Wednesday, October 2, 2013

My Issue With the Literary World

You know, I made a promise to my seventeen year old self not to be a little tapioca sellout.

I understand that might be hard for some people to understand, so I'll tell you a story from my childhood.

When I was a kid, they had these things called book fairs. They weren't really book fairs, they were an additional array of cardboard promotional book materials that the school library had every once in a while. The book fair would come with these multi-colored promotional fliers that showed what books they were selling.

And I'll be honest, the books they sold weren't very good.

And maybe it has to do with a bunch of factors, but I didn't like them. Not the same way I liked Jurassic Park.

You didn't have to convince me that Jurassic Park was good. I know Jurassic Park is good. People tried to convince me that all this post-Harry Potter lit is something to embrace.

If you like Harry Potter, yeah, more Potter for you.

I don't know, I never liked my teachers pushing Potter on me as they did. Never was a Potterhead.

I think the films might have had something to do with it. I was wanting a little more from people being "paralyzed" by the Basilisk than what I was given.  

They water these things down. Cause they think that's what we want as kids.

Cause every publisher wants to figure out how to steal a child's money, but no one ever asked the child what he thinks. Children aren't innocent, and they shouldn't be. I remember being a kid and having long conversations with my friends about nerve gas and the Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual in the fourth grade.

I don't know, maybe I just don't like it when people try to make you like things. This is something that happens every awards season. A lot of parroting about what's good or not. And then you look back and wonder how a certain movie won Best Picture when it is clearly garbage.

I was four years old when I watched RoboCop. I thought about that when the lackluster trailer to the remake came out. Jose Padilha is to said to be having the "worst experience of his life" on the shoot. I think he needs to pull a John Woo, and make more films in the home country. The industry does this to people.

I hate it when you're a kid and people pushed their bullshit on you. You always know when you're someone's target demographic. And a lot of those books at the book fair felt that way. A young boy must go on a quest to do some boring stuff you've heard before cause screw hurting people's feelings with something interesting...

Good art is painful. You ever watch Breaking Bad? That's painful.

Game of Thrones? That's painful too.

There was a lot of media launched on me as a child that wanted to be the next Star Wars. They indulged in each step of the monomyth. And they always wanted to do this thing where "this kid is just like you".

It didn't work. Cause "a kid like me" isn't a distinct character. It's a bland Mary Sue.

And it's funny, because a lot of people talk about the need for story.

But, I don't think it's the need for story/character development that's the problem.

There's a lot of movies with zero plot that I've enjoyed. The early films by Richard Linklater, for instance.

And I have sat through a lot of crappy children movies. They had character development. They had some stupid "save the environment" message. Save the environment. Put it in a flash drive.

It isn't to say that saving the environment is bad. But, it's to say that they had to put a theme in this stupid thing, and that was the default theme they picked.

Which isn't to say it couldn't work. But the angle they've done on it has been explored. Sometimes you have to say the exact opposite to say what you wanna say.

Remember the beginning of Alexandre Aja's The Hills Have Eyes? That wasn't nuclear radiation. That was deformed Vietnamese babies exposed to Agent Orange. The same people responsible for that atrocity are now genetically modifying the food you eat. Isn't that more interesting instead of the same old Captain Planet shenanigans?

I mean, even nihilism is fun when you talk about it. Nothingness. Scary nothingness. Horror movies where innocent people who do the right thing die. It happens. You're not going to live forever. And sometimes you find something out of that. Maybe you wouldn't be killed if you weren't so naive.

We've all seen these movies. People do stupid things, and we root for them to die. Cause we have real problems. That's why we love Walter White so much. He's actively dealing with the things life is giving him. He did the right thing, and life gave him a bad hand. So, he gamed the system a bit. And you can't really hate him (in the first four seasons anyway) because he picked the more adventurous option of a no-win scenario.

He took the rollercoaster for what it's worth, and enjoyed the ride. Again, first four seasons is what I'm talking about. 

There was an incident a while back where a woman came home to find two men holding her family hostage. These two men told this women that they were going to kill her family unless she emptied out her entire life savings and gave it to them.

This women went to the bank, where she withdrew her money, and tried to figure out a way to tell the teller about the situation, without actually saying it, since these hoodlums were watching her the entire time.

She returned home with these men, where she was killed along with the rest of her family. Did what they told her to do, and they killed her. Did what they told her to do, and they killed her.

Can't leave any witnesses.

This is a true story. This is a modern fairy tale (fairy tale as in, Cinderella's stepsisters getting their feet cut off) to tell your children a lesson. And that lesson is this:

When faced with the option of imminent death, one must ask themselves "How do you wanna die?".

See, it started as nihilism, but then you look into it, and you discover some things.

Even in a vacuum, meaning will find itself. 

If you're gonna deal with something, you might as well deal with it in your own way.

Isn't this an interesting thing to talk about?

You discover things when you get rid of the old stuff, and dig for new things. 

Hoarders. This is a show where people suffer from their inability to let go of the past. Now, I can't blame some of the people on the show. When you go on SSI, and have to deal with a limited income and the lacking illusion of control, you do those things. When all you can do is save to better your situation, instead of making more money, you get locked in like that. Urban cabin fever.

That goes twice for those raised in the Great Depression.

Change is scary. That's why knowing one dies is important. The bigger picture helps you deal with those smaller anxieties. You're gonna worry about losing a shirt on your deathbed?

Now, what I have presented is dark, morbid, and depressing. But, it is also what I wanted to talk about, with regards to themes, messages, and the like.

And by talking about this, you learn to appreciate life more. Contrasts help accentuate things. If you wish to win against opposing viewpoints, you must understand them.

Or you could talk about the importance of recycling. Whatever.

You're supposed to go against the grain.

Is there a chance that anything I'm talking about is going to be depicted in the cinema anytime soon, unless I go out and produce it myself? No. That's extremely doubtful.

Now I know why things are this way. Sanitized, processed, and sugar coated.

Honestly, it's counter-intuitive. Honesty in the creation of fiction.

And yet, being honest is what makes a film's theme resonate with the audience. 

It's more about being sincere than throwing money on the screen.

To quote Christopher Nolan: "I want to feel that the people who made the film think it's the best movie in the world". That's an interesting way to word things. It explains why Ed Wood is loved and bland romantic comedies fall by the waist-side. 

Real shit always beats a polished turd. Cause that's what it is. You can't get angry at someone for being who they are. You can always be angry at someone for being something they're not.

Maybe I need to read the books again for leisure, but Harry Potter is a stupid concept. It really is. It really is the epitome of entitlement. Be famous for sitting on your ass while Snape suffers in the background. Even if you think Snape is the secret main character of Harry Potter, you'll have to admit that Harry Potter is not someone worth rooting for.

I mean, the Frog Brothers did more with less against a bigger threat. 

I think I'm projecting childhood strife onto this cultural icon/media franchise, so to J.K. Rowling, I apologize. However, this agitation has helped fuel many a writing of mine. Blogging is not fun. No, that's a lie. Blogging is not fun sometimes.

But let's be real, if anybody can be your protagonist, it's hard to root for them when they suffer in conflict and do dumb things.

If your protagonist's role in the story can be replaced seemlessly by a toddler, the story needs to be reworked. That's why everyone hates the Phantom Menace, in addition to a bunch of other things.

I'm not Indiana Jones. I can't decipher Egyptian cultural artifacts and shove bald guys into propellers. I'm not Dr. Grant. I cannot look into the genes of African frogs and realize that it's going to make the velociraptors have babies. Even if you told me, I'd have a hard time believing you.

Can I fantasize about it? Sure.

But that's because I can't do it. I don't fantasize about things I can do, unless I'm having that dumb dream where I'm brushing my teeth again. .

I mean, call it my contrarian nature, but I want to move away from kid's movies for the time being.

I think doing so will help people grow up. All these kids from the millenial and onward were raised by people who didn't want them to grow up.

That's stupid. You're supposed to grow up. You're supposed to invent things, build empires, drink alcoholic beverages, find the cure to liver cancer, and have a lot of sex to celebrate your accomplishments.

But some asshat will be offended by my previous statement. Probably someone who didn't accomplish anything in their life. Someone who doesn't deal with things.

And it's the people who don't deal with things that make life difficult.

It's those people who make you feel awkward when you pitch something of meaning to them. Who make you question your accomplishments. And now they wonder why people lack motivation.

Wow, people have a hard time transitioning to adulthood in the golden age of bureaucracy. Who would have figured? Can't even work a simple job without a mounding pile of paperwork. It's easy to have it suck the enthusiasm out of you.

And don't tell me about watering things down cause it makes more money. You can make a lot of money smuggling an invasive species of poisonous frogs that spit in your face. Does not mean you do it.

Don't worry about the children. Worry about yourself, and the children will be fine. In elementary school, we talked about hypothetical scenarios where we blew up gophers with M80s.

I wanna remember those conversations. Cause that's who we were. No rose tinted glasses. No J.D Salinger Catcher in the Rye hymn on innocence. No, we talked about nerve gas. And we talked about it with enthusiasm, as juvenile as we were.

The Literary Collective wants to take this feeling away from me. They say it's offensive/some other thing. And that's why all their manuscripts suck. Cause it's about not making you feel a certain way, and you end up feeling nothing at all.

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