Tag Archives: movie

I am a Media Omnivore

I am a media omnivore.

When I read, I will read anything from trashy pulp novels to works of great literature with equal enjoyment. When I watch movies, I’m just as likely to watch mindless entertainment like “Jackass” as I will watch something intellectually engaging like “Inception.” Television ranges from historical drama to zany sitcoms, while my phone has everything from pop music to hardcore rap on it. A lot of times, people will introduce me to new stuff, which is awesome even if I’m not a fan of it.

Once in a while, someone will tell me that they’re surprised that I don’t like something or that I do like something. I’m never sure how to respond to that. Some of it is, I’m sure, the fallacy that “I like you and I like/hate this thing, ergo you should like/hate this thing.” Sometimes it seems to be more personal, as if me liking or not liking something is a personal insult to someone. Usually, though, I try to deflect it with some variation of “everyone has their own tastes,” and try to change the conversation.

But lately I’ve been thinking about this as many of my coworkers and friends have been recommending stuff to me, and some people have been pointing me to cool things as a result of my Tour de Holmes. I don’t have a single bucket of things I like and another one of things I don’t. There are things that I really like but will never watch or read again. There are things that I’m not sure I enjoy but I’ll watch or read over and over again. There are things that I enjoy because it deals with some parts of my brain, and not others. Things that I really, really enjoy engage me in multiple ways, but that doesn’t invalidate or diminish other things I like. I think this is why I get frustrated with the five-star system of ratings. On the surface, something I rate as three stars would appear to be inferior to something I rate as five stars.1 But I might go to the three-star book over the five-star one if I’m in a particular mood, because it more fully scratches a particular itch.

Maybe it’s because I don’t buy into the idea of “guilty” pleasures – I like what I like, and I don’t feel the need to be ashamed by them. Maybe I’m wired differently, and look for connections between disparate media. Or maybe I just have no taste, and don’t have enough sense to hide the fact that I think “Jackass” is funny while writing a critical analysis of Victorian literature.

But odds are pretty good that I like something you do, even if I don’t like something else you love.

  1. There’s another problem of two or three stars having hardly any meaning, but that’s a separate thing.

Random Thoughts about Inception

First off: I do plan to talk about other things I learned from ARGfest, and how the concerns of transmedia reach out far beyond ARGs. But the “hot brunette” comment has attracted a lot of attention, and it’s been some interesting exploration for me, so I ran with it. And when I wasn’t working or ill over the weekend, some new thoughts have slammed into my brain about video games that I want to touch on at some point.

But right now, fuck all that. I just got back from watching Christopher Nolan’s Inception, and I want to nerd out over it for a while. For those who haven’t seen it, it might be best to read this after you’ve seen the movie, because I’ll likely step all over spoiler country.

Inception Isn’t About Dreams

Let’s start off with one of the lesser (but still awesome) observations I had about the movie – the writing was fantastic. I really appreciate spare, powerful writing, and this movie has it in spades. The characters are also really good examples of what I talked about in my last couple of posts – Ariadne is (sigh) a hot brunette, but she is not Superwoman, nor does she require rescuing, nor is she a love interest. But every character is interesting and engaging, even the ones that are only on screen for a scene or two. The link above is to the core team in the movie, and that’s intentional – many of them are overt stereotypes, but all are given an interesting twist. I’m almost glad I came to these conclusions beforehand, because now I can point to Inception and say “yes, that.”

Which leads to my first conclusion about the movie: it isn’t really about being able to walk in dreams. Rather, it’s all about the characters – the dreams are just a metaphor for literal character exploration. Nolan does a great job of setting up the premise (people can walk in dreams; there is technology that allows this; people can specialize in this new technology; corporations have developed security specialists against this technology) in a very short space, but doesn’t waste time actually telling you what it is or how long it’s been around or even what year the movie is set in. That’s because it doesn’t matter – it’s just a conceit to get the characters in front of the audience and make them start caring about them enough to go stomping around in their personalities for nearly three hours.

Continue reading Random Thoughts about Inception

Transformers 2: Revenge of Michael Bay

Before I begin on my attack commentary on Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, I need to set the stage.

During the week, I had a lot of trepidation about going to see this, to the point where flat asked why I was going to see a movie I expected to be bad. I didn’t have an answer at the time, but it really comes down to the fact that I support the Transformers franchise. I’ve watched and read just about every version of Transformers — maybe not every episode or issue, but I at least looked into it. I’ve been a fan for 25 years, and I expect I’ll be a fan for 25 more. So I have a strong interest in seeing any version of Transformers succeed.

Further, I had heard so many bad things leading up to this that I had very low expectations. Living through the disappointment that was Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull also killed off a chunk of my soul. I even read (and reposted on Twitter) io9’s hilariously scathing review. I had resigned myself to trying to watch the movie as if it was just a movie about alien robots beating the shit out of each other. I set my opinions and emotional investment in the franchise aside. I also tried to get into the mindset of braindead appreciation that allowed me to (accidentally) appreciate Terminator Salvation as an entertaining movie.

So, keep that in mind: I’m a fan that wants to see the franchise succeed, but is willing to set that emotional investment aside and try to see the movie outside of my own nerdrage. And I recently was able to appreciate a movie that was criticized for many of the same flaws as this one. I’m not sure how much more sympathetic and biased I could be toward this movie.

And even then, I was still surprised at how fucking horrible this movie was.

Spoilers. Though I’m not sure how to spoil this movie any more than it spoils itself.