Inertia Part II

Some exempla (because we’re just that highfalutin around here) that didn’t fit into the previous post, in case you need or want them:

“[A] vibrant and expanding content universe.” According to The AV Club, that’s a statement from an official press release by AMC Studios, the big media conglomerate behind the tv show The Walking Dead, which is somehow still on the air, and does everyone see what I mean? The reviewers rightly mock this abominable corporate-speak, but that’s the kind of thing I’m talking about — by mocking the suits, the reviewers (and by extension we, the viewers) think they have agency. Hahaha, look at those MBA-tards! And yet, you still watch the show.

The proper response to a phrase like “a vibrant and expanding content universe” is to throw your tv out the nearest window. The only sane thing to do, upon learning that this summer’s biggest blockbuster is going to be Iron Man vs. Thor, Part 7: And This Time, Darth Vader is a Girl!!! is join a monastery. I’ve given this a lot of thought — way, way too much thought for a guy who doesn’t watch tv and hasn’t seen a movie in years — and I’ve concluded that the real reason they keep “gender-swapping” franchise characters is, quite simply, that they can’t think of anything else to do. Yeah yeah, it’s an insult to the Normies, and that’s great and all, but again, this is the equivalent of giving the grade school kid a gold star and telling xzheym xhey’re a good organism — it gives an illusion of agency to learned helplessness.

Moviemaking, like sailing a giant container ship through the Suez, is one of those things that can be put on autopilot for 99% of the journey. The most striking thing about any “true Hollywood story” is that it’s a teeny tiny world, where all the same people do all the same things over and over again, like clockwork. For instance, I recently read a guy’s tale of life as a roadie. Not “a roadie for [band X],” because he wasn’t — he spent a lot of time on [band X’s] tour, yeah, and by the middle of the book he’s talking about what good friends he is with [famous frontman], but then the tour ends, and he goes to work for *NSYNC.

No, really — [band X] was the kind of hard-rockin’ outfit that opens for Metallica and regularly loses key personnel to heroin overdoses, and this cat loved being part of that show, but without a second’s hesitation he signs on with a fucking boy band, because that’s just what roadies do. That’s the show; that’s the life; and running a stage for five flouncing prettyboys and their battalion of backup dancers is no different than running a stage for the Collapsed Veins Quartet. And hey, speaking of Metallica, have y’all seen Some Kind of Monster yet? If you have, you’ll recall the scene where they audition for a new bass player. He doesn’t end up getting the gig, but the band happily jams out with a guy whose main touring credit is listed as “Alanis Morissette.” He’s a long-haired, tatted-up dirtball, just like Metallica, because they’re all like that. It’s just the life.

That’s the “99% on autopilot” stuff. I truly would not be surprised to learn that most movie scripts are literally written by computer, and that “screenwriting” credits these days work like “songwriting” credits used to (and perhaps still do) work in the music industry: “Change a word, get a third,” because that’s how producers funnel money to their lackeys and butt boys. Did anyone actually even greenlight Wonder Woman vs. Spiderman 4: James Bond’s Revenge, or did it just kinda happen, because the machine keeps on rolling? Again, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if it was the latter, and the “gender swapping” is just a way for the “producers” to feel like they’re actually doing something.

So too with The Walking Dead and its “vibrant and expanding content universe.” The machine squirted out a script, and the execs just plugged in “properties” to make it work. Those spinoffs could’ve easily been filled with “characters” from The Golden Girls as easily as The Walking Dead. It’s just the system.

Last one: Here’s the top fiction bestsellers from 2020, according to the New York Times (according to Wikipedia). Being the highbrow that I am, I haven’t read a “fiction bestseller” this entire century, and even I recognize 90% of those names… and the ones I don’t, like Delia Owens, are obvious products of the Oprah’s Book Club hype machine, soon to disappear down the memory hole with Elizabeth Wurtzel and Charles Frazier and the rest of the MFA wunderkinden whose second-person, present-tense quirkfests now go for a buck fifty used on Amazon. John Grisham! James Patterson! (I thought he was dead). Nora Roberts! J.D. Robb! Danielle Steele, for Christ’s sake, and I honestly thought she was a hologram. Would you truly be surprised to learn that these were all written by computer, too?

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11 thoughts on “Inertia Part II

  1. Avatarganderson

    Sev, you must have pissed off the people at Planet Fitness, or my local mall, as your site was blocked on hate speech grounds while I was there yesterday. Good job!

  2. AvatarWuhan Luke

    Whoa-ho, the NYT best seller list – I could depend on it maybe some 40, 30, 20 years ago. I decided to give it a go a couple years ago, much like my television sampling, and with the same results. My selection was a sci-fi adventure which turned out to be appalling in execution. It was a dark and stormy read, with logic and science holes, typos, just plain horrendous prose and a plot less interesting to the ones in Valhalla Cemetery in New York. Needless to say, this author penned more of this drek as a series and I see it continues to make the NYTBSL.
    As an added bonus, if you want a taste of what an Obama-esque Auto-Pen can scribble out when good authors die, just grab a copy of either “Terry Pratchett’s” or “Phillip Kerr’s” last novels as they were turning the last page.

  3. AvatarNuke1776

    I think what took so many by surprise is how quickly things have been developing. Sure, having some foresight and wisdom regarding the state of Man (as a sort of reversed version of the Ivy Leaguers you discussed in Part I) allowed many men to see this coming even before WWII was over. But most people didn’t believe it or didn’t care, and so here we’ve blundered onto the precipice, and below us is a yawning chasm of destruction we can’t fathom because we didn’t learn what a canyon is because RAYCISS.

    I think the inertia here isn’t so much a pilot-less plane or a ship without power, so much as somebody leaving the engine running, and deciding he’s going to pull the oil plug and pour in sulfuric acid. The engine is fine after all (wouldn’t want to give up my iCrap or Wal-Mart Chinese Plastic Product #3486), but the oil was just so racist and misogynistic. It needed to go, and sulfuric acid does a great job of dissolving grime!

  4. AvatarMaus

    For years I was in the habit of reading at least one fiction work a week, to compliment a similar diet of nonfiction. Contemporary literary fiction is truly a wasteland of mediocrity. I swallowed my initial hesitation to sign up for Amazon Prime because I rationalized that “perks” like a free digital novel each month motivated me as much as the impulsive desire for free same-day shipping of loose-leaf tea, snacks and cooking gadgets. (Sometimes I am appalled at my baser consumer programming.) Anyhoo, the seven monthly literary offerings are almost without exception the emotive caterwauling crap of unknown female scribblers, the equivalent of Tinder “swipe left” freaks. And the plots are all the same retreads featuring heroic female protagonists overcoming shitty childhoods and abusive relationships to become remarkable Mary Sues who do awesome things in a thinly veiled message to the reader that you too deserve a participation trophy in the game of life. Utter shit.
    That’s why it’s the Stupidity Singularity (TSS). Everything is collapsing into this bland, insipid sameness; hence the inertia that Sev notes.

  5. AvatarWOPR

    The movie scripts being written by a computer is almost true. Virtually everyone follows a template that a guy came up with a decade or three back. You have so many acts. Each act has to hit certain points at a certain time. It is the equivalent of regurgitating the correct answers on a test.

    The real problem with Hollywood is inbreeding. The whole system is designed to create an inbred culture. You don’t get some actor anymore who happened to finally catch his break after working as a carpenter to a year or two. Those jobs go to another actor who is the son of X, who knows producer Y, and they are good buddies. It is the same with any job in Hollywood. There has always been some level of that. Now though, it has hit Hapsburg levels of genetic damage. Add in that virtually no one there has any real life experience* and you get this result.

    * All of them spent their early life doing local theater, going to art schools, and in general prepping to play pretend.

  6. AvatarJoseph Moore

    A guy named Max Martin, who I’d never heard of before yesterday, has won Songwriter of the Year 11 times and is third behind Lennon and McCartney for most #1 singles of all time – and I doubt I’ve heard any of his tunes except by accident. The list of ‘artists’ he’s written for include:

    Cheiron and Denniz PoP
    Backstreet Boys
    Britney Spears
    Startup of Maratone
    Avril Lavigne
    Jessie J
    Katy Perry
    Christina Aguilera
    Taylor Swift
    Ariana Grande
    The Weeknd
    and a bunch of others who I mostly have never heard of.

    He’s reportedly worth over a quarter of a billion dollars. Some of these ‘artists’ who hire out their songwriting to this guy are supposed to be punk, rock, and so on – not just obvious marketer-approved corporate constructs.

    He’s a genius because he has enough pull to occasionally write songs that use more than the standard 4 chords that corporate music makers have decided is more than we little people need. The idea of a singer/songwriter bravely blazing her way to a record contract and a hit song is as dead as the rule of law.

  7. Avatartexinole

    Average (ala bell curve) people are stupid and spendthrift, and becoming more of both. It’s not rocket surgery.

    Transphobiaformers: Age of Marvel Zombie 7 The Beginnering forever stomping on your face is the future.

  8. AvatarBrit in London

    A few thoughts:
    1. Brandon Sanderson on the NYT list is a great fantasy writer and if you are into fantasy then he’s worth a go. His work rate is incredible as well
    2. Hollywood have simply lost the ability to write films. A culture of selecting actors and actresses based on whose children they are or how much they pleasure Weinstein, within the toxic environment that is a result of people too dumb to even graduate high school being saturated in SJW-think for decades. Add to that the whole thing is managed by MBAs rather than people with any talent and you have “generic plot 7, Thor fights the Hulk”. Whatever computer they use to pump out scripts isn’t even any good. See the latest Star Wars films which had abysmal plots – no real storyline, pacing completely off, no emotional attachment built for any characters etc.
    3. A few of my school mates have done the roadie gig though only with metal bands they like. One even toured Europe in his own band afterwards. The stories they have are quite something. Through them though I have met a few ghostwriters – none that wrote metal but plenty of album fillers for bands on the rockier/ punkier side. You expect it for pop but seeing punk bands do the same is quite something.

    1. SeverianSeverian Post author

      Thanks for the info re: Sanderson. I just kinda assumed his work sucks, as he’s always got a new book out, but apparently he’s just one of those guys. I’m not much into fantasy, but I might give his stuff a go at some point.

      The roadie life seems incredible, doesn’t it? I think it would kill me within a week, though I’d probably die a happy man… This will no doubt get me in trouble with my priest (if the clergy ever get done cowering under their desks in fear of the Dread Coof and get back out there shepherding souls), but I’m of the opinion that every young man should experience at least one serious debauch at some point in his early 20s. Tour with a rock band. Be a sailor on shore leave. So long as you don’t catch something incurable, it’s a lesson well learned… and most likely you’ll have a crappy tattoo to remind you of it, that you have no idea how you got.

      I know what you mean re: ghost writers. I had a friend-of-a-friend who was a studio musician; he says that almost all music is so much faker than you ever imagined. He also said that, despite this, the hardest part of the gig is dealing with stars’ egos. So-and-So will start trying to give the studio band shit for not playing “his” song up to his lofty standards, despite the fact that the dude had nothing to do with any of it. The temptation to snap back “Oh piss off, you didn’t write this, and anyway I could play it in my sleep. Shut up and sing; we’re recording Taylor Swift’s new album here in an hour.”

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