Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Question and Rant: Here and Back Again

I sound smart when I speak to people, a skill I honed in lieu of any other skills. I did this primarily because I like the sound of my own voice, which is a pity because I'll never have an audience inside of my own head to appreciate the light, yet solid qualities my skull lends it. Despite sounding a bit like a stereotypical mentally challenged person, my sounding-smart skills encourage people who barely know me to ask me about my thoughts on current events. People who really know me skip this in favor of letting me daydream about Magic, comic books, or emo guys, mostly because they know I'll be thinking about those things anyway and don't want to put me to the trouble of pretending that I'm listening to them.

Now because I've had the money to stay away from strangers for the past few years, this hasn't really been something that's happened much. However, if I did still have to meet new people and interact with them, I'm sure these are the questions I'd imagine them asking me while they said boring things.

What do you think about this secret service prostitute thing?
Secret service agents fucking prostitutes in South America is no more connected to Obama than Abu Ghraib is to Rumsfeld.

Jack Kirby is credited with creating most of The Avengers (and numerous other comic book characters), but a court has found that his work was done "for hire," denying his estate the rights to be paid for the uses of that work, like The Avengers. What's your opinion?
Lots of people have weighed in on this. Christopher Bird, Scott Kurtz, Comics Alliance, Michael Cavna--actually, Cavna sums it up pretty well. What Marvel did to Jack Kirby was legal, but not ethical. It was wrong and it would be nice for them to kick some money back to his estate, respecting that they withheld his pay until he signed away his rights, sequestered his artwork, and seemed comfortable demanding the rights to his persona and life story in exchange for minting money off of Thor, Captain America, The Hulk, and a host of other characters. My gut says a million dollars is an absurd amount, but I don't have a horse in this race and Cavna at least puts a specific expectation on his suggestion to Marvel.

Which gets to the strange heart of this: fans aren't demanding any particular sum or arrangement, so it might not matter what Marvel gives up (should it choose to placate them); it probably won't be enough. That's even an aside; the folks lobbying for remuneration seem incapable of--
What the fuck? "Remuneration"? Not "renumeration"? As in "allocating back"? What the fuck does "remuneration"--fuck.
Okay. Whatever. Sounds great. Remuneration.
In short, some people are claiming that Marvel is and still are jerks and that Jack Kirby's estate deserves more than they received. That's true, though I don't fully support going back and revising contracts just so they abide by the moral sensibilities of people on the internet. I don't like it when people say, "They got screwed. Them's the breaks," because those people are jerks and come off as being indifferent in the face of injustice.

What I do object to people who aren't absolutely morally outraged about this being insulted, shamed, accused of hating Jack Kirby, or being lumped in with corporate apologists, as if everyone who doesn't absolutely agree with the most offended of the third parties is the enemy.


The guy who--despite knocking some heads in the comments section of his blog--manages to be the absolute star of this conversation is David Brothers. I disagree with him on a some of the issue, but he seems to have this "expressing his opinions like a fucking professional" thing down.

Regardless of what you think, I can't recommend strongly enough that whatever price you paid for your Avengers ticket, you donate that much money to The Hero Initiative. The Hero Initiative provides a financial safety net to comics creators, something which the industry uniquely lacks.

Is Bain Capital, the investment firm Mitt Romney managed, a legitimate topic of debate for the presidential race?
Yes. Look, we like the thought of guys who run businesses being president because there's this myth that businesses have to watch after all of their money and spend less than they take in. I thought the financial crisis of 2008 would've dispelled this myth, but since humanity's beauty is partially derived from our inexhaustible idiocy, I'm not entirely surprised it hasn't. The chief counter to this is (as I look at documentation of uranium mines abandoned by companies in the fifties and sixties that the public is spending millions of dollars to clean up and funding for regulatory departments standing over corporate shoulders because there's no other way to make them act like anything other than multimillion dollar sociopaths) companies only have to take care of their own shit. They can cut as many people, cities, and facilities as they have to so they can preserve their bottom line, and every time they do, the government has to catch those people, cities, and facilities until they find a new equilibrium. 

So yes, I do think someone has to do a better job explaining why running a corporation is going to help you with a job where your major co workers are a stadium of cats and you can't fire anyone, no matter how much you like to.

Dark Knight Rises: "Holy Set of Newly Minted Quotables" or "This is the Batman Movie We Need"?
Third option: "I am the conclusion. I am incredibly high expectations. I. Am. The Dark Knight Rises!" This movie will probably crush me emotionally. It may be the only time I've ever seen The Dark Knight Returns translated onto the big screen. A lot--a fuck-ton--of people will love it simply because it exists. However, I think it's got a massive job ahead of it in terms of matching the earlier installments in quality.

Two part question: The deal between DC and Alan Moore for Watchmen stipulated that Moore would get the rights to Watchmen after it was out of print (when it was used up), but it's never been out of print because it's timeless. DC is now writing Watchmen 2, a series of prequels for Watchmen, against Moore's express wishes. What do you think of Watchmen 2 and what do you think of the rights to Watchmen?
Ah, fuuuuuck. Watchmen 2 is one of the most offensive and creatively bankrupt enterprises I've ever seen superhero comic engage in. I think that DC knows that if it boxes a turd and puts Watchmen 2 on the front, it'll sell like turdcakes. I try not to believe in sacred cows; I'll allow that it might be fucking good. It's entirely within the realm of possibility that it'll even be better than the original and when the dust settles, I'll look like an ass for not buying it.

However, in a perfect world it would crossover with its creative-spark soul mate, "X-Men Versus Avengers," and the entire event would be porn of a MALE SUPERHERO A doing FEMALE SUPERHERO while punching MALE SUPERHERO B because MALE SUPERHERO A is the best and most powerful superhero! It'd be rendered in clip-art of Kirby comics with digitally-inserted penises and interchangeable male and female characters, safely ensconced in one of fourteen alternate covers, each one a comics character dressed as one of the seven presidents one US currency (times two for the foil covers).

Because that would sell like hot turdcakes.

As for Alan Moore, he banked on his comic not lasting more than a few years and doesn't do many superhero comics these days anyway. As I understand it, he still gets money for it, he's been cheated out of money for it, and DC has offered him more money with ridiculous strings attached to write more of it. DC has--to their credit--waited almost a quarter of a century to do this. Moore is free to take legal action. I think it would be a good idea if he did. David Brothers is right when he said DC has acted in bad faith with regards to Alan Moore (more here), which is a lot like killing the goose that laid the golden egg.

Is Watchmen 2 wrong? Yes. Is it illegal? As I understand, not until it's challenged and soundly flogged in court. Is it surprising the company that would make Watchmen 2--what is to all appearances a naked cash grab--would somehow act as though they can't perceive the wavelengths that talent and decency transmit on? Of course. 

Obama: Have we lost that lovin' feeling?
Yes. Because people expected Jesus and got the president of The United States. Politics in The United States are intentionally slow. Being president is like being the guy in charge with moving a 400-lb guy out of someone's house. One person isn't going to get him up and moving. One person would be lucky to get some pants on him. Persistence is the name of the game, but if you're the sort of person who's going to try once every four years and never try again because it's too hard, you deserve exactly what you get and then some. Fuck you.

Superman versus The Elite: Excited or Not?
Not. As someone who loves The Authority and appreciates Superman, The Elite--presented as they are--aren't the moral challenge needed to make a good movie. They're fucking assholes and the movie is going to consist of introducing them as assholes, some sanctimonious, paper-thin speech from Superman, and some idiotic fisticuffs featuring Superman appearing to get beaten, Superman appearing to kill The Elite, and then everyone going home, wiser for the experience. Anti-excited. The next time I'm going to have sex, I'll actually pass on it because this movie will have existed for ten years or so, but will still keep me from being interested in anything. 

Holographic Tupac: Pass or Fail?
It wasn't a three-dimensional hologram; it was a rapper who has been dead for almost two decades projected onto a screen that was convincing to exactly the audience in front it. 

With the technological relevance (like the guy who has a time share on his own brain that compels him to call "telepresence" "teleportation," as though he woke up one morning and found he either no longer possessed the intellectual ability to know that words mean things or no longer had the moral ability to act like throwing Star Trek into an article "just because" was the sort of thing that marks a man as a small-dicked tool for the rest of his life. This is teleportation. This guy is an idiot.) being non-existent, the social implications are worthy of note. It does show that--impressive technology or not--the clapping monkeys of the general population are ready to swaddle themselves in the safe, comforting, unchanging social patterns of yesteryear. Nothing new, just the same old actors, directors, & musicians endlessly iterating their familiar, reliable patterns while everyone forks over their hard earned money and accepts that contemporary man could never produce anything of value. Imagine the generation brought up knowing that everything that could be performed or crafted was done better by the algorithms of people who lived and died a hundred years before they were even born.

Slightly less hyperbolic is the creation of an entertainment industry where no one ever grows old, anyone can be brought back, and images, characters, and talent can be borrowed, trademarked, and stolen away from the unique individuals who supplied them, allowing companies to simply ride craft honed decades ago into a stagnant mire of creative paralysis and risk adversity. Y'know, like comic books.

Seriously, fuck your "holograms" and CGI John Waynes. 

Recently, Seattle's costumed vigilante Phoenix Jones was challenged by a self-styled supervillain calling himself Rex Velvet. Do you think that costumed vigilantism is a fad that's over or that Rex Velvet needs to keep his trolling on the internet?
Seriously, fuck Rex Velvet. If Phoenix Jones wants to patrol his neighborhood and try to help folks out despite being a father, despite losing his job, despite being arrested, then good on him. I hope he learns from his adversity and makes world his kids grow up in better than what it is now. Phoenix Jones has obvious made some mistakes, but his heart's in the right place.

And if some college kid who spends mommy and daddy's money on slick web videos wants to act out a freshman-level paper on the fascism of Batman, then I hope he gets found, beaten, and by real villains and left in ditch, wiser for the experience.

Update: Christopher Bird put up some remarks justifying the tone of his Jack Kirby post.


Jordan Shipp said...

Superman versus The Elite: Excited or Not?
Not. As someone who loves The Authority and appreciates Superman, The Elite--presented as they are--aren't the moral challenge needed to make a good movie. They're fucking assholes and the movie is going to consist of introducing them as assholes, some sanctimonious, paper-thin speech from Superman, and some idiotic fisticuffs featuring Superman appearing to get beaten, Superman appearing to kill The Elite, and then everyone going home, wiser for the experience. Anti-excited. The next time I'm going to have sex, I'll actually pass on it because this movie will have existed for ten years or so, but will still keep me from being interested in anything.

...So what you're saying then, is that you hate the formula for superhero stories. Oh, I'm not saying that we can't have super dynamic villains with motivations and etc...etc...

But some films, even animated films, just want to show you Superman doing Superman things. Their ambition is not that of Nolan's Joker or Morrison's Lex or anything like that.

VanVelding said...

Look at "Hulk vs." There was no pretense about it being a beat-em-up. Look at "Under the Red Hood," which tries to be a drama about Batman having to address the costs of his principles, but ends up being about how everyone from Joker to Nightwing want to suck off The Dark Knight.

In terms of plot complexity, tone, and maturity, UtRH is far ahead of Hv, but I personally revile it more because it falls so far short of its goals that it's almost lying.

The story "What's so Funny About Truth, Justice, and the American Way?" explores heroic prohibitions on killing by making the audience see things from The Elite's view or else they're just villains and the people who support them are just idiotic cattle.

Maybe I should've said that instead.

Jordan Shipp said...