Showing posts with label movies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label movies. Show all posts

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Orson Scott Card v. Ender: Boycotting Ender’s Game is Bad for Art

With so many artists we have to separate the work from the artist, because a lot of them ARE (or were) asshats.  And yes, sometimes they head so far off into the crazy that it is tempting to not "support" their art because we don't want to see a single one of our dimes fall into their pockets, or even offer them any tacit support of their ideas...

However, what has happened with Ender's Game seems like a real shame to me. It is a great book and I am really looking forward to the movie. I will see it. I will pay to see it. And, I suppose, that means giving a few dimes to OSC. But it also means giving a few dimes to the other artists who've contributed to this movie as well.

With Card, reading his more recent books is pretty painful because they are far from the brilliance of Ender's Game or Speaker For The Dead (which is even greater than Ender, IMHO). They are great examples of what happens when one's ego consumes one's talent. I also think this is what happened to Card politically, he got some traction in certain circles and then ran the football into the full crazy end zone.

But at the end of the day, I choose to support the great art and ideas expressed in Ender’s Game and Speaker, and I can do this without supporting the rest. This movie, whether it succeeds or not, is one of the few recent attempts to bring great, classic, deep and thoughtful sci fi to the big screen and I hope it succeeds. Not because it will benefit Card, but because its success will benefit the art, and hopefully encourage the production of more great sci fi movies based on big ideas and that don't sacrifice great writing for big effects and action sequences.

So blacklist OSC if you must, but let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater here. Supporting this movie is a lot different than throwing down $30 bucks for OSC's next hardcover piece of ego fueled drivel, and it is a good thing.

Orson Scott Card: Mentor, Friend, Bigot | Underwire |

"As a college student, I corresponded extensively with Orson Scott Card. For several years, I considered him a mentor and a friend. He was incredibly generous with his time and advice, and supportive of me as an aspiring fiction writer. I’ve had dinner at his home.

"I was out during that time. I was also largely unaware of the extremity of Card’s politics. His political reputation was much quieter back then — most of his internet presence was concentrated around a network of online writing workshop and critique groups — and his op-eds were published in circles I never stumbled into. The only time his beliefs came up in our conversations was a comment he made about fiction being a totally inappropriate venue for any kind of ideological proselytizing. I may not have agreed with his personal beliefs — I knew that he was an observant Mormon and at least somewhat politically conservative — but I respected and still respect the principle of not using fiction as a soap box, even if the author who introduced it to me has since forgotten or abandoned it."

My experience with Card is a lot like hers, without the direct contact.  Back in the Pre-Internet days, he was very active on Prodigy On-Line (I think that's what it was called) and that was very cool for me, and he shared a lot of information about writing with a bunch of us wannabes.  He was one of my favorite Sci Fi writers of all time (and his early books are still some of my favorites).

I was shocked last spring to hear that this movie was delayed by the studio largely because of the controversy over Card (though they denied this, if I remember correctly).  I always knew that Card was a devout Mormon, but I deeply troubled to hear that the author of one of the greatest books ever about tolerance and acceptance of others (Speaker For The Dead) was so vocal and public about his intolerance for the GLBT community.  To me, ensuring the success of this movie is a step towards getting THAT movie made which would do more to damage OSC's cause than boycotting this movie will.

Learning about Card’s words and actions caused me to really take a look at this issue of art v. artist.  In the end, I find I still can support the art over the artist, though I think it is also important to point out that we are drawing a line in our support, too. 

And, for me, this really has to do with more than just the GBLT angle in this particular case because, let's be honest, his ideas were the societal norm for the vast majority of history, so if we were to boycott all homophobic artists, we'd probably be boycotting 98% of everything ever produced, which feels wrong.  And if we aren't, then it also feels wrong to boycott Card.  Though being a product of his religion and times is no excuse for his public lobbying efforts…

Yet, I do think it is fair, even important and necessary, to point out when we are supporting the art over the artist, especially when they are  inserting themselves into political debates.  And this particular case really does sadden me because in many ways Card has shown himself to be a very decent man over the years through his support of beginning writers, even more so than I realized before reading the article above.  Few writers would bring an aspiring novice home for dinner.

People are complicated.  And yes, sometimes, they can really piss us off!  I have friends who’s views are not too far off from Card’s and it is sometimes difficult for me to reconcile my feelings about them.  But, unlike Card, they do not have a public platform to contribute to the debate, so their personal feelings are pretty much just that, and so my concerns are eased because it is hard for me to see how they are directly harming others while I can also hope that, perhaps, that my view can erode at theirs a bit over time. 

With Card’s public platform, however, that isn’t the case here.  His beliefs, when he lobbies against the GBLT community from a platform of intolerance and fear, is harmful to others.

But if I can reconcile these conflicting feelings about my friends, then I can do it with strangers whom I’ve never met, though it is much easier to paint strangers into black and white categories without ever knowing, or caring to know, what a complicated mess they really are.

Orson Scott Card Responds to Ender's Game Boycott With Ironic Plea for 'Tolerance' | Underwire |

"In a recent statement to Entertainment Weekly, Orson Scott Card responded to a proposed boycott of the upcoming film adaptation of his novel Ender’s Game by informing the movie-going public that it doesn’t really matter that he’s been working ceaselessly for the last decade to make sure gay people don’t get basic human rights, or that he advocated the violent overthrow of the government should same-sex marriage become legal, or that he’s used his position as a popular author as a platform from which to spew increasingly aggressive anti-equality rhetoric like his comment in a 2004 essay that gays ‘cannot be permitted to remain as acceptable, equal citizens within that society.’"

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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Occupation Images: Alan Moore on the mask and Shepard Fairey’s new poster

Alan Moore – meet the man behind the protest mask | Books | The Observer:
…speaking on the phone from his home, Moore seems variously baffled, tickled, roused and quite pleased that his creation has become such a prominent emblem of modern activism.
"I suppose when I was writing V for Vendetta I would in my secret heart of hearts have thought: wouldn't it be great if these ideas actually made an impact? So when you start to see that idle fantasy intrude on the regular world… It's peculiar. It feels like a character I created 30 years ago has somehow escaped the realm of fiction."
Shepard Fairey Designs 'Occupy Hope' Poster, Replaces Obama's Face With 'V for Vendetta' Mask - Los Angeles News - The Informer:
​Here we go again. L.A. street artist Shepard Fairey has released a second original design for the Occupy Wall Street movement -- and this time, instead of playing it safe with a wistful scene out of an Angela Davis documentary, he's given his own (in)famous HOPE poster from Obama's first election campaign a rebellious makeover.
It uses all the same colors and graphic-design aesthetics as the original. Only difference is, Fairey has replaced President Obama's heavenward gaze with a "V for Vendetta" Guy Fawkes mask -- one of the key props used by Occupy Wall Street protesters.

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Thursday, October 13, 2011

MissRepresentation Trailer: A great video on media portrayals of women in America

Cross-posted from Democracy in Distress:

The trailer for this movie touches on so many great issues, but this is one of the more shocking tid-bits: "...Cuba, China, Iraq, and Afghanistan have more women in government than the United States of America..."

Miss Representation 8 min. Trailer 8/23/11 from Miss Representation on Vimeo.


Saturday, April 23, 2011

3D: The Future or a Scam?

I am getting annoyed with 3D.  We do not get out to the movies very often and when we do, it is often at second run theaters without 3D projection systems.  For the big movies, like Avatar, we do try to get out to see them in 3D, but now that so many movies are coming out this way, we cannot get to them all.

And I've started wondering, is it even worth it?  Watching them in 2D at the local second run theater or at home on DVD I worry that we are missing out on some important part of the movie experience.  Then again, we watched Monsters vs. Aliens last week, and I forgot completely that the movie was originally released in 3D until we were watching one of the special features which talked a lot about the "3D experience" of watching the movie.  Somehow, I doubt I would have liked it any more or less if we had seen it in its "original" form.

Then again, what about movies like Avatar.  Let's face it, most of the movies worth came from the digital effects and the native use of 3D while filming it.  Walking out of that movie, I felt that we had just seen a real game changer, that this was,. potentially, to 3D what The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind was to color back in 1939.

And maybe Avatar was as big of a benchmark as those movies were, but still...  How many decades after 1939 for most movies to be shot in color?  How many great black and white movies came out after 1939?  One of my favorite mantras is, just because we can do something doesn't mean that we should do something. And yes, I am looking at you George Lucas.  Star Wars does not need to be 3D.

This is another concern of mine.  Converting 2D movies to 3D.  In fact, this is how most 3D movies are being made right now.  It brings to mind Turner's great colorization crusade back in the 1980s.  The movies that were colorized looked awful, terrible, but back then, a lot of younger people would not watch movies unless they were in color and the great idea was that, by colorizing old movies, the younger generation would be interested in them.  And they could make a killing selling the broadcast rights and VHS tapes.

I think most of those old colorized movies have pretty much fallen out of the mix these days, but one will pop up on occasion.  Over Christmas this year, we watched an old Laurel and Hardy movies that had been colorized.  The colorization was distracting and annoying, and as someone who enjoys photography, I found it insulting, painting over the cinematographer's original vision.  Let's face it, colorization was more about Ted Turner wanting to make money.  And, for the most part, so is 3D.

What it really boils down to is that more and more people like me are going to the movie theaters less and less often.  This is an attempt to offer in the theater an experience that, for most of us now, is not available at home, drawing us back into the theaters.  In some ways, it works.  I feel like I want to go see more movies in the theater.  But, bottom line, my family and I are not getting out any more often to first run theaters now than we were two or three years ago.  3D hasn't changed that.

Anyway, this is a good article on 3D.  He has a good argument about Avatar, even, being better in 2D.

The 3D scam: Reject and repeat (By Jason Hiner | April 22, 2011, 7:00am PDT)

So, what about movies that are natively shot with special 3D cameras, such as Avatar? I’ll admit that when I first saw Avatar in the theaters I was impressed at how well it wove in the 3D effects. But, my admiration wore off once I saw it on Blu-ray on a 240Hz LED TV and quickly realized that all of the colors and action shots suddenly came to life and really popped off the screen. That’s when it fully dawned on me what a horrible scam 3D really is. They are making us pay more money for a gimmicky, inferior experience. Sure, there are a few neat moments in most 3D movies, but the novelty wears very off quickly and it’s certainly not worth the trade-off in picture quality or action sequences.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Shadow Dancing: Werner Herzog's The Cave of Forgotten Dreams

Herzog Enters 'The Cave Of Forgotten Dreams' (NPR, Fresh Air, April 20, 2011)

I want to see this movie, Werner Herzog's The Cave of Forgotten Dreams, a documentary filmed in 3D about the "prehistoric paintings and engravings on the walls of the Chauvet Cave in southern France."  Especially because of this:

"When I saw photos, it looked almost like flat walls — maybe slightly undulating or so. Thank God, I went in there without any camera a month before shooting. What you see in there is limestone, and you have these wildly undulating walls — you have bulges and niches and pendants of rock, and there's a real incredible drama of information. The artists utilized it for their paintings. ... So it was clear it was imperative to do this in 3-D, in particular, because we were the only ones ever allowed to film."

I've heard that the photos that we have all seen of these paintings do not do them justice due to the lack of the three dimensional aspect of the cave walls.  Hopefully Herzog was able to capture this effect.  

In the interview, he talks about how he imagines the interplay between the ancient's shadows flickering in the firelight and the paintings...  He compares it, in his imagination, to the Fred Astaire scene below...

UPDATE: May 23, 2011.  The trailer...