Daily Archives: December 29, 2010

To Avoid the Inevitable Onslaught of People Sending it To Me

Yes, I’ve seen this:

Thoughts:

1. Could be more tightly edited and better lit;

2. Kind of funny, but also kind of mean.

And you say, but, John, you’re the one who tells teenagers their writing sucks. Well, yes, I do. But I don’t do it to get them to stop writing. I do it to assure them it’s part of the process every writer goes through, and if they keep at it they’ll get better.

Mind you, I don’t actually think this is intended to dissuade teens from writing, or that it would stop any even if it were intended to do so. Honestly, teens will keep writing just to show you. And good for them.

It is a reminder to all and sundry that a day job is not the worst thing in the world for a writer, however. Just say it’s part of cultivating “life experience.” That is an excellent excuse, to go along with your health benefits.

The Joys of Owning a Dog

Came down to the kitchen this morning and found the trash formerly in the trash can comprehensively distributed across (and into) the kitchen rug, in a manner that clearly suggests a dog working her way through the trash to get to the tiny bit of roast gristle somewhere down at the bottom of the can. This is what we get for not putting the trash can back under the sink, which typically thwarts the dog from trash-grazing due to her lack of opposable thumbs. So while the dog is guilty guilty guilty, it’s hard to blame her too much. And to her defense, when I asked her to explain her thinking, she gave every appearance of being sorry, or of at least faking being sorry.

And in any event, she’s was not the only malfeasant, as the hairball I also found in the kitchen, flecked with green foil, suggests. Having three cats makes that one a little harder to pin on any one cat, however. Thus we see the power in numbers.

The rug, incidentally, totally trashed, pun intended. Rather than trying to clean out the mashed potatoes, bananas and beef grease among other horrible things, I rolled the whole thing up into a large, green trash burrito and hauled it off to the trash bin outside, which is dog proof and laughs off raccoons too.

I did take a picture of the carnage. I’m not posting it. I don’t want to the Internets to judge me on my trash. Also, Krissy would murder me. One of these is more motivating than the other, I admit.

Note to John Seavey

Hey, John:

I did, in fact, see your blog entry called John Scalzi and the Myth of Inerrancy, which was a rebuttal on my column on The Lie of Star Wars as Entertainment. I tried to leave a long comment about it on your own site, but inasmuch as the Blogger comment tool appears buggier than an ant farm, it doesn’t appear that it took, and I don’t want to keep trying to work with it, only to end up looking like a deranged, incompetent spammer when/if multiple instances of the same comment show up in the comment queue. So I’ll just leave it here and assume you will find it in the fullness of time. It’s below.

You write:

Scalzi’s basic assertion, for those of you who couldn’t be bothered to follow the link, is that the reason the prequels weren’t any good… is that Lucas doesn’t actually have any talent as a film-maker

Well, no, that’s completely incorrect. Here’s what I think of Lucas as a filmmaker, which is detailed in the entry immediately following the one you link to:

I’ve long and publicly said that I believe he’s unquestionably the most significant filmmaker of the last 30 years and possibly ever, because of what he’s done for the technical aspects of filmmaking. Special effects, sound production, computer graphics, film editing, post-production, digital filmmaking — basically if there’s a filmmaking process around, there’s a damn fine chance that Lucasfilm or one of its subsidiaries or spinoffs was a pioneer in it or refined the process substantially. We watch film the way we do because of George Lucas, end of story, period. The guy’s a genius, or knows how to hire them, which is almost as good. Indeed, the only two aspects of filmmaking where he falls down on the job are writing and directing, which is ironic (and not only because he has two Oscar nominations for screenwriting, and another two for directing). But, you know what? No one’s good at everything.

Likewise, you both alter without notice and misattribute the subject for the following:

anything good in the movies is either (to quote Scalzi) ‘unintentional, achieved through special effects, or is the work of hired guns, notably Lawrence Kasdan and Leigh Brackett’.

The full quote, including what it refers to, is:

Now that the magnum opus of the Star Wars cycle is done, we can see that any entertainment value of the series is either unintentional (Lucas couldn’t suck the pure entertainment value out of his pastiche sources), achieved through special effects, or is the work of hired guns, notably Lawrence Kasdan and Leigh Brackett (those two wrote The Empire Strikes Back, the only movie in the series that has a script that evidences much in the way of wit, much less dialogue that ranks above serviceable. Kasdan and Brackett were clearly attempting to entertain as well as serve the mythology, showing it is possible to do both).

The argument is in fact not whether Lucas is a good filmmaker (he is, albeit better at some things than others) or whether he’s responsible for what is good in the Star Wars series. The argument is whether the Star Wars films should be considered as “entertainment,” and whether what is entertaining about the series is the work of Lucas himself or those he’s hired, whose sensibilities, as I have argued, are more attuned toward what is actually entertaining.

Because you appear to have fundamentally misapprehended what is actually being discussed in the essay, you end up making arguments that are aside the point of the essay and/or are points I find entirely unobjectionable.

For example, the point you make about Lucas ultimately being responsible for the final form of Empire is obvious; by that time he had final cut on the series. Kershner, Kasdan and Brackett (among the other filmmakers involved in the film) didn’t somehow sneak Empire past Lucas; rather they did what Lucas wanted and also contributed their own sensibilities as entertainers to the work. The argument is not that Lucas objects to the films being conventionally entertaining, rather that it’s not his goal. If others helping him make the film can manage it, great, as long as his own goals are achieved. If not, oh well.

On a side note, your smack on Empire director Irwin Kershner is a bit uninformed. When Kershner took the Empire gig he was a well-regarded director in Hollywood, both critically (for films like Loving) and commercially (Eyes of Laura Mars). For television he directed Raid on Entebbe, which garnered him an Emmy award nomination for Best Director.

To sum up, it does appear you’re making an argument countering an argument I did not actually make.

Science Fiction and Movie Studios

Today’s Filmcritic.com column is the last one of 2010, and in it I look at how well science fiction has done for the major film studios by charting how many of each studio’s domestic top ten-grossing films are from the science fiction genre. The answer: Probably more than you think — but not for every studio. To get all the details, click through to the column. And as always, leave your own comments and thoughts there.