Thursday, July 30, 2009

Things That Make Me Go Hurm.

So, I spend a lot of time on the Internet reading various news sites and blogs and whatnot (especially lately because my job means I do nothing in the summertime). And I'm constantly running across things that freak me out or greatly disturb me, and considering the fact that I've already accepted that we as a species are doomed, these types of articles only solidify this thought. So here, I've randomly collected some things that I would like to share with you, not so much for your enjoyment but more for your daily dose of 'oh-crap-things-are-fucked-up.' Enjoy.
  • Fish are shrinking. Not just in numbers (which is a problem in and of its own) but also in size, which is going to create problems for us and numerous other creatures.
  • With the economic crisis and high unemployment rates and all, people are starting to work for free. This article points out some reasons why that's good for both businesses and workers, but it seems to me that this is the kind of thing that will throw the whole employment system out of whack.
  • Every week or so I find an article that basically says technology is destroying us and making us terrible people, like this one about how Twitter can make you amoral, or this one about cyberspace making the youth into sluts, or this one about how texting is causing anxiety in kids. Fun.
  • I was just introduced to this Tumblr blog by my friend Ryan, and it shows some very interesting parental specimen. I highly recommend clicking through it, but prepare to be somewhat perturbed.
  • Recently a small town in Wisconsin had a giant uproar and call for a book ban because of young adult books with sexual content (both hetero and homo) including The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I might remind you that it's 2009.
  • There's always been idiotic talk of Obama not being a citizen, but for some reason as of late, that story has picked up some steam and now it's all about whether or not he's a 'natural born citizen.' This isn't going to go far enough to actually kick him out of office, but it worries me that just enough people will be convinced that he's not legit, because let's face it, most people are pretty stupid.
  • Also on the Obama, because of this whole Gates debacle, he's having Gates and the arresting officer over for beers. Sounds totally cool to me, I'd love to have beers with the president. What worries me is the amount of coverage now being dedicated to the types of beer the men will be drinking, and whether or not they are appropriate choices. Come on people, seriously?
That's all for now, but I'm sure if I give a few more days, there will be plenty more troubling things...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Twilight at Comic Con-Yay or Nay?

So Comic Con is going on as I type this, and I really wish I could be there, but I just couldn't afford to go and it sucks, but whatever. Anywho, I've been seeing several stories pop up about the presence of Twilight at SDCC and whether or not it's a good thing. I imagine that if the Twi-hards incite a riot and somebody gets maimed or killed, we can all agree that it's bad, but if they're just there being annoying and screaming, how do you decide?

After some pondering at my desk while I have nothing to do, I've come to the conclusion that it's a bad thing. And here's why:

As best I can tell, comic conventions began as a means to unite kids who were into stuff that generally made them an outsider/geek/loser/whatever. You got to meet up with all these other people who liked the same stuff you did and understood where you were coming from. And if you look at most of the content that brought people together at these gatherings, it's all very positive. Superhero books are, for the most part, basically the classic tale of good vs. evil and rooting for the good guy to win; genre TV and movies, which have played a part in the nerd collective consciousness since at least
Star Trek, most often promote themes of peace and acceptance (Battlestar Galactica, Firefly, Star Wars). Combine these two aspects together, and you have a group of people, who are normally outsiders, being brought together by things they love which promote good, positive ideals. So far, so good, right?

However, for good and for ill, companies have begun to catch on to the fact that there's this huge fan base with disposable income, so conventions are becoming more and more about product placement and selling people crap they don't need (you know, like everything else in this society). And so, enter the
Twilight crowd. On the one hand, I hate to criticize anything that has encouraged so many young people to read. On the other hand, it seems like it's a terrible, terrible chunk of literary crap (for those of you who read the books as a guilty pleasure and understand that they're not the cream of the crop, you're fine by me). I haven't read the books, but I've seen the first movie, and had the books described to me in great detail, so I think I get the gist. And while other geek-related media tend to have overall positive themes, I'm having a hard time finding the good in Twilight. It seems to be promoting both the 'prince charming' ideal of men, which I think is really unhealthy for developing minds, as well as a very strange take on the misogynistic idea of the submissive female who just does whatever a man wants her to do and constantly needs to be rescued, which also seems not so healthy. The books also reflect individualism in that these characters make rash decisions based on their own feelings, and seem to really only care about themselves and a few others, as opposed to other pieces of geek media which often revolve around the idea of the greater good.

As a more direct comparison, let’s look at Buffy vs. Twilight (I hear people say the two have nothing in common, but shut up, they do). Buffy, which is and probably always will be a staple of geek TV, is about a young girl who has great power and can defend herself as well as having to defend many others. She does have troubled relationships, but she actually experiences them and thinks them through rather than just doing the ‘I love you so much I can’t be apart from you and now nothing else in my life matters’ deal (most of the time). She and many of the other characters as well, often make sacrifices in an effort to save all of humanity, and so even though they have their own little problems, the theme of the greater good shows up again. Buffy shows that you can have a story about vampires and love and teen troubles that exists in the geek realm, and it can be positive and uniting and not just a sci-fi themed romance novel.

So I guess my main problem is that I don’t think Twilight belongs at Comic-Con, because it’s not really a geek thing. Just because it’s about vampires and the fans have that whole ‘I’m a geek’ thing going on, doesn’t mean it fits. I’m fine with the fact that conventions are branching out to incorporate other media and products, but it seems that the only intrinsic value that this particular phenomenon has to offer is financial gain. Yes, if you have a Twilight panel at SDCC, thousands of girls are going to come and spend money to see it. And while a lot of people say that maybe these kids will be introduced to new books at the convention, which is good for both them and the retailers and creators, will they? I’m sure some fans will wonder out and find Death Note or Sandman and lose their shit and then start reading all kinds of other books, but I’d be willing to bet that most of these kids only care about the Twilight books, and nothing else will faze them from a reading standpoint until the next big phenomenon happens.

So in short, I vote no on letting Twilight into my world of geekiness. Am I wrong? Thoughts?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Brilliant But Canceled: A How To.

In recent years, I've become a more avid lover of television, mainly because it keeps getting better. The problem is, most of my favorite stuff is too brilliant for this country and it tends to get very prematurely canceled. Sadly, I keep finding new shows to fall in love with, but I know that I'll never get to see them play out (I'm currently watching Deadwood and I'm somewhat leery to get to the end). So I've put together my all-star dreamteam, which is both brilliant and sure to get canceled, most likely within a season.
Jason Bateman

Best known for, and what I know him for, his awesome portrayal of the straight man on Arrested Development (and I'll only address this once; if you haven't seen it and you care anything at all about television, watch it now, dammit). But apparently he was also on this other show that got canned, The Jake Effect, and though he's landed a few movie roles (yeah Teen Wolf Too!) he's yet to blow up big time, so he's a perfect headliner for my fictitious show.
Nathan Fillion

Nathan Fillion's portrayal of Malcolm Reynolds on Firefly is one of my favorite leading man roles (I'm normally more of a sidekick lover). He's snarky and pretty and manly and awesome and really needs to be in more stuff. Drive was apparently supposed to get really good, and it probably would've made him a bigger star, but it too was yanked off the air. I think in my fictional show, he might have a slightly smaller role (below Bateman), but he's proved in both Two Guys and a Girl and Buffy that he can be just as awesome in a small role as when he's a lead.
Lee Pace

Piemaker...Sigh....Another rare leading man I love, and I'm also not normally into the lovey-dovey type characters, but he was so wonderful on Pushing Daisies (and I haven't seen the last 3 episodes and if you ruin them I will kill you!). And he was also great on Wonderfalls, which I highly recommend even though it didn't last a whole season. I have high hopes for him, but he seems a likely addition to this cast. And if you look at him, Fillion and Bateman, they could all very well be brothers. I'm sensing my fictional show will revolve around the family unit in some way...
Peter Krause

I know that he was on Six Feet Under which was a great success and it lasted forever, but apparently Sports Night was one of those super great shows that got the axe (I've never seen it) and from what I understand, his newest show Dirty Sexy Money just got cancelled (correct me if I am wrong). I just saw ads for a Parenthood TV show, but it looks like it's going to be good, so it too might not last. So anyways, I've tacked him on here. He's normally this sweet, semi-troubled Everyman, but I would love to see him be the bad guy, so he's my make-believe villain.
Nicholas Brendan

I love my Xander. I miss him. And I put him on this list because of Kitchen Confidential, which was fantastic, and I'm very pleased that Bradley Cooper is going to be such a huge star cause he totally deserves it. But anyway. Xander will be the show's quirky odd-ball guy. Even though that role tends to be filled by some nobody who then becomes a somebody, but he'll be my place-holder for now.
Judy Greer

I first remember her from Jawbreaker, which she was great in, and everything else I've ever seen her do as well. But her show cancelling record is pretty impressive: Arrested Development, Miss Guided, and Love Monkey. So she's on the list. And I think maybe it's her turn to be leading lady on a show (I know she was on that Miss Guided show, but whatever). Perhaps she can be Bateman's love interest and then all us Arrested fans can have a giggle.
Sarah Paulson

She was sweet and funny on Studio 60 and cunning and sassy on Deadwood, and for me that's a perfect range. I know she was supposed to be a hottie in The Spirit, but seeing as that bombed, I'm not sure when she'll rocket to stardom. So in the meantime, she's on my show. I'm not sure exactly what kind of role I'd like to see her in, maybe something semi-authoritative, and maybe even bordering antagonist. Maybe a love-hate kind of thing (i.e. Sam and Diane) and she'd look rather shiny next to Nathan Fillion. I'm just saying.
Portia de Rossi

Okay, maybe I've loaded this list with a little too many Arrested Devleopment people, but they're all so great and most of them can't seem to catch a break. Anyways, I've loved her since Ally McBeal, which though it lasted a long time, it did get cancelled. And apparently Nip/Tuck won't get to live out it's last season, and though I haven't seen Better Off Ted, it looks clever enough to not get renewed. So she's in too! I've seen her do cold and stern, flighty and vapid, and earth mother lesbian, so I dunno, maybe wacked out neighbor? Dowdy wife? It'll all get figured out I'm sure.
Most of these brilliant shows also have repeat cancelling producers and writers. I'm not going to go into detail about each of these guys, I'm just gonna list some of the stuff they were involved with.
Tim Minear: Wonderfalls, Firefly, Drive
Bryan Fuller: Dead Like Me, Pushing Daisies, Wonderfalls
Aaron Sorkin: Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, Sports Night, The West Wing
Bryan Grazer: Arrested Development, Friday Night Lights, Sports Night, Miss Match

Also, the show would definitely be multi-layered, with plots spanning entire seasons and humor that might not be for everyone. It would be glorious, and it totally wouldn't last. But these are just my thoughts. And there are several people I didn't involve because they've luckily gone on to become quite successful, but who else might you add to the list?