Several months ago I was sitting with my roommate with a lit cigarette in my hand and a pounding headache that had worked its way from my neckline to the crown of my skull. I had just finished the first draft of my novel and was spitballing ideas on how to go about promoting it. When I asked my roommate her suggestions her response to me was four, horrible words:
"You should start blogging."
I naturally rolled my eyes and recalled the few examples of blogs that I had stumbled upon in the two or three times I made it a point to read one. All of them were very specific, almost trend/pop-culture oriented ramblings that either made me scoff or turned off my enthusiasm towards the idea of doing my own blogging completely.
Yet, here I am. Doing it.
Why am I doing this blog? Well, the easy answer to that is at the bottom. I kind of have a lead in to it, but if you want to cheat and scroll down, I get it.
So, what's changed in that time that I told my roommate that me blogging would be disingenuous? Well, I quit (consistently) smoking. Currently, I still tangle with the beast known as nicotine, but it's downgraded from a pack a day to two to four cigarettes per week. That, right there, is what I consider as my own personal epitome of a "small victory."
Though I've seem to conquer part of the "health hill" as of late, my mental state is something still left to be questioned. Not my sanity, mind you. (Though my obsession with listening to Earth Wind & Fire for no justifiable means on repeat lately defies logic and might require intervention). No, the struggle I speak of is one of inspiration, and the different mediums of entertainment that had roused my imagination as a kid and help usher me down the path of "the writer." Films like Raiders of the Lost Ark, Die Hard, and The Shawshank Redemption: undisputed classics that have been cherished so dearly, and with such a broad base of people, that a few have even earned their right to be preserved for the rest of time. Just over ten years ago, I remember sitting teary-eyed at the final installment of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, my heart and imagination operating at full throttle as a result of the classic sense of cinematic adventure I had experienced.
So, what's changed since I sat through all eight endings of The Return of the King? (that part did go on awhile, honestly) Why has film and all these other mediums currently available for consumption left me with a deflated and chagrined disposition, as of late?
It's the Lethal Weapon show on Fox that sent me into an emotional spiral and the fact that it just so happens to suck a giant pile of dicks.
Before you cry "white male" or "nostalgic fanboy," let me get specific: Why this one, particular remake against the relentless onslaught of them that have been shoved in our faces? It's not because of the fact that it's a reboot. Several times over certain remakes have proven themselves to surpass their predecessor -- John Carpenter's The Thing, The Fly, The Hills Have Eyes, Last House on the Left, Psycho with Vince Vaughn.
(I'm just messing with you on that last one...)
I've enjoyed a solid amount of reboots. Hell, I even dug the new take on The Magnificent Seven. By no means does it hold a candle to the original, yet it's entertaining as hell.
As I said, there are many examples of well-reputed reboots. What I'm bitching about is the recent trend of reboots and the fact that now filmmakers, show runners, and producers are quite simply phoning it the fuck in. This isn't speculative. I'm pretty sure this is fact.
Let me talk about the original Lethal Weapon for a quick second. Just enough to paint a picture:
The original films are not Oscar-worthy, groundbreaking pieces of cinema. Die Hard takes the cake on the "better" plotting. If anything, Lethal Weapon just perfected a pre-existing formula of moviemaking and elevated the tone for a specific genre. It was a perfect (somewhat unplanned) combo of great actors, great filmmakers, and great musicians. Worthy enough to spawn three sequels (I can nitpick Lethal Weapon 3 & 4 to death, though) and a good amount of imitators. (Rush Hour, Tango & Cash, several TV shows).
So, fast forward to 2016, where we now have a PG, family-friendly version that has been watered down for sake of budget and dumbed-down for sake of getting it on the air within seven days. It took everything for me to not change the channel while I was watching the first episode, and believe me when I tell you, I make it a point to watch damn near everything objectively. It's just more fun that way. Why be a pessimist? Walk in with an open mind!
But, speaking objectively, and with an open mind: Lethal Weapon was atrocious and simple and did nothing but recycle a franchise name. (They even used the same font for their logo, for crying out loud.)
"Who cares?" you ask.
Nobody, it seems.
And I think that's the problem.
The majority of people who do seem to enjoy this pile of garbage are the same type of people that are rallying behind "making America great again." It was easy to slip in something like this show on the schedule (it precedes Empire's timeslot, if that's not telling enough for you) because a good majority of audiences have become overly-saturated with watching Batman fight Superman and Marvel crapping out some obscure, backlogged superhero on a monthly going on weekly basis that everything is a spin-off or retelling. We've been treated with witnessing the same institutions, characters, and universes that all have to abide by some type of preexisting backstory and formula that the ground for writers, filmmakers, and actors to tread is the same, beaten dirt path that we've been trotting down since Christopher Nolan broke ground on it back in 2005.
A good amount of our pop culture and most of what we're talking about has been the same recycled stuff for a while now, putting it as simply as I can. I'm not some elitist, know-it-all aficionado of literature or cinema. I have a lot of stones to sit here and act like what I'm writing right now is of any real significance or that it will even reach a deep audience. I'm just an average, lanky street-shuffler who's trying to pound the pavement to find a good story. A new story. And I guess that's the bridge to my conclusion, and the reason I wrote this blog...
I got tired of reboots. I got tired of remakes. More specifically, and more accurately -- I got tired of the lack of effort. The fact that so many people within this industry and all its intricate mediums are scrambling behind names. Behind brands. Behind copyrights. I think one of the best analogies I can think of would be the open letter that was written to a certain Warner Bros., executive, more specifically the "donut" analogy -- the people and talent in charge right now have been making shitty donuts lately. Business has been bad the past while as a result of it. So, the donut makers, under fear that one more bad day of business might put them out of job, decide to go into the recipe vault and "remake" the same recipes that were ever so popular "back in the day." They whip a batch, screw with the foundations of the formula, cook it (quickly), and call it brand new. It's the "original" donut, they claim, just with a "tweaked" recipe. It tastes sort of like the original recipe, but whatever "innovations" the donut guys took with it in turn made it taste a little dull. A little off. A little bit like a diet version of the original recipe. By the time we ate it and lied to ourselves that it was decent, we realized it was crap and wanted our money back. But, it's too late. We ate the donut and now the indigestion is setting in.
For myself, just a guy trying to write for a living, I woke up one day and realized that I'd been trying to break into the donut industry...
And I'd rather be broke and bored than work there.
So... I sat down and wrote a book. If anything, I wrote it for myself. I wanted to get lost in my imagination. I wanted to discover a new world. Someplace that had all the familiar hints and trademarks of the genres I loved, but still went someplace original. I became so lost and enthralled in my writing that I found myself eagerly anticipating what the heck was going to happen next in the narrative.
It took a slew of shitty movies and television shows to de-motivate me, and it was only when I was de-motivated that I felt motivated. I felt compelled to strike ground on something original and entertaining, for better or worse, and after six months of pounding keys and a diagnosed case of eye strain, it is completed.
As soon as it was finished I thought it fitting to reward myself to a marathon of some kind. Something fun. Something new. With a hesitant thumb over the remote, my search came upon a new series by the name of Stranger Things...
Needless to say, I was inspired. I was happy. I was entertained. I found myself jazzed at that same level I was back when I first watched The Lord of the Rings. It gave me hope. It showed me that the tides were turning and independent filmmakers and thinkers would soon be back on the rise. In turn, I felt like maybe it was my turn to contribute to that, as well...
So, I'm proud to announce that my contribution, my novel titled "The Fever Dream" will be available October 2016 on Amazon and select bookstores. If anything caught you in this blog, I guarantee the book won't leave you dissatisfied.