As I threatened, I am going to write a few things based on my thoughts after reading Outrage, the Vincent Bugliosi dissection of the O.J. Simpson trial.
I am angry. No, I am not merely angry. I am outraged. For a long time, I have been living under a belief that certain arts and sciences strive to do the best work that they can. Not only do I see now that such is not the case, I feel ashamed that I have not clearly seen this before. I guess I should compliment the sellers of the illusion on the very thorough work that they have done.
Not that sellers of illusion leave much room for displays of incompetence in their profession. They are generally told that they have to make the subjects believe, no matter what. And some of the methods that they use are really quite ingenious.
However, I do not wish to get into the mechanics by which these illusions are maintained at present. That is a complex subject requiring a far more patient author than I am, and would also require a fair bit of collaboration between authors. Instead, I would like to talk about some illusions that run rampant in the entertainment industry, and really give a blunt speculation on how they come about.
To begin with, have you ever seen a film or a component thereof that made you think “that is it? that is the best that they could do?”. I have. Many, many of them. The following list is by no means exhaustive, but the many, many sins of a filmmaker that should immediately disqualify their work from praise are in no particular order:
For some reason, during the mid-to-late 1990s, directors in Hollywood got this strange idea into their head that if the camera violently shook about during so-called action scenes, that is, scenes in which violence takes place, it would put the viewer more “in the action”. It does not.
Bruce Lee‘s best-known film is titled Enter The Dragon in English. However, I tend to prefer Meng long guo jiang, or The Way Of The Dragon as it is titled in English. However, one common element to both of these films is the way Lee made sure that the camera was placed whenever he was shooting a scene. With one or two exceptions that prove the rule, it was Dead. Still.
Fights in real life and film tend to consist of multiple stages. In the majority of real life fights, fights go from stage one through ten pretty quickly. However, when two martial arts champions (or at least people with a decent amount of fighting skill) face off, the fight generally begins with what is called the negotiation or interview stage of the fight. The combatants continually test how one another respond to certain quick jabs. In Meng long guo jiang, this stage in the fight between characters played by Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris begins with such a stage, quick as it may be. The two exchange kicks into a POV camera, each POV shot representing the view of whomever is not throwing a kick at the time.
The movement of the camera during these shots is noticeable, but compared to shaky-cam, very subtle. Bruce Lee would have ordered it be this way because as you would expect of a guru in the martial arts, he knew the first rule of such a fight was to never take your eyes off your opponent. If one waggled their head about in the manner that shaky-cam is meant to represent as a point of view, either Chuck Norris or Bruce Lee would introduce a fatal foot to one’s arse faster than one could flick their head.
The same can be said of war films in which the camera is shaking about at a rate that would cause necks to snap. Proponents claim this puts the viewer into the action. I think most soldiers would agree with me that if one was thrashing about in the manner that the camerawork in question suggests, it could well be interpreted as asking to be shot. Yes, one moves in a manner that makes it difficult to see things clearly. Yes, one is far more concerned with avoiding incoming shots than seeing where to go next. No, people do not waggle their heads about in manners that the Human head cannot achieve, whilst doing nothing to obscure the enemy’s view of them.
- Poorly-framed, too-close shots
In a visual medium, framing and zoom are everything. So why is Christopher Nolan constantly being praised as the second coming himself when in one shot of Batman Begins, all we can see is a leg flailing about in front of the camera whilst some thudding sounds are being made?
Say whatever else you will about George Lucas and his creative staff, he at least knows how to coordinate and frame a fight. Even in the ridiculously overpopulated fights between large armies that are present in the three prequels, he is at least able to clearly communicate to the audience that one side is winning, one side is losing, the clues to infer why, and how that makes a difference to the different actors in different parts of the fight. In the three Star Wars films that people do remember fondly, he even succeeds in allowing the audience to give a shit who is winning or losing.
The lightsabre battles in the three prequels are probably the best way to illustrate what I mean when I refer to poor framing or badly-chosen zoom levels. A good fight scene usually consists of long shots, medium shots, and close-ups. Close-ups have the effect of communicating to the audience what a participant in a battle might be thinking to themselves, especially at critical moments when they are injured, winning or losing, or even thinking that they wish they had time for a crap before they started.
In the long and medium shots of Star Wars prequel lightsabre duels, especially the incredibly-coordinated three-way duel of The Phantom Menace, we are given a view of the respective techniques of the duellists. Certain aspects of the shots communicate that whilst the Jedi are unused to close combat due to not having had a chance to really practise it in a long time, Sith duellist Darth Maul (body by Ray Park) is ready to chew up twenty Jedi and spit them out like carpet tacks.
There is one shot, and one shot only, during such battles in The Phantom Menace where one cannot clearly make out what is going on. A solitary shot of a lightsabre blade (Darth Maul’s) swinging about in front of the camera. It has exactly the same effect as does zoomed-in-too-close shots in other films. That is, the viewer stops thinking about what is happening in the fight (Darth Maul taking Qui-Gon Jinn completely by surprise and having him on the back foot during the entirety of the fight) and more about the technique of the shot.
And if there is a golden rule of cinema, it is that unless your audience consists entirely of critics or students, the moment one member thinks more about the technique of your shot than what it is conveying, you have failed.
- Bad sound design
Even when people have an orgy of gushing about the alleged masterfulness of Christopher Nolan‘s Batman films, they cannot help but make gentle reference to the fact that numerous minutes pass in which nobody in the audience can understand a thing some or all of the characters are saying.
George Lucas may be many different shades of idiot, but he was right on the money when he said that sound is more than half of the experience in cinema. In all of his films, even the most recent pieces of shit with stories that seem to have been cobbled by toddlers, it is very rare for a second or third-time viewer to be even significantly confused as to what the characters are saying. That is the way it should be on every single film ever made. Without exception.
There are few sounds in the world that are as fascinating as the Human voice. Given that the range of Human aural sensitivity and the frequency range that the Human voice generally occupies are more or less exactly the same, it is pretty damned clear what our ears were designed for. Listening to other Human voices. So when filmmakers fail to get this very basic element right, it raises valid concerns about the intelligence of that director.
Thankfully, bad sound design is rarely praised in the cinematic world. But there is no reason to allow it to get by without being thoroughly damned, either. The fact that it does only reinforces what Bugliosi was saying about the mediocrity or incompetence of the press corps. If I were a member of the mainstream press and covering things like the premiere of The Dark Knight Rises, I would be saying the following right from the get-go. It is one thing, of course, if you want to distinguish a character by doing things to his voice. After all, one of the most distinctive elements of the Darth Vader character is that, in addition to being voiced by one of the most awesome voice actors that ever lived, they altered the voice in just the right way to make him that little bit more awesome. But what distinguishes Darth Vader from The Dark Knight Rises‘ conception of Bane is that every syllable out of Darth Vader’s voice synthesiser system is very easily understood. When a five year old boy perfectly understands “Where are those transmissions you intercepted? What have you done with those plans?”, that is a good sign that the director and his sound designer have aced their jobs. At that point.
When the little boy is now in the body of a thirty-five year old man and cannot make out exactly what a man is meant to be saying at a critical, plot-important point in a film, that is a problem. The above quote from Darth Vader is his first line in Star Wars. We understand it completely, and it completely defines the character in seconds flat as the guy you crap your pants at when you realise you are going to have to answer his questions. The first thing Bane says in The Dark Knight Rises (“Or perhaps he’s wondering why someone would shoot a man, before throwing him out of a plane?”) is buried in so much extraneous sound that you have to strain hard to hear it properly. Thus, one focuses more on making sure they have properly understood the line, rather than what it says about the character. (Credit is due to Nolan and his staff for having finally portrayed Bane the way he was envisioned by his creators. Essentially, a man so large and powerful he can rip someone like Batman to pieces, but at the same time also clever enough that Batman has to work his proverbial off in order to outsmart him. Lines like these are based in that.)
The levels of different elements are also very important. Using The Dark Knight Rises as a negative example again, one finds that the volume of the dialogue is maybe half that of the sound effects and music. That is exactly the opposite of the way it should be.
In the Star Wars films, the dialogue frequently appears to compete with the music in order to be heard, but the man mixing the sound did his job well. As did composer John Williams. The score can often be heard making a gentler rest-like sound at moments when actors will be heard speaking over it, and even in moments when the score does not do this, the dialogue is just that little bit more emphasised in order to keep the audience abreast of what is going on and why it is important.
I could go on all day about why the sound design on certain films is terrible, but the point here is the consequences of praising mediocre or even shitty work.
- Bad writing
This is the subject I am most comfortable with discussing largely because I have written for most of my life, even using the skill in amateur and semi-professional contexts. It is also one of the trickiest subjects where film and visual media is concerned. I will go into several different parts of the subject because I need to illustrate a lot.
One of the most difficult things in writing anything, regardless of your intended audience, is balance. A great man by the name of Albert Einstein is said to have once said (something like) “Everything should be as simple as it needs to be, but no simpler”.
Unfortunately, we live in a world where everyone from screenwriters to engineers hear the first part of that statement, but seem to magically grow deaf when the last three words are spoken. But no simpler.
Hollywood has long had a business model of adapting other peoples’ works and turning them into a film. They used phrases like “based on” or “inspired by” when attributing the source of their latest screen production. Problem is, oftentimes, authors look at what is based on or inspired by the work that they in many cases laboured over for years, and find that the one common element the two works share is the title.
Even when the differences are only subtle, a simple change can completely alter the fabric of the story.
An awesome example of mediocrity being praised until it takes on a life of its own would be the late American director Stanley Kubrick, whose every film adaptation was met with gushing praise from a media that cared less about speaking the truth than selling a product. His adaptation of A Clockwork Orange was, and still is, praised to hell and back. By omitting the ending from the novel, the entire point of the story was gone. A Clockwork Orange the film ends with a brat continuing to be a brat and a bizarre (but effective) shot with Malcolm McDowell in voiceover telling us that he was cured, all right. The novel ends with Alex starting another gang, finding himself despondent and bored because the life he was leading at the beginning of the story no longer suits, and realising that he is no longer enjoying the old ultra-violence.
Anthony Burgess had a very specific point with his novel. Namely, that he would rather people be bad by choice than people be good because any form of choice has been taken away. The film does make an attempt to bring this point to the screen, but it is so ham-fisted that it becomes hard to watch.
That is just one example of where a stunning piece of writing is stripped of all that made it the subject of endless discussion, and the director gets so much adulation that anyone would think he himself wrote the novel.
(I am trying to be polite here concerning Kubrick‘s work, but I think that Gustav Hasford would have killed Stanley Kubrick if the two had ever met again after the former had seen the latter’s adaptation of The Short Timers. It sucks so much that the Homer Simpson quote, they were the suckiest sucks that ever sucked, comes to mind.)
Now, of course, one cannot put every element of a novel into a film or television series. Nor is it entirely desirable. There are certain things one can do in music, text, videogame, or even live performance that are not going to go down well on film. For instance, novels written in the first person often go into detail about what the narrator is thinking at a given time. Hasford wrote some awesome phrases about the thought process of Joker, the raw recruit who witnesses the Tet Offensive and spends a year or so MIA (and is a none-too-subtle proxy for Hasford, a veteran of that war). Wishes that he could crawl up his own arse and disappear are some of the less creative expression of Joker’s reflective thought processes.
Thing is, you cannot just wedge things like that into a film. Voiceovers explaining every little thought the character has cannot work in a visual medium. A trick to show Joker visualising himself crawling up his own arse and disappearing might work, but fitting it properly into the film would be a bit of a trick, too.
Novels, in fact stories of any length, have one very important thing in common with pieces of music. They have a pervasive theme to them. Another important, perhaps less so, commonality between the two is that different people get different meanings from individual examples. What I picture in my head when I hear songs like Gutter might be very different to what the person standing right next to me might be picturing in their head. And how I respond to the story told in TRON: Legacy (“Sam! Come baaaack!”) is probably going to be a very different response to that which the people around me have.
But when a film adaptation of any given story fundamentally alters the theme of the story, that is a big problem.
Let us quantify this with a fictional example. Let us just say for example that you have an author who has a bit of experience in holding the hands of children who have been abused in the past. Let us further posit that the reason he has this experience is because he has been abused himself in the past, and is angered by the propensity of the authorities to look in the other direction when complaints are made.
Let us take this a bit further and suppose that he writes a story based on his experiences outlined above. In it, he puts many different rebukes and flip-offs of the system that has failed him. An obvious child abuser being let off for “lack of evidence” or the like occurs, and every person under a certain age in the little village responds by rioting.
Now, imagine for a second that a Hollywood agent waggles a contract in this author’s face. (This is not actually how it works. In reality, the studio just says “we want to make a film out of this”, and someone in some system somewhere gives them the “right” to do so, without any input from the author whatsoever. To call this a dirty, disgusting system that practically condones abuse is an understatement.)
But as the author is about to sign, the agent lets slip that they intend to make a few changes in the cinematic production of the story. Instead, the filmed story will be about youths having battered an old-age pensioner senseless, and being tried for it. They will have a cinematic soul-search and go to prison peacefully, quietly, whilst some thinly-veiled “moral” about how youths must sacrifice everything to the benefit of the elderly is delivered.
The Hollywood agent and the proposed changes for the cinema version of this story are fictional. The story itself is not. That is, the story really does exist as a document containing some 80,000 words on my hard drive.
The story above comprises one part of The Raven And The Ruby, a story I began slapping together a few years ago. The titular Raven, a Halfling woman named Linula, assaults the titular Ruby, a Halfling woman named Ruby Amelda, and in the ensuing fight they damage a lot of things. During serving a sentence of community service, Ruby overhears the very angry, anguished projected thoughts Linula has about a time in her past when not only was one of her elder relatives allowed to molest her, but she was also battered by other members of her family for having the audacity to complain.
The matter is brought to court. In the current draft, the defendant is found guilty, but Linula murders him before sentence can be pronounced. I am going to revise this segment of the story so that the old or middle-aged jury lets the assailant go over the objections of Ruby’s father, who is playing a sort of “twelve angry men” role on said jury. The one thing the two versions will have in common is that the youthful contingent of the Halfling population will riot, burn down places they believe to be okay with the way Linula has been treated, and eventually the current mayor of the village will be forced to resign. Added to these riot scenes will be Linula using her powers to kill her assailant.
Obviously, a lot of people in our world who are okay with the way things are right now would like to see the story above changed. Something light and fluffy and especially not challenging of the fact that the Baby Boomers have enjoyed a dramatically better standard of living than a least a couple of the subsequent generations. (If you reached legal adulthood in or around the years spanning 1980 to 1990, congratulations, you are the first generation to have been “asked” to accept a lower standard of living than your parents.)
Probably the fact that much of the middle of the story revolves around the two female heroines of the story forming adult relationships with a pair of young Elvish cadets in the armed services would also make the Everything Has To Be Aimed At Four Year Olds brigade nervous. But the fundamental character of the story is about the raw deal that the young have been getting since around the time of my birth, and how I feel about that.
Needless to say, if someone said to my face that they were going to turn my story into another conservative screed, they would find out the hard way that all of the angry rantings I carry on with in my journal or online presence are not merely for show.
Yet adaptations in which the character of a story is altered for the worst are not the exception, they are the rule. I do not know what L. Frank Baum would have thought of the 1939 film adaptation of The Wizard Of Oz. He died before it was ever made.
I cannot directly tell you what L. Frank Baum would have thought of 1939’s The Wizard Of Oz because, as I said, he died before the film was even in pre-production. But it is a matter of record what Roald Dahl thought of what was retitled to Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory. In fact, that retitling is the biggest clue for those in the know. Roald took one look at it and told Hollywood that if they ever got their hands on his writings ever again, it would be over his dead body. It seems his heirs have continued to respect that wish, too.
Roald‘s formula for success in writing for children, he once said, was conspiring with them against the adults. And that was what happened in Charlie And The Chocolate Factory. People rail against the recent film adaptation by Tim Burton as if it were Loki himself at work. But a film more true to the spirit of the actual novel you will not find. Instead of the “children only good when letting their parent/grandparent talk through their mouths” unspoken undertone of the Willy Wanker film (as I derided it during my childhood, and thus shall continue), Charlie kept to the child-parent relationship of the novel. That is, the child’s faults reflect those of the adults nearest them. This includes Charlie, whose parents have too little of the will to go out and grab what they want or need. This makes Charlie’s unwillingness to abandon them in order to become Willy’s heir a true Dahl moment. It borders on being too syrupy-sweet for our day and age, but it shows that Charlie is willing to stand by his principles even if it condemns him to poverty. Dahl saw all too well in Willy Wanker that Hollywood has no principles.
(Every year during much of my days at schooling, the children were gathered in the school’s library and made to watch this film. It was always towards the end of the year, when things were winding down and the amount of work the children were bombarded with was dwindling. I can count the number of teachers I interacted with and did not end up wanting to torture to death during that time on the fingers of one hand. Less than. So when I say that when I see all those graphics with Gene Wilder‘s grinning face in the Willy Wanker costume, it makes me want to kick his arse until his nose bleeds in spite of his awesome performance in Blazing Saddles, understand my full meaning here.)
Two films followed The Wizard Of Oz. In the 1980s, Return To Oz tried to have it both ways. That is, to be a sequel to the 1939 film, whilst not following it in stylings at all. I have only seen it once as a boy, and would really have to watch it again to really be able to tell. But the whole spiel at the beginning of The Wizard Of Oz about it being “loved for generations” is herd conformity promotion at its worst. I do not love things that are mindless shit, babifiers, and I am willing to bet that the vast majority of the people I look to as role models do not, either.
Probably the biggest disappointment of the 1939 film to my mind is the story resolution that it was all a dream and Dorothy had just been unconscious rather than in a strange world called Oz. Return To Oz jettisoned this idea and instead treated Oz as a real world, complete with parallels to the world we know and real challenges to the characters as opposed to fairy story-like morals. The most recent Oz movie, Oz The Great And Powerful, is ironic in that it is not directly based on anything L. Frank Baum (or any of the other authors who wrote Oz stories) wrote. Instead, it explains who the “great and powerful” Wizard Of Oz was, how he came to be in the world of the films, and what challenges he faced on his way to his position as seen in the first film.
I will be blunt. Oz The Great And Powerful is not a great film. It drags at times, and does not resolve certain elements of the story (most particularly how the good guys overcome the bad) in a satisfactory way. But it still shits upon The Wizard Of Oz from a great height. This did not go over well with certain critics, however, who pissed and moaned endlessly about the fact that it was not made with babies in mind, and thus was too “cynical” or so forth. Fukk them. In fact, the only thing about it that does genuinely dissatisfy me, other than the fact that the editing could have been much tighter, is that the arc concerning how the Wicked Witch Of The West came to be the way she is is, shall we say, a little undercooked.
I am very certain that if Roald Dahl and L. Frank Baum had lived to see Charlie And The Chocolate Factory and Oz The Great And Powerful, they would have felt there was hope for this generation yet. They would be wrong, of course, but that does not change the fact that the one who lived long enough to see an adaptation of his work in cinema reacted as if they rubbed his face in the shit that the studio executives’ grandchildren left on the floor.
(Given that Dahl was, just as one of his best-known works is titled, a big, friendly giant, he was probably more polite concerning what he said to the studios. But coming from him, “please do not ever adapt my work again” would have been pretty frightening. He was that large.)
Trying to alter the character of a story is also a very Orwellian thing. One of Stephen King‘s most transparent proxy characters once wrote to a university lecturer that politics change, but stories do not. That is bullshit. Many of Disney’s fairy story films, such as Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs or Beauty And The Beast (just to name a couple) are sheer bastardisations of legends dating back hundreds, possibly even thousands, of years.
(The older a story gets, the harder it is to find first-hand pieces that show what they were like in their original forms. L. Frank Baum‘s and Roald Dahl‘s works are very easy to get in the forms that they were originally written to be. Stephen King‘s or Robert Heinlein‘s, even more so. Stories that were told in the year 1800 (for example), however, have likely been mangled and altered by at least three or four different people. Let’s not get into the number of different times a story thousands of years old is likely to have been altered.)
Prior to the mid-to-late 1990s, the word “witch” instantly conjured up images in one’s mind of a cackling hag with green skin that wears a pointed hat and rides a broomstick. But then a few films and the explosion of the Internet into widespread usage irrevocably changed a stereotype and the future of Christian parody of anything it dislikes.
L. Frank Baum would have loved the way that Oz The Great And Powerful plays upon this. In the opening stages of the film, we are gradually introduced to three powerful Witches. One completely malevolent, one outwardly good at least in the conception of the story, and one in between, ready to swing either way. One story arc in the film shows how Oz’s playing fast and loose with the truth to his own benefit pushes the one in the middle in the direction of malevolence, and thus she finds herself changing to match the stereotype that the “real” world we know of held at the time that the 1939 film and this “prequel” are set in.
There is one element in Oz The Great And Powerful that is quite conflicting in terms of meaning. In the “real world” sequences, the carnival trickster who calls himself Oz is staging a show when, after defeating a challenge to the authenticity of his tricks, is asked by a little girl in a wheelchair, “make me walk again”. During his journeys in the land that bears his nickname, he comes across a lone survivor from a Wicked Witch’s attack upon a village. The village was populated entirely by living China Dolls, from the look of it, and this survivor is a China Doll whose lower legs have been broken off. Said China Doll’s legs are glued back together by Oz, who is then convinced to bring her on the rest of his journey.
I do not know the politics of physical disability as well as I probably could. Strange, given that diabetes is very much a physical disability brought on by immune system malfunction. But anyway, I had a funny feeling that this would be a very uncomfortable scene for some viewers. I think there would be much rejoicing and dancing in the streets if a working cure for paralysis and most of its complications were found. But you never know these days. I do not think the story really meant to get as deep as that, but that is the beauty of stories. You can see all sorts of things in them.
A good story told well is pure gold, and can inspire many things. (Baum‘s novels, like Heinlein‘s, anticipated many devices that are in common usage today.) But a bad story cannot do much even when it is told well. And a good story is worth very little when told badly.
Even a minor, tangential detail can change the character of a story. Consider if you will the True Blood television show. Characters that are barely mentioned before being killed in the Southern Vampire Mysteries novels get a starring role in season after season. The characters Tara and Lafayette are the best example. The former is mentioned enough to be a presence in a novel or two before more or less becoming a once-a-novel acquaintance. If that. Lafayette gets one paragraph, maybe two, before he turns up dead. The former sets a new record for a good character turning into a major annoyance. At the end of the third season, when Tara was shot in the head, I cheered. I did the same kind of fukking backflip that I did when I heard that Steve “The Crocodile Wanker” Irwin was dead. And when I heard that she would be back in season four, I died inside. Literally. I felt all the good will and sense of “tolerance” in my heart leak out of my toes. It was dreadful. Then I actually watched season four and saw Tara turned into a Vampire. Good. Serves you fukking right, I thought. I am still sick of the sight of her, but listening to her scream and cry about being turned into what she looked down her nose at was delicious.
Lafayette is an example of how taking a nothing character and really building something out of him can improve a show out of sight. Pretty much every scene he is in, every word he says during True Blood, is an invention of the screenwriters. Yet because it takes the idea of a black, gay chef living in a town full of hick fukktards, and runs with it so fast it overtakes Lamborghinis in the process, every moment with Lafayette is pure gold. Even Anna Paquin in the role of the stories’ central protagonist has to use her best to keep up with it.
And whilst the changes to the stories that make up True Blood are legion, one important thing remains. The fundamental character of the story, or at least what I got from the story. Every minority group has a dream of being empowered against those who oppress them. Every one, without exception. And stories about Vampires appearing in full view of mainstream society, able to tear a redneck fukktard’s head off at will, or individuals appearing with very specific and potentially destructive superpowers are plays to that very dream.
Want to see a day when the X-Men are pretty white boys who go around murdering anyone whose eye colour or hair colour differs from theirs? Or a day when True Blood is about the frantic search for a cure for being a Vampire? Well, continue praising stupid, mediocre screenwriters for long enough, and I can assure you that it will happen.
- In closing
Our media, much like the governments that bend over for rich merchants, has become something sinister and horrifying. It perverts every word we say, every word we write, everything we play, into a twisted copy that has no will of its own and says nothing of value. The few worthwhile things that get through are tarred and feathered like lepers.
Humanity as a species is dying. Oh, it might not be thinking so right now, but the death knell is already ringing. Predictions using the most optimistic calculations indicated that Humans will be too numerous for the planet to feed adequately by the year 2100. And this will happen (probably sooner if recent estimates are to be believed) because the Human species is too fundamentally stupid and mediocre to listen to the warnings. Warnings that have been sounding for decades now.
In times past, times I was only there to witness the end of, the Human species cried out “onward and upward”. It sent members of its kind to explore a moon. It developed medicines that halted diseases that used to inflict untold amounts of death and suffering. It created machines and stories that changed the very nature of what it meant to be Human.
Then something happened. The attitude changed to “be like us or else”. Humans were no longer interested in where they were going, or wanted to go. Instead, everyone had to remain part of some status quo that only served a few who were at the top of the pile. And all progress seemed to just… stop. So many hopes and dreams have gone and died. So much has been wasted.
And it is all because the highest percentage of us, the people who will suffer the most when it all blows up in our faces, have accepted a malicious message from those who will suffer the least. The message being “do not try to do better, just copy everyone else and walk the white line”, or variations thereof.
As Roddy Piper puts it in John Carpenter‘s most underappreciated film, the white line is in the middle of the road. And that is the worst place to drive.