guess we can't trust these numbers 100%, but if they're even close to being accurate, its pretty obvious how profitable the bland theory is:



CG Bug Movies

A Bug's Life (Pixar, 1998)
Budget $120,000,000

Total Lifetime Grosses
Domestic: $162,798,565 44.8%
+ Foreign: $200,600,000 55.2%
= Worldwide: $363,398,565



Antz (Dreamworks, 1998)
Budget $105,000,000

Total Lifetime Grosses
Domestic: $90,757,863 52.8%
+ Foreign: $81,000,000 47.2%
= Worldwide: $171,757,863



The Ant Bully (Warner Brothers, 2006)
Budget $50,000,000

Total Lifetime Grosses
Domestic: $28,142,535 51.3%
+ Foreign: $26,765,154 48.7%
= Worldwide: $54,907,689



CG (and real) Penguin Movies

March of the Penguins (Warner Indepenent, 2005)
Budget $8,000,000

Total Lifetime Grosses
Domestic: $77,437,223 60.8%
+ Foreign: $49,955,016 39.2%
= Worldwide: $127,392,239


Happy Feet (Warner Brothers, 2006)
Budget $100,000,000

Total Lifetime Grosses
Domestic: $198,000,317 51.5%
+ Foreign: $186,258,869 48.5%
= Worldwide: $384,259,186



CG Fish Movies

Finding Nemo (Pixar, 2003)
Budget $94,000,000

Total Lifetime Grosses
Domestic: $339,714,978 39.3%
+ Foreign: $524,911,000 60.7%
= Worldwide: $864,625,978


Sharktale (Dreamworks, 2004)
Budget $75,000,000

Total Lifetime Grosses
Domestic: $160,861,908 44.2%
+ Foreign: $202,668,288 55.8%
= Worldwide: $363,530,196



CG Fairy Tale Parody Movies

Shrek (Dreamworks, 2001)
Budget $60,000,000

Domestic: $267,665,011 55.3%
+ Foreign: $216,744,207 44.7%
= Worldwide: $484,409,218


Hoodwinked (Weinstein Company, 2005)
Budget $15,000,000 (estimated)

Domestic: $51,386,611 46.9%
+ Foreign: $58,103,417 53.1%
= Worldwide: $109,490,028

( I pulled these numbers from boxofficemojo.com and imdb.com)



All of these bland features made profits, so how idiotic could it be to make bland films?


Visit Marc at his site:

http://duck-walk.blogspot.com/

80 comments:

Agent J said...

Marc's explanation reminded me of this article from a few years ago:
http://www.slate.com/Default.aspx?id=2102299

The ideal, I suppose, from a marketing perspective, is to strike the perfect balance between inoccuous and disposable.

CGsucks said...

Hey Marc! you failed to mention how the movie Happily never after failed to break even. You also forgot to mention the various mammal cg movies that flopped. The wild, madagascar, over the hedge, open season.
And about this whole "using characters who already have a fanbase". Personally, I think thats bullshit. Both scooby doo movies sucked big time. Also, hollywood often fails to use characters who are actually popular.
An example I know of, is a character named Dirge. He's the protagonist on a flash series called Xombie, by James Farr.Dirge has his own opinions and views and guess what? He's a majorly popular character! James has been trying to get Xombie to become an animated feature for nearly ten years. He's written it screen format, novel format, and has single handedly built himself a loyal fanbase of tens of thousands on Newgrounds.com. If hollywood would make it a movie, it would almost certainly be a smash hit. The fact that they don't proves they're a bunch of money grubbing retards.
What about the character Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Carribean. He had no fanbase when he first started. But his personality, coolness, and attitude made him extremely popular. You say having personality or views makes people hate the character? Well, maybe if you make the character state his views on abortion, then people would hate him. But having views and personality will NOT make most people hate he/she. (and if anyone does?who cares? they already forked over their money to see the movie.)
You say blandness is a safe bet huh? What about the movies 300, and Sin city. Two of the most creative and entertaining movies i've ever seen. THey were both smash hits in the box office. THe sad thing is, they may not have become movies if Frank Miller hadn't been forking over his own money.
In conclusion, creativity is the REAL money maker. It's slightly more risky yes. BUt these executives have more money than god. If they have to wait a few months before they can afford another solid gold mercedes due to a flopped movie. They'll receive no pity from me

Chris said...

Antz and A Bug's Life were released a few weeks apart. Are you saying that one was made because of the other? Also, The Ant Bully seems to have only made a meager profit compared to the other films on the list.

While I appreciate the attempt to offer examples, I feel like this short list offers only a glimpse of all the animated features released in the last few years.

I would find a more compelling defense of blandness to be an example of how a film was changed halfway through production to make it more bland and then that change made it do better with test audiences.

Jorge Garrido said...

>He hasn't defended Christian Rock yet, but I'm confident he is working up his arguments.

What is "Christian Rock"?

Tasch said...

What's the point of all this argument against blandness? It seems like you're doing a lot of preaching to the choir (or maybe ranting and raving to the choir). I, for one, would rather see discussions on what to do to create interesting characters rather than what not to do. I guess that's probably giving away the store, though, right? It's a lot easier to say "this stuff all sucks" than to say "these are things you can do to highlight interesting qualities of a character". Anyway, the second one is what I'd rather read...

JohnK said...

This is an argument FOR blandness, not against it.

99% of this blog is promoting not being bland, with tons of tips and lessons on how to achieve it.

Marc is just being Devil's advocate.

Paul B said...

HI JOHN, THE LAST POPEYE POST WAS INCREDIBLE!!!

i've always wanted to know how to work the lip-sinc and the synchronization of movements with the music

john, could you teach us how to work with a X-sheet, synchronize the lip-sync and synchronize the movements with the music in a cartoon ?

it would be a great help

THANKS FOR ALL THIS STUFF JOHN!!

your pal, Paul

Bradley said...

If anyone wants to witness the ultimate blandness and the sad state of Saturday morning cartoons you can TRY to watch 'Jane and the Dragon' on NBC.

The show is CGI and the characters mouths barely move; to make things worse you can barely make out the people on the screen since the drab costumes blend in with the drab background. If kids willingly watch that show, I'd be really surprised.

Where did the fun shows go?

drgrafik said...

This argument for the studios being bland equals larger profit seems to come down to immediate profit. Instant gratification. I agree Mickey Mouse is a bland character, however he was built from the beginning, when at one time he wasnt bland, and that is what his fan base was built from. What none of the new bland characters can ever acheive is a lasting base of fanship. They will be easily replaced by the next generic character to come along. We need real characters, in funny situations (not contrived), showing individuality, and these characters will not only build a following that generates an immediate profit, but also for years to come. Its easier to identify with a character that shows opinions.

John said...

I do see but how the studios could think that way but I mean Come on you gotta try something totally new once in a while I mean Basicly noy its just taking like the same story and charecters but moving it from like a dog movie to a movie about clowns.Well never get anything good if that continues!

thehotwad1 said...

John, let me just start by saying that you have opened my eyes to what's really going on in today's animation industry, it's really disgusting, and you've also nipped alot of the observations I've tried to make for the past 7 years aswell as some new ones.

But I have to say what Tasch said is very true: you've told us about the problems, now I think we need to come up with some solutions and before you say "Uhh, stop being bland?" I think you need to consider that we need alittle more than that. Your obviously filled to the brim with animaton, character and writing information, you've proven this many times, and you have experience with the industry and the "suits" who are bringing it down so I ask you for some insightful knowlege: What can we do to overcome this duldrum in andimation? Is there no way to topple the suits, the executive who can say with one word wether or not a cartoon is apealing to childern, even thought they probily haven't watched a cartoon in their adult life? I think your future blog entries should be dedicated to finding solutions to the future of animated telivision and movies and how we can make it better.

Lex said...

CGSucks - I think you missed the point.

Scooby Doo - These movies did suck, and they were bland. Hey - they made lots of money too (at least the first one did - I couldn't find the figures for the second one). This support's Marc's argument perfectly.

Dirge - He doesn't have enough market saturation to be considered popular. I've never heard of him, and chances are at least 80% of the moviegoing public haven't as well. Garfield = popular. Dirge = cult following.

Jack Sparrow - Sure the character isn't bland and didn't have a fanbase, but the movie itself is based on a popular ride (!) with an existing fanbase, and the character is portrayed by an actor with an existing fanbase. Plus, the animation in this film isn't very cartoony - it's just bland, realistic-looking skeletons.

300 and Sin City - Marc isn't saying that creativity doesn't make money. He's saying that blandness will generally make at least some money. With creative movies, you don't know which way the box office will swing, and this is too much of a risk for studios.

Matt Greenwood said...

"You say blandness is a safe bet huh? What about the movies 300, and Sin city. Two of the most creative and entertaining movies i've ever seen."

Wow, I stopped reading there. I don't know what you want from a movie, but to me, a glossy, 99% computer generated (odd from a guy with "CGsucks" as a name) action for 14-year-old geeks isn't what I'd really call creative exactly. You also got confused as to what the argument was about.

I agree with Marc for the most part, those numbers speak for themselves. But he left out out a few points about marketing and non-bland stuff that has done really well like Bugs Bunny.

But I agree about studios playing it safe. You can't mess around when you're dealing with so much money. As John said in a previous post, the Popeye cartoons cost a fraction of the price of modern-day animation. I'm sure if they were gambling with more money back then there would have played it safe too.

I don't think anyone could question that in terms of artistic worth and quality these bland features don't compare at all, but I don't think fat soccer mums taking their kids to see a movie care about 3 specific walk-cycles.

Robotron said...

It seems a bit strange to argue that people can't logically hate something that you yourself hate.

Chris said...

I was just wondering what would some examples of "non bland" look like? I'm a student who admits to not really knowing anything about anything right now but hell, I loved Ratattoie.

I really hope that Marc doesn't think that guys like Paul Coker Jr. and Jack Davis are bland! If so, I'm completely lost...

pinkboi said...

This is a tangent on the rationale behind what are ultimately weak business decisions that he does little to defend, only explain (even some of his arguments are weak - I'm not so sure kids really do like Mickey that much) but I won't go there.

The environment of stockholder-oriented publicly traded corporations is like that of committee thinking - it destroys creativity since all the shareholders, not being creative or good businesspeople themselves, will continually insist on the safest path. The safest path isn't the most potentially lucrative but the least likely to fail (a priori). Studios mistakenly think that the quality of the film is directly proportional to the money put in.

Here is the problem: it takes money for distribution and promotion, just the kind of money publicly traded companies have oozing out their pores. Yet, an entrepreneurial privately help company can creatively run circles around the former. The answer? Internet distribution! I, for one, look forward to downloading George Liquor off of iTunes.

Pete said...

Okay, so the main argument is, Hollywood is by and large risk averse these days. Probably due to being run by Harvard MBA's rather than anyone who gives a shinola.

Well, yeah. We know that.

The problem is in thinking that "risk averse" means ""loss avoiding". Thanks, cgsucks, for naming all the mammal CG movies that, if not bombed, made barely a dent. Why did they get greenlit? Because they heard that, OMFG!, Dreamworks have greenlit a mammal CGI movie! We may lose the valuable CGI mammal movie sector!

Because that's the way Harvard MBA brains think... sorry, react: if another Harvard MBA has approved this idea already, it must be a good idea. Sorry, HMBA's are incapable of even conceiving of "good ideas", we must replace this with the word "profitable".

Their brains are also plugged into the idea of competition where there is none: Antz doesn't really compete with Bug's Life. But it was IIRC commmissioned as a "spoiler" for the newly formed Dreamworks animation, with the hope that throwing the Spielberg name and lots of stunt casting at it could combat Pixars growing reputation (in Hollywierd, Normal Illinois doesn't give a damn, apart form how they get marketed to by the mouse).

And all this risk aversion (and thanks for using so many cap's from Polar Express, a film that no way, no how could flop, NO SIR!) comes up short against Goldman's Law: No One in Hollywood Knows Anything.

When they think they do you get... well, Disney studios of the 70's and 80's for a start. You know, the geniuses who, when they did get an actual hit for once (Little Mermaid), followed it with... RESCUERS DOWN UNDER!

So yeah, the big hole in any defense of risk aversion is... it doesn't protect you from failure. Only from wildly amazing interesting success once in a while.

drgrafik said...

Also on these generic storylines:
What really gets my goat about the storylines these massive budget films crank out on an assembly line is what they actually teach. Over and over we see the heros/heroines of these films lie, cheat and steal they're way through it and by the time the last credits roll, everything is hunky dory. Take aladin, he lies to his 'love' he steals from vendors and everyone else, makes promises he wont keep, and in the end everyone hapily forgives him without even thinking twice. Please tell me, when your freind steals from you and then lies about, then only comes clean when you cathc him red-handed, how many of you forgive him straight away? you might come around after a few years, when you've actually had time to somewhat forget about it, but chances are you'll find someone else to hang out with.
Theres a big difference between contrived storylines and funny situations.

Contrived: Aladin, Over the Hedge, Ants, etc

Funny: Space madness, Popeye, Bettyboop etc

i want more funny stories, and less that I have to explain to my kids, why the hero is wrong and unreal.

kate yarberry said...

Ok, so I understand that a studio with big bills need to make big money to pay those bills unless they feel like going out of business that day. Simple econ, right? SO then why is it that some of the most successful films of all time have been ones that were from way out of left field pioneering the film industry? Take Gone With the Wind for example, ( i like this example because Margret Mitchell was my great aunt) the book was widely popular but few studio wanted to touch it because it was a civil war story. It wasn't until Selznick's secretary read the book and loved it and forced him to read it and think about it that someone seriously considered making the book into a film. It is still one of the most profitable movies of all time and is still in the top 100 (considering it was released in 1939 this is slightly a big deal). Movies and Animations which break the mold will be remembered. I think that is why CG is doing so well at the box office, bland story lines aside, it's still relatively novel to see cg characters. That's really what people are paying for. But that is just a technical aspect sort of like using color in films, some people chose not to use color for 25 years. But the people who used it did made more money. But I think CG will most likely prove a limited medium if it is continued to be used in conjunction with shoddy plots and weak characters. Studios used to also be aware that if they play the same card so many times, very few will wander in to see the trick. They KNOW they need to keep things exciting, otherwise people will go else where for entertainment. The difference between studio of yester-year and modern day studios is today they simply lack balls. So they make boring movies, they make boring profits, and they make another even more boring bland, movie.


So what's the solution to the bland problem? Simply take a fucking risk once in a while!!! Try something new, even if it isn't a total success you can learn from it to go on to bigger and better things. Your investors will be please if you happen to stumble upon the next "big thing" while everyone else's studio is busy making a fourth shrek ( oh please no!). All time best movie ever? Citizen Kane, Orson Wells was given complete control and an unlimited budget and inspired many of the directors, writers, and editor who are paying the studios bills today. But who's going to pay those bills tomorrow when us young people today have few if any living legends to talk and learn from who aren't busy getting into limos without panties? Yes I took Logical Thinking in college, and Philosophy, and history of film, and loads and loads of art classes. I want to learn, and make great things. I want to make cartoons. But I also want to do something new, and I want to collaborate and learn from the best. Sorry I just wrote a small book.

thehotwad1 said...

But I have to say what Tasch said is very true: you've told us about the problems, now I think we need to come up with some solutions and before you say "Uhh, stop being bland?" I think you need to consider that we need alittle more than that. Your obviously filled to the brim with animaton, character and writing information, you've proven this many times, and you have experience with the industry and the "suits" who are bringing it down so I ask you for some insightful knowlege: What can we do to overcome this duldrum in andimation? Is there no way to topple the suits, the executive who can say with one word wether or not a cartoon is apealing to childern, even thought they probily haven't watched a cartoon in their adult life? I think your future blog entries should be dedicated to finding solutions to the future of animated telivision and movies and how we can make it better.

Ardy said...

There's a lot to hate about bland characters, but that's not the issue I have with Marc's assessment. The problem I have is the idea that characters must be likable, or rather that an unlikable character results in an unlikable film. Characters should evoke at least some kind of emotion in their audience, and whether that emotion is love or hatred, it doesn't (or shouldn't) affect the film as a whole. Whether the audience is rooting for or against the main character, the point is that they are engaged in what will happen to him/her. If a bland character succeeds, no one will be upset or happy, they might be relieved that the movie is finally over though. The perfect example of main characters who no one likes, is the Three Stooges. Does anyone actually like any of the three stooges, or identify with them for that matter. They're complete assholes, and that's why they're fun to watch. You want to see them fail. Obviously the Three Stooges were pretty successful, also. So while I agree with Marc that some studio executives do use the "play it safe" excuse for blandness, I disagree with the idea that it's true and that audiences are spending money on these films because of the lack of personality in the film's characters or even the familiarity of the plots. Mothers take their kids to these movies because of the relentless promotion and advertisement big studios spend on their movies with the money they could have spent making a good movie. Advertisement is a more effective tool than a good movie when selling a movie, and if Mom is at Blockbuster, she's liable to rent a movie she's heard of rather than one that's actually good. No one likes these movies, the kids grow out of it, the parents can't stomach them, so the only thing these movies appeal to is our fear that a movie might be different or offensive. And I firmly believe someone could make a lot of money with a movie that takes chances and garners a dedicated fan base rather than tricks the majority of people into seeing it.

Evan said...

Sounds like Marc believes in Worthington's Law, might I refer you to this: Worthington's Law

Tibby said...

That's what I was trying to say before. Blandness is SAFE. That's why the studios churn it out all the time.

The counter argument to that is the blandness doesn't so anything innovative. Nothing stands out - it's all the same. It's all a copy, of a copy, of a copy ect. It's boring and eventually the audience itself gets so bored with it they aren't drawn to the movies anymore. They just take their kids to it to give them a treat for finishing their homework or something. The universal blandness of all those films is boring. And it has bred a whole genera of bland and boring cartoons and features. Nobody remembers the characters, nobody really cares. Nothing is done that pushes the bar or raises any standards. Nothing makes the audience say WOW anymore. CGI used to amaze ppl, but now it's so common and the movies are so bland and boring that it really doesn't matter what format it is animated in. I think that the audience would love to see a 2D film again, just for the nostalgic value alone. As long as it was totally different and amazing.

The feature films now seem to rely more on the popularity of a celebrities voice than the character itself. WILL SMITH IS A FISH!! WOW!! Boring -.-
The animation itself doesn't matter, it's how close to the actor can you make it look. While still being a penguin.

You forgot the 3rd Penguin movie; SURF'S UP. Really, how many bland penguin movies do we really need?

Why are the innovative and imaginative artists continually put down in favor of the bland ones? The bland and formulaic artists get the jobs and the ones with color and life are passed up. The angular and rigid cartoonists are favored over the classic style ones. Because they are "safe" because they are bland? It makes me very ill and very sad.

Parker said...

Hey John,
don`t be angry. I`m totally on your side.

Ted said...

Marc's advocacy position is a caricature of what the actual position of the studios probably is, but probably not far off. He's making big sweeping ideas like "guaranteed profit" when the reality is probably closer to a a foreseeably (and manageably) thin range of profit and loss. And it probably does come to a combination of "investors are generally risk averse and will provide funding for us only for tried and true formulaic stories" and "while innovation will sometimes provide huge profits, it will also sometimes create catastrophic loss, while formulaic material will tend to generate a consistent level of income that will increase when something is newly fashionable; while we would like huge profits, we are more risk averse than outside investors who would have les son the line than we do internally, as we cannot survive catastrophic loss and therefore are more amenable to formulae, especially when that sometimes is extra profitable during a fashionable phase".

This does not explain complete blandness however, but only explains blandness in general terms. It would explain why there would be multiple bug movies, or movies where a good boy is trapped in a world s/he never made and needs to overcome one character flaw in order to win, but not why the overall movie needs to be bland (see Mirrormask for a not bland movie with that second scenario). Overall blandness requires the theory to be extrapolated to the micromanagement level; if a company believes the theory enough, it will implement it at every level. That's less understandable, as there is a countervailing need to make a given product stand out; it would be advisable from a business standpoint to have a certain degree of blandness (especially in the logline for a project) to guarantee market acceptance, but it is less understandable why it would continue into all details of the project.

For example, put some corny old ideas together. Say you have a cartoon dog and cat, who have conflicting personalities (one's mean and self centered, one's stupid and devoted to the mean one, with a big bulbous nose), and they get thrown into the pound together, but in the end they win through against all odds by helping each other, and get out into a loving home; what could be blander than ripping off the first Garfield tv movie (which was itself a dilution of the Garfield strip, which was probably ripping off something specific from the '50s I'm not remembering at the moment)? But if the details aren't bland, the result can be good.

he said said...

The Road to El Dorado (which you used an image from) lost a crapload of money. It put a big hurt on Elton John's finances for a while.

Do you have any concrete examples of creativity failing big for a studio?

Stephen Worth said...

Perhaps using already existing characters makes the film look better on paper to people who have never seen the movie... Imagine a banker looking at a studio's assets to give it a loan... "Hmmm..." the banker says, "Garfield. I've heard of that! I'll up the value of the studio a few hundred million dollars."

Of course this wouldn't work if bankers actually went to see animated features... Maybe the studios are specifically choosing subjects that bankers recognize but would never go to see themselves!

See ya
Steve

Adam said...

I'm always tempted to imagine that the evils of the world, like terribly bland animated entertainment, are caused by a small group of brilliantly evil men pulling strings and playing the rest of the world like marrionettes and cashing in big time.

I think I imagine that because that's what I want to believe. Why do I want to believe something like that? Because what I'm starting to realize is that the truth is even scarier.

And the truth is bland entertainment is created because of ignorance and apathy. Either stupid people have the power to make bad decisions and they do, or reasonably intelligent people make bad decisions because they don't care, or some combination of the two.

Look at our modern Hollywood studio system. The people at the top are ignorant at how to make an entertaining feature so they hire some consultants, the consultants don't know what's entertaining so they conduct market research. So they get the most average people they can find and run them through a series of half-baked tests created by pop-psychologists. Or they watch what's made a lot of money at the box-office recently and take all those movies' entertaining bits and put them together like Dr. Frankenstein with MS.

So this half concocted idea of 'what execs-think-what-consultants who think they know what the audiences wants wants' filters its way up to the execs at the top and then filters its way down to the creative people who actually have to wrestle the thing into existence.

Naturally these creative types are apathetic to the final result, ( the good ones are only working at these crappy studios to gain experience to start out on their own, and the others have had their spirits crushed long ago ) so they sleepwalk their way through the project, and the result is pure crap. Expensive crap but still total crap.

I'm sure it's the same way for a lot of industries.

JohnK said...

>>"while innovation will sometimes provide huge profits, it will also sometimes create catastrophic loss, while formulaic material will tend to generate a consistent level of income<<

If they were worried about "risking" money, they wouldn't spend $400,000,000 for production, marketing and overhead in the first place.

Roberto said...

This is a response to Marc's blandness argument. If you make characters that are difficult to dislike, then you would have add something else to make up for the blandness. It would probably have to be something that is just as creative as a specific character. It would keep the audience entertained throughout the film.

Wouldn't the audience sometimes confuse the superficial copy of a small studio's experiment (in terms of story, characters, etc.) as a rip-off or some cheap knock-off? That would probably explain why some films (like the Disney rip-offs John mentioned) didn't make much money. An audience doesn't want to watch the same thing over and over again. That would be like eating the same thing every day. You would get tired of it.

Kali Fontecchio said...

"It'd be like hating a blank piece of paper. What is there to dislike?" That's like saying eating porridge is better than starving- which is cruel, because they could easily give us ice cream!

"2. use pre-existing characters that already have a fanbase. Scooby Doo. Garfield. Alvin and the Chipmunks."

I think this tactic was created by venomous, evil higher-ups just to enrage and inflame the fanbase!

"Look at Mickey Mouse. His personality is like a blank piece of paper - there's nothing there. And look how popular he STILL is!"

It's because Disney tells the world- he's a "classic" a "masterpiece" which fools anyone who doesn't think for themself.

Nice try Marc! This discussion is so much more hilarious in person though over a slice of grease.

Roberto said...

I forgot to mention something. Another way a studio can make big profits is if they can snag some of the people who worked on a hit animated film (probably the director, writers, basically anybody involved with the creative aspects of the film) and let them come up with another idea.

Mr. Semaj said...

Looking from the Shrek films so far, Deckter's arguement holds a lot of weight.

But there's a better reason why some of us would prefer Pixar over DreamWorks. Just because something is "bland", by John's definition at least, doesn't mean it has to suck out loud.

Emmett said...

What Marc Deckter has to say is interesting. Its sad, but makes sense. Something I would like to point out.

Pixar: one of Pixar's strong points is that it has never repeated itself. All of its movies (sans TOY STORY 2) have had a different idea and plot. Pixar make the best animated features today. Most other studios copy Pixar. Dreamworks copied FINDING NEMO and made SHARK TALE (a catastophe of a movie). Sometimes, a two similar ideas are inexplicably thought up at the same time (A BUG'S LIFE and ANTZ).

What about Genndy Tartakovsky and SAMURAI JACK. That show had some risky ideas, such as limited dialogue and (mechanical) decapitations. I know its a show, and we are really talking about features. I just thought I'd point SAMURAI JACK out because it has remained quite favorable.

If animated features need anything, its more risk. I strongly believe this. Any amount of risk, small or big, can add a level of freshness to an animated undertaking.

Animation needs RISK!!!

Evan said...

seems like when the non-bland ideas work tho, they pay off way more. so it seems like itd be a safer risk to do a lot of "risky" ideas with smaller budgets and reap the larger benefits when some become hugely popular.

kate yarberry said...

so in conclusion maybe the studios should go back to making many smaller fun creative projects with a large stable of talent and reap greater profits over all when something pricks the markets interest.
i mean how is the conusmer to know that a company pnly spent say 300,000 on a cartoon as opposed to 12,000,000? As long as the finished product is quality and entertaining to watch, and has a degree of originality.It's less risky over all and has a greater earnings potential for the studio. Man execs are a bunch of tard-os.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Mark has a point: It's easier to make money if you let someone else take the risk and do a me-too version if they succeed.

Of course if too many people think this way the industry eventually collapses or is beaten by more aggressive competitors.

JohnK said...

>>Mark has a point: It's easier to make money if you let someone else take the risk and do a me-too version if they succeed. <<

Then why does it hardly ever work?

Jason Tammemägi said...

I read quite recently about the scene in Star Wars where Luke finds his aunt and uncle dead. Hamill wanted to break down in tears and fall to his knees. Lucas wanted him just to look, keeping the expression more, to use the word of the day, bland. The idea being that the audience could project their own feelings on to Luke rather than being an observer.

It worked.

That doesn't excuse boring ol' bland animation characters because that was just one scene. It does, however, illustrate not just a nullifying use of the blank slate (which seems to be Marc's argument) but an actively positive one.

But if Luke had been like that through the whole movie, we'd be bored stiff.

Sean Worsham said...

It's a touchy subject John. I'm all for what you say and I don't think Marc really likes blandness deep down in his heart (his blog shows otherwise) but most in the industry as a whole thinks blandness does sell and in sense it does. It's safe risk-free and will at least turn a tiny profit for 80% of the time. Maybe not as much as the innovative leaders do (Like Ren and Stimpy, Beavis & Butthead and Powerpuff Girls) in their heyday, but it is safe and therefore unhateable to christian parents and soccer moms, which are unfortunately a huge part of America.

I hate bland personally and at times I had to work on bland stuff myself but I notice a lot of it around me selling. How else do you explain condescending shows like Dora the Explorer, Disney Princesses and Teletubbies selling?
It's a cash cow that's why and as much as I'm biting my tongue while downing my scotch to say it (ooh that's painful to say).

But Marc does have a slight point, although I believe his heart leads him to work for you John to make sure at least something not bland and entertaining makes it to the audience as deserved.

Sean Worsham said...

Eek don't forget Veggie Tales, That stuff sells for Christians and only makes a profit only because it's low budget. Same goes for Dora n' stuff.

Joe said...

First time poster, long time lurker, I'd like to say thanks John for all of the great posts. I'm trying to take them to heart.

With this being a discussion of blandness and seeing some of the screen shots from that Tom Hanks train wreck movie. I thought that everyone should experience the horror that is to be, named Beowolf.

http://www.apple.com/trailers/paramount/beowulf/

Take experienced actors, shoot them up with botox... instant CGI animation.

Should make millions.

Thanks again for taking the time to teach us.

Sean Worsham said...

The big idiotic thing with bland though is that if bland keeps up, it'll eventually lead to the downfall of the industry if nothing new or innovative comes out. Look at the 70's and most of the 80's for example. Nothing but bland was there until the new Adventures of Mighty Mouse came out and Who Framed Roger Rabbit came out. Both of them showed that cartoons were cool and made it ok for the general public to fall in love over again.

What we need is that one show or movie to tell the world cartoons and non bland ones are the best and to not accept anything less. We had a short spurt like that for a short time in the late 80's early 90's. Shows like Ren and Stimpy, Beavis and Butt-head and even bland studios like Disney benefitted from this. I don't know about you but maybe this crash in the 2d industry is happening because of bland. This is so something innovative can come along and save us all.

C'mon I know we can all do it, I will join anyone who is willing to do it. I want to fall in love with my craft all over again. It's like looking at your wife and discovering why you loved her all these years.

pinkboi said...

>> If they were worried about "risking" money, they wouldn't spend $400,000,000 for production, marketing and overhead in the first place. <<

I think you're missing his point. You'll find that generally with investments, "safer" generally means lower returns and vice versa

Also keep in mind that no one's paying $400,000,000 for production. Everyone's putting in a tiny amount and getting a slightly less tiny amount back.

Danny said...

Why Blandness?

Whenever I did a job in something I wasn't good at I'd copy the principals of the previous, established work in this field without being able to utilize these principles for anything beyond their basic look, resulting in correct but bland 'art'.

Maybe others do the same?

Kent B said...

I'm making a point of being really nice to Marc because we're all going to be working for him some day.

Roberto González said...

Hmmm...I don't know. Interesting theory, but as far as I'm concerned people hate characters without personality more than characters with personality. I mean, most people loves Bugs Bunny. And I have heard people who find Mickey Mouse too much of a sissy. Personally, I kinda like Mickey more than other bland characters.

But that's if anybody hate any cartoon character at all. Maybe if you are talking about conservative parents you have a point. But as far as I know people either love some animated characters or are indifferent towards them. The only people that hates certain cartoon characters are guys like us who like to draw and we find Shrek, for example, looks extremely ugly and has a poor personality. People usually will go and see animated features no matter why cause even the worst ones are mildly entertaining and they can carry their kids with them.

That's the way I see it at least. Then again I'm not a executive. Their mind work different.

JohnK said...

>>It does, however, illustrate not just a nullifying use of the blank slate (which seems to be Marc's argument) but an actively positive one. <<

Maybe we should just project a white screen for 90 minutes and the audience can imagine whatever they want.

We'd really make some profits then!

Robotron said...

Of course, Star Wars was meant to be the ultimate "bland" movie in everything but special effects. I know it works very well for a lot of people, it I personally find it irritating and not at all magic. By contrast, I find Martin Scorsese's movies much more entertaining, where the world is a projection of character's personalities. I think most people secretly do to. That's why everyone hated the new Star Wars, because of the removal of the few characters who gave the old films what little life they had, like Vader and Han Solo.

lastangelman said...

All I know is that I took my fair lady to see Happy Feet and Hoodwinked to the dollar movie (I'm gonna pay ten dollars for crap?) and got a two hour snooze each time while she enjoyed the blandness. She does like the bland - a lot. I hate the bland and the plot! Also, some of these CG movies are big screen radio in disguise. Close your eyes and listen. Pseudo-post modern snappy dialogue. It's like when talkies took over from silent pictures.

stiff said...

Y'know what I saw in those figures? Declining profits. The "original" ideas, even when they start out as bland, make more money than the knock-offs thereof. Marc has a perfectly good explanation of the executive mindset--the problem is, the executive mindset just doesn't work in the long run. Innovation is always going to make more money than following trends.

Colin said...

What Marc said does make alot of sense, I don't like that kind of mentality Hollywood has, but I understand.

Is it always going to be like this? Why are people so afraid of personality? I thought people liked characters they could relate to, why do they excuse blandness?

I guess that's what seperates characters like Bugs Bunny and Popeye from characters like Shrek and SpongeBob, and why the former have lasted decades, the latter will be forgotten in 10 years.

MitchLoidolt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MitchLoidolt said...

For old time's sake, can we please have a drawing contest?

All this talk about bland things has my pens and pencils whining about how they can produce the anti-bland. I think other people's creative utensils are, too.

Can we draw children who are mere minutes away from having history come knocking on their door, ready for us to follow their every impending step with interest and excitement?

Can we take stabs at what these curious looking children have as personality traits that would make an executives head explode?

JohnK said...

>>the problem is, the executive mindset just doesn't work in the long run. Innovation is always going to make more money than following trends.<<

You don't have to be innovative or "risky" to be entertaining or non-bland.

You just have to have a less naive outlook of human nature.

Entertaining characters shouldn't have to be an "innovation". Maybe the way things are today, they'd have to be.
There is no risk in making your characters actual characters.

That's what the whole Hollywood star system is all about.

Jeff Read said...

Nice defense, but a correction if I may: As the frontman for a huge evil corporation founded by a likely racist which lobbies aggressively for lazily-evaluated infinite copyright protection on all its works, Mickey is getting easier and easier for some people to hate.

Roberto González said...

>>I guess that's what seperates characters like Bugs Bunny and Popeye from characters like Shrek and SpongeBob, and why the former have lasted decades, the latter will be forgotten in 10 years. >>

Spongebob has a personality, one that is kinda annoying sometimes, but it's quite more defined than Shrek´s. I think it shows that one is the concept of a cartoonist and the other is the adaptation from a short book for a soul-less CGI blockbuster movie.

Adam G said...

Did anybody watch that really long star wars documentory empire of dreams? The Producer at Fox who aprooved star wars said he didn't undestand the script but had seen American Grafitti and realised that George Lucas was a genius. He said he didn't invest in Star Wars he invested in George Lucas. I think they made alot of money off that.

Executives should invest in Talent instead of blandness. People will probably just stop going to movies and watching TV if the entertainment is'nt fun.

Mr. Semaj said...

Spongebob has a personality, one that is kinda annoying sometimes, but it's quite more defined than Shrek´s. I think it shows that one is the concept of a cartoonist and the other is the adaptation from a short book for a soul-less CGI blockbuster movie.

At least with SpongeBob, they're not stretching themselves thin like Shrek is doing now, or Rugrats did.
After three movies, and more changes than the show ever needed, how often do you hear about Rugrats anymore?

Bradley said...

Fun to me is disturbing close-ups of butts and tongues(a la Ren and Stimpy), Cary Grant shoving Katherine Hepburn's face in the opening scene of The Philadelphia Story, and anything Mad Magazine from the 60's and 70's.

Today's studios just can't possibly tolerate these kinds of funny. There are too many focus groups and way too many levels of Execs regulating the whole thing; I mean doesn't that pretty much guarantee a lack of fun and spontaneity and personality?

An example: John K always talks about how with the good old cartoons you could sense the personality and world view of the artist who drew a particular Flintstone's episode and that would give it realism and fun! Its fresh out of his brain and it comes DIRECTLY from a person who is actually FUNNY and SMART. Instead, today's cartoons are birthed on the top branch of the unfunny tree and you know the rest. Its like making a hamburger, if you smoosh the meat too much and beat the patty, its going to be a nasty burger, but if you make a simple patty its going to have some texture and juice. Same with cartoons: as soon as a board gets a hold of an idea that is unfunny to start, its going to get beaten and smooshed till all the funny juice runs out of it.

Scott said...

Hi Mr. K,

Entertaining reading as always, and never bland! I watched Ratatouille last weekend, and can't imagine someone calling that film bland. Brad Bird's the best thing that's happened to mainstream animation in a loooong time. Sure there's a whole mess of horrible CGI out there, but we should celebrate it when someone gets it right.

During your discussion of the "bland lead," you didn't mention Bob Clampett's Beany. Does he fit your description? What's your take on the limited animation of B & C? Do you think that the design elevated it above the rest?

JohnK said...

Doesn't the main human character tell you himself that he's bland in a big speech near the end?

Does anybody have a distinct unique personality or design?

Colin said...

"At least with SpongeBob, they're not stretching themselves thin like Shrek is doing now, or Rugrats did.
After three movies, and more changes than the show ever needed, how often do you hear about Rugrats anymore? "

What's a Rug Rat? Seriously though, that franchise is dead. It lost sight of the point a looooong while back. That's pretty much going to be the fate of alot of these franchise.

Colin said...

"Does anybody have a distinct unique personality or design?"

Ed, Edd, n Eddy, and....Ed, Edd, n Eddy.

Scott said...

But the main human character IS bland, so what? He's not the main character, and the main rat isn't bland. He has an actual personality that's complex and not stereotypical.

Good character design on the fat dead chef, the food critic, the blonde chef with the thumb. In fact, I guess I like all the human designs. Just because they're not over-exaggerated doesn't mean they're bland.

(I don't think the design of the rats are as strong, mostly because their eyes made them look too much like Muppets.)

I think that hand-drawn has just as much potential for blandness as CGI. It does seem, however, that stop-motion tends to be less bland as a whole.

Micah said...

But then there's nothing to like either.

JohnK said...

>>He has an actual personality that's complex and not stereotypical. He has an actual personality that's complex and not stereotypical.<<

what is it? I know what his goal is, but not his personality. What quirks does he have that are unique to him?

Bradley said...

I think that we confuse Remy the Rat's goals with his personality. His dreams and aspirations were completely opposite from normal rats' goals, so it sneakily appears that he has a distinct personality.

Okay, so besides him not wanting to eat rotten garbage, nothing stands out about him. His voice was mediocre at best and the wackiest thing he did was feel 'remorse' for cheating his friends. So that is how Remy is bland: it was hard to dislike Remy but at the same time there was really nothing to like about him besides him having quasi-human tendencies.

JohnK said...

Whhops, sorry Chris, I accidentally deleted your comment! Here it is:

Chris Rank said...

Hi, long time reader, first time commentor:
There are a couple things that pop into mind
re: the blandness post.
(this pertains to the USA only-because the vast majority of movies are made for the USA-more money here, no?)
1. The majority of americans are bland. Have you ever listened to Country music today? talk about lack of creativity.

2. there are more people in the breadbasket. How often do you go to where the majority of the population is and find "cutting edge creativity anything?" The majority of the creativity is on the east and west coasts.

3. Pixar's clearly got the better stories based on the numbers you post. They pave the way and the story drives rather than the animation. I think the animation is important, but the story is more so.
The cart before the horse thing.

Animation without story is dead. Dreamworks animations "flop" because they are poorly written. With little or no originality in story (that i've seen-i may be off base on one or two-i dunno)

It can look as creative as you want it to, but if there's no story, who's going to want to watch it unless of course you are SOLELY into animation
and technique. Then you aren't marketing anymore, you are doing "art" and that's a different conversation.

4. I generally agree with everything you say John K and I appreciate your blog, but i do think you come across as conceited and condescending.
I've yet to hear (read) an animated feature you have "approved" of. Ralph Bakshi? How about Who framed Roger Rabbit? Was THAT safe in your definiton? it was definitely marketable, but i don't think safe.

(I'm not in favor of pulling punches or the whole PC Thing, but well, that's just how *I* feel so let's have a group hug)

anyway, same old same old comments.

JohnK said...

>>3. Pixar's clearly got the better stories based on the numbers you post. They pave the way and the story drives rather than the animation.<<

The stories are all pretty much the same to me. Animated feature stories with new-age messages.

Bakshi movies are different than the general animated features I've been talking about.

Roger Rabbit had some great animators working on it, but I thought it was misdirected.

It's like serious people made a story that was supposed to be "wacky" like Bob Clampett or Tex Avery, so they just filled it with takes and zany movement but no character or wit.

Sort of like the cartoon equivalent of Spielberg's live action comedies.

1941 -filled with talented comedians, yet there was no comedy


Of course I'm conceited. What entertainer isn't?

Jorge Garrido said...

>The environment of stockholder-oriented publicly traded corporations is like that of committee thinking - it destroys creativity since all the shareholders, not being creative or good businesspeople themselves, will continually insist on the safest path.

Warner Brothers and MGM were publicly traded corporations (redundant, yes?) in the forties, and they still made the greatest cartoons of all time... The problem isn't the corporate system, the problem is the production system.

The CGI movies are expensive, have too many characters, have too many crew members, have insanely expensie movie star voices, and are boring as hell. They pander to Wal-Mart moms and destroy both art and commerce.

I think cartoons should be profitable for the executives. I like the corporate system. If I owned Dreamworks, I'd want the maximum return on my investment, and the way they're doing things now gives me no confidence that I'd make any money.

In the 40s, the shareholders demanded that the corporations made money, and the corporations demanded that the cartoonists make good cartoons but let them figure out the creative decisions for themselves. That corporate system worked beautifully

Now, the shareholders demand that the corporations make money, but the corporations make the creative decisons and the artists are wrists.

Instead of trusting the people below them to do their jobs, the executives give notes, demand script rewrites, and stifle creativity.

Pixar is the exception, in that the artists are the executives, but those guys don't seem to like cartoony cartoons. They'd rather be storytellers and inspire people or something.

Yet Pixar is still by far the best big studio today.

Roberto González said...

Ok, so I finally watched Ratatouille. I really liked it, but yeah, it's mostly a good movie rather than a great animated movie. A very good movie, still.

It's interesting what you say about Remy, cause yeah, it's a pretty good criticism of his personality. He had motivations and conflicts and he had a goal, but I agree that doesn't entirely make him unique. I did find him cute and likeable, though, and it's not nearly as bland as other recent characters.

I would say Linguini was less bland and did have his own quirks. It could have been more exaggerated, but I think his design, slim, with freckles and red hair and his shy, naive and nervous reactions were kinda peculiar, at least for an animated movie that is not extremely cartoony.

The other character I liked both in design and attitude was Chef Skinner. I guess John will come up with other similar animated characters soon, but I think he had some movements and reactions (also the way he dresses) that gave him some personality.

The minor characters in the kitchen were also ok, though they didn't give them too much to do.

The critic was a good character by the way he was written more than the way he looked or acted.

I didn't totally buy Collete's character but she was ok.

Definitely one of the best, if not the best CGI movie yet, but still I would agree that some cartoony action could make it extremely awesome. A great concept but executed mostly in the form of a life action comedy. The designs may be "bland" but done in the better of tastes.

I do like the subtlety of Brad Bird's style in every aspect and I think it's the most reminiscent to Chuck Jones' style we have seen in an animated CGI, but probably subtlety could be combined with some more things that are only possible in animation.

Still I think the type of story and character motivations we have here is more interesting to see than the usual Disney movie (especially in the 80s-90s) and the characters are less generic. I would take Remy and Linguini as main characters over Simba the lion every time (and the same could be said about Monster Inc. characters compared to, say, Pocahontas, Belle or Aladdin).

Incidentally what's not to like about Roger Rabbit's characters? They had their distinct quirks and personalities, didn't they? I guess it was more trying to be cartoony than sincerely cartoony in the way it was animated and perhaps in the fact that the story was more the kind of story in a life-action movie. But the characters were not bland (my fave one was Benny the cab)and they had distinct voices and quirks

Jim Rockford said...

I understand that everything for the most part is about making money and the "bottom line"...BUT even so if you are in the entertainment industry you should care about entertaining your audience and producing something of merit!
I dont know why morons keep standing in line and paying to see the same generic boring crap over and over again!
Dont they have the ability to see it for the hollow ,creativly bankrupt con it is?
the publics apathy only encourages the studios to make more of the same thing that made money before.It becomes a viciuous circle,and there is no need seen by the execs to turn out a better product.
There was a time when Hollywood created great new movies and cartoons that were fun and wonderfully entertaining to watch AND they made money too! (how about that?!)

Now Hollywood just makes dumbed down poorly executed knock offs of past ideas with modern day pop culture references and bad 'tudes thrown in,or mindnumbingly poor new crap that they think up.
What the hell happened?
I would think the reason for being in the entertainment industy would be to actually produce something creative & entertaining,to bring something new to the art and audience,not just to sock away the money like theres no tommorow.
Today it seems like everythings an outright gyp!
What will the entertainment industry do when they finally run out of old TV shows and cartoons to remake? Garfield,Alvin and the Chipmunks,Underdog,now were even dredging from the wretched 80's with Transformers??? OH THE HUMANITY!
Its like all creativity has stopped,no one is making any future classics!

Jim Rockford said...

"Then why does it hardly ever work?"


Because they knock off a style without giving us the substance,
they dont understand what made the initial product a sucess.

Jim Rockford said...

"Maybe we should just project a white screen for 90 minutes and the audience can imagine whatever they want.

We'd really make some profits then!"


I think you've just given them their next big idea!

Mr. Semaj said...

The CGI movies are expensive, have too many characters, have too many crew members, have insanely expensie movie star voices, and are boring as hell. They pander to Wal-Mart moms and destroy both art and commerce.

This reminds me of a funny tidbit revealed on JimHillMedia about a month ago.

In the days leading up to Ratatouille's debut, some of the same Disney suits that spent years eating away at the studio's heritage with their bureaucracy were complaining, because now that John Lasseter and Ed Catmull are calling the shots at Disney's animation studio, their "bottom line" is being blown to smithereens for the good of the company. A rarity for any studio in this day and age.

Just for good measure, some of those suits should be fired. Anyone who'd rather consummate their love affair with Wal-Mart rather than make films that people actually want to watch do not belong in show business, let-alone animation.

Scott said...

How about Nightmare Before Xmas? Unique character designs, clever and interesting takes on cliched monsters, and a lead character who is torn by the temptations of evil. Not much bland about that film.

Some of the blame for bland lead characters in animated films has to fall on the source material. Christopher Robin is bland in the original, bland in the film. Blame it on society! At least Lewis Carrol made Alice cranky.

David Nethery said...

Hey, John,

You missed a few:

Bland

and

Blander

I know you , I waltzed with you Once Upon A Dream

Jeff Read said...

Peter Chung's work (Aeon Flux, etc.). Bland?

JohnK said...

Peter Chung is not bland. He has very distinct characters.