Sometimes, coming up with a topic more substantive than what music I am listening to or what films I am watching is surprisingly difficult. Although inspiration and ideas come at everyone in a literally non-stop flow, everyone processes such input in a substantially different manner. When I look at a creek or a concrete floodway that has substantial vegetative overgrowth, for example, I might form ideas in my mind’s video camera that totally miss others. Even when those others might have substantially similar DNA to myself. And the quality of the journey, as well as that of the sights, will have a substantial effect upon the ideas that I might have. So an attempted trip to a point further into the metropolis that ends with giving up and returning home, and losing about five hours in the process, tends to result in a dearth of ideas concerning what to write about. This is not so much an attempt to make excuses, however, as to simply provide a credible explanation as to why the flow of writings on this account has a way of alternating between drought and monsoon. It has always been this way for me, and I think that if you meet a person who claims they are a writer of any sort and then proceeds to claim that they have never experienced a dry spell of words coming from brain to keyboard, you have met a liar. Whether they are lying about doing any substantive form of writing or about having difficulty about getting words onto their proverbial page is beside the point. The point is that irrespective of the manner in which you slice it, they are lying.
People have asked me, both to my face and in online conversation, if there are any adaptations of written stories that I consider to be good. If one had asked me that question before I saw the first season of True Blood, I would have said no right off the bat. But therein lies the rub. Whilst the first couple of seasons of True Blood represented their source well, and thus were substantially enjoyable works in the audio-visual sense, a problem has emerged. Specifically, the more and more they deviate from the source material, the less enjoyable they get. In one arc, we learn that Bill (Stephen Moyer) did not exactly seek to be made a vampire, and that the vampire who made him such was, shall we say, a lot less than noble. Unfortunately, one of the problems with the adaptations is that the race card has now been beaten into the ground. Whilst I get that Tara (Rutina Wesley) has been subjected by her hick fukktard neighbours to some despicable behaviour, her behaviour grows increasingly despicable the more she is on screen. It is one thing to be snippy with people who are your friends some of the time, but one scene that appears as a bonus feature on one disc just went right over the line for me. That probably explains why it was cut out of the series proper and included as a “bonus”. I do not expect the producers on True Blood to have a care what I have to say, but Tara’s I Has A Monopoly On Suffering Cos I’m Black act has grown so tired that her offense at Sookie’s assertion of how Bill is being discriminated against had me wanting to press her head against the concrete with one foot and kick said head with the other until it changed dimensions. In the entire Southern Vampire Mysteries series, you can count the number of times Tara was mentioned by name on your fingers. If I may be blunt, Alan Ball, it should have stayed that way. Unlike Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) and his story arcs, nothing good has come of expanding the presence of Tara in the television series.
But all of this diverts away from the point I was building toward. In spite of the fact that the Internet has, for the first time in Human history, opened a partially two-way system of communication between the media and its target audience, we have a plethora of barbarians who simply do not know how to adapt to that. This is especially the case in places like the IMDB board devoted to the works of some unsavoury types like Tom Cruise or John Travolta. One user on such boards even took to mockingly dubbing the entire conversational palette of individuals defending the named celebrities as “hatuuuuuuurz”, a derision of the barrier-word attempted in use by the defending folk as a way of speed-invalidating some of the very concerning facts critics point out.
This might be difficult for some of the children out there to accept, but the sales pitch I once read for a managerial textbook (I was sitting in a room doing nothing at the time) stated that when a customer complains to you about something your business is doing wrong, it can be the best thing that ever happened to you. You see, when customers get angry about something, say for example they feel that it takes too long for them to download information from a site that you control, often you will not learn about the problem until it is too late. Customers will simply keep trying, finding the service inadequate, and then give up and go elsewhere, often finding service that they perceive to be better, or at least meeting their needs. When maybe one out of a thousand customers affected by the problem in your service puts up a hand and says “excuse me, there is a problem in our customer-salesman relationship”, they are doing you a favour.
The same is true of any relationship in which a consumer partakes of the services or products of a given businessman. And make no mistake. Whether you are an author, a screenwriter, a director, an actor, or a million other “creative” type jobs, you are also at least to some extent a businessman. You want to be able to make money assuring people that your name on a product assures that the product will be of a good or even decent quality. If your name is Ian McKellen, for example, you can at least assure the studio that if the film is an action piece with science fiction overtones, the audience will perceive your presence as a sign to expect some artistry in the way you portray anger towards your character’s enemy. But on the same token, when you manage to offend your potential audience to such an extent that they think of you as a murderer of children, you can rest assured that a growing contingent will be telling Hollywood that putting you in a film will ensure they never, ever watch it. I do not believe there is a Powell type in existence anymore who can legitimately say they do not feel like their skin is crawling when they hear mention of the name John Travolta. This is reflected in a moment when I visited a local home media store that was having a three-for-forty-bucks deal with older, less headline titles on Blu-ray Disc. One of the titles that I decided to take a risk on was The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three, and I mean the one starring Walter Matthau and Robert Shaw. A conversation ensued with the counter staff in which they explained they wanted to make doubly sure that they got the right version of the film out of the shelf. A few handfuls of words were exchanged in supplement to this, the first important one being that John Travolta was basically persona non grata in my household. The exchange ended with me stating, “I am autistic”. No further words about the subject of John Travolta‘s mere image being unwelcome in my household were exchanged because none were needed. Even counter staff working in a trendmonger store were so aware of the connection that simply stating those words was all that was needed.
On a similar token, if you promote your film as containing a moment in which Michael Ironside feeds John Travolta into a plastic shredder, all the while delivering dialogue in that distinctly Ironside manner, I will camp outside the theatre to see it.
Is your ego wounded by the fact that someone dislikes something that you slavishly turned off your inner critical sense for? Well, tough. Just as Barney The Purple Dinosaur sparked outrage from some who had their head screwed on right when he said that you are not good if you do not have good feelings, the asshole who said that in the absence of anything “nice to say” you should say nothing should have had his balls ripped off and stuffed down his throat. By the way, Tom McIntosh, if you are out there reading, take that as a strong hint.
So what can we learn from all of this angry meandering? Possibly, the most important thing to learn is that when you tell people to consider the feelings of others, you should not give them the impression that you are mentally suffixing it with “…at the expense of your own”.