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Cultural disparity?

May 7, 2012

When I first “came out of the broom closet”, back in 1999, I was worried that some of my friends, who happen to be Christian, would find this revelation to be too much and might distance themselves from me.  I am happy to report that my fears were not realised – those friends gave me a big hug at the time and are still my friends.

That was 13 years ago and on a different continent.

Since I moved to the States, I have found a slightly different aspect of the world.

Most of the people I’ve met here are friendly, tolerant and on occasion politely inquisitive about the Pagan among them.  The folks in the diner don’t shun me, parents don’t snatch their progeny from my path and a local church sent round a deputation with an apple pie when we moved in to our house as a welcome.  Very friendly and terribly civilised.

However, over the past 12 months, a neighbour has told me that she’ll “bring me to the Lord”.  Apparently, my faith is comical because it’s fictional.

I find myself often challenged by said neighbour about my faith and I’ve tried to make it clear that not only do I not wish to get into a pan-deity showdown, my faith is not up for negotiation or to be challenged.  I don’t want to go that way because, frankly, my faith is my own – a personal set of choices.

Proselytizing is anathema to me – everyone gets to make their own choice and find their own path.  Just please, do not prevent me from following mine.

Blessed be!

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Of adaptations…

June 9, 2011

Recently, whilst watching the Granada TV adaptations of the Sherlock Holmes stories, I happened across an online comment about the episode I had just watched (The Bruce Partington Plans): “Not as good as the book, but still worth watching.”

Firstly,  The Adventure of the Bruce Partington Plan” was not a book, but a part of a collection of short works released as “His Last Bow”.  A small point but, if someone’s going to get snotty, I’ll often resort to the standpoint of the pedant.

Secondly, did the author of said comment not realise that any kind of visual drama is going to vary to some degree from any original printed work from which it was adapted, given that there are certain dramatic conventions that an audience respond to that may not be within a printed story.  For many years, I have held that this was part of the reason that so little of Asimov’s work remains unfilmed.  A good ten pages of unbroken exposition may work well for the reader, but an audience…?  Maybe not.

A further thought occurred to me.  Why is there an air of smug superiority in the “Not as good as the book” part of the comment?

It seems to me that there’s a form of pseudo-intellectual hipster out there.  “Oooooh, look at me!  I’ve read the original text!”.  These must be the same people who demand unadulterated versions of Awful Austin, Boring Bronte, Dreary Dickens and Tiresome Trollope on our screens at regular intervals.

Note to those quasi-fecal pieces of effluvia:  You are not alone.  Remember that.  You are not the only person to have ever read the original text.  That alone should damage the bourgeois hipster’s ego and let the rest of us carry on unhindered in our enjoyment of adaptations that remain close to the original source, as opposed to those that butcher it, often by including a colossal douchenozzle like Will Smith or Jim Carrey in the cast.

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A little late, but…

May 16, 2011

It’s taken me until now to start formulating adequately my reservations about the current series of “Doctor Who”.  By that I mean the run from 2005 to the present (in t’ old days we used t’ call t’ series a season eeeee, it were grand!).  For the sake of some clarity (if not brevity), I shall from here refer to Classic Who (meaning 1963 – 1989) and New Who (meaning the 2005 + seasons).

The New Who has tried hard to connect itself with Classic Who via a multitude of flashbacks, visual references and continuity a go-go, frankly enough to have kept the older fanbase squeeing with delight (which appears to be largely successful, but this may not be the case – I’m open to conjecture).  Old enemies and acquaintances have appeared frequently, but there’s a catch:  Some of it just doesn’t feel right.

Let’s look at the overall show, first.  There was a time (well, let’s face it – it was 1996) when suddenly the series I thought I knew took a turn for the odd in its journey.  The TV movie.  McGann’s only outing to date as the Eighth Doctor.  I had a feeling that it was going to be iffy mostly due to the US influence in its construction.  American TV networks don’t do UK originated stuff well and, to be fair vice versa more often than not (“Married for Life”:  Exhibit A).  When I said this once, I was reassured that it was only to be made for a US network, not by a US network.  The target audience was obvious and the result was predictable (in more ways than one).  The TV movie’s failure was, in a lot of ways, the catharsis I needed to accept the end of the show I’d watched and cared about for a long time.  After all, I still had my Classic Who videos.

Then came the new series, within less than a decade of the TV movie.  At least this was to be made by the Beeb and, therefore, couldn’t be as dubious in content and execution.  Could it?

This is a bit of a problematic area.  New Who is made for a modern audience.

There seems to be the general conceit (and again, here I’m open to argument) that the “old guard” of fandom that stuck with the series through until its 1989 demise would mostly remain loyal.  They would remain in situ for the duration and, if the modern series was linked via the aforementioned flashbacks and continuity references, would readily accept New Who.  That equates to some merchandising and viewers before a product hits the screen.

New Who, though, has to be reshaped from Classic Who roots to fit the mores and sensibilities of the current potentially viewing public.  That’s a public that has had very little programming of a similar nature to Classic Who and of UK origin in 15+ years.  The shows that have been broadcast have all been from the US and, frankly, lack the relevant scope and format to be completely comparable.  Add to this the number of films that go for spectacle and run-shout-shoot sequences and there’s going to have to be a change in order to survive.

The series we’ve got currently is a product of both the producers and the audience.  There’s more run-shout-shoot in New Who than in Classic Who, yet this was something that was a source of derision “way back when”.

With that thought, I’ll bring this post to a temporary stop.  More to follow…

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“It’s a plot, Harry!”

May 7, 2011

The thought occurs that any event in the world, past or present, seems to draw a corps of conspiracy theorists.

JFK?  Conspiracy.  MLK?  Conspiracy.  UFOs?  Conspiracy.  Hanes’ label-less underwear?  Conspiracy.

A truly gauche one is Giant earthquake/tsunami/nuclear power plant = HAARP conspiracy.

Honestly, what do these pygmies think they’re doing?  Even if there was a global conspiracy that humans have participated in for a large part of our existence, do a few screaming people think they can shift the balance of power?  Perhaps they think they’re immune to the possibility of being snatched and crushed by the Masons/Reptilians/Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.  Do me a lemon.

Here’s the bottom line:  We have a finite lifespan, so maybe taking a day or two off here and there from the ranks of the tin foil hat brigade and stopping to smell the roses isn’t a bad idea.  Unless the roses are an alien construct placed on Earth by Reptillians and imbued with a narcosynthetic (cunningly nicely scented) mind-control drug.  Only David Icke (the self-proclaimed “Son of God” who was incapable of saving a 20-yard volley) knows…

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How we learn.

March 23, 2011

As children we first learn the rudiments of the physical world and language, followed by the installation of our ethical and moral codes.  This might seem obvious but there appears to be a catch.

One of the things that is not installed in the average human child is the concept of attempting to anticipate the actions of others.

Said actions of others are, for the most part, difficult to accurately plan for if the possible paths and  outcomes are not constrained.  Too many possibilities equal chaos theory.  I suspect that children who grow to be chess players and business magnates have a combination of ruthlessness and anticipatory skill embedded, which in turn channels them along certain academic and recreational paths until they reach maturity.

My point (as much as I ever have one) is:  Whilst setting up moral and ethical precepts for future generations, why do we fail in the “tell them to try planning for the actions of others” department.  There is no real need for the anticipatory facility to come into conflict with the ethical facility.  Planning without guilt while remaining within our moral code.

Maybe that’s not such a bad concept.  Aesop gives us moral codes in bite-sized form as children and his impact on the Greek philosophers is evident, but we must also bear in mind that life’s lessons do not come in single chunks, a solid single point at the end.  The end of the lesson is contingent on the many factors in play.

Don’t limit yourself – anticipate a little.

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TV: The Modern Composite.

March 4, 2011

It’s been an odd 12 months televisually.

“The Cape”, which should have done fairly well in the ratings, given the box office attraction of the Superhero genre, tanked and has been killed after 10 episodes.  AMC’s adaptation of “The Walking Dead” was well received by the audience and (deservedly in my opinion) got renewed, despite being a darker subject matter than US audiences are used to getting.

Sitcoms have come and gone, folded and failed and been replaced by a succession of equal ratings failures.

Then, there’s the really odd…  “Hawaii Five-O” being trailered as “the biggest new show of the year”.  Suddenly everybody in it is a photogenic charicature, sometimes dramatically changed to fit modern sensibilities.  Forget 12 seasons (September 20th, 1968 – April 5th, 1980).

My point is, why use the character names in roughly the same locations, but simultaneously changed drastically?

Here’s an idea for those lazy reboot merchants in the Networks:  Ironside.  This time, Ironside could be played by an actor like Forrest Whittaker.  Caucasian male lead is either anachronistic or blandly metrosexual.  The female lead would probably wind up being either a single mother or a bi-sexual (why not go for a double demographic hit there?) and the “Mark Sanger” character would probably turn into an East Asian tech type with a dubious background.

That’s how easy it is to take an old property and retool it.  Just add a generic script, cut and paste in character names and let the PR machine take over.

D’oh!

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It’s about time…

March 1, 2011

I got back to blog posting.  I realise that there’s the potential for blogs to be sporadic (given that deadlines are self-imposed), but over a year without a post…

Sorry about that.

Time to get back to it!  Soon!