Saturday, September 01, 2012

#454. Love What You Love (But Don't Dismiss Everything Else)

When I was attending Mercyhurst for my freshman year of college back in 1999-2000 in dear old Erie, PA, Rescue 911 actor Damien Ettere tried to get me into Doctor Who.

For those who don't know, Doctor Who is a long-running British science fiction TV franchise, long-running as in having launched in 1963.  There have been eleven actors to play The Doctor, perhaps two of the more famous also being two of the more recent, Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant (Matt Smith is the current incarnation).

Damien was not successful.  Throughout my college years I was very much busy pursuing my own interests, which may have made it difficult to assimilate into the Mercyhurst collective (it was murder at the University of Maine).  I wrote a lot of Star Trek stories.

Now, Star Trek was not the reason I didn't get into Doctor Who.  They're not really very similar at all.  (Maybe Gary Seven is Star Trek's Doctor.  I mean, as in Doctor Who, because every incarnation of Star Trek has some notable doctor, just not Doctor.)

I did watch a few episodes of Eccleston's 2005 revival, when they aired on what's now known as the SyFy Channel (they now air on BBC America, which to my mind necessarily severely limits stateside exposure).

Anyway, I mention Doctor Who now because of Shada.  This is a Doctor Who book written by Gareth Roberts.  There are a lot of Doctor Who books by Gareth Roberts, but this one is particularly notable because it's based on a story by Douglas Adams.  Adams, as you may or may not know, is sci-fi royalty, having created the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (his entries amount to significantly more words than "Mostly harmless").  He is also dead.

Adams first entered the pop culture scene as a writer of a few episodes of Doctor Who.  It might even be said that in every way, we wouldn't have the Hitchhiker's Guide without Doctor Who.  The episodes Shada is based on, however, were scrubbed (eventually released in a bastardized version on home video, however), which is another reason we got the Hitchhiker's Guide.

I have no idea why the release of Shada was not a bigger deal.  Unless Barnes & Noble shelved it somewhere very strange, they didn't get it.  It was released this year.  I haven't read all of Douglas Adams, but he's a writer I think is somewhat essential reading, no matter what form he takes (it should be noted that I have mostly not read his nonfiction work, but I will correct that at some point), even if the words are not actually written by him.

(I obsessed over Starship Titanic for years.  It is not written by him.  It is also based on Douglas Adams material, but it is written by a parrot.  Or a half-dressed snake.  One of those.)

As the title of this post suggests, Douglas Adams is someone I love to love.  I'll read Shada not because of a deep abiding love for Doctor Who, but for Douglas Adams.

I also love the actor Colin Farrell.  I'm one of those people converting parts of his VHS library to DVD in 2012.  Recently I converted The Recruit, Phone Booth, and S.W.A.T. to DVD, which other than The War Zone makes my Farrell collection a straight DVD set now.  Farrell has an incredible amount of depth to his acting.  He's a performer who makes everything real.  All three of the movies that I just converted were originally released to theaters in 2003, and they don't even represent everything he did that year.  It was inarguably the last year anyone believed he was going to become a new blockbuster star (though the makers of the new Total Recall are among those who still believe it's possible), after his 2000 breakthrough with Tigerland.  Phone Booth is my favorite of the three.  It's short, and in many ways it's like an episode of The Twilight Zone, as Farrell finds himself targeted by a twisted moralist forcing him to confess his sins in the sights of a rifle.  In a career of great acting, this movie features exceptional acting from Farrell.  He happens to look like Freddy Rodriguez for the role.

S.W.A.T. has such a fantastic cast.  It's got Samuel L. Jackson.  It's got Jeremy Renner.  It's got another Rodriguez (Michelle).  It's got LL Cool J.  It's got Brian Van Holt!

The Recruit, by the way, is almost like a precursor to Total Recall at this point.  You don't know what's going on, unless you follow the logic explained in the movie.  Then you do.  Farrell has Al Pacino to work against in this one.  He's also got Bridget Moynahan!

Recently I went to see The Hunger Games and The Amazing Spider-Man at the local dollar theater.  The Hunger Games  has officially become the new Twilight Saga.  Some time ago I was bamboozled into reading the first two books of the trilogy.  The same flaws that exist in the books exist in the movie.  People went to see the movie in droves.  After The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises, it's the year's highest grossing film.  It stars Jennifer Lawrence, who became Hollywood's new "it" girl after the release of Winter's Bone in 2010.  She had a notable supporting role in X-Men: First Class last year, and to complete her transition into stardom, she took the lead in The Hunger Games.

As an actress, she has about as much nuance as, well, The Hunger Games.  But I can't speak too poorly of either Lawrence or The Hunger Games.  Despite having read the book several years ago, I realized I still know every beat of that story, and the movie followed them faithfully.  It's an unusual successful story, an action movie starring a female lead.  Lawrence is worth supporting for being unusual herself.  She projects integrity, if nothing else.

The Amazing Spider-Man, meanwhile, is the controversial reboot of a comic book character whose last franchise launched a decade ago and only ended five years ago (perhaps it's an easy ending to overlook, since it's the entry in the trilogy one fans don't like).  Spider-Man has been a favorite of mine since early childhood.  (Significantly, the only character with comparable duration is Robin.)  Yet when I started reading comics, I didn't really read Spider-Man comics.  (I didn't read much Marvel at all, in fact, and maybe that has something to do with it.)  After "Brand New Day" launched Spider-Man into a bold new era in 2008, I read the character regularly for the first time.

Unlike everyone else, I wasn't enamored with Sam Raimi's films.  I thought they were a little nerdy, which was weird, because the films were accepted as cool.  To me, it was a giant neon sign to the public that loved them that comic books really were essentially nerdy.  I liked the third one, because it broke all the rules.

When Amazing Spider-Man was announced, I was happy.  When Andrew Garfield was cast as the lead, I was very pleased.  Director Marc Webb previously made (500) Days of Summer, and there's a lot of that in Amazing Spider-Man.  (500) Days of Summer is one of the great romantic movies of our time.  It is horribly heartbreaking (and stars two of our film treasures, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel), but it is fantastic.

The new Spider-Man is snarky, just like in the comics.  He looks a lot like Kick-Ass, too, all skin and bones.  His story is appropriately about family and obligations and science run amok.  It's everything Raimi got wrong (but everyone thought he got right).  It's not perfect, but it's better than the response it's gotten.

Well, people did love Raimi's version.

What I've been trying to say in this post, as the title implies, is that you should absolutely love what you love, but don't dismiss what you don't.  There are so many reasons to still acknowledge things you don't love.  Some people seem to think that you must hate what you don't love, or simply ignore it with apathy.  But there are so many reasons to acknowledge what you don't love.  There are reasons to like or respect or even simply appreciate things that don't directly speak to your sensibilities.  There are connecting threads.  Everything's connected.  The more easily you identify what connects everything else to what you love, the sooner you'll realize that there are so many more possibilities than you've ever considered.

I'm not meaning to suggest that you will no longer be able to hate or dismiss things.  But that the more you limit your limitations, the happier you'll be.  There's a lot to like in the world.  Sometimes it seems like most people, especially on the Internet, believe that there's a lot to hate.

If you want to know how to be more positive than negative, just try and see the worth in something before you decide to ignore it.

7 comments:

MOCK! said...

Tony wrote: Now, Star Trek was not the reason I didn't get into Doctor Who. They're not really very similar at all.

I never developed an interest in Who. In high school, my closest friend LOVED it. As an adult, my closest friend LOVES the new incarnation. I think I would like it, but just have never taken the plunge...

Adams, as you may or may not know, is sci-fi royalty, having created the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (his entries amount to significantly more words than "Mostly harmless"). He is also dead.

Bwah-ha-ha-ha!


I'll read Shada not because of a deep abiding love for Doctor Who, but for Douglas Adams.

I'm impressed. There are not many "entertainers" (for lack of a better word) that I would follow like that. Maybe Paul McCartney way back when....

Some time ago I was bamboozled into reading the first two books of the trilogy.

I felt bamboozled when I completed the first book and discovered it was a trilogy! WAY too many kid/YA books are coming out of the gate prepped with Harry Potter/Twilight dollar signs on the horizon...Despite my love of comics and their serialized nature, I want my books usually to be one and done or new stories with the same character (a la Jack Reacher novels)

Unlike everyone else, I wasn't enamored with Sam Raimi's films. I thought they were a little nerdy, which was weird, because the films were accepted as cool. To me, it was a giant neon sign to the public that loved them that comic books really were essentially nerdy.

I did not care for Tobey Maguire in the role.

I may have blogged about this already, but I LOVED the fact that "The Avengers" was so accepted as a movie. I separate it from the "real" stories in the comics, but its success made me happy.

What I've been trying to say... is that you should absolutely love what you love, but don't dismiss what you don't...

Sometimes it seems like most people, especially on the Internet, believe that there's a lot to hate.

If you want to know how to be more positive than negative, just try and see the worth in something before you decide to ignore it.


I'm not sure if this fits exactly with what you are saying but in recent years have become more saddened by the EXTREME "anti" sentiments....especially thinking about music and Nickleback and Justin Bieber. I have listened to both. Don't really care for either. But I don't understand where the HATRED comes from.

I know some of the anti-Bieber I see in my classes is (unconscious) jealousy from the boys and maybe some of the girls....

I don't know. Maybe I'm ::shudder:: maturing? But why devote so much time and energy to the negative. I am NOT saying I'm perfect or go around whistling zip-a-dee-doo-da all day but like the saying goes, yelling at the rain just gets you wet....why bother?

Tony Laplume said...

Music was absolutely something I was thinking about recently. It's funny, because OF COURSE this is the first generation that thinks everything that's popular today sucks and that only the popular stuff from yesterday was awesome.

PT Dilloway, Superhero Author said...

Being negative is more fun. But then I always liked characters like Oscar the Grouch and Eeyore, so I've always been a grumpy bulldog even before I was a Grumpy Bulldog.

Tony Laplume said...

Being negative is kind of like a drug. Everyone is addicted to it. Some are better at controlling the symptoms.

Leslie S. Rose said...

We're crazy Dr. Who fans in my household. David Tennant is our fave doctor. Douglas Adams is pretty much a deity around here as well.

Spacerguy said...

I just noticed we've both mentioned Gary Seven, Spiderman and the Darkknight in our current blog posts, LOL. Pretty awesome if you ask me. BTW I found you last few paragraphs truly inspirational dude. Happiness is beautiful.

Tony Laplume said...

Gary Seven is a piece of the franchise I'd love to receive more attention. He was originally set up to get his own series. There's still a ton of potential in the character.

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