The Alabaster Sock

We Will Fight the Threat with Fighting

Posts Tagged ‘Stupid Things’

Posted by Matt on November 18, 2010

You know what archetype in fiction is really boring now? Serial killers.

A lot of creators just seem to think that making your antagonist a serial killer (or sometimes your protagonist) will automatically add weight. It’s especially bad in the case of antagonists, and ESPECIALLY in the case of antagonists in genre fiction. It doesn’t feel wrong for some crime fiction to still utilize them, although it’s still usually to the same effect: our bad guy is a BAD GUY holy shit (serial rapists are slowly replacing them, though). But in the case of something like a superhero comic? It feels overplayed and dull.

Every new villain now seems to be a serial killer, or almost one. Some older villains have been retroactively turned into serial killers. And you know what? In a genre that allows you to literally do anything, this just lacks scope. There as a time when mad scientists trying to steal all the diamonds in the city or take over space with robots was considered cliche. Now I want them back, because at least you didn’t automatically know what they were going to do.

That’s one of the problems I have with serial killers as antagonists: they are completely predictable. Let’s take a look at a prominent example: The Joker. The Joker started off as more of a traditional detective fiction killer, than drifted to become more or less a themed criminal, and today has basically gone through various phases of absolutely insanity (and overuse). It makes sense for the character to be made scary, because scary clowns are classic, and it’s a nice dynamic to have the good guy base his theme around something feared and his archenemy based on something benign. But while some may feel that The Joker is only scary if he’s a homicidal maniac who has caused more deaths than all the world wars combined, that’s not really true. In fact, what makes Joker scary is that he’s unpredictable. You never know if his gun is real, or whether he’ll rob all the party supplies stores in Gotham or fill the reservoir with poison. Only he gets his own jokes. Once you make him a crazy guy who will off you in seconds, he just loses what makes him frightening, and just turns him in another killer psycho in make up.

This is a problem that seems to have afflicted most of Batman’s villains, homogenizing them to the point of tedium. I was relieved to hear that the new Nolan Batman movie would not The Riddler, because I knew what direction they’d take him, being all dark and ‘realistic’ and all. The Riddler isn’t a villain I would see being a murderer at all; I think he works a lot better as a big-time thief. That may seem even smaller scale, but it’s good to pit the hero against different kinds of challenges, instead of just making them all essentially interchangeable, except maybe they use different kinds of knives or whatever.

All I’m asking for is a little variety in MOs, and therefor a little variety in the kinds of stories being told. Not everything needs to be gore porn, so you can stop with the serial killers now.

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Posted in Comix, Nobody Cares, Observations | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Posted by Matt on September 28, 2010

My dad is running for a City Councillor position next month. I have thus been looking for people on the Internets talking about him and his campaign. So far, nothing of particular interest.

There is this, though.

Seems CTV is well underestimating its Winnipeg audience.

Brandon is the second-largest city in Manitoba. Also known as “Westman,” it is located in the province’s southwest, on the Assiniboine River.

All their Winnipeg readers are all like ‘Another place in Manitoba? ABSURD!’ before running to their atlases and seeing that it is true, popping their monocles in the process.

Let’s look at what they have to say about the candidates:

(For Mayor)

Nickolas Avlonitis
Information about this candidate is currently unavailable.

I’d say that’s probably not a good thing.

Henry Hansen
Henry Hansen is a homemaker raising a young daughter in Brandon.

Just OOZING with qualifications there.

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Posted by Matt on September 2, 2010

The phrase ‘Hollywood is out of ideas’ kind of confuses me. I can understand the frustration when you hear every other day that a board game or Youtube video or glob of spit on the sidewalk is being made into a movie. It seems that everything that already exists is getting made into a movie these days, even other movies.

But the thing…’Hollywood’, that fictional entity that is meant to encompass all the studios in America…doesn’t really have it’s own ideas, does it? Okay, all these licenses being acquired and greenlit obviously comes from the brass. And even great movies started out like this; Jaws is a classic, but it likely started with some CEO saying “That Peter Benchley book is popular, make a movie out of it”. The closest thing the studios themselves come to creativity is going with a general idea rather than just a license, like saying ‘People want movies with cowboys!’ or ‘People want movies about the war!’.

So, in essence, Hollywood never has ideas, or at least original ones. The ones with the ideas are the screenwriters who pitch their scripts to the studios. They’re the ones who, one way or another, have to mold a story from the mud, whether it’s their own or something given to them.

It’s a strange thing, really. Most movie ideas come from the top-down, I must admit, but there are still examples of big movies that were screenwriter pitches first, Alien being a prime example. Still, I think there is enough evidence to suggest that most of the creativity comes from the bottom, from those more directly connected to the creative aspect of filmmaking. So then the idea that ‘Hollywood is out of Ideas’ seems faulty, as for the most part, the ideas are not created by the studios, but by the screenwriters, or directors, or even designers; and I’ve heard very little that leads me to believe that they are out of ideas.

This leads to what the actual problem is, though: ‘Hollywood’ isn’t willing to take risks at all, so they are less willing to buy a script unless it has some connection to something that already exists, or is championed by a bankable actor. It’s getting absurd, and the fact that the studios are buying the rights to board games is only the beginning. It seems that they have become so timid about making money back on their investment that they will take anything, literally anything, that might have some sort of recognition factor, no matter how minuscule, as being a safe bet. And they need safe bets: they are losing money all the time, as people just stop going to the movies, preferring to watch them at home, or to rampant Internet piracy. And the budgets are ballooning, because in order to get the quality and star power that is expected of major movies these days you need to START with tens of millions or more (consider that most major actors will cost six figures on their own, and that you usually need a bunch to get some peace of mind). The model is bloated as hell, but that’s just where the studios have led themselves.

This is, as one can tell, bad for upstart screenwriters who don’t have the connections to get into the mercenary part of the industry. They have to start somewhere, but there seems to be less opportunity in the film industry than ever before. There are still some smaller studios that are probably more receptive to new ideas, but it’s probably difficult getting in contact with them for much of the same reasons it’s difficult to break into the big part of the industry: you need connections.

In conclusion, it’s not that Hollywood is out of ideas, it’s just too scared to buy new ones.

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