It’s the little things.
You know when you’re watching a movie and you say to yourself, “that’s bullshit?” Because you know too much about the particular topic, and the director didn’t do his homework, so you’ve a guy shooting way more bullets than are in the gun etc.
Well, I’ve had a couple of those recently that all came together and makes me want to point them out.
The first is from the book I’m reading – Dan Brown’s Origin
Yea, I know, Dan Brown isn’t writing for accuracy.
But he could at least try.
Let’s leave aside straight away the fact that he’s put lots of detail into all his descriptions of the architecture (before you start reading the novel he states that all the locations and art etc. are real) but invents a parallel universe Spanish royal family. It’s actually quite funny to read how the king of Spain is so devout, when the former king is a notorious philanderer.
It’s the little things that catch a reader. Like when at the start of the novel two Irish football fans harass a Spanish Admiral in a bar. The fans have been watching a soccer match between Ireland and Spain or Portugal (it’s unclear where this takes place) and are drunk (that’s fine) when they enter the bar, empty but for the barmaid and the admiral. Now, not only would two Irish fans not harass a local to drink with them, being happy enough to be with themselves, they’d not be just two of them alone after a match. There’d be hordes of them. And when we read that the name of the bar is fucking Molly Malone, it’ just taking the fucking piss! What a crock of shit.
Just laziness. Perhaps what Brown considers Irish is what he sees in Boston, but he’s never watched footage of Irish fans after an international game on foreign soil, that’s for fucking sure.
I’m obviously not the first person to point this out...
Research. It’s what writers do. Getting people right is more important than how long the LCD screens in the Guggenheim are.
The second examples come from a movie I’m half way through.
Hold the Dark.
As a biologist and woof enthusiast, I stuck it right on when I signed up to Netflix!
I knew there’d be bullshit about wolves. They’re always cast in a bullshit light.
But that wasn’t the problem on the believability end.
I was at first impressed to see the local woman put masking tape on the tip of the gun barrel, to keep out snow and dirt. We do that in the bog, in case you fall and get peat and dirt stuck up there. You can’t shoot a rifle that’s obstructed like that. Well, you can, but do it far away from me.
But then, they go and make a point of the naturalist, played by Jeffry Wright, struggling to get the masking tape off the barrel so he can defend himself against the approaching wolf pack!
No! No and fucking NO!
You don’t take the tape off! You just fucking shoot! The pressure blows a hole in the tape before the bullet could even touch it! Any hunter knows that, or should.
But what most pisses me off about some movies, and it’s perhaps not a problem of doing research, but just society, is how much the actions of some characters differ from what I consider sensible and, given the state of our world right now, basically unacceptably stupid.
Wasting stuff, especially energy.
They’re in Alaska.
Not Anchorage, but way up north.
The biologist inexplicably turns up without decent footwear, like he’s never tracked a wolf in his life. The local gives him some boots more appropriate to the weather. And a good caribou skin.
But yet, she lives in a house that looks way under insulated for the clime. I’ve more cladding on my house in Spain, and that has foot-thick brick walls to boot.
And she goes around in cardigan open to the wind, and stands with the fucking door open looking out at the snow.
I know she’s a bit crazy, but such habits are ingrained. She’s not rich – her husband is off in the war and she says she can’t pay the naturalist.
So why is she wasting the heat?
I dunno if it’s just because I was always told to turn off the immersion heater and turn off the lights to save money, but I’m sure poor people the world over are pretty frugal when it comes to this kind of thing.
Also, the naturalist sleeps on the couch with just his long johns and a flimsy blanket. The fire is roaring, of course. But he’s a naturalist! Where’s the sleeping bag and less of the wasting firewood?
Climate change, Jeffry! Your character would be very aware of that, even if your host is not big on energy efficiency.
As I said, perhaps it’s just the state of society.
But, as I also said it’s not acceptable.
And we should stop showing such irresponsibility.
As Hollywood knows, art imitates life and life imitates art.
It’s time to start modelling good behaviour.
Just like few characters smoke in movies now compared to the chain-smoking of the fifties and sixties, movie makers can stop having characters do stupid shit that worsens climate breakdown and pollutes our planet. Hopefully it will happen a bit quicker than the change from smoking to not – this is more urgent.
Then maybe readers and viewers won’t get be so let down by the stories we’re told.
On the other hand, if real people keep acting like these characters, then our children won’t have much time, money, or inclination, to “Netflix and chill.”
God made His world in seven days; it takes most authors a lot longer than that.
I’m not saying this because I swore I’d have the two sequels to Leaving the Pack ready for submission this week and I find myself unable to even get enough sleep.
I find myself a bit bemused about this whole George RR Martin Game of Thrones furor about the delay of Winds of Winter.
Perhaps it’s just me; I find myself bemused by lots of the things people get upset about on the Internet.
But what has happened to people’s patience?
I know we are creating a generation of impatient people raised on fast food and instant information. But we’re talking about readers. Readers of fantasy novels, the longest books ever, often with many books, which take years to read never mind write. If they can’t chill out and wait until the books hit the shelves, who can?
I have yet to see Game of Thrones. Not because I’m unconvinced it’s a kick-ass TV show. I am. I can’t wait to start watching it.
Except, of course, I can.
I am waiting.
I have the first three books in the series on my shelf. I haven’t read them yet. Don’t plan to for a while. I’m in no rush. I have a few years of reading material sitting beside those books, so I’m not stuck just yet.
Nevertheless, you’d swear there was no other book left to read in the universe from the clamour raised upon the news the new book will be delayed. Seriously, there are lots of other things to read. Go catch up on the classics. Or go read The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. That’ll keep you busy for a year. And there are other TV shows to keep your eyes busy, too.
I know, I know. You’re in the middle of the series. You need to know what happens next.
When I was a teen I found The Clan of the Cave Bear in my local library. I was hooked. I took out the next two books straight after. I read on the back covers that they were part of a six-book series, called Earth’s Children. I was confused; t was a trilogy, surely. Then one day a year or so later I saw The Plains of Passage in a bookshop. I bought it straight away – well, I asked my mother to, since I was fifteen and it cost twenty quid.
Then I waited.
And boy, I waited.
For the first time, in my twenties, I looked up an author on the Internet to see what the hell was going on; where the next book, or was there a sign it was coming out. I was worried JM Auel was going to die before she finished the next two books. The last in the series, The Land of Painted Caves only came out in 2011. I’d waited twenty years to complete the saga. It took Auel thirty years to write them. But they were worth it.
Who’s the slowest writer of them all? GRR Martin and JM Auel
Photos from Nick Briggs/HBO via http://www.wired.com/2016/01/george-rr-martin-game-of-thrones/ and delibrossetrata.blogspot.com
It would have been great to find all the books completed, like we did The Lord of the Rings when we were kids (or The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant). But them’s the breaks.
That’s why I’m waiting, so I can go start to finish.
Since it became possible to binge on TV series, it’s become better (for me anyway) to wait until the last episode airs, and your mates have said it’s worth the watch. Then you just go through the whole thing.
I did this with Mad Men, last year, and with Breaking Bad before that. I was planning on doing it with Lost, but skipped that. I bought my bother the box set of season one on the strength of the recommendations it got, then never bothered to borrow it when the sixth season ended to bad reviews. I’ll never watch it.
So I’ll stick to the other books on my to-be-read list for now, watch The Shield, when I get a chance to watch anything with a new-born in the house and a pile of things on my to-be-written list.
And I’ll continue to ignore people talking about what happens in the series the same way I ignore people talking about the Kardasihains and their ilk on the Internet.
And when George RR Martin is good and ready to put out the last book in the series, I’ll start reading and once I’ve read it, I’ll get the box sets from someone and sit down in front of my telly for a marathon. By then I’ll probably be retired and have loads of time.