So guys. I saw Prometheus. Leading up to this decision of course was a pattern of extreme boredom, a heat wave, a few days of isolation, more boredom- you get the picture. But, oddly, the thing that really got me to face my irrational fear of driving and my rational fear of our nearly abandoned local mall (At the mall there is a big cardboard box, grease stains soaking the outside of it from days of the seeping, hardening donut holes contained within. It sits at the "Mall Info Center/Lottery Ticket/Mylar Balloon" desk with a hand scrawled note that says "Free" on a wooden stick jammed into the mound of lard. Someone is always poking into this box.) was the internet. The internet made me see this movie. The amount of hilarious, engaging and interesting (nearly completely negative) reviews and insights into this movie made me want to see it. This marks the first time that intensely harsh web-buzz led me into a theater seat with the idea "It can't really be that bad, can it?" The answer is: Yes. Yes, it can be that bad. But that's besides the point. The fact that blogs moved me so got me to thinking about the rise of web criticism in general, of the platforms that have only really recently become everyday things that we read and check and comment on, that we look to for guidance, meaning, culture and style.
Full disclosure: something about really cut girls really clunks up the screen, and the same goes for really cut boys. Most of the budget for Prometheus went for weight-training; even a gazelle like Charlize Theron looks like she was up on a treadmill all day between takes wearing a do-rag while like, field recordings of Sean Penn yelling played on her iPod....The last five dollars of the secret Prometheus slush fund went to hire Edith Head’s puke to design the costumes. - "Prometheus, Placentae, Flip—Flops, And You," tumblr Hearing Carry Over
Please RT, well not on on twitter being that twitter doesn't exactly support articles but more snippets of ego-centric axioms, but about twitter that appeared through n+1 got me thinking about the rise of the blog voice. It discusses the illusion of a passive, personal voice that we as bloggers have cultivated; yes, even though blogs are mostly places where we talk of personal experience we do edit and think about the way we present our words some. Maybe even a lot. Blogs have flooded a modern readership with seemingly personal accounts: everyone has an opinion on Prometheus crafted in a very very particular way. The article also goes on to expound on the need for twitter, reviving a literary culture of epigrams (think Oscar Wilde) that, despite their individually wrapped candy (or donut hole!)-like nature, are pulling us out of this long winded and windy road of personal narrative that blogs and literature have taken us down these days, exploring the need for a multifaceted ways of written expression...and then, I found this other article, Why We Don't Write, over on Electric Literature's blog that kind of questions our motives for choosing not to write in regular formats nowadays and encourages writers to take their words beyond the written word.
Imagined Early Script Meeting
Ridley “Brilliant! But why? No, just brilliant! As long as it has lots of snappy informative dialogue.”
Damon Lindelof ”I don’t really do that. I tend to
just go with a baffling sequence of potentially interconnected events
that looks as though it might be going somewhere, but isn’t. That way
everybody on the internet can argue about it for ages. That’s the bit I
like. People on the internet arguing about stuff for ages. I also love
it when they say things like ‘don’t condemn it so quickly – this is
maybe the first part of something bigger’. It makes me think ‘oh yeah.
that could be it. Maybe I’ll write another one’ and then people will
argue about that on the internet too. For ages. Because I like that.”
Ridley ”People argue on the internet?”
Damon Lindelof “They do. But there’s one thing I don’t think they’ve argued about on the internet yet?”
Damon Lindelof “Intelligent Design vs Evolution. I don’t think that’s come up at all.”
Ridley “Brilliant! Cut! Haha no! I mean. . . Action?” - "Prometheus, An Archeological Perspective (sort of)," website Digital Digging.Net by Henry Rothwell
Scott McClanahan a (former?) writer from West Virginia has turned to making short films of him reciting his words sitting on a couch, sitting in front of a tv that's bursting with the horrors they often contain, sometimes there's even karate. He's decided that, however facetiously, he should be doing something more immediate with his words and something that can speak, show, and express the person behind them. I guess it is sort of like experimental video blogging or taped monologue poetry or something but, at the heart is the need for a new kind of multi-sensory writing experience that the current stronghold of fiction that is all wrapped up in itself needs to break away from. If writing is going to be personalized feeling fiction than let's make it seem really personal, let's (as McClanahan does) let Sesame Street unfold behind us as we talk about the sadness of the world, let's not only experience the written word through distant typed words by some dude whose name starts with a J wearing thick glasses in Brooklyn somewhere. McClanahan has decided to turn to video creating compact, well written stories in movement, and hell, film began as a storytelling outlet and it remains one whether we realize it or not as we gaze through the hazy, clunky 3D glasses sitting in air conditioned soundstorms. And this is the main reason Prometheus sucked.
I always come back to this joke I saw on a tv where a writer looks at a movie poster that proudly advertises "Written By: No-One" and it is true...The action of Prometheus was a nonsensical blur of events. The efforts at crafting a deeper meaning were terrifyingly thoughtless. There was a chasm of cold distance and zero emotion. Even the attempts at being personal or humanizing characters got caught in a trap of unwarranted cliches or plot devices (hopefully?) relevant only to the money dripping sequels or prequels that we can no doubt expect. What I am trying to get at is, if writers are exploring new ways of expression- through creative criticism, twittering, blogging, tumblr-ing, short film making, etc.- finding ways to produce their ideas as human individuals, does this mean the other genres, the genres we are criticizing or blogging about (like film, art, novels, tv), need to suffer? NO! No They don't! Why are we all so hung up on format innovation when the mainstays- like cinematic storytelling and novels- are a bit lacking lately?
Outlets like n+1 and Electric Literature, both literary journals of sorts, and even witty tv shows that mock the lack of writing are proof positive that writing can still be something more than 140 characters or a tale about the time I went to the movies (ha!). And, also, the world of experimental filmmaking- narrative, documentary and otherwise- create rich expressions of the written word that are just as full of life, importance and human spirit. If all of the critics of Prometheus had gotten together and written Prometheus I am sure we would have been left with something far, far better! So...how do we as an internet writing community go about getting the $130 million it took to make this scriptless wonder..? Because this is obviously the next step in propping up the importance of the written word...in whatever format it manifests itself. (Vomits at box of leaky donut holes as if being awoken from a cryogenically frozen sleep.)