Out at parties and bars and events, I meet many people who are Types of People, and who assume that other people are Types of People, too. This is disconcerting for me, since I am no Type of Person at all.
It goes like this: “What are you doing later this evening?”
“We’re going to go over to the Rose Room to watch the drag show.”
“Oh… you’re the Type of Person who likes drag shows?”
I sometimes wonder what traits qualify as “Type of Person” traits, and what traits do not?Â For example, I like tomatoes but I don’t think people would say that I’m the Type of Person who likes tomatoes.Â On the other hand, I’m definitely the Type of Person who likes “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Star Trek”.Â I might be the Type of Person who wears tight shirts, unless I’m around a bunch of people who all wear tight shirts…. then I’m just a person.
Here in Dallas, being one Type of Person might mean you are not supposed to be another Type of Person. For example, I was at a bar called Roundup and I said that I might go to S4 and someone said “Oh, you’re the Type of Person who goes to S4?” and immediately I could see that the person talking was a Type of Person who goes to Roundup and he assumes that if you are a Type of Person who goes to Roundup then you are not the Type of Person who goes to S4 and so what the hell was I doing here, anyway?
For non-Dallas people it should be noted: these two bars (S4 and Roundup) are directly across the street from one another.
I’ve come to the conclusion that I am not a Type of Person at all. I’m equally comfortable listening to Skinny Puppy and Les Miserable, and I’m equally comfortable at a drag show or a Country Western bar. I’m sure this is very confusing for people who are Types of People.
After all, if you don’t know what Type of Person someone is, how can you know whether you should be friends with him or not?
I don’t want to seem too cynical. Not everyone in Dallas is a Type of Person.Â Moreover, this is not an exclusively Dallas phenomenon.Â In most of the cities that I’ve lived in, from Los Angeles to New York City, there have been people who are Types of People.
Maybe that is a Type of Person in and of itself: the Type of Person who is a Type of Person.
It must be very limiting…. yet also very comforting.Â Because, you see, when someone tells me (for example) that he likes heavy metal music, I do not automatically assume that he is the Type of Person who likes heavy metal music. As a result, I know very little about him.Â In fact, I only know one thing about him: I know that he likes heavy metal music.
On the other hand, if you are the Type of Person who assumes that people are Types of People, then when you hear that someone likes heavy metal music, you suddenly know a great deal about that person!Â In fact, you know nothing less than the entire Type of Person he is!Â He is the Type of Person who likes heavy metal music!
That must be very satisfying.
Regrettably, I think I will forever be slow in this regard. By not living in a world of Types of People, I will always have to take the “long route” when it comes to getting to know people.Â I am damned to learn by bits and pieces, the individual traits of others, piecing them together gradually….
Please forgive me, those of you who live in a world of Types of People, for being so slow.
In November of 2013, one of my favorite science fiction novels of all time will be released as a big-budget movie. I’ve got very mixed feelings about this, which leaves open the question: Will I go see it?
I first read the book Ender’s Game about 25 years ago. I was on a camping trip, and almost refused to leave the tent because I was so engrossed in the book. I immediately decided that it was the best science fiction novel I’d ever read.
Since then, favorites have come and gone, but Ender’s Game has always been in my top 5. For me, it had the perfect combination of very personal introspection and characterization, global politics, action-and-combat, and youthful anxiety and psychology that I could identify with.Â Even to this day, I will re-read the book about once a year and it dazzles me every time.
Unfortunately, it is exactly for this very reason that my first reaction upon hearing that a movie was being made was a feeling of…. dread.
Making a good science fiction (or fantasy) movie from a good science fiction (or fantasy) novel that has a large and passionate fan base is just plain hard.
For one thing, you have to stay true to the story, or you piss off the fans and alienate them. This is the biggest mistake that I see happening again and again.Â The most successful book-franchises-turned-movie-franchises are ones where the movie script sticks close to the books, at least for the first couple of movies in the series: Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, The Hunger Games (so far). The worst failures tended to be the ones where the script writer or director felt too much of a need to “add stuff” or change critical lines or plot points: Dune, Percy Jackson.
What directors need to realize is that when there is a large and dedicated fan base for the books, your first job is to capture them as fans of the movie.Â Only secondary to that is the job of getting new fans who had never read the books.Â If you think you are “starting from scratch” with the movie, your movie will go down in flames.
Of course, some types of changes are more acceptable than others.
Cutting a long novel for the sake of time is reasonable, and the Harry Potter films demonstrate that it can be done very well.Â In the movies of the later books, some entire story lines were cut (e.g. House Elf rights!) but it was done in such a masterful way, preserving the key plot points, that it didn’t matter much.
Adding plot lines or character details is much more risky.Â I cringed in NarniaÂ Movie #2 (Prince Caspian) at the addition of the cheesy romantic innuendo between Caspian and Susan. I imagined some fat Hollywood executive who had no appreciation for C.S. Lewis’s writing sitting back and saying, “This needs a romantic sub-plot! We can’t have a movie that doesn’t have teen romance in it!”Â It made me gag.Â However: it was minor enough that at least it didn’t spoil the movie for me.
When it gets too out of hand, though, it can completely destroy a movie. I had to walk out of the movie version of “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” after 20 minutes, because there was so much in the movie that was badly-written that had no connection to any of the books at all.
But whether talking about additions or cuts, there has to be respect for the existing fan base. If there is a “favorite line” or “favorite scene” that fans of the book are all looking forward to, and it isn’t in the movie, then the movie will be a failure: no further questions, end of story.
So this leaves open the question: what do I, personally, need to see done well in order to be happy with the movie of Ender’s Game? Just off the top of my head:
1) The battle room scenes have to be epic, but they have to be more than “shoot-’em-up” scenes in null gravity: they have to capture the sense of strategy that we get in the book.
2) The fist fight in the bathroom between Bonzo and Ender. This is one of the most tense and riveting personal confrontations in the book, and has to be done well.
What do I think they could get away with cutting?
1) The details of the Peter/Valentine political maneuvering.Â They need to allude to this, because the dynamics of the relationship between Peter and Valentine are important to Ender’s storyline in a few places, but they could potentially cut some of the details.Â Naturally, as a fan, I wish they wouldn’t…. but I’m not going to toss out my opinion of the entire movie if they do trim it back.
2) The computer simulation mind game at the school unless they plan on making a movie based on Speaker for the Dead (the second book in the Ender’s Game series). The mind game is very interesting psychologically and added immensely to the book, but I can understand if it doesn’t translate well into the big screen.Â My main concern is that the mind game is pivotal to the storyline of the character “Jane” in the second book.Â In some sense, we will be able to tell whether the script writers wanted to “keep the option open” of writing a “Speaker for the Dead” movie, based on how they address the mind game in this movie.
The trailer and the IMDB page
1) The special effects look excellent. What is shown (briefly) from the battle scenes look very well done.Â If nothing else, this movie will be a visual spectacle, to be sure.
2) The minor details look like they were crafted well. Based on publicity stills, things like “the monitor” on the back of Ender’s neck look exactly the way that I pictured them in my mind. So that is nice.. it makes me feel like it’s more likely that when I watch this movie, I will really be watching the same story that I have been imagining for 25 years.
3) The casting looks incredible.Â Harrison Ford as Graff is brilliant (…although will he really put on the pounds during the section of the story where Graff is supposed to get fat? We’ll see if they keep that detail!).Â All of the children look like children, which is absolutely critical to the functioning of the storyline. I’m glad they didn’t age the main characters too much. (This was one of my biggest pet peeves with the Percy Jackson movie.)Â And they kept the ethnic diversity of the children in battle school admirably: this is one thing they could have fucked up without people noticing, but I’m glad they did it right.
My only criticisms of the casting are very minor.Â Peter Wiggin is supposed to have dark hair, like Ender. The actor is blond. Will they dye his hair in the movie? Will it matter? Maybe not.Â After all, Josh Hutcherson has dark hair and they made him blond for his character in Hunger Games, and I was fine with it.Â So I’m not sure that that type of detail matters.
4) I have heard that they will be incorporating material from “Ender’s Shadow” into this movie. To an extent, this makes a kind of sense. I hope they do it well, because it’s a risk. Will they sacrifice story details from the main Ender’s Game story to make it all fit? I hope not.Â But in the new “Hobbit” movie, they incorporated material from Tolkien’s “Silmarillion”, and they did it well… so perhaps there is hope that it will be done well in this movie also.
5) It amused me that they “gave away the ending” in the trailer … but the shot is only seconds long and anyone who doesn’t already know the story won’t realize what it is.Â So maybe that’s ok.Â
Since everyone is talking about it, I think I have to address it: What about politics?
Specifically, does the fact that Orson Scott Card is a raging backward homophobic prick make a difference to me?
Well, it doesn’t change my opinion of the story he’s created.Â I can respect him as a story-teller without respecting him as a person, and I can love something he created without loving all of his opinions.
Certainly, this is true for other stories as well: Heinlein was a hard-line pro-military conservative, C. S. Lewis was a radical Christian and a little bit racist, the list could go on and on.Â But for me, I can love the art without loving the artist.
From a practical standpoint, of course, it does give me the feeling that I would rather not contribute to Card making more money. I don’t want to feel like my dollars are “supporting him as a person”, despite the fact that I wouldn’t mind “supporting the Ender’s Game story”.Â Regrettably, in the real world these two things are not separable.
So where does that leave me….?
THE FINAL VERDICT: Will I go see the movie?
Of course I will. But if it goes off the rails too much and threatens the way I feel about one of my favorite science fiction stories of all time, I will walk out. I’ve done it before.
Fingers are crossed.
I’ve now produced my second political satire video! It was about gun control, and involved a porn star, a realistic-looking fake gun, and a lot of driving.
First, if you havenâ€™t checked it out already, please watch the video. Itâ€™s only 2 minutes long, and you might even think itâ€™s funny. It also would really help me out if you go to Youtube and “like” the video there (the “thumbs up” button) and subscribe to the Liberal Bias Video Youtube channel. So please do! It takes a moment and doesn’t hurt at all.
You can go to the video on Youtube with this direct link: www.youtube.com/watch?v=_r1BM0xrJsg
Now that youâ€™ve watched the video, I’ll give you some personal tidbits about the process of making this thing.
First of all, Josiah (the actor in this video) has been a good friend of mine for a long time, and spent several years in the military, so he seemed like a natural person to ask to play this part.Â For one thing, he actually knows how to properly hold a gun.Â For another thing, he has the military haircut.
He even came over on the day of the shoot with a big army duffel-bag full of clothes and things to use in the video.
And of course, since he is in the “adult film industry”, I knew there was potential to get extra video views just by tapping into that fan base.Â (I added a gratuitous shirtless scene specifically for that reason. It’s true: I have no shame.)
One of the tips I’m always hearing about Youtube videos is that they have to have visual interest: it’s better when people are doing things and when backgrounds keep changing.Â So although a lot of the content was based on Josiah speaking lines to the camera, I knew that I needed three things:
1) A gun
2) A truck
3) An open field that we could run around in
Luckily, all three of these things are very easy to come by in Texas.
Now, just to be clear: it’s not a real gun in the video. It is an M4 3181 AEG FPS-300 Electric Airsoft Rifle, M203 Spring Grenade Launcher. In other words, it’s a real-looking fake fun.Â It’s so real-looking, that on the box that it came in, there is a big warning saying: “DO NOT POINT AT LAW ENFORCEMENT: MAY LEAD TO DEATH.”
I borrowed a truck from my friend Terry, after reassuring him that nothing bad would happen (“I won’t be seeing my truck on the 5 o’clock news involved in some kind of police chase, will I?” he asked me), and we drove down to the Design District in Dallas, which mostly consists of warehouses.
The rest of the story, you can see in the video!Â We did several takes of each scene, so we spent plenty of time driving around the block over and over again, and hiding the gun whenever there was a car passing us.
I did realize that I need to get a really good mic clip for future shoots if I’m going to be doing video outside or in a moving vehicle: the sound quality on this video is the main thing that I’m not satisfied with.
But: live and learn!
This project was a lot of fun.Â Check it out, leave a comment, and keep your eyes out for the next one!