I’ve got a thing about movies, and stories in general. I like things to be logically consistent. I don’t need everything to follow real world rules for everything, but I need a touch of verisimilitude to run through the tale. It’s okay for Batman to run around with a cartoon bomb over his head and have to stop for a moment and say “Some days you just can’t get rid of a bomb!” because it follows the rules the world has set. Batman doesn’t want to endanger anyone else, or even risk endangering them, so he runs away from anyone walking towards him when he tries to dispose of the explosive. Yes, to humorous results, but the ’66 Batman was a comedy after all. There is a consistent through line and I don’t find myself asking why he’s acting the way he is.
That’s one of the things that will always pull me right out of a movie, if the actions of someone make no damn sense. If I find myself asking “Why did you do that?” or “Why would anyone ever do that? Like, ever?” then I am pulled out of the movie and my enjoyment tends to suffer. I can get to a point where I’ll just start shouting my questions at the screen, which annoys some people because they’re enjoying the movie and annoys others because they hadn’t seen the problem until I mention it. I’ve ruined Batman Begins for at least two people I know because I pointed out all the problems I had with the movie and now when they try and watch it, all those problems leap out at them. For all Batman Begins did right, it’s loaded with “Why did you do that?” moments and they piled up so high it killed any enjoyment I had from the movie.
This can become a real problem for something that moves slowly, like Game of Thrones, where I’ve been informed that some of my “How does that work?” questions are answered. The problem is those problems are going to be addressed in book/season 4. Sadly, I am not willing to wait the 5 years it’s going to take HBO to get to that point. One assumes it will take as long to get to their 4th season as they did with Deadwood and The Sopranos.
Now there are ways around this issue. One of them is through simple lamp shading. In Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Tom Cruise is trapped in a car that’s upside down in a river with guys shooting machine guns at him for reasons too complicated to go into here. In order to escape, he grabs a corpse, lights a road flare and sticks it in the sleeve of the dead man, shoving him down river. The soldiers shooting see the light of the red flare and start shooting at it allowing Cruise and Jeremy Renner to escape. Now, watching this I was saying to myself “How the hell does that work?” and about three seconds later, Jeremy Renner turns to Tom Cruise and in the first lines anyone has spoken since the flare incident says “How the did that work?” which leads to a conversation of all the questions someone might ask and Tom Cruise blowing it off saying he played a hunch that it might attract their attention long enough for them to get away. I laughed at the end of that scene because it was just after I had asked those questions that the movie addressed it. Ghost Protocol was great for that by the way, a smart movie that didn’t have to devolve into stupid exposition and plot movement based on questionable logic.
The other way is to deal with the issue simply and easily by having something not work and having the character say something like “Well, that didn’t work” or “Seemed like a good idea at the time.” which isn’t perfect in all situations, but it can help. Sometimes, it’s interesting mistakes made in the heat of the moment that can drive a story towards an unexpected conclusion. Just so long as it makes sense that it’s a heat of the moment mistake, or a logical idea, or something that could possibly be planned. Bat-Shark Repellent only works in a comedy where the joke is “Yeah, right, he has Bat-Shark Repellent in the helicopter for just such an occasion.” Anywhere else, and you’re left asking “Am I really supposed to believe that Q knew damn well Bond would need an inflating jacket or a buzz-saw wristwatch?” Bond is rarely questioned as all the gadgets get used and as such lead to the answer “Well, he needed them.” Except we do question it later, at least in some small way.
Not everyone notices these things, some people never see the problems I do until I point them out. If that helps them enjoy a movie/book more, I shouldn’t complain, but sometimes it really bugs me. I keep wanting to demand why they didn’t notice the problem, why it doesn’t affect their enjoyment, how can they just let so much crap slide. Of course, the answer is that people are bothered by different things at different times. Lots of people don’t get how I can enjoy the Batman TV show, particularly given its incredible flaws in logic. I’ll only state that A) The flaws in logic are sometimes the point of the joke and B) Those do bug me, but I forgive a joke that fails when there are henchmen doing Brooklyn accents so badly that you wonder if they actually know that Brooklyn is a real place and not some made up shit like Narnia or Belgium.
Twins in Death
A Tale of The Weirdo
By Brett N. Lashuay
Chapter Three: The End of Captain Scourge
April 5th, 2002
The Weirdo stood in the ballroom, which felt so incredibly and vastly empty. He had never noticed how big this room was before. Perhaps it was because that his entire life had been so filled by her that every room was just big enough for them. He looked around at how greatly huge the room had become slightly agoraphobic. Which was odd because he was really an agoraphile if anything. He liked huge empty places, and had tried to make his home like some of the great cathedrals of Europe he had seen. He wanted the huge, empty places like this, but now it was empty and bereft of joy.
“I could have let you go after her.” He turned to the sound of the voice.
The Gray man was leaning against one of the huge marble pillars, the broach still in his hand. He looked up at the roof of the ballroom, and then at The Weirdo. His eyes were filled with infinite sadness, as if he had seen what all the efforts of the universe would bring about. As if he had truly understood the futility of life, the inevitability of death, and great grand joke that was existence.
“Yeah?” The Weirdo said.
“Would you believe that things would now be worse if I had simply left you?”
“She would still be alive if you hadn’t distracted me.”
“No.” The gray man shook his head. “More would be dead, in fact.”
“I can’t explain everything now.” The Gray man said, “But there is an explanation. I thought you deserved to know that much.”
“Will I get to hear this explanation?” The Weirdo said.
“Before I die?”
“I hope so.” He then laughed a little. “Which time do you mean?”
“Who are you?” The Weirdo asked. “You seem familiar, and yet…”
“Don’t worry about me.” The Gray Man said as he moved behind the pillar. When The Weirdo looked behind the pillar, the Gray Man was gone.
April 25th, 2002
The Weirdo sat in a large over stuffed chair, across from him on the couch Tommy sat, Judy and Sheila leaning in against him. A movie played on the television; Jack and Marla sat on a love seat together. Mrs. Pendleton sat in a chair mending a shirt that had lost its button. Max sat on the floor with the children, who had fallen asleep on his lap. Bagheera lay stretched out on the floor, his eyes dreamy and half-closed.
“This is fairly odd.” The Weirdo said.
“What is?” Tommy asked.
“All of us, sitting around, watching TV.” The Weirdo said.
“Why is that odd?”
“Because we’re all together, all that’s left, watching a movie, and just being almost like normal people. I mean if I go get popcorn we’re done for.” He mused.
“What’s so bad about that?”
“I don’t know that there is anything particularly wrong with it, we just don’t really do it, is all. We tend to be people on the move, and yet, right now.”
“Right now is right now.” Mrs. Pendleton said. “Might as well leave it alone.”
“I suppose.” The Weirdo said.
“And never fear,” Tommy said, “Given the space of half a day, this city will stir up some evil to occupy you, take this moment as it comes.”
“I see.” The Weirdo then turned his head to Jack and Marla. “I suppose you two have some sort of wisdom to give as well?”
“No” Marla said.
“No.” She repeated. “We’re British you see, and all the wisdom the Brits had came from the countries we conquered, and all our Empires are gone now, so no more wisdom.”
“I’ve got one.” Jack said.
“Don’t go to into a Glasgow pub asking if the people there know that Robert the Bruce wore pink panties.”
“That’s wisdom is it?” The Weirdo asked
“If you ever try it you’ll see the wisdom of not doing it.” Jack answered.
The Weirdo considered this for a moment, was going to ask a follow-up question but decided that down that route, madness lay. He let it slide instead.
“Why are you worried about this?” Sheila asked.
“It’s just odd.” The Weirdo said.
“Immortals and gods and strange men in gray coming to talk or even live with you, that you can handle, a group of people sit down to watch a movie and you’re thrown?”
“Well.” The Weirdo said. “I mean there are some parts of my life where I stand back and go ‘what the hell’ but this isn’t one of them, and that’s worrying.”
“Why?” Sheila asked.
“You don’t understand.” Judy said.
“No?” Sheila asked.
“This is a moment to sit back and go wow.” Judy sat up for a moment. “I mean think about it, we are immortal beings, and we’re with this great guy.” She hugged Tommy around the neck. “And we’ve gone from being slaves who aren’t allowed on the bed to watching a movie on TV. This is now such a normal event we don’t even comment on it at all. We should marvel at the fact that we can do this.”
“Oh.” Sheila said, cuddling closer to Tommy. “I suppose I hadn’t though of it like that.”
“Well that’s okay.” Judy said stretching out across Tommy’s lap so she could hug the both of them.
© 2012 Autumn Knight Productions
James Bond always reads gay to me. Not the movie Bond. I figure Sean Connery tried it once in his late teens. He said “Sure, I’ll have shex with a guy, shee if I like it” and he found a guy and had an evening in with him, doing all the things you do. When it came to the cold light of dawn though, he emerged blinking into the rising sun and said “Nope, shtill all about the pushy.” However, in the books, Bond always reads to me as though he were deeply, tragically, in the closet. Everything he does towards women starts to make sense. He’s trying, trying to hard, to be straight. Everything he does and says betrays him though.
I don’t know where it started exactly, but somewhere along the line I started imaging what was going on in the unspoken parts of the books I was reading. I wondered if there wasn’t more going on between Bertie Wooster and his man Jeeves. Was there more to the relationship of Spenser and Hawk than was being let on? Was Bond actually gay? And what of Nancy Drew: Oversexed Detective and her trysts with the Hardy Boys?
I think I know where the idea got into my head. Old movies had to allude to things, they couldn’t come right out and say what was going on. You had to just understand that when Robert Mitchum kisses Jane Greer in Out of the Past and the door swings open from the wind that there was more than a door swinging open. To some extent you had to do that with certain novels of a particular time. Sexuality had to be obscured, and the stranger the sexuality, the more obscure the symbols had to be.
As a result, once your mind is set to that gear it’s hard to get out of it. As a result, Jeeves and Wooster are totally in a BD clinch and Jeeves is a harsh Master. Archie Goodwin becomes a blazing bisexual in a non-sexual poly relationship with Nero Wolfe and Lily Rowan is the sexual surrogate that allows them to be together. The fact that Frodo and Sam were doing it all the way to Mount Doom or that Gimli and Legolas were life partners seems positively wholesome once you hear what I have in mind for Bart Simpson and Milhouse.
Now, I don’t mean this in a fanfic sort of way. I don’t want to actually see this sort of thing explicitly stated. And I really don’t want to see it said by someone who hasn’t quite grasped the subtle differences between effect and affect. No, I have far more fun trying to decide how the interactions between the characters are working and trying to figure out who is banging who here. It’s more fun to keep it on a meta level, wherein I just try and work out what the couple who went to the beach for a weekend got up to.
The thing is, some of that is just for fun and some of it is just perversity, but the Bond thing is more serious. I have read most the Bond books, and when I noticed that he seemed like a 1950s closet case, I couldn’t get it out of my head. More and more, he just falls into all the classic patterns. All his womanizing is bluster, his hateful and sometimes bizarre attitudes about gays (they can’t whistle? Really?) becomes just so much self-loathing. I mean, yes, once you get it into your head, you can make justifications for anything. Once I got the idea in my head, I only recorded those things that fit my view. Granted, there were a lot of things that fit my view, so it was okay.
I’ve been noticing that a lot of the criticism of Fifty Shades of Grey falls into the same bullshit that Twilight criticism falls into. It’s so badly written, it’s got an unhealthy relationship at its core, it’s going to teach girls bad lessons.
It’s that last part that always irks me. So many complaints basically lay the idea that Twilight will teach girls to be submissive little Mormans. Like females are unable to read a book without the ideas in that book invading their fluffy little heads. I read James Bond and didn’t turn into a racists, misogynistic, homophobic hired killer. I read Batman and didn’t turn into a member of the 1% beating up on the lowest and most desperate members of society. I read Spider-Man and I don’t wear spandex and didn’t become a photojournalist. I’m pretty sure girls can read a fantasy romance and not turn into the pet of some vampire. I find it condescending, misogynistic and insulting to the women I know to suggest otherwise.
Syd read them, she kept her independence in tact. My friend J read them, she’s relatively normal. I’ve got a buddy, D we’ll call her. Her son is autistic, her daughter is on the cusp of her teen years, she’s raising them both alone because her husband left her after being a completely selfish dick for years. She’s not stupid, or weak, or particularly dependant on any men that I’ve ever seen. She’s tough, smart, independent and she luuuuves her some Twilight. Actually, I think she likes some of the young men playing characters in the movies, but that’s neither here nor there. The point is, all these women have recognized the fantasy element and got on with their day without being unduly swayed by the books’ stupidity. To suggest she might be otherwise is to insult her. Besides…
Women have been reading this stuff for decades.
Oh, yeah, didn’t you know about that? Yeah, see, if you want to complain that Twilight or 50 shades is stupid and badly written… you need to admit that either you know nothing about women’s fiction or admit that it’s 1961. Would you like me to make a Mad Men joke now or shall we wait to break those out? I pick 1961, because the oldest crappy romance book I’ve ever read was dated that date. Kind of squicky to be honest, a lot of “force her ‘til she likes it” kind of stuff. Of course, since even the Pern novels written around that time have some of that, it’s hard to differentiate.
Actually Harlequin Romances have been around since the 50s, and other crap like it has been around since before then. However, everything I’ve ever been told about the Twilight series has always lead me to the same sentence “Sounds like a Harlequin to me.” And every time I say that, the woman telling me about it has nodded and said “Oh yes, they’re just like one.” It’s not always old Harley, but enough times it works. Most your basic romance novels work this way. You’ve got the rich boy, the poor boy, and the girl who must choose between them. There are a few things that separate one company from another, like the quality of the sex and the level of commitment, but more or less… yeah. That’s what the books like that I’ve read where like. That’s just it, I get the idea that most these people have never read anything like this before.
Twilight it just a basic romance novel… Mit Vampires.
See, there used to be a place for these things. It was a little corner of shame, tucked back where no one but women went. No hard covers in this section, paperback only. You grabbed something with rose vines around the edges and cursive on the cover and you got the hell out. Most people who are complaining about this stuff though, have never read them. This ignorance of most people complaining about Twilight astounds me. Because I’ve read a couple Harlequin, and yeah, they were stupid and badly written. Thing is, I’ve read a lot of things that were badly written. A lot of the “boy’s fiction” I’ve read has also been stupid and badly written. Jack Higgins is not Shakespeare. Not in any respect. Come to think of it, neither is Dick, Chandler, Poe or Twain. Yeah, I went there! They were also once crappy popular authors, disregarded in their own times. And most of them aren’t Shakespeare because they weren’t trying to be.
They were trying to be entertaining and occasionally thought provoking. Mostly though, they were just trying to make a buck. When you read Azimov, for example, you forget that 90% of the stories that were published along side his were barely readable trash. I’ve gone through some Amazing Stories reprints, there is a lot of junk in there. That is the bane of the paperback reader. The pulp world is full of that, but the romances get dismissed more. Once in a while though, I’d read a pulp romance that actually was okay. While the Detective Novels started hitting hard cover, even the crappy pulp ones, the same never seems to have happened for the girls.
The romance novels, never got respectable, like the Sci-Fi or the Detective novels did.
Danielle Steel is still considered to be a trashy writer, despite selling more books than any other author alive! 500 million Danielle Steel books are out there, 150 million more than all the Harry Potter books put together! She’s the 4th highest selling author of all time! And Barbra Cartland, another romance novel is #3. Steel’s books actually do make it to hard cover at least, but it’s hardly been considered respectable for the mainstream reader to buy one of her books. You still had to go to the corner of shame if you wanted to read Steel. And for the most part, no critic, and certainly no male critic ever bothers to read any of these books. They’re for girls, and as such have never been worth reading. The same applies to Erotica. Most erotica has gone ignored by men, unless they were looking for the good bits.
But now, suddenly, something has changed. A shitty romance (mit vampires) is number one in the charts, with a crappy erotic novel at #2. They sell the hardcovers in boxed sets and stock hundreds of copies because they know they’ll need them. Why should that be? Maybe because someone is reading this stuff. And why does it offend so many people if it is? I mean, so some extent, who cares what people are reading? I know, I know, but honestly, what does it matter? Why all this constant harping and bitching and moaning. It’s not like anyone forced you to read them. However, to another extent, you’d better figure out why they’re so popular. Someone is working out why this works, someone is riding this train, someone is getting rich. Someone had better get a handle on this whole mit vampires thing, and soon. Most of all, you need to stop insulting it all the time.
Just dismissing it and insulting it only serves to alienate the people you claim you want to reach.
Insulting 50 Shades is boring, I’ve gotta tell you. And no one cares. The publishers don’t care what you think, they’re making money hand over fist. I don’t care, it has no effect on me but to make you another troll decrying something that someone actually enjoys, which makes you an asshole. The women reading it really don’t give half a fuck what you think. They like it, they’re gonna read it, and then they’re going to go to work the next day and not fuck the mail boy in the stock room, because adults don’t actually do that. They’ll get their fantasy kick, they’ll sigh a bit, and then they’ll read something else. Maybe, if you engage them in conversation, you might find out why they like it. If you’re really skillful, and not an asshole, you might even steer them towards a better book.
So let us review…
1, Shut up about Twilight. No one cares if you think it’s stupid.
2. Shut up about 50 Shades of Gray. No one cares if you think it’s stupid.
3. Have a little respect for the intelligence of the women around you. They actually do care if you think they’re stupid.