A few weeks ago I noticed that Kevin Smith had written a new book. This had completely flown under my radar and I was bemused to discover that it would be, essentially, a print version of his blog. I wasn’t sure if we’d be allowed to stock the book at my wonderful employers, so yesterday I spent a few hours the the-local-massive-corporation-that-is-destroying-the-local-bookstore-market-with-their-excellent-selection and read the book. In the few hours I spent there I managed to plow through about 1/3 to 2/3s of Smith’s nearly 500 page tome.
It was an bizarre experince, let me tell you.
Before I really get started here a few disclosures are necessary, me thinks.
- There was a time in life (as much as I would like to think sometimes, high school truly wasn’t that long ago for me) where I was what you could call a Kevin Smith fanatic. Perhaps fanatic isn’t a strong enough of a word; I was a fundamentalist Kevin Smith worshiper who continued to poor over my sacred texts (Smith’s films) to relive the fundamental truths they spoke. I wanted to be Smith when ‘I grew up’. Watching Chasing Amy, at 14 (?) changed my life. While my passion for the character that Kevin Smith lives his life as has died off, I still enjoy his films a great deal. How can one not love Clerks II?
- I did not read the entire book. I did not have the time to finish it (it’s a long goddamn book) nor do I have the money to slap down the 15.95 for the entire volume. I did read a good portion of the book but not the entire thing. If this makes my opinions invalid in some eyes, then so be it.
Smith’s book, and his blog, are the ultimate embodiment of a post-internet phenomena that I’ve noted before; that is to say people (from comic book creators like Scott Kurtz to media celebs like Kevin Smith) who live their personal andprofessional lives on the internet. This phenomena expresses itself differently in embodiment of it, but basically it blurs (and its extremes vanishes) the line before fan and creator. Essentially people like Smith invited their fans not only into their creative space (their work) but also their private space (their personal lives).
This is a bizarre thing.
Let’s bring this back to Smith’s book. A goody portion is taken up by mostly innocent (and often funny) things ; Smith’s opinions on pop-culture, some tales of his Hollywood experience and his famous friends (paging Ben & Jen… paging Ben & Jen…). One can not help but be touched and moved when Smith relates his experiences helping Jason Mewes (the Jay of Jay & Silent Bob) beat his various addictions. It is a deeply affecting story of friendship.
But throughout this Smith also gives us more than we paid for. This includes little asides about how while his mother-in-law was watching his kid Smith and his wife took the time to “fuck like rabbits”. He regales the reader with his opinions on heterosexual anal sex (only do it if your lady friend asks in a moment of passion, my friends). He explains what the morning after is a threesome is like (needless to say, awkward).
This is not just limited to the book, Smith does this on his blog too, as this bit from his September 17th entry:
She’d [Smith’s mother-in-law] fed Harley and sent her to Byron and Gail, leaving us some down time to pack and get ready for the airport. Instead, Schwalbach [Smith’s wife] and I wind up boning.
The question his why does he do this? More importantly, why do (or should) one care about Smith’s sex life?
These two questions are intimately tied together. Smith is essentially a fanboy who’s “done good”. He lives the sort of life that many a fanboy dreams of. This is why he discusses masturbating to nude photos of his wife or the threesomes he’s had. He is saying to the world, expressly to the world of the fanboy, that he’s living the fucking dream. Smith invites his fans into his private space to give them that taste of their dreams and this is why people care. Few, if any, fanboys will make it like Smith did but, by fucking god, they can taste it by reading Smith’s book or his blog or buying an Evening With Kevin Smith.
But this symbiotic relationship is bad for both Smith and his fans. It prevents Smith from really moving on as a creator (see: Jersey Girl) and keeps his fans in the trapped in the limited geek sex culture. Smith needs his fans to keep thinking he’s living the dream life so that he can keep making money and Smith’s fans need Smith to keep up his act in order to have that window into their dream lives.
Thus we see the downside to the phenomena of creators inviting fans into both their public and private spaces. It’s limiting for both the fans and creators themselves.
Continuing my recent experience with entertainment, I found last night’s Heroes’ to be an ambivalent experience.
Few of the character arcs really caught my eye. The plot of the episode was plodding and failed to engage me. In a way it was much like the Heroes pilot, that too failed to engage me. It was not until later that I really came to enjoy the series; where things “clicked” if you will. I enjoyed the middle 1/3 of Heroes a great deal, it was the beginning and end (especially the disappointing finale) that I found very over-wrought and unengaging.
The only two character arcs I see going anywhere interesting this season is the Noah Bennett/Suresh “let’s take down the company” plot and the Parkman/Molly “evil is coming back” plot. I think this is less because of the writers’ plotting and characterization skills and more about the performances of Greg Grunberg and Jack Coleman.
The biggest disappointment of last night was where it looks like they are taking the character of Peter. There is nothing more annoying to me than amnesia plots. Particularly ones that last more than an episode. Once you’ve watched one or two Sci-Fi shows you’ve just about all of the amnesia episodes you’d ever want. (Because remember folks, Sci-Fi writers are contractually required to write amnesia episode at least once)
We spent much of last season watching Peter (metaphorically) find himself and its disappointing that we’ll have go through this again (in, perhaps, a more literal manner).
Second seasons are fraught with difficulties for shows with successful first seasons. Your fans are already familiar with the characters and their back-stories, more or less, and thus you can’t get away with dwelling on back-story too much. Second seasons should be all about taking characters forward in new directions, pushing them into new, exciting, and dangerous places. Following this principal can lead to absolutely amazing TV and leave a show in a stronger place. Examples of such success stories include, The Sopranos, West Wing, Farscape, and Buffy.
This is not always easy for a show’s writers to pull off. It can lead to disasters and leaves lots of opportunities for missteps.
Now there is what one might call the “Lost impulse” which is where a shows creative team will introduce a bunch of new characters and attempt to bypass all of the problems of second seasons. By introducing these new characters the writers can spend time building them up and not have to worry too much about pushing the original characters too hard or in too new of a direction. This can work, of course, but is fraught with as many dangers as it is trying to avoid.
New characters can add fresh blood to a show and revitalize a dying plot, and so forth. But they can also alienate an existing fan base that could not give two shits and a fuck about these new people. They want more development with their old favourites.
All of this is to say, Heroes has the deck stacked against it this season. Will the creative team be able to push its characters forward? Or will the creative energies that drove the writing team last season stall out and Heroes end up as another “could have been”?
One can not really tell from the plodding, “let’s set the table” premier. But based on the mid-season improvement of last season, I am willing to give Heroes enough rope to hang itself.
I watched the Superman/Doomsday movie last week and it was a pretty ambivalent experience.
The animation and fight scenes were very, very well done. What else could you expect from an animated film from Bruce Timm? The fight scenes were well staged and often exciting. The animation was much better than you see in most direct to DVD movies (paging Ultimate Avengers… paging Ultimate Avengers).
After I got used to the change from the old JLU/Superman TAS voice actors, I found that the voice cast was very excellent. Adam Baldwin made an excellent Superman.
But, you know, there were some serious problems with the film. Namely it wasn’t really Superman/Doomsday. Doomsday is gone about a 1/3 of the way through the film. The rest of the film is taken up with a silly plot about Luthor-clones of Superman. In fact a better title of this film would have been ‘The Death and Return of Superman’.
In fact plot/character development was the worst part of the film, an unusual fault in a Timm production.
The biggest problem characterization wise was Superman’s relationship with Lois. It does not seem to me that Superman would sleep with Lois and not tell her his secret identity. I don’t know, maybe I’m a prude, but I think if you are going to be “dating” (re: fucking) someone it would be nice to know their first name. To me, Superman is an ideal character, the ultimate “nice guy” thus he would not be “intimate” with someone if he could not, metaphorically, go all the way. It just seems like for the first part of the movie Superman was just treating Lois very poorly and it really bothered me.
I also noticed that Timm went out of his way to show that this movie was very “PG-13”. It was all very silly since the new expanded levels of violence and sex were applied very unevenly. Sometimes someone would get punched and BOOM! blood. Other times, no such gory.
This is to say that it was all very unnecessary to the plot and felt tacked on.
All of this left me feeling very ambivalent about Superman/Doomsday. It certainly wasn’t a bad experince but I wouldn’t recommend it, in good faith.
In case you cared: I really like the Long Blondes.
From this point forward, I am going to try and have at least some thing up on this blog every Tuesday. Thursdays too, if my schudule permits.
Oh and look, in case one was desperate to relive the haydays of the 90s. Reused Jim Lee Gen 13 covers!! (From the DC Previews)
I for one never ever got the appeal of Gen 13. An excuse for T&A, I guess.
Ok, so I’m trying to do some reviews on a semi-weekly basis. I will try to have them up more regularly. I’m just a lazy asshole though.
I’m starting a new rating system for things:
0 out of 5 – Why did they Bother?
1 out of 5 – Destroy it
2 out of 5 – Pass it
3 out of 5 – Average/Check it
4 out of 5 – Must Read
5 out of 5 – Must Own
Now the Reviews:
This has storytelling disaster written all over it.
First, 2008 will see Star Wars: Vector, a crossover story that will be “similar to Civil War in its scope and style,” according to Dark Horse’s Jeremy Atkins. One constant character will experience the story as it travels through all four of Dark Horse’s Star Wars titles: Knights of the Old Republic, Rebellion, Legacy and Dark Times. John Ostrander and John Jackson Miller will oversee the story direction through the titles.
I’m really enjoying KotOR and Legacy and don’t look forward to having they derailed by this bad idea.