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Creation Date: March 1st, 2010 06:15 PM
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Musings of a Knight of the Imperium.
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  #615 New April 15th, 2021 06:28 AM
So I contemplated the film industry around 6th or 7th grade when my yearbook teacher offered my friend and I a couple of cameras. He got a regular 8mm camera, and I got a large format camera--the kind you look down in. We swapped cameras, and I contemplated a career in film. In retrospect that was a psychological ploy, but whatever.

As school wore on, as I went through various tutors, as I tried to indulge in chemistry sets, reading books on astronomy, physics, dinosaurs, watching Sagan in COSMOS, watching James Burke in Connections, and so forth, I kept a healthy appetite for science, but could not perform. And so sophomore year of high school I aimed for a career in film, determined to bring the likes of Traveller and Car Wars to the big screen. Mad Max and The Road Warrior were respectable experiences. And Star Trek was still running strong, but Star Wars, Empire and Jedi had eclipsed it with superior art production and production values.

It was my determination to marry Trek like themes and stories to Lucas like production values, and use Traveller as a basis for a very rich background. Something that was as expansive and visually dazzling and enticing as Star Wars, but with gritter or more down to Earth (no pun intended) stories.

I really don't want to do that now. Not ever.

And to have Spielberg frame Car Wars as a childish and boyhood fancy or pass time ... is just beyond insulting. Car Wars deals with bloody gladiatorial combat. My concept was a kind of Rollerball meets Road Warrior (Mad Max 2) kind of approach, where the drama would have been couched in action and moral challenges thrust upon the main character, punctuated by heroics and small amounts of appropriate humor--not the put down bullshit that is so often in todays pre-teen oriented super hero junk. And I wrote scripts to that end.

With Traveller it would have been more of a high adventure in space. Not quite Star Wars ... more of less a kind of Aliens or Robocop kind of affair, but with a more intellectual edge. Not quite Star Trek, as Star Trek is essentially button down navy, with naval officers calling the shots and in the midst of the action.

What I wanted to avoid was junk like "Spacehunter; Adventures in the Forbidden Zone"; a reasonably decently shot film that was pretty much B-grade material. Ditto with garbage like Battle Beyond the Stars or Galaxy of Terror, or a film that used BBTS's SFX footage but married to a different set of live action footage. What gets me are the Five Stars on Amazon or the IMDB giving that kind of crap Five Star ratings. Whatever.

Again, knowing how well guarded the industry, and in particular the scifi genre is in Hollywood, I might as well never have gone into the industry. Cleaning up that asshole's Innerspace apartment set, or watching coworkers try to show off how hip and "in" they were on the "in" jokes while setting up lights or striking a set or in the midst of a shoot, was really tiring. And again the big fear and reason the industry is so guarded is because of the fear that someone's going to make propaganda films to create social divides of all sorts; race, sex, income level, what have you. Again, whatever.

I remember when I used to play Star Smuggler listening to John Williams Empire Strikes Back score, and thinking that Duke Springer, your character, wouldn't make that great of a TV character, but married to the right stories he could spun up as a good guy; i.e. the bad boy turned good by doing some good deeds; i.e. smuggling people to freedom or smuggling medicines or other resources to people in need.

Regrettably my mother, my biological mother, the absolute moron that she is, sees anyone without a religious perspective as absolutely immoral beyond salvation without a copy of the King James under their pillow. So any morality play I would bring to a script would be a shock to her asinine sensibilities.

TV and film once required lots of expensive gear to get shoots of any kind done. That's no longer the case, but I'd just assume set the wohle industry on its ass end and let it sink given all the bullshit I was put through. So, quite frankly it can go f_ck itself.

The rational behind mass media is, for the last fifty years, to address social shortcomings; i.e. allegedly address social rifts between ethnic groups, religious groups, the sexes, and other social divides. But, we have more tension now than ever before, so I would submit that film has not been any kind of force for anything whatsoever. I offer a Civil War example of Union Generals, notable Grant, enforcing integration in the south after conquering cities and states. Enforcement of law is key to bringing peace. At best films can only offer emotional release or offer confirmation bias, they cannot alter anyone's opinion, but that is the fear that they will. So, the guardianship that film has been under since the end of WW2 is bullshit, and at least in my opinion, has operated on a false notion that films influence people's behavior and thoughts. If that were the case, then you'd see more religion and more crime and more altruistic behavior throughout the US and elsewhere. But that's not the case. Japan routinely has violent and sexually charged material shown to preteens and older, and yet it is the most passive and safest society on the globe. Reason, because law enforcement is robust and professional.

Games are freer. You have all kinds of latitude in games, and learn what other people are about. Films are didactic, and given the totalitarianism within them, it's a wonder anyone gets anything out of them. Films are idealizations of characters and situations. Games reflect more of a real decision making process in spite of the fantastic settings; i.e. if you're a hunter with a rifle somewhere in the Rockies, Sierras, Appalachians or wherever, your reaction to confronting a grizzly is probably no different than a knight confronting a dragon or an old fashioned lone space adventurer confronting an alien monster on some far off world with his laser pistol. It's the same decision minus the moral narrative of trying to save someone or defend the same.

What is extremely regrettable is that because games like Car Wars or SFB or D&D or some warsim can be played by preteens or precocious people on the verge of going into adolescence, that RPGs and warsims of all genres are viewed as children's fare. How extremely disappointing. How tragically disappointing. And how condescending. So, by definition and extension "Alien" is a children's movie. And anyone who's seen "Alien" knows that that's not the case. Anyone who's seen any horror or slasher film knows that a game based off of those properties might be played by children, but that doesn't mean that a film based off of those games is for children. A fleet getting fried in Starfire is not children's fare. Nor is a superheavy tank that gets nuked by a Mark V ogre.

I remember watching a load of WB cartoons after school, and the amount of adult humor in them was really striking to my young mature mind. I couldn't understand how local TV stations were able to air things that referenced sexual innuendo or race, or even criminal behavior. But those cartoons were meant to be shown before major motion pictures to adult audiences. And yet because they were cartoons this somehow translated to them being made available for children for 20+ years on afterschool TV. And it wasn't until those animated shorts were put on DVD that they came with parental warnings. And yet there were no mass shootings in the 70s, or rather they were all criminal oriented. And yet people got shocked and outraged at D&D when one kid killed himself, and another killed his parents. Compare that to the actual gang violence out on the street, none of which could be traced to film or TV, but to overcrowded cities with few economic opportunities. Compared to the ultra violent and sexually charged material shown to Japanese youths as young as pre-adolescents and younger. You tell me. Who's wrong here?

I don't care about Hollywood anymore. To win an academy award you have to address some social issue, offer a fantasy release, and make it (your film) look pretty, because then people will think it socially significant. And yet we still have gangs fighting over territory, serial killers getting their murderous thrills, and regrettably other acts of violence. Film plays no part in any of that. Nor do games, and yet games offer more relief and fantasy gratification than any film made since the first Lumiere Brothers short to whatever piece of s_it is in the theatres today.

Again, games are better than films. Films can be fun and offer a diversion for a couple of hours, and are wonderous to look at times, but that's all they offer. Games offer an interactive experience, and where there's no real moral narrative to games you do get what you paid for if you start acting like a jerk in a gaming session. Not so with a movie.

People have lots of perspectives on things with no data. Film and TV are the biggest and most visible asinine examples of that. I love games. I love the fiction of the environments, I love exploring the worlds they offer, when I could game I enjoyed the company of good decent gamers not scum bags who power gamed and didn't understand the history behind the setting (mullet wearing Conan fans in denim vests).

Science and technology always offer solutions. Always. There is no exception. And someday some real social scientist is going to do a study of games and TV/Commercial films, dig this web log from the future version of the Internet Archive, and point to me and say "Hey, this Blue Ghost guy was right. How come you idiots didn't listen to him? You really are a bunch of egotistical ass-holes." I'll be long gone, but it'll happen.

Oh well.

I'll try and wrap this up soon. I've vented my spleen and feel pretty PO'd but good. I'm sorry the scifi genre is in reality a Police and Law and Order "wish list" genre, but whatever. Maybe a new generation of authors can bring it back to the days of Edgar Rice Burroughs, and write stories about adventure, exploration and real science without the space cops or space navy bringing police powers to other worlds.

Just my two bits.


*EDIT*
As I've stated, the real reason I fell out of love with film (and was never really in love with it to begin with) is that all film and TV are designed to show you how to think and act right.

It's not political, but a combination of psychology and psychiatry. Today you see heroes who are dysfunctional, and then are challenged to help people or mankind, and at the end are no longer criminals or the people they started out as.

You can't put forth messages about government spending, legalization of things that were outlawed, or even social codes about right and wrong. All films are essentially therapy sessions for everyone. Therapy for people who are in bad places with family or society or both, and stories for regular people about how those kinds of people go back to normalcy.

There's variants on it, but usually all film and TV are about educating and demonstrating what criminality is, and attached to that medical and emotional health. Scifi is more of a police show about really smart criminals that regular law enforcement has problems with.

So ... when I was "in love" with film, it was more or less the possibility of bringing gaming and its settings to the big screen and to the TV screen. That was my passion. But, my mother stomped on that because she's very religious and didn't understand science fiction and fantasy.

A special note, there were a couple of stories in old school Star Trek that she was, I must admit, rightfully concerned about. That particular theme was never really an issue in my life, but she was concerned that my lack of religion stemmed from that, which is not the case.

Speaking of which, my lack of faith came from dinosaurs and astronomy. Star Trek may have loosely buttressed my atheism, but it really wasn't the cause. The first dino book I read said the Earth was billions of years older than what the bible said. Ergo I concluded that the bible was wrong, and was puzzled as to why we were all going to church. It really had me baffled. A child's book on galaxies reinforced this view, and subsequent publications and TV shows like COSMOS and Connections and various National Geographic specials also added to my science oriented outlook on life.

Traveller was part of that too in the sense that it offered a playground for gamers who wanted to pretend to be space adventurers armed with weapons and going after space pirates, lost treasure, or exploring worlds and things out in space.

Film offers examples to people of how to live and get along, and how people who have issues can rectify themselves. Personally I'd like to see the data on criminal rates verse popular media in the theatre or on TV, because I personally think that today's thinking about popular media is a load of crap.

p.s. I really hate films to the utter core. You're supposed to be able to express all ideas, but you can't in film. It's total bullshit.
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