The Shyamalan Gamble

I’m not as critical of M. Night Shyamalan’s work as most people seem to be. First of all, I’m not even sure how we come to understand the perception of “most people,” and who’s actually represented in this vague theyness that we conceive in our heads. Is it mostly paid critics that we’re thinking of, who then cast their influence onto the masses? Are we just assuming that whatever critics think is what “the people” think? And when we say “the people,” do we invariably mean – per the norm – affluent white cis-males?

Alright, before a belabored social critique unfolds, let me get to my point. (But real quick, as for Shyamalan’s work beyond The Sixth Sense, I was totally cool with The Village and Signs, and Unbreakable was his most intriguing film.) After seeing this news about True Detective creator Nick Pizzalatte signing a deal with HBO, I was amused by how strong a hold one’s ethos can have in the entertainment industry. Make one hit (Season 1 of TD for Pizzalatte), and executives will keep going back to you, hoping that the gamble pays off. It’s a curious form of the confirmation bias, especially when so much money is typically involved. With Shyamalan, it happened for a while, and it wasn’t really paying off past Signs. How much benefit of the doubt does Pizzalatte have left? Which season was the norm, which the anomaly? Should we want to see what else Pizzalatte’s got, or should we move on to someone else’s creative vision?

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