criticism

Criticism is weird here. I’ve long maintained that in any forum I might run, I would not censor, but as I see the way free speech is manipulated by those who would use it to sow dissent and spread misinformation, I start to see some value in minimizing voices that would lie or demean.

Free speech, after all, isn’t total and doesn’t free anyone of consequences. That’s the part these right wingers forget: you can say what you want, sure, but that’s as far as the right goes. It doesn’t mean anyone has to listen, and it doesn’t mean they need to provide you with a platform, or that there won’t be consequences for the things you say.

On the other hand, I find the left-leaning outrage machine can often create its own chilling effect. Those in defense of a cause can often fail to see nuance or see offense where none is intended and dog pile on. That can make many people unwilling to engage or say anything, which is the same as speech suppression. In all things, we should endeavour to listen first and react only after we’ve taken the full picture into account.

A good example to me is Tomb Raider. The Angelina Jolie movies weren’t great movies, definitely a product of the late 90s, early 2000s “extreme”, but to me, the character was played far more true than the 2018 version. However, any criticism of the 2018 movie, no matter how poor, went out of its way to praise Alicia Vikander, who played the character well, I suppose. The problem was that the character wasn’t Lara Croft. Lara is independent, confident, a daredevil. She doesn’t whimper or cower in the face of adversity. She is intelligent and skilled.

Vikander’s version spends most of the movie behaving like a scared rabbit. She’s lacking in skill and other than a penchant for solving puzzles, she doesn’t demonstrate anything more than mildly above average intelligence. She plays the role like she’s in a horror movie, as though we’d transported some 1970s final girl into an Indiana Jones movie. The movie itself isn’t that bad, and Vikander’s performance is solid for what it is.

The problem is that it has no connection to the character she’s intendend to portray, beyond some hamfisted plot insertions and name drops. The movie itself actually suffers from being given the Tomb Raider name; had it kept the plot and been stripped of Croft family, it might actually have played quite well. But because the inevitable comparison to the source material and the already well defined version by Jolie, all we get is a Lara Croft stripped of strength, wit and courage. She’s not a badass; she’s a wimp who gets very, very lucky.

Of course, any and all criticism of Vikander’s portrayal movie was chalked up to misogyny, as though all we wanted was some Pamela Anderson-busted chick in hotpants. And truly, there were undoubtedly people whose only real complaint was that Lara Croft had been stripped of her most noticeable asset(s). Fuck those people. To me, that’s a problem easily overcome by a strong performance and a good script.

The much bigger and far less misogynist problem is that they didn’t just drop Lara’s most prominent (again, easily ignored by a strong performance) physical attribute. They also stripped her of intelligence, courage, confidence, wit and the self-assured and almost playful sense of rebellious independence fans of the character have come to know. It felt like a watered down rehash of Evie in V For Vendetta, but with none of the redemptive emergence of strength. And again, if the character being played had not been Lara Croft, it’s a performance to be praised, for a character developed entirely on her own without the stigma of prior history. You wouldn’t play Romeo as a dude too aloof to get caught up by some girl; you don’t play a rebellious, tomb raiding daredevil as a simpering little girl being pushed around by men. It would be acceptable if it were being played as an early, unmolded version of the character; in that case though, we should see flashes of the woman she would become. This feels like a totally different person, matched in name alone.

The reviews for the movie naturally fell into two camps: those of the beta cuck boys stuck in their basement lamenting over the fact that Lara doesn’t look like a porn star (which is what they really want – someone to ogle through some action shots) and those who wanted to pan the whole damn thing but were so worried about being labelled misogynist for disliking Vikander’s portrayal that they went overboard the other way to cover their tracks, panning everything but her. (See also Ghostbusters: Answer The Call, which is a completely run-of-the-mill comedy, not special, not terrible, had its moments, but if you read the favourable reviews, it was the single greatest female-led comedy of all time and anyone who said otherwise was a woman hating monster).

Shrug. To me, the endgame should be getting away from the outrage machine and the talking out my ass/lying and twisting things to suit my narrative regime. Both are chilling and discourage quality conversation.

To me, praise and criticism are earned, not automatic. Praise should be garnered for what you did well; criticism is an opportunity to re-evaluate. If you did something truly horrible, well, you’re going to suffer through some shit. Your best bet is to try and understand why, learn what you can from it and move the fuck on.

pounding heart

It’s too much. All the extras. The work stuff. The family stuff. The internal existential crisis stuff.

All I wanted to do was write and read. Have some peace and fucking quiet. Some good music. A couple of beers or a nice glass of wine, maybe an old fashioned, done up right.

I want time alone with my family, relaxing. I want Saturdays around the pool and Sundays at the theatre.

I want quiet mornings. I want a workday that ends at a particular time, not “you’re salaried, so whenever”.

Every morning, I wake with palpitations. Every. Single. Morning.

I have so much left to do, but at this rate, they’re going to kill me first.

perfect casting

I don’t know why, but it occurs to me that sometimes, casting is everything, and the right face in the right place at the right time can mean everything.

See Chris Tucker as Ruby Rhod or Milla Jovovich as Leeloo in The Fifth Element, Johnny Depp as either Captain Jack Sparrow or Hunter S. Thompson or Lori Petty as Tank Girl. Bruce Campbell as Elvis in Bubba Ho-Tep – which if you haven’t seen, is fucking brilliant. B-movie transcendence. Ozzie Davis is wonderful as well. The casting director for Gotham deserved an award.

The movie doesn’t even have to be great; sometimes, a perfect performance by a perfectly casted performer is enough to hold our attention rapt.

I often picture the stories I write translated into film or television, and wonder who might be absolute perfection. Sometimes, I wonder if I was meant to write films, not books. TV, not comics. Maybe both.

tired

So tired. Did it to myself again. Too much food. Too much drink. Too busy. Stayed out late watching Dr. Strange (loved it, by the way. Loved the little Raimi touches).

On the plus side, I’m way ahead of schedule on the Mungk. This draft is going very quickly, and though I’m spending huge swaths of daylight (and nightlight) editing, it’s coming together quite nicely. I’m sure there will be more touch-ups, but if everything stays on track, I might be ready to release this bad boy into the wild by the time we go see Cursed Child at the end of June.

Bully for me. I could still use sleep.

i’m too old for this shit

No one seems to know what I’m referencing when I say this anymore. Apparently, with the discovery that Mel Gibson is a bigoted asshole, my generation has forgotten all about Lethal Weapon, and the younger generation has decided it’s not worth it.

Fair enough. I do still love Danny Glover. Who wouldn’t?

But seriously. I had to climb a two story ladder today and really, fuck that. I don’t really have a fear of heights (not being able to move is my bugaboo), but I am overweight and wear slippery shoes. Plus, it’s well over thirty degrees Celsius and I’m a sweater. Sweaty hands and metal rungs do not friendly bedfellows make.

I’m definitely too old for this shit.

(cue toilet explosion)

top gun

I don’t know why I liked this movie as a kid. I mean, it’s okay and all, but man, what a textbook example of toxic masculinity and narcissism, pro-war ethics and the inevitable undercutting of what’s supposed to be a strong female character by making all the things that make her strong completely insubordinate to her infatuation with a man-baby who can’t take even the slightest bit of criticism.

Also, I got a laugh out of the clear homoerotic overtones of the volleyball game. I guess years and perspective make things a little clearer.