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The Force Awakens is Bad Billion Dollar Fanfic

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Star Wars The Force Awakens is the same movie as the first AbramsTrek, a well-acted and well-directed jumble of fan service and incoherent story. J.J. Abrams and his team are good at milking nostalgia for the characters and look of a classic franchise. But all those callbacks and character moments are just paint on the hood of the same exact disposable incoherent CG fest that everyone else is making in which nothing makes sense and nothing matters.

The Force Awakens is a remake pretending to be a sequel. And it’s not a good remake. The Force Awakens marries the incoherent meaningless stories of the Star Wars prequels with a better class of acting and direction. If you ever wanted to see what the prequels would have looked like if they were made by a good director who panders to franchise fans, instead of tossing them aside for kiddie merchandising, the Abrams Wars movie is it.

And that’s all it is.

Harrison Ford is swapped out for Leonard Nimoy, doing his duty by passing the torch. But he’s just there to watch the brash young cast go through the motions of playing around in a theme park recreation of classic sets and moments.

The stories for Abrams Trek and Abrams Wars are so bad that they could be fanfic. But normal fanfic usually makes more sense. In Star Wars and Star Trek, the characters served the story. In Abrams Wars and Abrams Trek, the stories is just an excuse to bring characters together to remind fans of the original movies and shows.

It’s not all Abrams’ fault. But he somehow keeps making the same soulless movies that have no substance except to exploit the nostalgia and goodwill of someone’s else work.

The only thing that sets their stories apart from bad fanfic is the money and the cast. J.J. Abrams uses both to the maximum, squeezing out callbacks and references even when they don’t make any sense. And especially when they don’t make any sense. But he isn’t recreating Star Wars. He’s the kid who comes home from the theater after seeing Star Wars and makes up a Star Wars-like story in which there’s an even worse Death Star and a lamer Darth Vader, built on the biggest cliche in Star Wars fanfic and even its Expanded Universe, and some kids fighting to stop them.

And while Abrams’ fan service and callbacks look like shows of respect, they’re the prelude to covertly trashing a franchise. Abrams Trek I climaxed with the destruction of the entire Star Trek canon. Abrams Wars is moving toward those same objectives.

Abrams movies conceal their hatred for the original material they’re looting with a facade of respect right before they slip the knife in. Underneath all the flattering tributes is jealousy. As a director, J.J. Abrams hasn’t created anything new. He mashes up other people’s work and adds incoherent updates. He wants to be Spielberg, but he has no storytelling skills. He’s a good visualist, but like Zach Snyder and many other younger directors, a terrible conceptualist. He can capture the look of Star Trek or Star Wars, but not its substance. His movies play with big toys, but there’s no story behind them. There are character moments, but they don’t add up to anything bigger than the individual moment.

J.J. Abrams can bring in money for studios, but all he’s doing is turning bad fanfic into cutscenes for some video game that will never be made.

Can Justin Lin Make Abrams Trek into Star Trek?

The strange thing about the Star Trek Beyond trailer is that it actually looks like TOS. Justin Lin has talked about watching the original series and you can see it on screen.

It’s the first movie since Insurrection and ST6 that isn’t obsessed with an attack on Earth. Instead the crew crashes on a bleak planet. There are strange aliens, conflict and resolution. That’s a whole lot of TOS episodes right there.

Just having a movie focused on an alien planet, instead of another race to save Earth is already closer to Star Trek.

I don’t know the plot so maybe I’m completely wrong. But with Abrams back to his first love of Star Wars and Simon Pegg doing more of the writing than Transformers hack Roberto Orci, Star Trek Beyond might actually be closer to Star Trek than to Abrams Trek.

The Hobbit Doesn’t Work if Bilbo Baggins Isn’t a Fat Coward

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I haven’t seen any of the 500 Hobbit movies, The Hobbit: Attack of the Nine Barrels, The Hobbit: Bilbo vs. Frankenstein, The  Hobbit: The Legend of Bagger Vance, but I did see some clips last night.

The most obvious problem, aside from Jackson taking the style that made the Lord of the Rings movies and beating it so far into the ground that not even an army of dwarves could dig it up again, is that the titular Hobbit isn’t in any of the movies.

Bilbo Baggins is a fat coward.

That’s the one joke that keeps the book going. He isn’t Frodo. He’s not towed by the ring or desperation. He wants to prove that he isn’t a joke. And Tolkien eventually lets him do it. It’s a kindness that helped make the book beloved.

Bilbo comes into existence as a joke. He’s a fat cowardly little man who is allowed to be something more.

The Hobbit movies discard this central theme from the start because it’s okay for your hero to be a few feet tall, but he can’t be fat.

And yet when he isn’t fat, there’s no story. The whole plates gag is vaudeville comedy. It works if it’s built around a little fat guy who loves his stuff. It doesn’t work when a vaguely nervous and skinny Martin Freeman is in it.

The rest of it doesn’t work either.

Tolkien wrote this for kids. Bilbo Baggins is given a name that’s one step away from Fatty McFatster. He’s a broad joke. If you replace the joke, you replace the story, which is what Jackson seems to have done anyway. And there’s nothing to hang it on.

All of Peter Jackson’s changes in the Lord of the Rings movies were bad. Now he seems to have built a bunch of movies that are nothing but changes while casting Tumblr friendly actors. He’s gone as deep into CG as George Lucas so that it all looks like one big video game cutscene and has no point. The remaining actors, mainly Ian McKellen, are doing broad pastiches of their old roles. And there’s nothing at the center because there is no center.

Martin Freeman’s Bilbo feels like some obscure fifth hobbit from the Lord of the Rings movies. A fifth wheel who might have joined up without being wanted. The movies drown him in CG battles in a desperate attempt at distracting everyone from their emptiness.

Tolkien told a very simple and appealing story. Jackson killed its simplicity and appeal.

Google Wasn’t Built for Users or Websites, it was Built for Advertisers

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Google decided to borrow Amazon’s whiny PR company to disgorge this nonsense.

It’s not the case that Google is “the gateway to the Internet” as the publishers suggest.

That’s not what you tell your stockholders. You are the gateway to the internet. And a really shitty gateway because you aren’t interested in content, just in selling ads and that means filling your search results with as much garbage as possible because you have no competition and you want to display as many pages as possible.

Nor is it true to say that we are promoting our own products at the expense of the competition. We show the results at the top that answer the user’s queries directly (after all we built Google for users, not websites)

No you built it for advertisers. If Google were built for users, it wouldn’t be a giant data mining and ad factory. And it would have relevant results.

Your top results are usually Wikipedia and a bunch of keyword mongering index sites that you keep promising to filter out but never do.

Ask for the weather and we give you the local weather right at the top. This means weather sites rank lower, and get less traffic. But because it’s good for users, we think that’s OK.

This is how you promote your product at the expense of the competition. Your example of how you don’t do it, is how you do it.

And your weather results are invariably inferior and out of date, but who cares.

 It’s the same if you want to buy something (whether it’s shoes or insurance). We try to show you different offers and websites where you can actually purchase stuff — not links to specialized search engines (which rank lower) where you have to repeat your query.

You show sponsored shopping results to make money and rip off users.

Five out of every six items that appeared in the sponsored items section were more expensive than those those hidden deeper in the results, according to the newspaper. And on average, the sponsored products were 34 percent higher.

Those are ads that are paid for. And the rest of the results are spam search engines half the time or Amazon or outdated eBay listings.

Don’t be evil? You’re evil and you’re a lousy engine.

David E. Kelley Killed Robin Williams

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David E. Kelley did a lot of horrible things to television, but this was the first time that he killed a man.

Forget Parkinsons, money problems or alcohol. Go rewatch the first episode of The Crazy Ones and you’ll know why Robin Williams slashed his wrists with a penknife and then hung himself.

Even watching an episode of The Crazy Ones is enough to make most people contemplate suicide.

Imagine you’re Robin Williams and your job is to spend a week playing the head of an ad agency whose big ambition in life is to get the fat girl from American Idol to sing about hamburgers.

You signed on to a TV show because you needed the money and now you realize you’re being paid $165,000 to shoot a 23 minute McDonalds ad.

There are no words for how screwed you feel.

Now that Robin Williams is dead, the cast of The Crazy Ones is bitching about him.

His antics infuriated the cast, even though he had been hired to try recreating the madcap spirit of “Mork & Mindy,” on which he often riffed unscripted, the source said.

He also indulged himself by taking his pet pooch, a rescued Pug named Leonard, to work.

“He brought it everywhere with him,” the source said. “When he wasn’t filming a scene, he was holding and petting and fawning over the dog.”

Williams — who last year said he signed on to the series because he wanted “a steady job” to help pay alimony to his two exes — ­often complained that he hated the show’s unedited daily rushes.

He also griped that he “had a bad feeling” about the lack of chemistry on set, while the rest of the cast blasted his constant need for attention, the source said.

He was right. The cast had no chemistry. Everyone except Gellar was so bland and blank they could have come from a modeling gig.

Watching The Crazy Ones was like watching A Night in the Museum except that the statues never came to life. Robin Williams was the only living man.

It’s no wonder he killed himself.

It wasn’t his fault that the miserable David E. Kelley sitcom failed. Robin Williams without a script could have been ten times funnier than David E. Kelley’s miserable project, but he walked away feeling like he couldn’t even make a sitcom work.

David E. Kelley’s hackery killed Robin Williams.

I Hate Your HDR Photos More Than I Can Say

I used to like looking at photos. Then Instagram and HDR came along.

Instagram just says you’re white, in your twenties, live in a city and have an iPhone. HDR says that you have a few thousand dollars worth of photography equipment and software that should be taken away from you for your own good.

HDR ruins a photo faster than peeing into coffee ruins your morning. It shoves photos down an uncanny valley somewhere between a photo and a picture without looking like either one. It’s a hideous mutant that shouldn’t exist. It ‘pops’ by turning your edges into a bad joke while keeping just enough photo realism so that everyone knows it isn’t a photo or a picture.

HDR is like beating your child so hard he gets a concussion and telling him to join the circus. Looking at them makes the part of my brain that processes images hurt. It’s like motion sickness for art.

 

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Just look at this thing. It’s been HDR’d and color corrected to within an inch of its life. There’s a potentially good picture hiding in that like a mobster in witness protection, but it will never be found.

Look there’s a reason that we like cloud photos. Clouds are intangible. They can’t be touched.

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Skies in HDR photos are congealed balls of colorized wax. They’re streaks of hardened copper. They kill the whole idea of a sky and replace it with something that looks like it should only be found under a microscope.

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Movie studios and game designers spend a lot of money trying to make 3D models look like real buildings. HDR makes real buildings look like bad 3D models.

Am I supposed to be impressed because you took a photo that looks like a video game cutscene from 2007?

That’s not evolution, it’s devolution. It’s as if you took genetic therapy to turn into a monkey.

And then there are the animals.

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Is there any reason for this cat to be in HDR? If it understood what you had done, it would be ashamed of you. I won’t even mention the HDR kids. When your son grows up, he would rather you showed baby photos of him peeing outside than the most dignified HDR photo.

Consider this an intervention. Your HDR photos suck. There are only two valid reasons for HDR photos.

1. You’re making a cover for the album of an amateur heavy metal band in Detroit.

2. You’re an idiot

Five years from now you’ll look through your HDR photos and delete all of them and wonder what you were thinking.

Is This the Most Racist Comic Book Cover Ever?

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Airboy, a superhero whose power is flying an outdated plane and fighting rats, gets sent into Japan by putting some makeup on.(Makeup, not mud. The Japanese inside the comic aren’t Aquaman either.) It’s another case of false racism advertising.

Airboy doesn’t actually speak Japanese, but he thinks that lisping is good enough. It’s not. He gets captured. He escapes. He gets captured. He escapes. Japan loses the war. No thanks to him.

And Many Fucks Were Given…

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Perusing the responses to Bikinifail, one word keeps cropping up.

S.L. Huang (who? he has a novel coming out someday” has the following message. “Dear Mike Resnick, Barry Malzberg, and the SFWA for Giving You a Platform: Fuck You.”

Rachel Acks, of Shut Up and Write (she should take her own advice) has a creatively similar message. “Dear Barry Malzberg and Mike Resnick: Fuck you. Signed, Rachael Acks.”

Mary Robinette Kowal, puppeteer and SF author (keep your day job), says “Dear Twelve Rabid Weasels of SFWA, please shut the fuck up.”

Nobody ever said aspiring censors were very good debaters. They can get all the way from, “How dare you say that” to “Fuck you for saying it” and “Fuck anyone who doesn’t support putting them in front of a firing squad for saying it” in 60 seconds or less.

But while the fucks are on the table, let’s pass some of them around for the Bikinifailers rageballing away because no one reads them and because real life isn’t anything like Evergreen College.

Fuck the millennial writers who spend all their time “building a brand” by blogging and when that doesn’t work, going on social justice crusades to knock off established writers instead of learning to actually write.

Fuck the privileged brats who don’t want to put in the years at the keyboard, and instead decided that the way to get ahead is to terrorize editors and better writers for the privilege of a diversity publishing slot and the next ten years on panels on “Minority Trans Women in Science Fiction” at Wiscon.

Fuck the circle jerk bloggers who have one book in the works and two hundred posts talking about how hard writing is to each other and every microaggression that won’t let them sit down and finish Space Goblins of the Magic Kingdom instead of a twenty page post on the time someone was mean to them in second grade.

Fuck the next useless waste of bandwidth who begins her post by whining about all the old people with their backward ways who dominate Science Fiction and how they haven’t gotten with it. Those old people can write, you can’t. If you could, you wouldn’t be bitching about them.

Fuck the pathetic post-preschoolers with their trigger warnings and their “How Dare You’s” for inflicting their need for a narrow system of rules on everyone else to make them feel like they’re back at Evergreen College.

Fuck the entitled people who walk out of a Steampunk convention into a field that has everyone from Fascists to Communists to Anarchists in it with no sense of its history or its camaraderie and begin making demands.

Fuck the LiveJournal trolls who aren’t in this for the stars or the magic, but thought that it was a natural transition from wearing goth makeup and hanging around Hot Topic and think that Joss Whedon is the greatest Science Fiction writer who ever lived.

Fuck the messed up people who live from outrage to outrage dumping their personal issues on everyone else and stirring up politically correct fights because therapy isn’t working and the medication is bringing them down.

And finally fuck the fact that we have to keep having this conversation because of a community of professional trolls who don’t grasp the fact that they are not entitled to control other people’s speech, their participation in Science Fiction, their appearance at conventions, their ability to publish books and exist on this planet.

That is all the fucks I will give.

Bikinifail: OMG Mike Resnick and Barry Malzberg are Sexist You Guys

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I try to pay as little attention to the SFWA as possible on the theory that if I ignore it, it will go away. The same goes for the Nebulas, the Hugos, the backbiting pro blogs and the shrieking banshees of organized fandom who made something that used to be strange and wonderful into a humorless and joyless cancer that makes the pros look like amateurs and the amateurs sound like the Red Guard.

I have as much appetite for watching the Maoists and Randians fight it out over the SFWA Twitter feed as I do for moving to a real life version of Rapture, but every now and then enough of this crap shows up on my feed as the same blogs close ranks, declare an OUTRAGE in progress and links to each other’s denunciations of the Thoughtcrime establishing consensus and demanding an immediate penalty.

If they offenders try to defend themselves or excuse their offense, which consists entirely of offending some very entitled people who blog more than they write, that just compounds their sheer evil. And more essays will come by non-writing writers wondering whether the reason they can’t sell their books is because Science Fiction is Xist, X being the variable of the outrage.

After Racefail, the new outrage is Bikinifail.

The outrage du’jour is two writers, one born in 1939 and the other in 1942, who have also contributed more than their critics ever have or will to the field, using the SFWA newsletter to discuss past “Lady editors” and to remark how good looking they were.

Get back to me when any of the social justice crusaders have written anything half as good or as socially relevant as Mike Resnick’s For I Have Touched the Sky or Hothouse Flowers. For those just joining us after finishing a graduate thesis on Joss Whedon’s eleventh wave feminism, that was an award winning story about a girl who kills herself because her culture refuses to allow women to read.

For anyone joining us last week, Science Fiction used to be very hedonistic. A whole lot of people were sleeping with a whole lot of people around the time that Eisenhower was president. The old conventions came complete with public nudity. But today we have something much better. We have Bikinifail.

If you’re too delicate to handle some old guys talking about how hot some of the women they remember used to be, go do something else with your precious self-esteem. Resnick and Malzberg are tacky. Just as tacky as the bloggers going rageballs over this in between drooling over the male actors of Firefly… but that’s totally different because it’s them doing it.

The response is disproportionate to the offense. The only hostile environment is the one being created by the Bikinifailers.

What is Bikinifail really? It’s “OMG Science Fiction is such a hostile field because the pros I want to displace are saying things I don’t like.”

No? Yes. Here’s Jamie Wyman who has written nothing that anyone has ever heard of nailing herself to a cross shaped like a vagina.

“We still live in a world where women are treated as second-class citizens, where having a vagina makes a person somehow inferior.”

Jamie is confusing the difference between having a vagina and being a vagina. It’s like the difference between having a dick and being a dick.

“What it comes down to is this, Mr. Scalzi: I’m a writer. My stories have merit. I work hard at my craft. I love what I do. At no time does my gender have anything to do with the quality of my work.”

Has John Scalzi actually said that Jamie Wyman’s lame stories about dragons lack merit because of her gender? Have Mike Resnick or Barry Malzberg said any such thing? Who has nailed Jamie Wyman to a vagina cross (try to picture it, I dare you) except Jamie Wyman?

And Jamie Wyman has an answer. Just hire Jamie Wyman… because (according to her) she has a vagina.

“I need you to do better, Mr. Scalzi. When writing a story about women in the publishing industry, perhaps it should be told by other women.”

Like maybe Jamie Wyman. Kameron Hurley doesn’t stop with a vagina cross. Hurley, the author of a bunch of crap that I wouldn’t read on a drunken bet, adds racist and homophobic strawmen.

“So. I get it. The world used to agree with you. You used to be able to say things like, “I really like those lady writers in this industry, especially in swimsuits!” and your fellow writers, editors, agents, and other assorted colleagues would all wink and grin and agree with you, and Asimov would go around pinching women’s asses, and it was so cool! So cool that he could just sexually assault women all the time! You used to be able to say, “Black people are fine. As long as they are clean and don’t live in my neighborhood,” and your friends and colleagues would wink and grin and agree with you. You’d say, “Gay men are gay because they were abused, and all lesbians are really bisexual and just need the love of a good man,” and hey, it was Ok, because no one disagreed with you.”

Can Kameron Hurley quote where Mike Resnick or Barry Malzberg said racist or homophobic things? It’s not in her post which means she’s a libelous liar.

Give Kameron Hurley another month and she’ll accuse Resnick and Malzberg of kidnapping the Lindbergh baby.

“I get it. You like to molest old women on transatlantic flights. You once set fire to two orphanages over the weekend. You want to revive Hitler’s corpse and make him rule over the world. But we don’t do that anymore. I used to be a privileged white middle class homophobic racist, then I realized that with my mediocre writing, talking shit about more talented writers is my form of privilege.”

Katherine Kerry comes closest to making a valid point when she says that, “When is good taste censorship?” Good taste is the reason I stopped reading the one and only Katherine Kerry book I ever bought after fifteen pages.

That and boredom.

Now Science Fiction does have a sexism problem. This is what it looks like. Or this…

“Marie Hawkins nurses a personal grudge against Austin Bowe, captain of the rival Corinthian, who beat and raped her 25 years ago. Obsessed and vengeful, Marie intends to destroy Austin by proving that his ship trades illegally with pirates and smugglers. When both ships dock at the Mariner space station, she pounces. Concerned for her welfare, her son, Tom–Austin’s boy- -interferes with Marie’s plans and for his pains is shanghaied and confined aboard Corinthian by his half-brother, Christian. While the desperate Marie persuades Sprite’s captain to pursue the Corinthian, and a ship full of genuine bad guys draws ever nearer, Tom adapts to his new life aboard his father’s vessel–a life that is neither as dangerous nor as unpleasant as Marie had led him to expect.

Kirkus Reviews, C. J. Cherryh, Tripoint

This isn’t it

“Consider: When all is said and done, we didn’t run the kind of diatribe that you hear from almost every top-selling rap star these days. We didn’t bring Henry Miller up to date. Or Rabelais. All we did was appear in a magazine with a warrior woman on the cover, and mention that a woman who edited a science fiction magazine 65 years ago was beautiful.”

I don’t like Resnick or Malzberg. The reminisces are typical of old pros babbling about how much more fun things were two hundred years ago. And worse, they’re probably right.

It’s not about the swimsuits, it’s a new cultural revolution every five minutes. Every petty offensive is magnified into a careerist assault on the evil “establishment” and “If you bring me on board, I’ll stop complaining.”

Honestly, I don’t care. Even though I just wrote a twenty page post on how much I don’t care. Science Fiction at the output and input level has become a wasteland dominated by exactly the sort of people trying to lynch Resnick and Malzberg while churning out crap ending in punk, goblins, dragons and vampires, novels about alternate worlds that look just like this one whose theme is recognizing your privilege and stuff that only sells because the writer has a popular blog.

Good Science Fiction has become impossible to come by. SF is being murdered and one day it will rise again when the industry as we know it dies the horrid death it deserves and the publishing companies stop shoving the same crap that no one is reading through the door and the readers get to decide for themselves what to read and then maybe we won’t have to hear about this crap anymore.

But that’s probably Science Fiction.

Hasbro Releases Board Game Based on Zynga’s Words with Friends Based on Hasbro’s Own Scrabble

This is like the time NBC ordered an American remake of Coupling which was just a British rip-off of Friends.

To be equally senseless, Hasbro is releasing a Words With Friends board game which was just a rip-off of Scrabble which is already a board game.

The target audience for this is very stupid people.

Zynga makes money off its plagiarism. Hasbro tries to make money by updating its IP for the IP that was ripped off by trying to appeal to that important demographic of people who don’t remember anything that happened before 2006.

Everyone wins. Everyone loses.

 

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