Film + The Novel = Dead

Okay, so I return to the blog and it seems like I’m saying the sky is falling.  The truth is that I really like fried chicken–it is in fact generally the only kind of food I think about, if I happen to think about food.  I don’t think about food much, but I do try to be entertained on a relatively regular basis, which leads us to the novel and the film/movie.  Frank Smathers, do not take offense here; I understand making a living.

Pretty much every time I’ve tried to watch a movie lately, it’s required way too much effort to be entertained.  I’m looking for character development and a story; if you have a plot, all the better, but I’m generally only looking for two out of three.  The primary component anymore seems to be recognition of a memorable brand/quality before all else, hence the unending reproduction of superhero and former TV shite.  No plot is needed; if you’re The Rock, who needs character?  You’re The Rock, and you’ve got bitchin’ artificial muscle and super-duper tats that pretend to demonstrate some sort of ethnic affiliation–that’s human identification if you’re anyone who’s ever been to a mall on Saturday.  If you’re playing Spiderman (or Spider-man, if you want to be super autentico), you just need some PJs and a decent workout regimen; youth helps, too.  Beyond this, it’s special effects and fake tits, and people seem generally satisfied.  Oh, wait.  No they don’t.  Most of the United States does not seem to be paying at the box office anymore, because, just maybe, we are tired of the shite, and the average YouTube dipstick who’s trying to impress you with the shit he just bought on credit is actually more appealing to the psyche . . .

Before moving forward with this rant, I have to address the novel.  Yes, you might say that “book” sales are at a new high because of the eBook and Amazon, but really, when was the last time you talked to someone outside of a college English department who could actually convince you that he’s read a book?  People buy eBooks because they are cheap and because they promise entertainment and enlightenment (if you’ve never read a book); Kindle Unlimited is basically Amazon’s device to figure out that nobody actually reads half or more of the eBooks that are bought/accumulated.  The reality is that if you ask the average 25-year old how many books he or she has read in a lifetime, the answer, with honesty added, is usually one or less.  High school is not where this happens and in college, well, you’re depending on a 75% part-time faculty to enforce and give a shit about the creation of basic literacy in ADULTS . . .  Nope.

The novel is too long, and really, so is the movie.  I hold out hope for the next James Bond effort, but its replacement, the Fast and Furious franchise, is just too stupid anymore (even for a mental car guy); the foreign financing and “quality” control has undoubtedly helped not at all.  This is how we wound up and were saved by the cable TV show.  At first, I bitched about True Detective, but that was only because I had to put it up against Banshee at first (Justified and so many others belong on a huge list that would really dwarf recent movie production, were such a list compiled).  Both were so good in contrast to most all film produced in the last decade in the U.S. that it’s become very clear that the episodic production is just the most desired format, and it’s also apparently the only place where there is a willingness to allow for (somewhat new) character development, plot, and story in the same place.  If we’re lucky, we also get good acting and production values.  The film is simply a refusal to invest in anything that is not Walmart or Amazon.  The (hard copy) novel, if you listen to the NY Times, is basically the same . . .

Let’s look at the novel.  The world only had an appetite for one Elmore Leonard; Stephen King is read by a female audience that does not care to diversify.  Fuck James Patterson–if you buy his shit, you probably wear a bib.  Aside from this, outside of TV production and the 10 or so pe0ple who have ruled the NY Times bestseller list for my entire life, there’s not much room given to a new or interesting voice; the lazy-ass audience doesn’t help.  In my old age, I am willing to admit (or complain) that there’s no point in a book that goes beyond 250 pages, but this is from someone who has read a few books.  Mostly, what’s bigger than this is just an editing failure, but I cliche (digress).  The novel is too long and really, so is the novella.  What does this leave our abbreviated attention spans?  We need more good instrumental music and something episodic that is the equivalent of the average (good) cable TV show, whether or not Kevin Spacey is involved.

What I’m doing here is arguing the value of story.  It is valued somewhere; in the book world, it’s essentially in the romance, specifically the erotica bent, as that one allows for human-like character development (rather than perfect firemen named Cole–no irony intended).  Yes, I’ve done research, and I know who Lauren Blakely is.  In the film world, it’s cable TV.  Secondarily, people who commute, who are some of the biggest “readers” in the world, require audio books, because the law does not allow them to read while driving . . .

Fuck.  And yes, TLDR.

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