The Graveyard

The Lair Of Gary James

Posts Tagged ‘superman’

So… What Would YOU Do?

Posted by BigWords on January 21, 2010

I got into one of those “what would you do if…” conversations today, mostly because people know I’m writing some nasty crime stuff and because of this. The question was simple – what would I do if someone committed a murder after reading one of my stories. I didn’t have to think about the question for long, because the answer seems entirely simple… I would do nothing. That may come across as rather more blunt than it should, but the process I went through to come to that answer follows entirely logical paths, disregarding emotional blackmail and (wrongly) presumed moral obligation. I would do diddly-squat because there is no way that a novel – or a video game, television show or film, for that matter – can have any possible input into a criminal act. It’s not possible. I’ll go one further than that, and claim that there are only a handful of books which have the ability to drive people to violence.

Before you bring up some infamous cases, you really ought to think carefully. Has a novel, or a game, or a crappy horror film, ever managed to bring someone to the point where they are so deluded that they are able to put aside morality and take the life of another? No. Everything you have read in newspapers, seen on television and heard on the radio about “evil” media is wrong. All of it. Even when someone famous has made the assertion. It’s all crap.

Lets go back to the early days of the comic-book industry for a historical perspective on this. Remember the story about the little boy who tied a red dish-towel around his neck, clambered on to the roof of his house and jumped, all because he read an issue of Superman? It’s a famous tale. Now, can you answer me this… What was the boy’s name. I’ll let you take your time; don’t rush to a conclusion. Think about it carefully. Stumped? Want the answer? That little boy never existed. One of the major incidents which brought into existence the Comics Code Authority is an apocryphal tale, no doubt woven by a bored journo who needed to fill a space between adverts for Red Ryder BB guns and Kooba Cola. The story has been successfully disseminated through hand-me-down accounts, embellished where needed (his shin bone popped straight out through his skin, blood spurting all over the back yard) and remains unquestioned in some circles to this day.

There was a shameful time in British newspapers after the James Bulger case when national newspapers lied their assess off to implicate the motion picture Child’s Play 3, a fairly unexceptional film, in the murder of the child. Their loose acquaintance with the truth didn’t merely stop at insinuation, but drew on artistic license rarely seen in ‘news’ to fabricate an elaborate web of “coincidences” to back up their lies. It was a mightily impressive distortion of the case, leading video rental outlets to pull the title from their shelves – presumably to stop any members of the public watching it and calling the tabloid editors out on their bullshit. I kinda admire the way that certain people in the public eye managed to keep a straight face while spouting some of the most blatant untruths heard during the nineties. Astonishingly, the owners of the franchise never stepped up to tell the gutter press that their observations and conclusions were cut from whole cloth.

The most audacious ‘spin’ in recent memory was reserved for Grand Theft Auto, a game which deserves massive praise for elevating RPG games from the creatively bankrupt swords and sorcery sub-genre it languished in for so long. The most vocal opponent of the game was (and presumably is) the rather disturbed former American solicitor Jack Thompson – a man who is obviously ignorant of the First Amendment. Hell, he even had the balls to compare the game to Imperial Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor during World War II, losing any respect he may have had before that incredulous statement. As of this date, there hasn’t been a single car theft, murder or misdemeanor committed which has, in any real way, been associated with a person playing the game. That salient point is, however, disregarded by the salivating, ratings-obsessed vultures on television channels such as CNN.

It seems that the only books which really have the ability to twist souls and drive people to kill are the ones which are off-limits to any eager ban-happy librarians. The Bible and the Koran, together, have caused more deaths than every other book combined… And then some.  Those two books are responsible for more atrocities than any political or social movement in the history of the human race, driving their most ardent followers into frothing blood-lust at the prospect of spreading their delusions across the face of the planet. I did point out that no novel had the power to drive people to kill, and my point stands. Those books have but the hint of structure, jumping all over the place. If I didn’t know better I would suggest that D*n Br*wn had a hand in their scratched together, half-lucid witterings.

But back to my original statement… I would say nothing, in addition to the reasons I have already given, because the families of murdered individuals really don’t need another voice spouting armchair psychology and platitudes. As you should be aware, we’re living in highly litigious times, and the prospect (even the slightest glimmer) that a novelist accepts some portion of guilt or remorse for their writing, can lead those left behind to consider the payday waiting if they decide to chance their luck in a civil court. It isn’t worth the hassle, so my take on the problem is simple. SAY NOTHING. If you remain silent, your words can’t be used against you.

I’m off to play GTA4. Screenshots of me popping a cap in a cop’s ass are forthcoming. 😉

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I Hate Everything

Posted by BigWords on June 28, 2009

Apparently…
Having managed to piss off a fair proportion of folks with a sledgehammer approach to critical analysis of the Blockbuster film experience, I figured I would expand on what constitutes a shit film. In the process I will serve up some sacred cows as juicy steaks, so be warned that there will be a fair amount of pain and anguish. Just because you might think something is out of bounds doesn’t mean I’m gonna play nice. My slice ‘n’ dice of the first decade of  the “Blockbuster” (as summer ‘event’ films seem to be regarded) follows thus:

1977

Star Wars has a shitty script. Yeah, the first film. Sure, I’m talking about the one which inspired a religion. Yes, I know it is a cultural milestone. Doesn’t change the fact that there are plot holes so large that I could fly the Millennium Falcon through them. Blindfolded. With one hand tied behind my back. It doesn’t mean the film itself is worthless – it is brilliant in several regards, foremost of which is the appropriation of Lensman’s light-based weaponry. George Lucas ain’t no writer, as he has proven with the 1990s trilogy. It was also the 1990s films which showed up the fact that he ain’t much of a director either, but that is neither here nor there.

1978

Superman. Do you need me to explain why a musical interlude in the middle of a superhero film is a bad idea? The rest of the film is fine, but Margot Kidder singing? I would rather listen to Danny Boyle explain (for the millionth time) how Slumdog Millionaire is meant to be a ‘feelgood’ film.

Jaws 2. Two words: shit floats.

1979

The year that gave us Monty Python’s Life Of Brian and Alien also puked up Star Trek: The Motion Picture, in which nothing much happened. The film is so slow that I felt my fingernails grow as I was watching. I wouldn’t have minded so much, but the hideous costumes, abysmal acting (“The Shat” really earned his nickname with this film) and pornographic indulgence of the special effects were too much to bear.

1980

If anyone has the balls to defend Xanadu I’ll be amazed. Popeye was a mistake writ large, while The Empire Strikes Back didn’t so much end, as abruptly stop with the main characters looking out of a window. I thought there would have been a final scene filmed for Empire, but nobody else seems to notice the lack of emotional closure for the characters. Too busy imagining what a better director would have done with the material maybe…

1981

Superman II introduces arbritary powers for the main villains, ups the comedy and lowers the tone of the franchise – sowing the seeds for Quest For Peace, while The Cannonball Run manages to squander the talents of a host of brilliant actors.

1982

Rocky III signals the beginning of loud, obnoxious films which have no significant point to them, other than giving the viewer a headache and nausia. Star Trek II continues to plunder the Star Trek corpse, as Poltergeist shows that horror films don’t need to be scary… Wait. Uh… Yeah, that’s the whole point of horror movies. Add Poltergeist to the shit list as well.

1983

Not exactly a stellar year for good movies – Blue Thunder, Psycho 2, Superman III and Trading Places… The third Star Wars film seemed to be a good bet for entertaining space opera, but the best Return Of The Jedi could muster were fucking annoying Ewoks running around a jungle, Princess Leia reduced to a sexualised stereotypical damsel in distress (after a stronger presence in the second film) and poor comedy moments. It would have been better ending the franchise after the Holiday Specials. At the least, it would have been more merciful.

1984

Star Trek III. Proving that even overweight men get to captain starships isn’t adding realism to SF. Seriously. Fat Kirk? Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom manages to waste time on a romantic subplot which feels tacked-on, because – obviously – Harrison Ford doesn’t need questions raised about Indy’s friendship with a little boy. 1984 also gave us the wonder that is Police Academy, the longest running comedy movie series in which you will find no comedic elements whatsoever. The gags which did work (and were honestly funny) were better when they were filmed years earlier – in films which earned the label ‘comedy’.

1985

The producers of Rambo: First Blood Part II probably thought they were going to get some brains with their brawn, but Stallone (and the funniest accent since Kenneth Williams) is as monotone as he has ever played a character. The Rocky saga reached it’s fourth entry (incredibly, it was worse than Rambo), and had little in the way of deep insight. Raging Bull (released five years earlier) played on the same tropes as Rocky, yet managed to provide the audience with a complex main character rather than a cartoon figure masquerading as a human being. 1985 was also the year in which Cocoon served up stereotypes and character traits instead of real characters.

1986

Just a list: Top Gun, Crocodile Dundee, Raw Deal, The Delta Force, Highlander, Howard The Duck, Maximum Overdrive, Three Amigos… If you can still savour films after sitting through that lot, then you have a better constitution than I. “Wait,” you cry, “What is Highlander doing on the list?” Apart from the accents, the needless pyrotechnics, the cheesy lines, the jarring tonal shifts, the clumsy plot, the poor FX and the historical innacuracies, it is actually quite a good film.

1987

The Untouchables rewrites history, badly, and gives special appearances by the camera operators in-frame… Spaceballs. I don’t need to qualify that with any explanation. Even the Nightmare On Elm Street series had given up anything remotely resembling plot, character or setting in order to make the villain (a fucking child molestor!) into a comedy routine. If Lethal Weapon can be considered a film, then it also goes on the list, but I prefer to think of it as cruel and unusual punishment. Show that shit at Gitmo, and every motherfucker in the joint will be claiming they are Osama bin Laden, just to end the pain…

There you have it. Ten years of film distilled in one easy blog. If I can bear the memories of another ten years of awful films I may continue…

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