There is a thread on Absolute Write about reading a second book by an author whose first book ain’t quite up to scratch, and it got me to thinking about how bad something has to be before a creator’s entire canon is ignored. In some ways I am able to see past the voice of a writer, or filmmaker, or musician, or any other art, to accept the output for what it is, but a small part of me knows that there is more to life than slogging through an annoying or ill-conceived concept for a few good moments. There are some big event releases coming up which I’ll be waiting a while for due to this very topic.
Avatar, James Cameron’s return to the big screen may be endlessly hyped by some, though after the dumb True Lies, an obnoxious Titanic remake, and his terrible Entourage cameo, I don’t see how he has any reason to expect my money. I’ll wait on the DVD, only if the film gets good reviews, or the television premiere if it sucks ass. The notion that he has anything new to say in the realm of SF is doubtful, especially when the idea behind Avatar is examined closely. It sounds like the plot of any number of novels by people who have something to say.
George Lucas, the man to blame thank for Star Wars: The Phantom Menace is another individual who has lost any respect from me. Did he fall on his head and forget how to direct? Jeez, it’s a good thing that the fanbase ignored the terrible aspects of his second trilogy long enough for him to turn a quick buck. I’ve been wary of Star Wars properties since those films, but there have been a few games (The Force Unleashed and the Lego tie-ins) which pulled back some of the wonder from those first Star Wars films. Better than Jedi Academy at any rate…
I’m more forgiving to people who strike me as people I could have a drink with and not be irritated by. Even after Land Of The Dead and Diary Of The Dead failed to impress me, I guess I would still check out any new film George A. Romero comes up with. Is that an asshole / box office equation that I’ve just come up with? There are other creators I forgive poor quality work from, and Clive Barker – once hailed as the future of horror by no less an authority than Stephen King – is one who goes straight to the top of that list.
Cabal, a book I love as much as I am infuriated by its missed opportunities, is still with me after fifteen years of re-readings. His Books Of Blood were brilliant, and I can forgive him pretty much anything for their existence alone. His film career may not have panned out quite so well, and I’ll comfortably ignore Rawhead Rex despite it sitting on my DVD shelf alongside his other cinematic outings. I bought it, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll ever watch the fucking thing – collector mentality only goes so far.
Those are familiar names. My opinion on their talent is irrelevant. Suckers will still shell out money for any old crap that is associated with Star Wars (and how else could stores shift Jar Jar Binks toys?), but that kind of loyalty has long since left me. I (thankfully) missed the One More Day storyline in Spider-Man as it was happening due to endless and awful Spidey crap from the late nineties. I hold my grudges well. Only… The Spirit (the DVD of which I finally managed to get running) is shit. I’m sure everyone is in agreement on this. Does that mean I should wait and see if Sin City 2 is okay for human viewing?
Frank Miller, whose work is divisive when discussed in polite company, is one of the very few comic book creators who have yet to create something completely unreadable. DK2 is a hard book to love, but it isn’t as terrible as some make it out to be. There is a rhythm and a specific cadence to his writing that instantly appeals, and his artwork on Sin City, while reminiscent of both Hugo Pratt and Jim Steranko in places, is a breath of fresh air. The Spirit is an anomaly, and I’m sure he will put it behind him.
I haven’t mentioned music yet, because that is trickier to separate the artist from their work. Many times I’ve heard a song which is catchy but at the same time doesn’t sound like it belongs to the performer. It isn’t necessarily that they are doing a cover of a famous track, it’s just that they aren’t the best singer for the song. Can you imagine anyone else but Roy Orbison singing In Dreams? No. That is a perfect match between singer and song, and it is a good benchmark for anyone to compare against.
Most people deserve at least two opportunities to prove themselves. If we implement the one strike rule, then James Cameron’s career would have amounted to a shit sequel to Piranha. No Terminator, no Aliens and no Titanic… It’s a good way of looking at most artistic endeavors.