Cinematic Musing: Why The Movie Was Better Than The Book.

The Hunger Games series was not, as a whole, was not very good. Suzanne Collins repeated the words “Tracker Jacker” and “Mockingjay” way too much, and as I’ve said before the premise is absurd. But this post isn’t about that series, it’s about books in general that have been adapted into movies. Every time a book gets made into movie it’s as if that movie is competing with the source material. This is a really bizarre way to look at it. Even if it’s based on the best book ever written you can’t assume the movie should live up to the original. Judge them separately, it’s not fair other wise. Just because the Game of Thrones doesn’t recreate every detail of those huge fucking books, doesn’t mean it’s not good. Recreation isn’t the same as quality. Look at Stanley Kubrik’s The Shining, that shit is about Native Americans and is awesome just like the book. They have virtually no plot points in common, but both are great. Books can be good, and movies can be good and some times books are worse than their filmed counterparts.

It seems like every time a new adapted movie I hear people from all over the place saying that “the book was better because…” or “the movie wasn’t as good because…” I’m hear to tell you why those people being wrong is so annoying .

5.) Movies Have Fewer Details

“Brevity is the soul of wit.” said some hotshot writer a long time ago, and he was right. Don’t bore people with all your blabber, and just get to the point. Say in five words what you could have said in ten. This is the philosophy of all writing, books and movies alike. However, in practice movies outdo books in this field every time. A movie has to be minimalistic, and books do not. The reason movies aren’t as long is because we as humans are programmed to have short attention spans, books don’t cater to this in the way movies do. This is why important details are so often missed by tired or inattentive readers, and why that almost never happens when watching a movie.

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Wait, he’s the FATHER!?

Since they’re concise, it makes it easier for the themes and ideas to develop in a way that is easy for us to spot. When a book gets too bogged down with heavy handed philosophy it becomes boring. It’s the same with movies, but it’s easier to spot a ham-fisted preacher of a director because the story is only unfolding in about two hours, rather than over the course of hundreds of pages. You kick the ass hole off of his soap box before his incoherent stammering hits a screen. The clunky unwieldly size of the average novel makes it difficult to fix basic problems. Basically every book would be better if it was whittled down to about ten pages.

4.) Books Don’t Have Enough Collaboration

This may come as a surprise but books are written by single people. Aside from a few editors books are the results of individual creative forces. This hurts the method as much as it helps. A good author can handle the responsibility of telling a good story on their own. But, sometimes they cannot. The independence is the reason many authors cite as their rationale for pursuing writing as a career. It’s sort of freeing to be able to create something from scratch and have it stand on its own as yours. Sometimes however, a bad book has a few minor errors that could actually change the crap to something exciting, or at least readable. An arrogant, or uncollaborative author can ruin their own books through their closed-door process. This is where movies benefit, and are often rescued. Yes, bad movies still get made, but they are more often than not saved through team work.

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Sometimes teamwork goes very wrong

Filmmaking gives the creators opportunities to see what works and what doesn’t with the audience of the other creative people working with them. Directors, producers, actors, writers, and designers are all creative people who contribute to the process. And many failed, or bad movies are often be blamed on a single person with in the process not communicating enough. Collaboration is a benefit that film has, which literature can’t match.

3.) Crappy Books Get Adapted, Too

I understand that it’s not exactly high art, but I really like the show True Blood. It’s funny, and violent, and sexy, and often surprising. When I started watching the show I was thoroughly entertained and I wanted to read the Southern Vampire series that the show is based on. In a fit of over zealous consumerism I bought a box set of 8 of the books. One chapter into the first one and I knew it was crap. Poorly written and whiney. I later found out that (book spoilers) the author killed off the best most interesting character after the end of the first installment. I don’t know who saw any potential in those terrible books, but I’m very grateful they did.

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Very grateful

50 Shades Of Grey is another example of inhumanely terrible writing that is being brought to screen. I don’t have high hopes for those films being any good, and those books were a lot more popular than the Sookie Stackhouse ones. I understand why those movies are being made, and the filmmakers really have no where to go but up in terms of quality.

Then there’s the Chronicles of Narnia books, and I apologize to your childhood for this but they were pretty lack luster. They are somewhere between Lord of The Rings and Harry Potter but they live up to neither, and neither of those series were adapted nearly as much as Chronicles. There are dozens‘ of books and book series that are terrible but get adapted anyway. Like, The Hunger Games these movies are bound to be better than their unsatisfying counterparts. Just because it’s printed on a page doesn’t mean it’s any good at all.

2.) Movies Are More Popular

There seems to be this popular idea that because books have been around longer they are inherently better than movies. This is nothing more than racism. People’s prejudice is limiting to the medium of film. Ignorance drives this wicked restraint of cinema’s full potential. Even with this dismissal from the academic community at large, movies have over come their stigma. I mean, when was the last time a book grossed $307 million world-wide over a weekend? Never, that’s when. Suck it written word.

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Smug Bastard

“But being popular doesn’t make them better, things that suck get popular all the time,” you say as if I haven’t thought of this already. While this is true, the popularity of film is nothing to sneer at. And don’t give me that “movies are for dumb people, and books are for smart people.” Because being able to read doesn’t prove your smart. There are books written for dumb people all the time. At the same times there are movies made for smart people. So if movies can be for smart people, and books for dumb people, then the whole thing is a wash. And what’s left is the fact that people in general like movies better. We realize that movies are immersive fun and easy  to finish quickly. Books can be grueling in a way movies aren’t able to be; they can take months. Movies also provide a more visually immersive experience than does literature, and this makes it easer for the average person to swallow. Books often fall short on the fun factor because they can’t deliver on the promises of entertainment they way a good action, comedy or romantic movie can.

1.) Movies Can Take Liberties

A film adapted from a novel has a source material to work from, obviously. However, that does not mean it must stay true to its source material. This gives the screen version of a story the upper hand. Sure, the original can be as creative as it would like to be but the movie has an opportunity to correct mistakes and clear up ambiguous plot points or themes. Not only do movies benefit from this, but so do books. Any lack of clarity in a book can be fixed in its movie, adding depth to the original piece. If a movie is based on a book they can both be great and the one can make the other better. With that being said, I want to mention that there are bad movies based on books that rely too heavily on things only mentioned in the source. These movies are not the one’s I’m talking about. If a person says “you have to read the book to get that,” then the movie sucks. A movie is a movie and it needs to be a good standalone piece. The best ones have no required reading, and the best books have no required viewing.

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This is the person who knows if you’ve read enough.

Movies almost always have the upper-hand in this relationship because they are working off of an already existing entity. No matter how good a book is, it will not be perfect. Look at it this way, Edison had that light bulb and it was fine or whatever. But, those curlicue lightbulbs are cheaper, and more environmentally sound. If the incandescent light had never been stolen by people smarter than Edison, then we wouldn’t have better inventions today. Movies are the curlicue hippy lightbulbs of artistic expression. Sure books are cool or whatever, but film is the future. And the future is bright.

Entitlement Musing: What’s Right With Generation Y?

I was born in 1991. I’m a millennial, although this is the first and only time I will give myself that idiotic title. With that being said, I’m not entitled, and I don’t feel like I’m owed anything. No matter what anyone tells you the people of my generation have no general character defect that plagues everyone born between Reagan and Bush’s first term. People my age can no more be considered to suffer from one personality flaw than any other generation. People my age are no more the “entitlement generation” than people from the thirties and forties are the “greatest generation.” This is because we are all humans. We are put in certain situations and we react according to human nature. The western world at large was not full of better people in past generations than they are today. Even if movies like Forest Gump tell us that the baby boomers and people before them are better because of the world they lived through, doesn’t mean we should believe them just because they say it on a screen. The fact of the matter that there were whiney little shit heads in the forties, just like there are today. Similarly, there are awesome badass who do things that need to be done for a good cause today just like they did in World War II. People need to stop saying that the current generation has something wrong with them, when we don’t. “Kids these days” style complaints are as hold as humanity, and calling young people today more entitled that people were in the past is just more of the same. With the internet it is easier for your bitching to be heard, but that doesn’t make the arguments any more valid just because you can back it up with bogus statistics made up with people who agree with you. Here are a few reasons that people close to my age aren’t “entitled.”

5.) Old People Aren’t so great

You know racism? It sucks. People have done pretty horrible things in the name of hate, and they are doing them right now.We are not in the post racial era, we are not in a post prejudicial era. People still hurt other people because of their race, creed, and/or sexual orientation and that’s truly uncool. But in America, it used to be, like, at least twice as bad. And you’re laughing at that because you know it was WAY more than twice as bad. People of color were afraid to leave their houses, gay people stayed in the closet their entire lives, and people legitimately thought Kennedy would be a bad president because he was Catholic. Things aren’t perfect now, but that aren’t terrifying and they used to be. Old people remember when these things happened, and some of them still think the world is as shitty as it used to be.

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Fucking assholes

But for all that, the western world is a lot better than it once was for anyone who isn’t a straight white man. And the people alive at the time were to blame if they didn’t stand up to the hierarchy. However, not all old people are to blame, because like I’ve said and will say you can’t blame people for the stereotypes given to their age group. Also, old people are annoying for a lot of other reasons. Have you ever been stuck behind a LaSabre on a one lane road, or watched a woman with dentures and cain count pennies in a convenient store, or received weird Facebook requests from that aunt you never talk to? Sure they fought in WWII and helped Civil Rights, but still they weren’t any more perfect than the people of my generation. We’re just people and we react with what we’re given, same as any other generation. The average person in 1945 can no more take credit for the US winning WWII than can the people in 1929 be blamed for the stock market crash.I’m not selfish or entitled. I work, and plan on working hard, just the same way that millions of people of all ages do. People who work, have friends and families, and try their hardest to be happy are the average. Any other traits, positive or negative are coincidental, not proof of a larger trend.

4.) Participation Trophies Aren’t Damaging

I dare you, find a real statistic, right now that proves definitively that participation trophies received by kids in sports for doing nothing has made the recipients more entitled. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

I hope you didn’t waste too much time, because those statistics don’t exist. There are two reasons for this. One, proving a person is entitled is scientifically impossible. And two, a trophy for participation will not fuck up a kid. I never got a participation trophy in my life, but I know it happens all the time and I know people who have gotten them. The basic argument against them is that they lead to children think that they’re more special than they are. Comedians, make jokes about it, TV shows poke fun at it, and adults in my life have repeatedly spoken against the practice. I understand where they’re coming from. People over a certain age had to earn trophies, and were told that they weren’t good enough by extension when they weren’t rewarded for sub-par performances in sports or school. These people think that this will bleed into later life. They say that kids who get participation trophies will learn that they deserve something for nothing. People who think this are stupid. Or, they have committed an act of stupidity.

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I Participated and all I get is some stupid medal!? I demand a goddamn statue in my likeness, or I will lose my shit!

 

Kid’s aren’t mindless robots who receive implications and spit out actions like living math equations. If a kid is given a trophy for doing nothing, and his parent’s aren’t assholes then he will understand the trophy is worth fuck all. No kid wants to hang up their participation trophies than adults put up “honorable mentions” on their mantle pieces.

Think of it like a sort of stock market. Trophies are a supply and demand commodity. If the supply is high on trophies, then the types of trophies are separated and the value of each type is considered. A first place trophy is still desirable, because there is still only one. Kids don’t shoot for the participation reward. If they do, it’s because they know they suck, the same way ugly boring dudes go after ugly boring women. When the kids who received participation trophies grow up, they won’t feel entitled to get something for nothing, because they know they never have before.

3.) No Generation Can Be Defined By A Single Trait

I’ve met a lot of people, talked to all sort of people in all kinds of professions, and had different thoughts and ideas, and they were from all walks of life. The only thing everyone I’ve ever met had in common was that they were different from everyone else. Sure, people have stuff in common, or they may look alike, but no two people are exactly the same. And, I’m not telling you anything new. You know this, everyone does. But this gets separated in people’s minds once they start talking about “Generation X did this” and the “Baby Boomers” are like that. In the vaguest generalities this can sometimes be acceptable. For example, to say people over sixty fear change isn’t all that unfair. For one, elderly people didn’t have to deal with a lot of radical change for the first twenty years of their lives and it’s been difficult to adjust since then. Also to say someone “fears change” is a generality. That person could  be made uncomfortable with new technologies, or new social changes or even new popular trends. However saying a person is a member of the “Me” generation is entirely unfair. Being born in a certain time does put you in a lot of circumstances beyond your control, but that doesn’t mean that you can be a worse person just because you are a certain age. At the same time people who are older will obviously know more about the world, and will be more mature. That doesn’t make you better because you were born before the eighties, however. People cannot be lumped in together because of when they were born. Age can change you, but the time in which you live doesn’t make you act a certain way, no matter the socio-economic climate.

2.) My Generation Is Not Properly Represented In the Media

HBO’s Girls is a pretty good show. The characters are comically horrible while still maintain relatable. The situations are mildly realistic while still being funny. The shows creator, and star Lena Dunham has a very good grasp on her style of humor that results from her awkward personality. I like the show. I do not like what other people say about the show. Reviews of that show constantly point to how accurate it is for showing the way young people act these days. This is infuriating. Girls isn’t a real depiction of young people in present day America. I don’t know anyone like the characters in that show, and it isn’t at all relatable to the average “Gen-Y” person. Here’s a good rule of thumb for anyone who thinks shows like Girls are true to life, think about the life situation the characters are in, and how their day to day life is probably lived out. Girls is a good example of this, because these 23 and 24 year olds live in Brooklyn one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the richest country in the world. None of my friends, or relatives my age can afford to live in New York City. Any one who can afford to live in Brooklyn at my age with no regular source of income is nothing like the average young person. “Kids these days” complainers fail to realize this. Lena Dunham’s characters complaining that her parents won’t pay for her food and apartment is funny, but it is not a normal life situation.

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Pictured: Pretty Much Four Santa Clauses

I recently watched a bad movie. I should be blamed, it was my fault for watching a Selena Gomez movie and thinking it wouldn’t be awful. But, as a public service announcement I’d like to say Spring Breakers is an ludicrous mess of a film. The basic plot is that these half naked girls rob a diner in a Pulpfiction style robbery, stealing from crying innocent old people. They take all of this money and go to St. Petersburg, Florida and are stranded there after getting arrested for under age drinking. There’s also a bunch of cocaine and sex and confusing camera angles. The Rotten Tomatoes Review’s consensus on this film (Which received a fresh rating of %66) says the movie “blends stinging social commentary with bikini cheesecake and a bravura James Franco performance.” In other words, the movie is good. What the fuck? This movie was idiotic. Kids aren’t like that, yet one reviewer said “Korine’s story is a searing indictment of today’s hedonistic, nihilistic youth.” Today’s youth are not hedonistic, and that movie had no stinging social commentary. It was just a bunch of idiots acting dumb and their bull shit caught up to them. Saying that Spring Breakers or Girls are in any way realistic is like saying that Ferris Bueller’s Day Off proved that kids in high school in 80’s cut school all the time and started too many parades. Too often, people think that their ignorance about today’s youth is proof that something is wrong with the kids. They watch TV or movies and just assume that this is what people are like. The average person in any generation is not a hedonist, nihilist, or selfishly entitled. Suggesting this is bullshit, and anyone who supports it is only doing so because their ignorant, and too lazy to to try fix their ignorance.

1.) Things Are Really Fucking Hard For Young People

It’s difficult being young, no matter what time period you grew up in. Things are easier for people over thirty than they are for those under. Being a person under a certain age makes it difficult to be taken seriously. You’re constantly looked at like an idiot, or a child or both. This is something we take for granted in the western world, and in White America.  However, right now the socio-economic situation is pretty dire for people my age. One big reason for this is that the popularity of college has radically shifted the job market. It is nearly impossible to find a 9-5 Monday-Friday office-style job for someone who doesn’t already have one. I know, I’ve been trying for months. People are forcing them into college, and then when they get out they have up to 150,000 worth of debt and they find out jobs aren’t available. These people don’t feel entitled to a job because they are dicks, but because they are hard-working, motivated job seekers who are considered unemployable in the current economy all because they are young and don’t have enough real world experience. More and more people are choosing to not go to college, and it is just as hard for them to find good jobs but these people are at least not unemployed 22 year-olds in crippling debt. The biggest problem with this is that college keeps getting more expensive without providing the necessary real world experience for students.

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“Same shit different century” – Harvard’s lesser known motto

The worst part about all of this is that there is no end in sight. Some experts estimate that the economy will not fully stabilize for job seekers, and young people until the 2030s. As a 22-year-old, I’m not asking for pity on behalf of my peers. Just try to get it. We go to school for 12 years, just like everyone else. Then we’re told we must go to college or we will be failures, so we go to this vacuumed society that is 4 year college and pay through the nose to be place under the mass delusion that what were doing at the school will matter once we leave. Then it turns out that it doesn’t matter, now we have debt, no job, no experience and no friends (of course we lost all of our high school friends in college, then our college friends when we graduated). So we live with our parents, which sucks a lot for some people, and then ass holes who never met us tell us we’re too entitled and should stop thinking we’re more special than we really are. This is the common experience of many middle class suburban kids. We don’t live off stipends from our parents or a windfall metaphorically (or literally) from people older than us.

I’m not entitled, and no one I know, my age is. Fuck the people who call me that without knowing me, and that goes double for my friends. I work hard and many of the people I know do. I worked thirty hours a week as a full-time student, and graduated Magna Cum Laude. Many people my age need to work as full-time students, and it’s not because they think they are entitled to better lives but because they’re willing to work for improvements.

One good article, that makes a lot of these points with a different perspective is the response to the now famous Huffington Post Lucy Article, is Adam Weinstein’s Fuck You. I’m Gen Y, and I Don’t Feel Special or Entitled, Just Poor. Also, I advise you watch this short video about wealth inequality in America.

Storytelling Musing: 6 Reasons Why the Dystopian Aesthetic is Absurd

Dystopian books and movies sell, a lot. But so does OK! magazine, and it’s also  ridiculous and full of lies. The new Hunger Games movie comes out this Friday and it got me thinking. Why do people even care about post-apocalyptic/dystopian stories? “If you think about it,” I said to an empty room “‘dystopia’ is an oddly specific setting and the genre has really weird yet specific rules.” Why do we like the idea of the ideological death of freedom and happiness? All of these are questions I couldn’t begin to try to answer. However, I’m right to ask them.

I love books like Clockwork Orange, and Uglies, but why do such radically different authors and stories all fit under this umbrella? Dystopian fiction is always a means to an end. The story-teller doesn’t care that the world as we know it has ended, he/she only wants to get across certain ideas and uses their art as a way to do this. While this works in advancing certain ideas, I’ve always thought these writers come off as needlessly alarmist, more than they do philosophically sound. Things in life will never, ever, ever be dystopian the world over, the greater public won’t let it. Those books and movies  are laughably unrealistic. Here’s why…

6.) Nothing Dystopian Has Ever Come True

George Orwell’s 1984 is the clearest example of this. In the book the totalitarian communist government watches you at all times and listens to everything you say and think. Everyone in the book seems to believe  Big Brother’s lie that this is for their own good. It is also revealed that the constant military attacks from foreign enemies are actually being done by the government, which makes the citizens docile, agreeable and more likely to support its government in this perceived wartime. Oddly enough most dystopian literature follow’s Orwell’s precedent of giving an exact date for the time in which his alarmist propaganda would come to pass. The I Am Legend movie took place in 2013, the book in the 1960’s. In terminator Skynet was supposed to become self-aware in 2011. And Bladerunner takes place in 2019. While all of these were interesting well made pieces of media, they were in no way prophetic. By the time the year 1984 actually rolled around the world looked nothing like the book.

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Although it was terrifying

Orwell’s book, while excellent was far from effective at predicting the future. Just like every other Dystopian novel and movie. While 1984 is a relatively recent example, religious materials can be considered their own fashion of dystopian literature. Whether it’s the Bible, Quran, or Bhagavad Gita each of them lay out their own sets of rules and what happens when you follow or chose not to follow those guidelines. So far, their promises have also not come true. Nothing terrible in the world can intelligently be called punishment for some unholy lifestyle.  Now obviously these books, and the movies like them are not always supposed to be prophetic, sometimes they are trying to explain an idea in a way that would be easy to understand for the average citizen. Essays are boring and don’t sell, so people write novels or make movies so other people will give a shit about their message. And I understand that. But at the same time, it is a little difficult to take books like 1984  seriously when nothing about them ever comes true. It’s hard to accept these dreary ideas when they’re constantly and systematically disproven by the simple passage of time. The creators talk about these horrific consequences of some action, and those results never come to fruition. If this was a court of law in America, Orwell and the Bible’s credibility would be totally shot by the fact that half of their story has been proven totally untrue. Any judge wouldn’t believe a word out of a witnesses mouth if that whiteness was lying in over half the shit he was saying.

5.)None of it Rings True

“So what?” You’re saying, “Just because writers can’t predict the future, doesn’t mean they don’t have good ideas.” And I don’t blame you for thinking this. Bram Stoker’s ideas on love and romance were intelligent and penetrating even if Vampires aren’t real. While this is true, but Dracula didn’t have real life implications the way that books like Fahrenheit 451 do. Ray Bradbury’s novel isn’t only easy to disregard because people don’t burn books nowadays but also because it is impossible to relate it to anything  that remotely compares to real life. There is no country that utterly successfully commits any fashion of cultural black-out. Yes, China and a lot of other countries sensor parts of the internet, and ban certain books and movies. But in Fahrenheit 451 and a lot of other dystopian media the people are obedient for the most part and don’t argue or protest against the tyranny they’re facing. In China hackers finding ways around government restrictions, and protestors speaking out against the actions of their government, similar to the way people do here. Too often, the idea of taking actions against an oppressive body only comes up when it suits the plot. This happens in essentially every oppressive government dystopian book or movie I can think of. People are mildly unhappy with their everyday life, but don’t do anything about it until they do, then they fight back, and then they win or lose or both.

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Nothing about this scene felt like a victory to me.

This isn’t how life works, though. And even though the three act structure is a time-honored and sacred thing, in the case of dystopian literature it only works to create a wider gap between fiction and reality. The events within a given dystopia don’t happen in life, and the methods and actions of the characters aren’t taken by real people. We simply are not able to identify with the world of any dystopia, and even though this doesn’t hurt all fiction it does damage the quality in the case of dystopia. Nothing in these books or movies is true, which is the case in most books and movies. But in dystopia the realness is in the philosophies, and not in what happens there or how any of it comes about. By being so irrelevant to the average person, dystopian media undoes itself ideologically. Because it is so untrue to reality, the aesthetic forces itself to be pointless.

4.) None of It Has Ever Been True

Nazi Germany was a pretty dark time in human history. We still tend to blame only the Germans for it, but if Aliens had come down in that time they would have seen Hitler’s Germany as a pretty apt example of human cruelty in general, and not just the actions of a single country in one part of the world. The implications of the Nazi political system are something we should all take responsibility for, if only so we can learn from our mistakes as human beings. With that in mind we should still remember that the effects of WWII were not affecting everyone in the world. Some people in some parts of the world had a better life because of what the axis powers did, and some had much worse qualities of life, and still other world citizens were totally unaffected. Although a lot of people in the world were killed, and tortured, things were not universally bad for every person in the whole world. This is because the world has never been a generally bad place to live, and it never will be.

Dystopian Aesthetic is all about its philosophy. As I said, the idea that everything will eventually suck doesn’t feel true to a casual observer. The most compelling explanation for this is that it has never in human history been the truth. Sure, things for Women are horrible everywhere east of Istanbul, and still not so great to the west, Brazil is in terrible turmoil over their economic situation, the mayor of Toronto is an admitted crack smoker, and the Affordable Care Act website still doesn’t work properly. However the world is not anywhere near universally bad. That is the very basis of “dystopian.” We don’t fundamentally believe the dystopian message because we know that things cannot entirely suck.

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I stand corrected

The best reference for for us as people is always the past. We look back at earlier mistakes and try our best to correct them. For some reason characters in a dystopian novel don’t do this, they just assume that their horrible government isn’t harming them and it must be really fantastic the way they murder children on live TV for sport. This is one of the many reasons that the premise for The Hunger Games seems so outlandish to me. This futuristic society is just shamelessly shitting on the lower class. People are watching children kill each other as punishment for previous uprisings, and this is supposed to stop any future revolts from the lower class? That has never happened in history. If there’s one thing you can count on people to do, it’s raise some Hell. For absolutely no explainable reason at all, no Hell is raised over this obviously Fascist government blatantly killing its own citizens and forcing the parents of the fighters to watch. Even the more affluent of society have to fight, and send their children to kill or be killed in the arena. The rich kids do get more training and better equipment, but are still forced to either murder their peers or die horrible while their friends and families watch. If that was life, chairs would have been through windows faster than you can say “Thomas Pynchon.”

3.)All of It Is Too Rooted In Its Own Present Day

If we as a culture truly believe that books like The Giver  and The Hunger Games as well as  movies like I, Robot and I Am Legend  are any good then we must unconsciously realize something very fundamental. All dystopian literature, as well as films are firmly based in the time period in which they are created. This means that anything dystopian is very much related to its contemporary time period. The Hunger Games is an allegory for uneven distribution of wealth, a hot button issue right now. The Stand and Dawn of The Dead were about America’s obsession with consumerism, a topic that was just as relevant in the seventies as it is today. Even if the messages do  last, the way these messages are conveyed do not. Books by authors like Isaac Asimov, Richard Matheson, Frank Herbert, and Ray Bradbury routinely included technology like ball point pens and punch tape computers (ask your great-grandparents). You can’t really hold this against them. They didn’t know how amazing the future would actually be. We’ve got iPads, chemotherapy and all the internet we could ever need. It’s not the writer’s fault if he/she can’t predict the future. However all of that dated technology and those formerly topical ideals makes it hard to think of the philosophies as relevant. Time and again dystopia undoes its own importance by simply existing on the page or screen. It almost makes a person wonder why they even bothered with the format to convey their philosophies.

dolla dolla bills yall

Oh, right

2.) Dystopian Stuff Never Exists in Dystopian futures

When real-world dystopian readers or watchers finally see their worst fears come into reality, they do not see a dystopian world. If a book or film is truly dystopian then that hopelessness must be all-encompassing. If the government is a good dystopian government then it needs to dominate its people. Usually this government uses some type of futuristic weapon or spying technique. At this point we all know that such techniques are totally unattainable.

NSA Data Center

We know better

We see dystopian technology all the time. And even though certain technologies terrify certain people, they don’t alter the world in which we live to a point hat can be considered universally horrible. Even thought things are physically existent  seem unconscionable to sci-fi fans exist in real life right now, those things have not destroyed our current socio-economic landscape. Neither the NSA, nor Google Glass, nor Apple’s terms and conditions policies have done anything to disrupt our daily lives. We all live in a society that was supposed to be dystopian, but we all know is not. This is partly because the entities like the NSA aren’t powerful enough to disrupt our every day lives, and partly because we would never let them. In our heart of hearts, we as humans know better.

1.) Dystopian Books/Movies don’t exist in Dystopian Literature/Cinema 

Giving credit where credit is due, I think Fahrenheit 451 is more true to life than many of its counterparts because the books are destroyed. This is the central point of the plot, but it is something that doesn’t happen in Minority Report, Blade RunnerThe Dark Tower Series, Children of Men, or A Scanner Darkly. Most dystopian fiction doesn’t mention any sort of mass destruction of culture, and the one’s that don’t are total bullshit. This is an easy equation, and I’m shocked that most of these books and movies don’t ever make any allusion to. If books aren’t burned, movie’s aren’t destroyed, then why aren’t people reading/watching them. If they were then they’d be able to read books like A Clockwork OrangeBrave New World, or Ender’s Game (or watch their corresponding movies). A few pages into We, and you’d think someone would be like “Hey, let’s just kill every police android we see, and just blow up the power company so The Overlords can’t watch us masturbate and punish us by showing the videos at sports games anymore.”

Kanye Jumbotron

As if you didn’t know what Kanye Masturbates to

Dystopian aesthetic is reliant on the ideas it portrays, more so than actual plot details. This would be especially important for a character in any dystopian fiction to know. If Katniss was allowed to pick up a copy of V For Vendetta the third chapter of the book would have opened with her saying to Gale, “Fuck this tribute nonsense. Get some fertilizer from District 9 and some of that coal from District 12. We’re burnin’ this mother down.” In our totally not dystopian world we still identify with the ideas in post-apocalyptic fiction. It’s hard for us to believe that someone actually living under a futuristic tyrannical government would focus more on adoration of their oppressors than they would on freeing themselves from their Hell-scape of unhappiness. People find inspiration from fiction, it’s part of the reason we make it. Whenever the does hit the fan, we look to our story-tellers both past and present to try to piece together what we should be doing on a personal level. Why does the human instinct to find inspiration from fiction appear totally absent from the characters in dystopian novels and movies? That’s an easy one, because they’re horseshit.

Comcs Musing: 6 Reasons Superman is Objectively Better than Batman

          In 1938, when Superman was first invented by two Jews in New York it was an instant hit. Nerdy kids and childish nerds alike wanted to be the tight wearing superhuman. He quickly became an American icon and still is today. Even with that being said, he seems to have fallen out of the good graces of a lot of comic fans (link to batman is better than superman article). The current popular opnion is that Batman is a better Superman and a shit load of people agree in a shit load of places. This blogpost is inspired by someone who shares this opinion over at Cracked.com called 7 Ways Batman is Objectively Superman. Why are so many people plagued by this shared delusion. How did this happen? How did a lunatic with bat ears get beat by a space lunatic in with a spit curl?

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It’s baffling

To be honest, I have no idea why good old nipple-suit is continuously more popular than the blue boyscout but I have a few ideas. Before I get into them though remember that I’m talking about the characters not their media. I don’t care if the Superman N64 game was awful, or that Superman IV Quest for Peace was an unintentionally hilarious slapstick mess. Superman is a comic character, and that is how his story is best told.

6.) His stories are more interesting

          Every Batman story is the same. Batman is pushed dangerously close to the brink of something (see madness, death , injury, more madness, more death, and even Death and Madness put together)

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Don’t forget madness.

            Each of the stories above are considered among the best Batman stories out there, and they all have very similar story arcs. The basic idea is that Batman is faced with a new challenge the likes of which he had not previously seen, and is forced to face it. When all seems lost, and hope is in short supply Batman rises up and conquers the new threat. Usually he seems right on the brink of death, madness, etc. and somehow finds the extra reserve of energy and beats that madness or death as well as the new enemy. Usually, Batman is able to do this after losing sleep, refusing food, and getting the shit kicked out of him. How does he do it?

            He’s fictional, that’s how. And at no point is this more apparent than when he gets up and says something like “I’m not done yet” wipes the blood from the corner of his mouth and then fucks the day up of whoever happens to be standing in his way.

            Outside of the Death of Superman (see below) this formula can’t, and won’t apply to Superman. Because he is so strong he isn’t so obsessed with the threat of death. He was raised so well by Ma and Pa Kent, he can keep his shit together and not go insane.

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well, more insane.

            Superman’s best conflicts, instead involve a conflict in his traditional valuesevents that change major parts of his characterA threat to his friends or family, or all of the above. Superman’s powers make him a more compelling character. His humanity and strength of morals matter more to us because he is an alien and he’s more human than we are. Even though he’s from another planet his stories make him seem human because he has relatable problems and feels human emotions, Batman just doesn’t.

5.)Superman is a better Symbol

            Like it or not, superheroes are for kids. Kids look up to them, kids want to be them. So which qualities would you want your kid to embody, “Truth, Justice, and The American Way” or “vengance?”

            Superman represents the best in all of us. His personality is the gold standard of humanity. His superpowers are the reason Lex Luthor needs that fake Iron Man suit. Every person inside and outside of the DC universe considers Superman to be the gold standard for human potential, whether it’s his personality or his power.

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You could ask Jimmy Olsen, but he would have to take Superman’s dick out of his mouth.

He isn’t just some rage monster trying to vicariously right a wrong a stranger committed against him. He does what he does because he believes it’s right. There’s no personal connection between Clark and his Super Hero-ness in his mind. And this is what we should teach kids. Batman  is only Batman because he is personally invested in eliminating crime in Gotham. As if locking away enough bad-guys will rais is self-esteem or something. Sure what he does is pretty great, and we should all aspire to help those in need. But why we do it is important too. Both Batman’s and Superman’s acts are essential selfless, but Batman does them for revenge and Superman does them because he can. And a hero is a man who does what he can

4.)He Died

            In the early 90’s Superman finally met his match in a stronger more vicious hate monster called Doomsday. A lot of other nerds think that the Death of Superman storyline serves as obvious proof that Superman is irrelevant. I’ve heard a lot of people recite the same old mantra which boils down to “his death was only a stunt to make him more interesting” usually between crying jags about their mother that still dresses them.            

            What people forget when they whine like little bitches about comics is that the same thing happened to Batman a few short months later. In 1993 the earth shattering comic news was Superman dying. It was such a popluar talking point it was even turned into a Saturday Night Live skit.

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Only the most important cultural entities are bestowed the honor of being on SNL.

            The Batman story arc, Knightfall was a close second for popular stories in comics of the early 90’s.  Knightfall surrounded the rise of a new villain who donned a Mexican wrestler’s mask and could grow to the size of the average weiner mobile by injecting a chemical called Venom. Bane was highly motivated, very strong, and ruthlessly cunning. He put all of his energey into defeating Batman and eventually did.

            Of course, Batman was able to get over the paralysis eventually, come back and beat Bane. So how is this different from Superman coming back to life after dying? It doesn’t. Batman proved how totally unrelatable, and inhuman he is by going from paraplegic to Parkour/Karate expert in about a year. Superman’s death and return are more realistic because he isn’t a human being and can do stuff like fly and walk out of his own tomb. Batman, being human shouldn’t beable to do stuff like that. But he does, all the fucking time.

(Yes, I know  bothBatman and Superman died a few more times. No, that does not matter here. Death of Superman is one of the best selling comic series ever, and it is constantly cited as the number one proof for the Man of Steels irrelevance so it’s the only one I bothered talking about.)

3.)Superman has friends, and family.

            Batman and Superman are both orphans.

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And one of them won’t let you fucking forget it.

          But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have relationships. He’s got Alfred, Robin, Nightwing, Commisioner Gordon, Batgirl, the list goes on. But these people aren’t his loved ones, they’re his business partners.

            Make fun of Jimmy Olsen as much as you want (because I know I do), but it’s not like Batman’s got any “pals.” He’s got allies who are physically strong, tactically useful, or strategically intelligent. Batman doesn’t even attempt to make friends, which would explain living in a cave.

            “But what about the Fortress of Solitude? It has solitude right in the name, ass hole” you say between your sips of Mad Dog, an impatient cock-head might be raving at their screens like lunatics. What those computer screaming psychos fail to understand is that the FoS serves a totally different purpose than the Batcave.

            Superman goes to the Fortress to reflect and get peace and quiet.

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Ocassionally he gets some ass too.

            Essentially, he goes there for the same reason you go to your bedroom. What makes this better than Batman is that his character still feels realistic. He just needs to chill. Batman regularly spends all day and night in his cave researching or thinking about his dead parents. The isolation of the Fortress of Solitude is only incedental, because Kal’El can make it to anywhere in the world in about four seconds. To him it’s not isolated. He can still hear about all of the world’s problems if he sticks his head out the front door. Going to Antarctica fills a very understandable need. The need to kick back. By nature Clark Kent is more level headed than his long time friend and billionaire human counterpart. Superman was raised to be modest, kind and helpful. He isn’t such a self obsessed serial martyr that he needs to brood in six feet of bat shit before he stops bank robberies. Not to mention that Superman can hear all the problems of the world from space, and a Chrystal palace in Antarctica can supposedly muffle all that chatter about American Horror Story and so forth.

2.) He has a weakness

            By this day and age Kryptonite is a pretty tired concept. Green rock makes him instantly powerless. And, even though it comes from a planet that is of galaxies away people get their hands on that shit like all the time. Not to mention the idiotic other colors.

Even with that said Kryptonite puts the most distinct line between Supes and B-man. No matter how high and mighty Superman might seem, there is a sure-fire way to take him out.

            When it comes to Batman, his humanity makes him seem invincible to a comic reader or movie-goer. If Batman can come back from the dead , and from this it’s pretty hard to think of him as a realistic and believable character. The irony being that Superman is “a strange visitor from another planet” and is still more believable in the comic universe because isn’t burdened by the limitations of humanity.

            All you have to do is suspend the disbelief that he can fly and a new world of possibilities is open. We know what humans can and cannot do, and Batman does stuff in the second category pretty much everyday. Those pesky bullets don’t hold down Kal’El, and third degree burns letting him focus on being a superhero. He doesn’t make us jump through hoops of disbelief suspension the way Batman does because the fact of the matter is that a super powered alien Sun-God is way more believable in a fictional story than a human being who does even a single thing Batman has ever done.

1.)He is more relatable

          Every “Batman is better than Superman” argument boils down to the phrase “Superman is too powerful to be relatable, Batman is more relatable because he’s a regular guy.” There is no sentence repeated by comic fans more often than this, and if there is one to rival it, it doesn’t contain as much bullshit as this.

            Every time a good writer makes a story about superman they struggle to make the alien seem human. A successful story has shown Superman to have real emotions and face serious emotional struggle that he wins or loses against. With batman the goal is the opposite.

            The best Batman stories, and movies make batman into the “symbol,” which is distinctly inhuman. Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy is the best example of this. Batman wants to be a symbol of fear for criminals so he goes through inhuman trials and training to achieve his goal. By the end [spoiler alert] he is able to overcome the ever-popular madness; as well injury and lack of exercise to over come the villain in the end. Forgotten, half paralyzed, and with an inadequate vertical jump, Bruce Wayne rises in extraordinary fashion escapes the nightmare dungeon and comes back to Gotham just in time overcoming all of the obstacles (again). All of this done in exactly the fashion you wouldn’t do. Anyone who could relate to Batman would too busy practicing martial arts and scaling their own private mountains to waste their time watching movies or reading comics to even think to come to Batman’s philosophical defense. Billionaire genius world-class martial artist celebrity playboy philanthropist Bruce Wayne is furthest thing from an everyman you can possibly get. Any Normal person would have hung up the forearm blades with the first dose of Scarecrow’s gas in the face. At the same time, if any one of us had Superman’s powers the best of us would strive to live up to his moral code. Because, that’s what Superman is, the best example of the best of us. While Batman, is just not.

Anxious Musing: Why didn’t they teach this in school?

I’m gonna try to keep this one as light as I possibly can. However, in the interest full disclosure the topic itself is pretty dark. In general I am pretty outraged about the American education system, because it is broken, counter productive and frustrating. You can probably expect a post on it some time in the near future. For the sake of brevity I’m only going to focus on one very small area of the educational process for now, because it seems so outrageously damaging.

Like most people with any college education at all I’ve taken several classes in the field of psychology. All of these classes shard something in common, everything. I took a general Psychology class in high school, and an intro class in college as well as one on Freud and they were all exactly the same. Sure the window dressings were different, and they had minor alterations that I think can be attributed to the fact that they were taught by different people rather than their areas of study being any different at all from one another. Each class went over Freud’s five stages of psychosexual growth, B.F. Skinner’s behavioral experiments, John Dewey’s experiments in education, Carl Jung’s ramblings of a madman, and Ivan Pavlov’s animal abuse. We read about the objectively horrible Stamford Prison experiment, the nearly as bad Milgrim shock experiment, and the boringly named Blue Eye Brown Eye experiment. I half paid attention to each of these lessons and did pretty well on the tests in which I needed to regurgitate the information. The purpose of all of these lessons was to show us how the brain is studied and how we’ve gotten to the point in psychology at which we are today. However as small tiny little foot notes all of the instructors for these classes would each off-handedly mention the most insignificant detail after these lessons. Modern psychologists have all but entirely disproved the results of those scientists as well as those experiments. They spent weeks cramming the findings of these dead white dudes into your head only to tell you that they were in fact batshit, and shouldn’t be taken seriously.

Now that I’m removed from school I can see clearly how unquestionably idiotic these lessons were. If Freud were alive today he’d be considered a fringe psychoanalyst practicing a form of pathological, or pseudo-science. His ideas, while ground-breaking were entirely off the mark. Not only that, everyone knows it. I’m not a psychologist, I never planned on being one. I was an English major and was required by both my high school, and college to take those classes and I wouldn’t have done so otherwise. I felt like it was a waste of time to take classes outside of my field, especially when those classes were boring and all the same. As a graduate I see that they were also wastes of time because I didn’t learn anything that was either relevant or of any value. In fairness to my high school psychology teacher, she did teach us some pretty cool stuff. We read about stuff like catatonic schizophrenia, and dissociative identity ( or split personality) disorder. It was interesting and eye opening to see the way modern day people lived with such dibilitating disorders that had nothing to do with their physical body, only their mind. She mentioned a few other disorders like, bi-polar disorder, OCD and others that are popular but she never went into as much detail as she did about the ones where people hear voices. This made me draw some parallel between schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder. I didn’t think the disorders were similar but I did think they were equally common. About that I was totally wrong, and it was entirely the fault of the teachers I had.

Bi-polar disorder, Depression, ADD, PTSD, Panic Disorder, OCD and Generalized Anxiety Disorder are a few disorders that fall into the “Mood Disorder” (MD) or “Anxiety Disorder” (AD) categories. It is estimated by the Center for Disease Control that about 5.4 million Americans suffer from ADHD alone while sufferers from all types of Schizophrenia is less than half that at 2.2 million. I know that there is some contreversey about diagnoses of ADHD, and that some people believe that doctors only prescribe children drugs like Ritalin just to shut them up. Even if that’s true ADHD is only one mood disorder. And according to different studies ADD is processed in the mind similarly to OCD. In the mind of someone with an AD or MD the there is little difference in the diagnosis. Insistant thoughts, bad dreams, difficulty focusing, suicidal thoughts, insomnia, strange eating habits, anxious emotions, general fears, difficulty relating to others, and irritablity are all possible symptoms to all of the MDs and ADs mentioned above. Even though they are considered separate diagnoses MDs and ADs are often diagnosed together. People with ADD tend to also suffer from Depression, or OCD, or (and especially) Generalized Anxiety Disorder. MDs and ADs, because so many of their symptoms are so similar, are usually not stand-alone problems in sufferers. All of this information I found out through my own internet research over the years, none of it through school.

If you read that paragraph and any of those symptoms, which are extremely common in those with ADs or MDs you should probably talk to a doctor. I’m not saying you have any sort of disorder, but you’d be much better off knowing whether or not you do, rather than doing nothing.

So, if MDs and ADs seem to be so common in the United States why don’t we teach about them in schools? I have no fucking idea, is why. They waste their time with Freud and Pavlov’s dogs and don’t focus on actual psychology that actually affects actual people. I am particularly sensitive to this because close to every single one of my loved ones sufferers from an MD or an AD or both. More than half of the family I live with are on medication for some disorder, or have been in the past. My first job was at the local Pizza Hut, I worked there for five years and several of the people there had an MD/AD. My next job was a convenient store where several people there were also sufferers. I just started a new job, and met a girl who told me she took anti-depressants. Many people with these disorders, however don’t take medication. I blame this on the schools.

Because of the ways these disorders are taught they are made to seem unusual, or in some cases funny. People make jokes about a kid they once knew who needed to turn the light switch on and off four times every night before bed, and everyone gets a laugh about funny little kid stories. In non of the quirky anecdotes of this nature was it ever mentioned that people who do things like that are usually internally tortured with thoughts that are telling that kid that “if he only turns off the light once his mother will die and it will be all his fault.” I saw my brother stare at a candy-bar wrapper on the floor in the mall for a good five minutes while we sat talking at a food court. He was shaking, and anxious and when I asked him what was wrong he pointed at the piece of trash and didn’t say anything. He eventually got up to throw it away. It turned out that he was envisioning an old man or woman slipping on the wrapper and breaking their neck. In his mind he would be to blame for their death and he was already dealing the guilt of killing someone by accident through his inaction. That is not a cutsie story, and I’m sorry for that. But, for people with ADs it is an extremely common thought process. Your ideas eat at your and you feel trapped by the things you imagine, and feel guilty for scenarios you’ve dreamed up. Sometimes people will imagine something like a brutal rape scene that involves their sister, and they are totally powerless to stop thinking about it, and then feel guilty because they couldn’t stop running the scenario through their head. Again, if this sounds at all familiar to you see a doctor.

I am a very laid back person. I have no insistent thoughts. Things don’t normally bother me, and something has to be really shitty for me to complain about it. When my girlfriend told me that she was crying because of the things she was thinking, I didn’t understand. I was even more confused when she wouldn’t tell me what she was thinking about. She was able to get help. Which is good, because she had honestly no idea that people didn’t live that way. She was under the impression that other people would routinely plan things like their own suicide, or horrific death and that other people were just better at dealing with it that she was. If only there was a body of educators that could tell young people that they may be suffering from a common Mood or Anxiety Disorder.

Even worse than not providing education about these easily treatable, and extremely common problems is the stigma against medication. You hear from people and the TV all the time “I don’t want to go to the doctor, all they want to do is medicate you and make you go away.” This is extremely harmful to those who can be helped by medication. Anti-depressants and drugs like Ritalin change the lives of people with MDs or ADs and usually for the better. Those pills ar popular, and not only because they can shut kids up. They work. If you experience a foggy feeling, or like your mental abilities have been dulled that means the medication is not working. When people say “they don’t feel like themselves” on anti-depressants they are sad about something in particular, or have some other issue. People diagnosed with Depression or General Anxiety and actually have those disorders will only fell better after proper doses of the correct medication. If you do talk to a doctor, and are prescribed the medication, and you take it everyday your life may improve drastically. And if it doesn’t, stop taking the pills. Too many people get hung up on the stigma of either being diagnosed with a mental disorder, or taking medication and they never take the steps to seek help. Public schools could do wonders in teaching people that there is nothing wrong with being treated if you are suffering. I mean, these are the same people that convince millions every year that cursive will be useful later in life, and that Columbus discovered America.

I guess this post wasn’t as light as I wanted it to be. Sorry about that. The next one will be funny, and probably about superheroes or something awesome. If you want verification for anything I was unclear about, you should Google it for yourself. I think it’s important that people become as educated as possible on MDs and ADs, because it’s education that will be most helpful in getting people the help the need and deserve. A really awesome article to read on the subject, from someone who actually has Generalized Anxiety Disorder as well as OCD would be ‘4 Things No One Tells You About Having OCD‘ by Mara Wilson (the little girl from Matilda and Mrs. Doubtfire). There are countless others I’m sure, but she’s a really good writer and really funny.

I hope this helps someone.

Star Wars Episode VII Musing: JJ Abrams Is Delaying On Purpose.

UPDATE: There is no update concerning Episode VII. That alone should prove my point. I know better than to say it does, however. The original point of this post was to explain my theory that JJ Abrams is delaying production on the next Star Wars on purpose, which is explained ad nauseam below. Since its first posting several articles have hinted at my theory but as far as I know I’m still the only one who believes it. Also since writing this I’ve seen a video that plays right into my had. After shooting Mission Impossible 2, Abrams gave a presentation at TED, called Mystery Box. I will reference it below, and I can say that hearing Abrams talk about his processes leaves no doubt in my mind that he is totally fucking with us.

I will admit right off the bat that I thought more about what to write, than the thought I actually put into the topic. If that makes sense. Any way, my first musing is about Star Wars. I love Star Wars. A lot. When people ask me my favorite movie I tell them it’s The Godfather, not because I’m ashamed that it’s actually Star Wars, and I only say that because I can’t decide between A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back. My bed room right now is decorated with Star Wars Legos, an R2-D2 Xbox, and the Darth Vader Mr. Potato-Head (Darth Tater). With that being said I hate the prequels. Anyone who disagrees should visit the following site and watch the videos.

This first musing won’t be about the prequels but a theory about the next Star Wars Movie, set for release on December 18, 2015. As just about every movie fan knows by now, this new movie will be directed by JJ Abrams. The Star Trek director promises a thematic return to the original films and, according to Abrams will focus on character and drama, rather than nothing and bullshit the way the prequels did. What fewer fans know is that the project is already experiencing difficulties that have fans of the franchise worried. I am not worried, because my theory is that these delays will go on for a while because I think JJ Abrams is doing it on Purpose.

JJ Abrams

You smug fuck.

Allow me to explain.

The new star wars movie was announced early this year, and I squeed like a 3rd grade girl to an empty house. I was excited that they would continue the franchise. Excited that Disney bought LucasFilm. And, also excited that George Lucas’s fat fingers would be minimally prodding chubbily into in it. It seemed especially cool to find out that Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford gave a serious maybe in regards to the possibility of their involvement in the next trilogy. Disney soon after announced that after Episode VII there would be a new, “non Episode” Star Wars film once a year every year from that point on. This is rumored to include origin stories for Yoda, Obi Wan Kenobi, and the intergalactic bounty hunter Boba Fett. In the mix of these announcements other major studios started to make pretty huge announcements about action sci-fi movies set to be released the same year as Star Wars. These movies include Avengers 2: Age of Ultron, Man of Steel 2 (featuring Ben Afleck as Batman, Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, introducing Grant Gustin as The Flash, and possibly The Rock as a bad ass villain), Avatar 2, Ant Man, Pirates of the Caribbean 5, a possible Terminator sequel, and even a possible Independence Day sequel. All of these movies have something in common that Star Wars seems not to have, a definite leading man. Ant Man has already shot some action sequences, Avengers is cast, as is the Superman-Batman movie, and the others I mention are sequels which would have presumably the same big time stars that played the lead in the respective original movies. The first red flag for critics has been that there isn’t a cast for Star Wars and as of this writing they have only begun with casting calls, a process that can take a considerable amount of time. The second thing that has people worried is the script.

(UPDATE: There is still no cast).

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We know who sure as shit won’t be in it, though.

Academy-Award Winner Michael Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine, Toy Story 3, Brave, Hunger Games) wrote a script and submitted it to LucasFilm. There seemed to be a lot of excitement from Abrams, and other people who had read this script. Arndt is a veteran writer at this point, and has never independently written a script for a movie that tanked. After all this, it was somewhat of a shock when Abrams announced he would “re-working” the script and that he was going to be doing so with screen writer Lawrence Kasdan (Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, Raiders of The Lost Ark). While the idea that Kasdan and Abrams would be working together sent me, and many others into a transcendent form of fanboy glee, critics were not able to see this as good news. Most criticisms read something like “They have no script and still think they can take this movie from nothingness to screen-ready in less than two years? They’re crazy. All 6 of the other Star Wars movie took 3 years make. What the hell is going on with Abrams and LucasFilm?” And under normal circumstances I’d agree with them, If JJ Abrams wasn’t delaying production on purpose.

The people who’ve been following this whole drama as closely as I have (I assume there’s millions) have noticed a theme in the statements and interviews Abrams has given so far. Good ol’ JJ clearly knows the prequels suck, and although he’s been shy about saying it hasn’t been so hard to read between the lines. You’re welcome to look up his interviews in which he gives almost no details about the upcoming Star Wars movies, or you can take my word for the next few things. Abrams loves Star Wars and has for most of his life, he enjoyed directing Star Trek but said his real sci-fi dream was to do Episode VII and this opportunity is a dream come true for him. You can see it in his eyes in those interviews where he charmingly deflects questions. I’ve casually liked JJ Abrams for a while now. The Star Trek movies were obviously awesome, so was Super 8. I didn’t really like Cloverfield, but the viral marketing surrounding it was really freaking cool. I didn’t really watch Lost or Alias but people seem to passionately love those shows and they’ve both gained him a pretty big fan base, especially for someone who’s almost never on camera. Now, with Star Wars he says he wants to get to the roots of the franchise. One way he’s doing this is by planning to shoot on film instead of digital video. In a recent interview, as well as the TED talk below he said he loved the mystery surrounding Darth Vader, and The Empire that is felt throughout the original franchise. And he’s right, the original trilogy raises a lot more questions that it answers, and to the story teller this clearly doesn’t matter.Once the story of Luke, Leia, Han, and Vader is told the movie is over. Sure, there are the books and comics and a lot of them are actually pretty good. But, still the original films have a sexiness that invokes the pull of the unknown that bleeds into our subconscious and has fed the popularity of the franchise.

In the video above, Abrams details how he loves questions. He shows his passion for mystery, and says that from an early age he loved questions more than answers. The title of the talk, Mystery Box” references an unopened box of magic tricks he bought as a child, but has kept in the box since he bought it. To him it represented what separates good writing from great writing. In many ways all of the uncertainty surrounding Episode VII’s production is its own mystery box. This is often Abrams MO. In several interviews, including this one from The Daily Show he makes it very clear that he is acutely aware of the public response to his creations. He likes the creative process as much as he likes creating. To him anticipation and speculation are a part of film making. While some chose to stay close mouthed and blind to the outside world during making movies, Abrams is not that guy.

One of the billions of reasons Episodes I, II, and III were so bad was because they seemed to cycle between screaming things at your face, and whispering confusing political pseudo-mysteries that were too boring to care about. Abrams says he wants to fix that, and in a way he already is. A lot of people following this on-going story are already confused and intrigued about what is going to happen next in the film’s production and the story has people like me (again, millions) quite invested. So with his love of the movies, and an obvious understanding of the movies, why would he be delaying production on purpose? You’d think he’d want to get right into it and get started as soon as possible, right? Wrong, asshole.

The Dude Asshole

The Dude might have said you’re not wrong. But he and I agree on something.

Like, I said he’s a huge Star Wars fan, and he’s a director. There’s no doubt that he’s heard the horror stories from behind the scenes of shooting A New Hope. R2-D2 constantly broke, Anthony Daniels couldn’t act very well in the C3-P0 costume because he kept falling over, and shooting the Tatooine scenes in Tunisia were apparently among the worst experiences in the lives of everyone involved.  As soon as the actors and crew saw the movie however, they knew it was worth it. They instantly fell in love with their work, as well they should have. Their work was amazing.

The reason for this is the Latin phrase, Ad Astra or “art through adversity.” The idea is that the harder something is to create, the more it is worth creating. There great movies which were also made under horribly uncomfortable circumstances. Evil Dead ran out of money, and by the end of shooting it was only Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell in the freezing woods shooting together warming their hands with hot coffee because they couldn’t afford to heat the set. Stanley Kubrick psychologically tortured Shelley Duvall while shooting the The Shining, so much so that she would have PTSD flashbacks for years. Hell, making Apocalypse Now was so ass-rapingly hard to make that the behind the scenes documentary won awards. That list goes on.

The passion and dedication that went into producing these movies made them all that much better. You can feel the labor and the love in every frame of these movies. More specifically, JJ Abrams can feel them. He says he wants the new movies to have the same spirit and love put in them as the old ones did. The only problem is that the first Star Wars took 3 years to produce because a lot of the technology put into that movie didn’t exist before 1977. Nowadays shooting a big budget action movie with all sorts of explosions and shit takes practically no time at all in comparison. Just hit the “blow up planet button” on your fancy movie computer and there goes Mars, or so I assume. If you want adversity in your art in the present day you need to work at it. You would need to really fuck yourself, with precision procrastination or oddly inconvenient delays.  I just read yesterday that due to an unexpectedly large turn out for casting in England the entire casting call schedule for North America has been completely changed. (UPDATE: This was further changed to so that they are now only accepting online video auditions to save travel times and, presumably the time that would be wasted not hurting people’s feelings.)

I think changes like this aren’t accidents, and they aren’t hurting the movie. The CEO of Lucasfilm asked for a delay on production for Episode VII, and Disney gave a resounding “No.” This resounded even more when they announced the a definite December 2015 release date. Is it crazy to think Abrams asked personally for a release date, just so he could put more pressure on himself to finish the movie by a certain day? Probably. But still, it would play into his hand and help put the proper pressure on him.

JJ Abrams isn’t dumb, and many if not most creative people work better when they’re under pressure. If Abrams is one of these people what he is doing with the Star Wars movies is smart, not to mention ballsy as hell. The dude is constantly pushing the envelope for the sci-fi and action genre and clearly has guts a mile long.

Thoughts? Have you been exhaustively researching Star Wars, and you wanna call bullshit? Feel free! Have new ideas about Episode VII’s production? Let me know! Wanna do anything in the comments section other than be a dickhead? Do it!