Thursday, May 28, 2009
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
There are major quibbles, thought. First, Drummond doesn't mention Superman even once. What's the deal?
On a more serious note, Drummond lays out his theory of culture, which he derives from science and the notion that humanity is not a discrete species. He problematizes boundaries throughout the book. His overall argument is that"culture created humanity" rather than the other way around, by which he means that culture preceded homo sapiens and thus played a key role in evolution. There are some very interesting arguments made about myth, its nature and its importance. There's some pretty good macro-level points here.
On the micor-level, the book falls apart. The writing itself is annoying, but that's another minor quibble. Drummond chooses to focus on four films and series of films: James Bond, Star Wars, ET, and Jaws. Good choices overall. The Bond chapter is probably the most successful, and I wouldn't be surprised if Drummond is a huge fan. The chapter that follows it, on Star Wars, is simply inexcusably bad. Never before have I encountered a scholar who makes up data to fit his theories. Yet Drummond seemingly does so. Star Wars was pretty important to my childhood, so I know the films pretty well (but not the books or comics, which is why I have to say "seemingly does so"). So when Drummond puts certain scenes in the wrong movies (such as the first glimpse of Vader's face being in Empire instead Episode IV, as Drummond has it), I notice it but excuse it. However, Storm Troopers (which Drummond labels Imperial Guard but describes clearly as Storm Troopers) are not machines in the sense that he labels them--robots. He invents a scene where Han tells Luke not to worry about killing them because there's nothing inside the armor.
Everybody who's seen the prequels knows that Storm Troopers are clones. Devotees knew it a long time ago. it's not a recent idea. This is just crazy.
And no Superman. It's too bad, really. Then I might have something to say about it.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
So let's break this down into superheroes and its current trend in film. “Superman Returns,” the 2006 Bryan Singer dirge, didn't fail because audiences no longer resonate with a super being that can fly, shoot heat from his eyes and is immune to bullets. It failed because Superman is the epitome of good morals and justice, which today's audience find boring and childish.
I disagree with his reasoning here. I don't think that "today's audience" finds that boring at all. Success for Superman and for Batman do not have to be mutually exclusive things. I think, rather, that it's entirely more probably that people going to see a movie went with the idea that they'd see a Superman movie. Instead, they got something else. I'm not sure what that something else was--all I know is that it wasn't good by any reasonable standard. They got a lame plot. They got too much nostalgia and too little adventure and excitement. It failed because it wasn't a good movie.
I've been compiling a list of athletes (among others) who are called Superman. The Bleacher Report has done a short one, too, but with the added critique of pointing out how everyone on the list is not Superman for one reason or another.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
There's a site called worth1000.com. It ran a contest called Superhero ModRen. People were invited to take a renaissance painting and photoshop in a superhero or villain. Three different entries portrayed Michaelangelo's David as Superman. I liked this one the best, but that's just me. Looking at that statue from the front, it's easy to forget that it's actually a portrayal of David of David and Goliath fame. Once around back, you can see the sling draped over his shoulder in detail, and the story comes into focus. He was supposed to be perfection, I guess, as is Superman. He sired a line of kings that putatively lasted until Jesus.
In a related story, my wife Mandy and I went to see that statue in Florence. Waiting in line, a pigeon pooped on her head.