How ‘Stranger Things’ Got Passed Around Hollywood

In the midst of fisking the usual gang of idiots about raaaaaaacism, Larry Correia lets drop an interesting factoid:

For a long time entertainment tried to lump as many customers as possible into one big box to provide dumb bland mushy product to. To make a living at this stuff you needed to sell to everybody, including the easily offended. Now, you just need to appeal to one group of fans, and what appeals to them might not appeal to everybody, but screw those guys. You can make what you want. Technology has evolved so that you can get your product right in front of your target audience. It isn’t just books either. Stranger Things got rejected by something like 15 networks for being too weird, and now it is a hit on Netflix.

I double-checked to make sure that was true, and according to this article in Rolling Stone, Correia was low-balling it:

After they wrote the initial Stranger Things script, they never thought they’d have a chance at pitching Netflix; they thought it was only a place for established names like Orange Is the New Black creator Jenji Kohan and House of Cards producer, director David Fincher. Matt estimates the brothers were rejected 15 to 20 times by various networks, while other execs had balked at the idea that the show featured four kids as lead characters but that it wasn’t TV for children. “You either gotta make it into a kids show or make it about this Hopper [detective] character investigating paranormal activity around town,” one told them. Matt recalls replying, “Then we lose everything interesting about the show.” Some other people they knew in the industry understood their vision and helped connect them with Netflix. “There was a week where we were like, ‘This isn’t going to work because people don’t get it,‘” Matt says.

That’s the thing about the entertainment/content industry: they have to have product to connect with an audience, but they can’t know ahead of time what will, and there’s a cost factor with every bet. So if they gate-keepers don’t get it, viscerally, instantly, they assume that the disinterested masses won’t bother. Because the entertainment industry isn’t about connecting audiences and content, it’s about connecting audiences and content in such away that maximizing profit and minimizes loss. Thus, people are going to pass on things because they’re not getting it.

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Ghostbusters Ghostbusters Ghostbusters blah blah blah blah blah

A little while ago, I tweeted this:

Apparently no one else has considered this. Because apparently this film sits across the cultural divide like the fulcrum on a teeter-totter, and everyone’s pushing it one way or another.

A comedy film is good if its funny. If it makes you laugh, you account it good. If it doesn’t, you do the opposite. Laughter – and film appreciation in general — cannot be forced. I speak as someone who worked really hard to like The Phantom Menace back in the day. In the end, I couldn’t.

So the Ghostbusters remake will either be a funny film in which some comedic actresses amuse us, or it will be one of those movies that you keep waiting to be funny and never is (I’m looking at you, The Devil Wears Prada).

This has nothing to do with gender. Women are funny. I know this because women have made me laugh. An all-female Ghostbusters reboot? Whatever, why not?

I watched a lot of Ghostbusters as a kid. It was one of the first movies that my folks videotaped on the VCR off of HBO (That’s how it was done in the old days). I know it basically by heart. It’s eminently quotable. But I’m not emotionally attached to it. Yes, its lame that Hollywood won’t stop rebooting old properties. I hadn’t made any plans to see this one in the theater. But that doesn’t mean I was devoted to it failing. I just didn’t care. I’ll catch it on Netflix, probably.

I saw the trailer, and I laughed – not big laughs, but amusement – a few times. Which doesn’t mean anything. But one thing did bother me about it, and that was how Leslie Jones seemed to be doing a caricature of Things Black Characters Say.

You see what I’m talking about? “It’s a Cadillac!” “Aw, Hell NO!” and screaming at the top of her lungs. And maybe I’m only noticing it because in the original film, Winston didn’t seem like the Black Stereotype. Ghostbusters has as its heroes a snarky hustler, a nerd who doesn’t like talking to people, and a nerd who won’t shut up. Winston provided a necessary leavening of this dorkitude, but his role on the film is to be the Regular Joe, not the Black Guy. He has moments where yes, the blackness is more obvious (telling the Mayor “I have seen shit that’ll turn you white” one of my favorite lines, and the Mayor’s reaction is great), but overall, his deadpan responses highlight the audience’s own bemusement at the proceedings, allowing us to recognize and take part in the absurdity of analogizing paranormal activity as a big Twinkie. He wasn’t all Corn Bread and Street Wisdom, is my point. And maybe Jones does that too, just in a different way. Like I said, I’m not committed to this. But according to this guy who saw it, I’m not alone in that impression.

The reviews are coming in, and I’m only seeing bad ones so far. Which may mean this film fails as comedy. If it does, so be it. If it makes money, so be it. But watching people flail over it like it Means Something is exhausting. Oh, what an exciting concept! Female heroes and a male director regurgitating a 30-year-old movie! THE REVOLUTION HAS COME BROTHERS AND SISTERS.

Or, as this commenter on the PJMedia takedown put it:

A culture that reboots “Ghostbusters” is a decadent culture. A culture that erupts in controversy over a reboot of “Ghostbusters” is a dead culture.

Nailed it.

The Roman Polanski Two-Step

The old goat is running out of places to not be extradited from.

Zbigniew Ziobro, who also became Poland’s chief prosecutor after the country’s new, staunchly conservative government merged the two posts, argues that it was the director’s celebrity status in Poland, where he grew up, that had prevented him from being extradited in the past.

‘I’ve decided to file an appeal in the Supreme Court against the ruling … in which the … court decided not to extradite Mr Polanski to the US in a situation when he’s accused of and wanted for … a rape of a child,’ Ziobro told Poland’s state radio.

‘If he was just a regular guy, a teacher, doctor, plumber, decorator, then I’m sure he’d have been deported from any country to the US a long time ago,’ he said.

The truth! It burns!

And it gives me an excuse to re-link an old Revolutionary Nonsense favorite: “With the Rich and Mighty, or Is Roman Polanski as Smart as Michael Vick?

Let us therefore treat Roman Polanski as we treated Michael Vick. Let us punish him for the crimes he has committed, and then release him when he has served time commensurate with his offense. Let us treat the celebrated director and holocaust-surviving Polish Jew with the same justice as the Black Football Player.

It’s solid dudgeon. Read the Whole Thing.

Resurrection and Identity in Game of Thrones I – The Man of Ice and Fire

Game of Thrones made its mark upon the public consciousness with its mix of fantasy and intrigue but also with its premium-channel willingess to “go there” with sex and violence. Thematically, this has been shown in numerous instances of the Death of the Hero. Not only were Robert Baratheon and Eddard Stark shown to be flawed and destroyed by their enemies, but also their avengers – Stannis & Renly Baratheon, Robb & Catelyn Stark, etc., came to untimely ends before our eyes. Death is a god in the eyes of more than one set of characters in Westeros, and its reach, the shows seems to tell us, is unlimited.

Except not really. There are certain characters who still possess what is known as plot armor: they are too essential to the storyline, or readers have invested too much in them, to be discarded. Tyrion Lannister, Danaerys Targaryen, and others are all but assured of at least making it to the climax of the story. They may die in that, but their deaths are to be used on behalf of the climax, and not just as a consequence of their own flaws.

Consequently, this season of Game of Thrones has had a marked interested in the theme of Ressurrection. Characters are being brought back, symbolically and literally, from death and given a new lease on life. Concomitant with resurrections are a shift in identity. The dead/dying characters are not just reborn, but recast as someone new. In this space, I will discuss some of the characters who have or are experiencing rebirth this season. Today, we will deal with the obvious: Jon Snow.

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When Did the Left Lose its Goddamn Mind? or, David Jaffe is a Glorious Winged Twit

Who is David Jaffe? A director of the God of War video game series (The director? Co-Director? Wait, I don’t care). And apparently the experience of making a series based on a doomed Spartan warrior bloodily defying the Gods has made him a grumpy feminist who hates prom (don’t they all?)

Now, the first tweet is bad enough. Some kids go to prom and they co-ordinate the colors of their dresses/tuxes, and stage a picture in which the girls open the shirts of the boys, revealing superhero shirts underneath. Cute, right?

But no, not cute. Sexist and irredeemable, because the girls are all doing one thing and the boys are all doing something else, and this is the worst thing ever.

Now imagine, for a second, a prom picture with the roles reversed. The girls reveal superhero status and the boys look on (obviously the boys can’t be pulling the girls outfits open, because that would be exactly like a violent rape. Do try to keep up). Would anyone complain about it? Would anyone care? Would I do anything other than roll my eyes while leftoids fell over themselves applauding it’s bold countering of gender norms? Of course not, because I don’t feel the need to make myself a hateful pest over kids doing kid stuff.

I mean, if I worked at it,  I could reframe this in Red-Pill terms. Oh, the boys require girls to reveal their heroic nature? The boys can’t be heroes on their own? Men have no value in and of themselves unless blessed by the company of women?

If you think that interpretation preposterous, then you should be able to see why Jaffe’s is, too.

So why can’t Jaffe just let this pass? Why can’t he go “I see you kids. Cute,” or even “Whatever?” What makes him brim with self-righteous suffering at something that wasn’t meant for him?

Is this really the most important thing for us to be fuming about? A callout to a superhero trope in a prom picture? Really?

But then he doubles down:

Homer-BlankStare-1

Let’s go ahead and stipulate his actual argument: People willingly participating in something does not make it morally acceptable. On that, we agree. But that argument is generally reserved for people who are happily doing something morally wicked, such as you know, lynching people.

But this is kids taking a prom picture. It’s not even kids taking a prom picture that calls out something bad. It’s not white kids dresses up as Klansman or Nazis or ISIS (which would be really bad, because appropriation, you guys). It’s a callout to one of the oldest, most widely-recognized superhero tropes, in which the hero reveals himself as a hero. When did this become unallowed? When did this become something you compare to a group of murderous vigilante racists? How the %*$& do you even do that?

Let’s give David Jaffe a break, and assume that he did not think very hard about that tweet before he put it into the world. I’d like to believe that a moment’s reflection might have made him reconsider the wisdom of the comparison he was making. Currently, he’s “sad” that everyone his being “mean” to him for “sharing his thoughts.” But Twitter doesn’t reward reflection, so here we are, with this reflection of Jaffe’s un-examined prejudices, which is that kids doing something cute at prom is hateful and horrible, by default, unless it redeems itself by bowing to the correct ideology.

I don’t know why the Left is like that. I don’t know why they hate everything they look at. But I know that I’ve been perceiving it since I was a kid:the hateful, venomous condescension masquerading as righteousness. And if past experience is any guide, they will never, ever, see what the rest of us see when they do this.

What I’m Expecting on Tonight’s Game of Thrones

SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS

That should protect the eyes of people on my Facebook feed.

First, the preview:

 

Breakdown:

  1. Jon the Undead. If the Willings were prepared to fight to avenge him, they might just make him their king now. There’s something poignant in Jon succeeding Mance as King Beyond the Wall, but they’re not beyond the Wall now. Of course, that raises the question of whether he can simply resume his duties as Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. Technically, death releases him from his vows. So is he even still in the Watch?
  2. Arya the Unseeing. I’ll confess, I’m not sure where Arya’s plot line is going. If she truly becomes No One, then she ceases to be Arya, then she ceases to have any real connection to the story, but just folds into the House of White and Black. The whole point of her becoming lethal was to gain vengeance on her enemies. So I’ll assume that this arc continues to drag along.
  3. Ramsay’s Gift. Since we don’t know who that guy is, I can think of a couple of possibilities: 1) an Umber offering him Rickon Stark, or the whereabouts of Rickon Stark, 2) a Frey offering him a gesture of defiance for his butchery of Walda. I have serious doubts that Walder Frey is going to believe Ramsay’s story about how Roose and his wife and child all died on the same day, or that he’s not going to do anything about it. But who knows.
  4. Danaerys in Vaes Dothrak. The question of Dany’s arc this season is whether she’s going to cultivate her own path to survival, as she did in Season 2, or whether she’s going to rely on others for her rescue: Jorah, Daario, and the Drogon ex machina. In this episode, I suspect she’s just going to get locked into her khaleesi-widowhood.
  5. King’s Landing. Vengeful Cersei is vengeful. I don’t see her trial happening next week, so I expect sound and fury, signifying nothing.
  6. TOWER OF JOY! If you’re not a book reader, you don’t know that this is a big deal. This Bran seeing what happened when Ned Stark went looking for his sister Lyanna in the aftermath of Robert’s Rebellion. It is the single most tantalizing scene in the grand theory of Jon Snow’s true parentage. Basically, if you see a bunch of chatter on the internet regarding R+L=J, you’ll know why.

There are Never Enough Witches for the Witch-Hunters: Hamilton and Race-Flailing

The inestimable John McWhorter:

It’s been a shoe that had yet to drop.

The praise for Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical phenomenon has been resoundingly unanimous. There are already plans for a touring production, one in London plus a sit-down production in San Francisco. Miranda has performed for the president. The cast album has won a Grammy, Miranda himself a MacArthur. Hamilton is certainly about to sweep the Tonys. Musical theatre obsessives such as myself are having the odd experience of finding that our next door neighbor with no interest in musicals is actually listening to a theatre recording we love. One takes the show’s name in vain no more than one wouldThe Wire or Handel’s “Messiah.”

Or at least not until around now. You just knew a certain type was biding their time.

Yes, it’s the usual crowd of “contesters” who remind us that we aren’t feeling sufficient shame at our ancestors. Apparently a musical about Alexander Hamilton, who owned no slaves and opposed slavery, fails to remind its audience of the existence of slavery (as though we had forgotten about it). Since slavery existed in America (as in every other society on the face of the earth) in 1775, and since slavery was evil, to discuss America in 1775 without reference to slavery is to pretend that slavery did not exist or was not evil or something.

McWhorter:

The boildown version of this idea has become that race and racism are the very essence of what America is…overall, this country is too vast and protean a mess for the idea to hold up that any single factor, even as massive and tragic as the racial one, constitutes the key to the whole business. Yes, there is race. But there is a humongous deal more, and there always has been.

Especially considering that Hamilton was himself that “deal more”. There are those who argue that Hamilton’s political and economic theory laid the groundwork for the progressive kleptocracy we struggle under today. It’s an argument that has its merits and its problems, but it needs to be pointed out that our voices were by no means uniform on slavery or race in Hamilton’s day.

To consider Alexander Hamilton’s lack of passionate commitment to abolition a central pillar of what he should mean to us today, then, is less higher wisdom than faulty logic. It is premised on a fundamental lack of understanding of the evolutionary nature of social history, and an inability to conceive of the basic nature of personhood within it. To tar any portrait of a historical figure as incomplete without blaring announcement of their failure to pass today’s antiracism test is a kind of witch-hunting in the guise of civic discussion.

Witch-hunting is precisely the right term, as is “recreational Puritanism”. Both point to the reality that modern antiracism is less a political or a sociological exercise than a spiritual one. As McWhorter points out, even if there had been depiction of slavery in Hamilton, someone would have found a way to contend that it was not enough, just as they did for The Help. For the modern race “contesters”, no discussion or depiction of the realities of race or slavery is ever enough. There’s always a way to critique it more, push it farther, be more aware of injustice than the next man. I’d be willing to bet money that somewhere out there a consciousness-advocate is angry at 12 Years a Slave because Solomon is freed at the end. This fails to accurately demonstrate how slavery worked for most slaves, you see.

Because if the problem is a society that permits slavery, then the problem is solved when the slave is transmuted to a citizen. But if the problem is how, in a society that no longer keeps slaves, and has written legal protections of the rights of the descendants of slaves, to maintain the moral authority that the abolitionist enjoyed, then the problem can never be solved, and we are bound to ever greater and greater inquisitions into our sins. Just as no man on earth can cease to resist the Devil on his shoulder, no honky in America can cease to hunt the subliminal racism and privilege that constitutes his Original Sin. Thus,

if Hamilton included a single slave character or two gliding around with everyone else, or had a song where a slave came out and rapped about his misery, or had a couple of the female chorus members shown doing one of the Schuyler sisters’ hair before the party scene, let’s face it, it would just occasion more contesting. The slaves would be too marginal to the action, would not look miserable enough, not depicted as full human beings, etc. Contesters often put it that the goal is that America “come to terms” with its past on race. But it’s unclear what the expression here even means. Just what would indicate that the terms in question had finally been come to? At what point would the contestation no longer be necessary? How unwelcome such questions are considered is an indication that an end point is not exactly on these critics’ minds—contestation is forever.

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