Friday, December 27, 2013

What's a "Vanity Project?"

Muhammad Rasheed - I need help on figuring out this 'vanity project' thing.

My first mind said it was just a weaponized word in the guise of an actual standardized industry term, that is used to red flag certain movies that the six studio Hollywood monopoly didn't want to succeed. I thought that because it SEEEEEMED like the term only surfaced against certain black people films in which the six studio Hollywood monopoly justifiably may have felt that if that film were to do well, they may have to give up a piece of their pie through more competition. It's possible that I do hear the term a lot and only notice it when it is directed towards black films that meet that criterion. So I decided to look 'vanity project' up to see if it really was an actual movie critic industry term or whatever, and I discovered what I posted below.

Now I'm leaning heavily towards what my first mind gave me and I'm angry about it.

There's a lot of other movies that follow the definition, they are all projects by the super-wealthy who have a lot of extra cash on their hands and the money they net is just an investment return payout that they certainly didn't need. Look at the DREAMGIRLS movie. Three super successful studios (Laurence Mark Productions, DreamWorks Pictures, and Paramount Pictures) got the film rights for a Warner Bros. owned script based on an African American story, in which the all black talent were pressured into taking the roles at a fraction of their normal price. Why? Were the three super producers going to give all the proceeds to charity or some other worthy cause? There is no mention of that anywhere, which of course they would've bragged about if they had. No, they just pocketed it. "Do this movie for us for $10. It'll be good for your career," said the billionaires. "Money-schmunny." So they put this movie together 1.) because they could and 2.) to make a huge profit, minus the large actors' fees that everyone else had to deal with because they pressured them with whatever bs spiel they came up with. But no one ever called DREAMGIRLS a vanity project. If it's a "real" term in the way it is used against other films, then this was clearly a vanity project for the three studio heads.

They called Eddie Murphy's Harlem Nights, and Will Smith's After Earth vanity projects. I've been raking my brain for a while as to what that meant. Is it because they put together their own movie that they controlled and starred in? So how come Woody Allen never heard the term leveled at him before, or Clint Eastwood, or even Spike Lee? Despite their successes, those guys didn't think big (like Tyler Perry big) and were never considered a threat to the six studio Hollywood monopoly. But Will Smith's After Earth project was a clear power move, and had to be squashed. Eddie Murphy was at the height of his popularity, and the biggest box office draw, when he decided to sit on the other side of the table. Eddie is a private person, and doesn't telegraph his moves, so that Harlem Nights project represented an unpredictable unknown that they didn't want to take any chances on.

"Vanity Project" is a nonsense term used to red flag a film to have the industry turn on it. Prove me wrong.


What's a "vanity project?"


You are seeing web results for vanity project because there's not a match on


In home improvement, a project that adds minimal value to the home (and may actually decrease home value) and is undertaken on the whims of the homeowner. Usually done by someone with too much money on their hands. A DIY project, no matter how odd, typically doesn't qualify as a vanity project if they actually work on it themselves.
My rich uncle's latest vanity project was getting the solar panels ripped off his roof and replaced with a replica of Kennedy Space Center for his model rockets.


*Something to be done out of vanity, to show that they could do it.*

sorein - Here's a possible context: a young man would say about his parents: "I guess I was their vanity project". However, this expression is largely used in other contexts too. It doesn't seem "subtle" enough to be called an idiom. It seems to be just a fancy-talk expression, used mostly by critics. Still what do they imply? I have some vague idea, but I won't reveal it not to mislead you.

Jack Doughty - His parents either had him in the first place, or had him educated in a certain way and/or arranged for him to have a prosperous career, not because they really cared about him but just in order to satisfy their own vanity, to try to justify and display their own (probably unjustified) high opinion of themselves.

See Also:

No Room for You at the Top 

 The Blatant Sabotage of a Man Trying to Help His People