In Relation to My Work: How I’d Like 21st-Century Storytelling Media to Evolve, Regardless of Platform

Before I can begin this article, I’d like to apologize for being tardy in posting it. Truth be told, I’d been hoping to post this editorial much sooner. However, between work, family matters, and my current writing schedule, doing so has proven to be a lot more difficult than I’ve expected. All the same, from what I’ve seen in the media in recent months—particularly this past month, what with so many new programs coming out on television during the fall season—the content included in the editorial below is still pretty relevant to what’s been going on in the world of television and motion pictures. That being said, thank you all for your patience, and again…I’m sorry in taking my dear sweet time in uploading this, as I do plan on posting future articles here on this blog in a more timely fashion in the future.

Thank you all for your time, but for now, enough kvetching. On with the editorial!

*****

Hello, readers.

On January 23, 2016, I’d written an article on this blog about the kind of books I’d have liked to see come out in whatever at the time was left of this decade. Truth be told, I still have the same attitude regarding my suggestions as I did back then, but now my opinions have expanded towards other forms of media. After all, even though I myself can admit that the “good old days” of the 1980s and 1990s weren’t flawless by any stretch of the imagination, the fact still remains that no matter the crap that was going on in each of these two decades, there was still plenty of entertainment media out there for audiences to sink their teeth into and as such help them look beyond it all, even if only temporarily. That’s not to say that today’s entertainment scene is complete and utter trash, of course, for there’s still some good stuff out there for the masses to enjoy as well a good number of avenues through which they can check out said stuff. It always seems, however, as though such movies, television shows, and the like end up taking a back seat to whatever garbage seems to be flooding the market, which in turn leads to said garbage attracting more attention from folks by and large. Don’t get me wrong, either, for I’m quite tempted myself to vent about some of the flotsam and jetsam that’s been bob, bob, bobbing along the mainstream like buoyant fecal matter for years. Then again, what would that accomplish, even in the very unlikely instance that some major entertainment exec was to come across this humble little blog and read this specific entry? For all I know, nothing more or less than the person in question rolling his or her eyes, clicking off this page, and muttering to himself or herself, “Oh, great…another miserable malcontent from the vocal minority…”

That being said, I present to you all a small list of the kind of things that would encourage me to invest myself in a given form of entertainment. As was true before, the following represents my own preferences. If there’s any kind of idea that you think would make for a movie, television show, or similar form of media that I’ve neglected to mention, please leave it in the comments section below. Otherwise, enjoy!

Ease up with the remakes.

Just a VERY small sample of all the movies that have been remade over the years…mostly with much negative reception

One of the biggest complaints that’s been circling the Internet since the beginning of this decade has to be about Hollywood’s apparent lack of original ideas and the necessity to remake, reboot, readapt, and simply flat-out re-everything they lay their hands on. Now, granted, not every movie that happens to be a remake or reboot of a previously existing film is necessarily an unholy abomination that has no business to exist. I’ve already mentioned Dredd from 2012 on December 2, 2016, for example, and its superiority to the original Judge Dredd movie from 1995. The same can be said for John Carpenter’s The Thing from 1982, Scarface from 1983, The Fly from 1986, The Blob from 1988, Cape Fear from 1991, Gone in 60 Seconds from 2000, Ocean’s Eleven from 2001, Chicago from 2002, The Italian Job from 2003, and The Hills Have Eyes from 2006, just to name a handful. Sadly, critically and monetarily successful remakes like these have recently become few and far between, as movie studios are more content to simply take something that either was or still is popular and remake it into a whole “new” film for little to no reason outside of making a quick buck from something with an already established audience. The result: Movie remakes have gone up in quantity, but down in quality. Whether such films as these are lazy, uninspired, shot-by-shot rehashes of their previously established counterparts (i.e., Gus Van Zant’s Psycho from 1998 and Samuel Bayer’s Nightmare on Elm Street from 2010) or nearly to fully complete overhauls that completely miss the point of their source material (i.e., 1999’s The Haunting or 2014’s Robocop), the fact remains that they usually only succeed at two things: alienating fans of the original works and making the originals prove all the more that they can stand on their own just fine without having to be remade. Very rare these days are remakes that respect the idea of the original property while adding something new to the formula to give audiences a movie-going experience that is both fresh and pleasant. Honestly, I can only begin to tell you the kind of backlash that the following movies, amongst others, have received for one reason or another from both audiences and professional critics alike, regardless of their financial successes.

Annie from 2014
Bad News Bears from 2005
Black Christmas from 2006
Carrie from 2013
Clash of the Titans from 2010
Conan the Barbarian from 2011
Friday the 13th from 2009
Ghostbusters: Answer the Call from 2016
It’s Alive from 2009
Mr. Deeds from 2002
Planet of the Apes from 2001
Poltergeist from 2015
Power Rangers from 2017
Pulse from 2006
Rob Zombie’s Halloween from 2007
Rollerball from 2002
Shutter from 2008
Straw Dogs from 2011
Michael Bay’s two Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies
The Karate Kid from 2010
The Eye from 2008
The Omen from 2006
The Stepford Wives from 2004
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre from 2003 and its 2006 prequel, TTCM: The Beginning
The Wicker Man from 2006
Total Recall from 2012
Walking Tall from 2004

To think, too, that there are plenty of potentially eye-opening ideas out there that would more likely than not translate into excellent movies, if handled right, and possibly even be successful at the box office, should said movie receive the right kind of marketing. Alas, it’s proven to be much less of a financial risk for some studios to remake an already established product than to create a brand new one, regardless of whether doing the former or the latter is the wiser or more popular thing to do. It’s a shame, really, for if Hollywood doesn’t soon establish a keener production balance between new projects and the remakes it’s been churning out, who knows just how severe its already established creative drought will further blight the whole motion picture scene in the long run? Not only that, but if movie producers would learn to look at films from an artistic standpoint as well as a financial one, then if nothing else, they would at least come to the realization the real reason to remake a film: to do something new with its narrative that would help to improve it, such as telling it from another perspective or focusing on an element upon which the original had neglected to focus.

David Sandberg’s Kung Fury: One of the most highly regarded original films of 2015 and a definitive example of the power and effectiveness of originality

I could go on with this topic by talking about how many belated sequels to previously established films suffer from problems similar to those of film remakes as well as how this whole remaking trend has affected the television and video game industries as well as the world of cinema. The truth is, however, that I’d just be repeating a lot of the same points I’ve already made concerning the movie industry. Plus, let’s not forget that even though these studios are the ones responsible for putting out all these remakes the masses have taken issue with in recent years, we consumers are just as much to blame for buying tickets to see these flicks in the theaters. Even spending our hard-earned money on the home edition of these films puts cash into the producers’ pockets, which only further proves the profitability of their kind in this day and age, regardless of how many people take to the Internet to complain about them. Taking that into consideration, it seems as though the only way for us to put an end to this whole trend—or, at the very least, slow it down—is for us as a collective whole to stop paying to see these movies. Then, when the studios start to receive less and less cash flowing into their bank accounts on account of these remakes that we’ve all been taking issue with, they’ll learn to rethink this whole remakes fad and how we’ve grown sick and tired of seeing so many time-honored films receiving one subpar reincarnation after another. Granted, that’s not to automatically say that whatever original films they’ll be giving us from that point forward will automatically be instant classics. If anything, we’ll still be receiving a mixed bag as far as originals movies are concerned, just as we always have. We can still at least hope that the brunt of them will be good, however, although in that case, it’d be a matter of whether or not movie studios will have the wisdom to regard the hits of the past artistically, find out which elements made each of them work, and apply those same elements to their newer flicks.

Bloody Roar reboot: Make it happen, Konami. You’ve made a Bomberman game for the Switch, after all, so why not?

One final note about remakes, cinematic or otherwise: If there’s ever been a time I refused to see a remake of anything that I’d seen or neglected to see back when it first came out, it was never out of fear of the remake “ruining my childhood.” If anything, as I’ve said before, even a terrible remake only confirms the original’s worth to some degree. Rather, I’m more of the opinion that the entertainment industry give today’s young people a childhood of their own of which they can be proud rather than be fed that which the people of my own generation had already been fed when we were young. Quite frankly, the sole exception to this rule is the only product out there that I personally want to see receive a remake in the near future, and that would be Bloody Roar. Simply put, BR was an IP that never reached its full potential back in the day and deserves a chance to redeem itself after the much-maligned latest entry in its franchise, 2003’s Bloody Roar 4. I mean, hey, if Killer Instinct can be brought back to life after seventeen years of inactivity with a game that retells the original story with greater clarity than the first two games combined did, then why can’t BR receive similar treatment? Aside from BR, however, I’m more apt to look forward to more original products rising up from this moment forth so that new creators can have the opportunity to change the entertainment scene for the better.

Knock it off with the snark and other forms of lazy, lowbrow humor.

A small example of the cleverness that actually makes me chuckle

As it’s been said before time and again, humor is subjective, and that which makes one person laugh could very well annoy or even offend another. That being said, I’ve grown so sick and tired of most of what passes for humor in the media today that it isn’t even funny…if you’ll forgive the unintentional yet admittedly predictable pun. Trust me, too, when I say that I can go on for quite a while about how ironic it is for most modern-day humor to be as consistently raunchy, tone-deaf, mean-spirited, and simply lowbrow as it’s been for the past decade-plus in an age where PC culture has been playing as proactive a part as it has been. Truth be told, I can see why to some extent, but just because I can doesn’t mean I’m at all among the masses who’ve jumped on board such a bandwagon. To be fair, too, I haven’t seen every single sitcom, sketch comedy show, or standup comedy act of this era. Most of what I have seen, though, has given me a bad taste in my mouth. Toilet humor, sex jokes with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer to the back of one’s head, graceless slapstick, blatant and ceaseless profanity—I’ve seen and heard all of the above and then some in recent years through various outlets, and none of it has ever made me laugh. If anything, such material simply makes me roll my eyes, shake my head, and wonder about the kind of mentality one has to be in to appreciate anything so lazy, thoughtless, and cheap.

Paul Schneider and Olivia Munn’s characters Tommy and Audrey Macklin from 2012’s The Babymakers upon finding out about the negative reception their failed movie had received upon its limited cinematic release on account of its crass, immature humor (1 out of 4 stars from the late Roger Ebert, 8% rating on Rotten Tomatoes out of 49 reviews with a 3.5/10 average rating)

I know I’ve already touched upon this topic back in my original article from last year, but honestly, I feel as though I can’t stress it enough. After all, you don’t have to be “edgy” or offensive to be funny. Just look at the success of such comedians as Gabriel Iglesias, Ellen Degeneres, Jim Gaffigan, Anjelah Johnson, and especially Brian Regan—all of whom have garnered many a laugh from audiences over the span of their careers with jokes that didn’t need to rely on foul language, “shocking” ideology or imagery, shameless pratfalls, or any other form of below-the-belt humor. Granted, there have been instances in which a couple of these comedians have strayed from their usual path, such as with Gabriel’s “racist gift basket” routine and even Ellen dropping a couple of S-bombs during her famous Taste This comedy album from 1996, but even then, these comics relied more on their wit than on straight crassness to tickle their audiences’ fancy and make them think as well as laugh. Such is the key to timeless comedy, as has been proven time and again not only by the aforementioned comics and other, similarly successful comedians, but also by many a well-remembered sitcom or sketch comedy. Even The Cosby Show’s Claire Huxtable herself, Tony Award winning actress Phylicia Rashad, can attest to this based on the following piece of information she once shared in an interview with the Huffington Post:

Phylicia Rashad, Tony Award-winning actress and mother Claire Huxtable from The Cosby Show as interviewed April 6, 2014 by Huff Post Live

“Drama appeals to the emotions. Comedy appeals to the intellect.”

Such were the words that the late Dr. Frank M. Snowden, Jr. of Howard University in Washington, D.C., said to Ms. Rashad after she’d answered a question he’d posed to her and the rest of her classmates concerning whether they preferred drama or comedy, and considering my own personal comedic tastes, this comparison makes a lot of sense to me. After all, as Ms. Rashad goes on to say in the same interview, most of the sitcoms from “back in the day” that the masses know and love today had writers working behind the scenes who all worked with each other in the same room day after day as they fleshed out each episode of the show they were putting together. Such would explain why the plot and character development of these programs flowed in a smoother, more logical fashion than it would on a more recent show such as, say, the not-too-distantly-cancelled Mike & Molly. Honestly, the two titular characters first cross paths with each other at an Overeaters Anonymous conference, yet subsequently stop attending meetings that the support group hosts after they marry each other, and Mike subsequently reverts back to his rapacious couch potato ways every now and then with only the occasional reminder of his original objective to lose weight. Add to that Mike inadvertently no longer sleeping with the help of a respirator around the same time, the couple moving out of Molly’s old bedroom and into the Flynn family basement only to eventually move back into Molly’s bedroom, and so forth, and it can be pretty easy to see where viewers can be disenfranchised with such a show, regardless of M&M having lasted six seasons on CBS from 2010 to 2016. On a similar note is how M&M and a good number of other 21st century sitcoms tend to repeat the same tired jokes over and over again with little to no payoff, usually within the same episode and—worse yet—within the same scene. You know…in case the audience hadn’t gotten them the first time. Then again, even that practice isn’t as annoying and insulting as when the writers of a given sitcom decide to change certain characters that either don’t make sense within the show’s narrative or go against their established personalities altogether. I can certainly say that I could have done without the writers of Everybody Loves Raymond turning the once-sensible Debra into a bitter, self-pitying shrew who takes every opportunity she gets to throw a tantrum at Ray and the rest of the Barones or start weeping and sobbing as though someone had just run over the family dog. Come to think of it, the whole show, in my opinion, went downhill when everyone within the Barone family started yelling and screaming at one another on a regular basis. It wasn’t pleasant, clever, or fun in the slightest…only dull, grating, and utterly obnoxious. It didn’t challenge my mind at all, only my sanity, which is exactly why most of the sitcoms I’ve seen these days have turned me away from them. Stereotypical characters, predictable situations, exhausted jokes, and a bitter tone that practically everyone has seen in so many other shows of its kind—all of the above are elements that have dumbed down many a recent sitcom that I’ve regrettably watched and made me pine for the days when Night Court, Golden Girls, Cheers, Frasier, and the like ruled the airwaves with their keen wit, palatable charm, and the kind of punchy sophistication that has time and again managed to put a smile not only on my own face, but also on countless other people’s faces from one generation to the next.

If this wasn’t a warning sign of the kind of regular situations viewers would see in Everybody Loves Raymond’s later season, then I don’t know what is.

Of course, as irritated as I’ve become with the banality and vulgarity that I’ve discussed earlier, there’s one more trait in today’s comedic scene that I’ve grown to abhor: snark. Now, sure, I get that the world can be a very unforgivingly (and unforgivably) unkind and frustrating place within which to live, and sometimes, one needs to just let off a sarcastic remark here or there to cope with it all. Likewise, there have been plenty of people popping up all over the Internet who’ve made snarky remarks about this, that, and the other since blogging first became a thing and editorials were no longer limited to opinionated journalists. All the same, as with everything else that has made comedy so nasty these days in comparison to what it used to be, snark has reared its ugly head so much and so often that I wonder as to whether or not I’m the only one who’s noticed it, much less has grown fed up with it. Don’t get me wrong, either, for once upon a time, I used to like characters like Dr. Peter Venkman from the classic Ghostbusters films and Chandler Bing from the earlier seasons of Friends for their wry charm, world-weary wit, and occasional sliminess. However, these two specific characters and all others like them back in the day actually had charm on account of having writers behind them who knew how to pace these characters’ sarcasm effectively and only had them pop off with a remark at moments that called for them to say something flippant so as to keep them from being completely rude, disrespectful, malicious scumbags. Additionally, no matter how despicable and depraved characters like Peter and Chandler might have come across as being at times, their writers wisely made sure to give them characteristics that would have made them at least somewhat likable to their intended audiences. For instance, Peter’s shrewdness, streetwise sociability, and secretly sweet disposition easily balanced out with his course, flippant, womanizing charlatan ways, especially when he uses his diplomacy to help free himself and his fellow Ghostbusters, Ray Stantz and Egon Spengler, from prison. Similarly, Chandler’s refusal to quit a job that he otherwise hates (i.e., an IT procurements manager) and dedication to his girlfriend-turned-wife Monica, best friend Ross, and everyone else in their social circle temper his otherwise bitter, cynical nature. Sadly, I don’t get that same feeling from more modern comedy characters such as Charlie Harper from Two and a Half Men or Dr. Leonard Hoffstadter from The Big Bang Theory. I know that’s probably going to earn me the wrath of Chuck Lorre production fans everywhere, but honestly, the way each of these two leads is written—which I could also say for the rest of the show to which each man belongs—is so thoroughly grating that it’s easy for me to forget about whatever good there might be in either of them. In fact, the further I stay away from Charlie with his hedonistic, misogynistic, scoffing self-absorption and Leonard with his needy, spineless, self-pitying, and at times ironically condescending pessimism, the more at ease I ultimately feel. Sadly, Charlie and Leonard are only two of many characters who define sarcasm according to 21st century humor, and unless there’s a more recent example of a character out there who can be sarcastic with the same grace and deftness as Peter Venkman, Chandler Bing, and the like used to, then by all means, let me know. Otherwise, I’ll remain convinced that snark is here to stay, much to my chagrin. It just isn’t appealing to me in the slightest, as it isn’t at all endearing, witty, or clever. Rather, it’s simply bitter, jaded, spiteful, and outright repulsive.

Dr. Peter Venkman from 1986’s Ghostbusters: One of the most beloved spewers of sarcasm in cinematic history and a prime example of snark RIGHT

Worse yet, snark not only makes characters within fictitious works come off as unlikable assholes, but also real-life people who try to be all cute, funny, and “personable” when the situation doesn’t call for such behavior. Just read AgentQuery.com’s guide on how to write a query letter, and you’ll see the kind of annoyance I mean. Seriously, though, AgentQuery staff, grow up and knock it off with your smart-ass remarks about people’s imperfect manuscripts, query letters, and so on, and the whole idea of the “Generation Y” having a collectively short attention span on account of only a select portion of “Gen-Yers” living up to that idiotic stereotype. People come to your website to discover information that would help them procure someone who can help them get their books published. There’s no need for any of your members to act like a bunch of flippant, pompous brats in the process. It isn’t the least bit funny, as I’ve mentioned before…only tiresome, predictable, pathetic, oblivious, and obnoxious. Knock it off and act your ages, please.

Brian Regan, one of the funniest “clean comics” known to modern stand-up AND one of the most deserving of a sitcom of his own

Bottom line, I really hope comedy evolves soon, if it hasn’t been evolving already. After all, I read humorous books, tune in to comedy shows, and watch comedic movies in hopes of finishing something to make me laugh and forget about my cares for at least a little while. Alas, very little of what we call comedy these days is intelligent or thoughtful enough to do just that and instead merely backfires and makes me feel even grouchier than I otherwise would have been, had I not come across it in the first place. It’s not even so much that all of which I’m taking issue with here is necessarily offensive, either, as I’ve said. If anything, it’s all just so irritating, tactless, immature, and straight up nauseating…almost as if the people making these jokes are going out of their way to alienate those who see it for whatever reason. Again, I know one person’s trash is another’s treasure as far as this topic is concerned, but since when did it become comically mandatory to deliberately set forth to annoy or offend people? What happened to simply aiming to make people laugh or, at the very lest, smile? Whatever happened to using one’s intellect to stimulate people’s minds and ultimately put them in a good mood as opposed to stooping to the lowest common denominator? Are the days of merry banter, quick-witted quips, sharp wordplay, and the like forever dead? I sure hope not, for with all the crap that’s still going on in this mess of a world within which we live, we all more than ever need material that brings joy to our lives, not more pain and anguish. Unfortunately, from what I’ve seen from these past couple of decades, there hasn’t been enough of that substance going around, and quite frankly, it’s enough to make me sick.

Smarten up your writing…PERIOD.

The quote speaks for itself.

I’m pretty sure you’ve all noticed this by now, but there have been times in the past where people have proven to be pretty stupid—not merely uninformed or unobservant, either, but simply and utterly witless. I know that sounds disparaging and rude, but let’s face it, folks: We’ve all more likely than not seen, heard, discovered, and probably even known people in our lives who’ve habitually said and done things that make us question whether or not they even know how to think at all. Heck, even now, such people continue to thrive and contribute to what one can very readily call the continued downfall of society as we know it, and even the most intelligent amongst us have forgotten how to use our heads, even if only for a brief moment, and succumbed to saying or doing something that has made others question our own sensibilities. That in mind, is it any wonder as to why certain forms of entertainment that a sizable portion of the audience considers to be pointless, tasteless, or otherwise idiotic still exist these days? Is it likewise any wonder why so many people tune in to such garbage, even when they know it’s bad for their brain and doesn’t warrant their attention? Thankfully, there do exist certain forms of entertainment, comedic and dramatic alike, that appeal to folks who despise having their intelligence insulted. Sadly, even they don’t last forever. In fact, too many of them never catch on well enough to last longer than a handful of years at best and are cancelled before they can truly make much of a mark upon American pop culture as we know it. So severe is the problem, too, that one could write up an entire essay on it if one wished to tackle the issue in depth. Who knows? I myself might do just that on this blog, should it remain standing long enough for me to do so…and should I get the gumption to follow through with such an idea. For the sake of simplicity, though, there are some key traits that indicate why a given piece of fictional media might not be as well written as it otherwise could or should be:

Raj Koothrappali: Often an afterthought compared to the rest of the characters from the other characters The Big Bang Theory and as such a prime candidate for one of the show’s most poorly written characters

Poor character portrayal and development. Have you ever watched a TV show or movie that featured a character that the writer had meant for audience members to perceive one way, only to come across as being completely different? That’s basically poor characterization in a nutshell, and to be quite frank, I’ve seen it happen in one form of storytelling too many. It’s never worked for me, either, regardless of the excuse that the writer or writers of a given work may offer to excuse the character in question acting in a way that doesn’t make sense for him or her. Maybe the writer(s) didn’t know what to do with said character beyond a certain point and felt the need to pull something out of thin air just to keep him or her relevant…even if that very something more or less made no sense in regards to who or what he or she already was or had already experienced according to the story’s overall plot. Maybe the writer(s) had meant to have him or her progress beyond a given point, yet had failed to do so out of negligence and thus either gave up on him or her altogether or forced him or her into a situation that would have him or her grow in the direction that he/she/they had initially intended for him or her. Whatever the case, failing to allow a given character to evolve naturally during the course of any given production is a great way to ruin any kind of story—even one that was already unimpressive to begin with.

Unlocking Blaze Fielding’s “bad” ending in the original Streets of Rage: An interesting choice to make in the game itself…but how effective would it be if SoR were a novel, movie, or TV show instead?

Poor plot progression. This next trait tends to ruin just as many stories as poor character development and portrayal do and, more times than not, works hand-in-hand with the former to create some of the most negatively received forms of fictitious media that humanity has come to know. Far too often do these particular stories feature character actions and other events that simply don’t make any sense, usually on account of the writer either compulsorily or carelessly stringing events together in an attempt to show and/or tell the story at hand. Sometimes a character will react to an event in a fashion that portrays him or her as having more knowledge than he or she should, such as a young girl automatically deciphering the coded glyphs that adorn a bizarre ancient compass that she has just received. Sometimes an event will occur in a way that betrays the rules of reality, such as an alleged murderess in a mansion turning off all the mansion’s lights when she is located in the mansion’s basement while the power source to the lights is on the ground floor. This later occurrence can even happen in science fiction, fantasy, and even some horror stories, which are notably more lax in their rules of reality. Say, for example, you were watching a fantasy film in which it has already been established that trolls can regenerate wounds caused by anything but fire, and it just so happens that the heroes are caught in a violent confrontation with a troll. Would it make more sense for the heroes to dispatch of the hostile creature with flaming arrows and a bow…or a simple silver stake through the heart? Even choices that a given character makes can mess up a story’s plot, such as the protagonist and her friends finally coming across the crime lord they’ve been gunning after throughout the course of the tale, only for the protagonist to agree to become the crime lord’s right-hand woman without any prior foreshadowing of or motivation for her betraying her allies. Such is the kind of stuff that would make any audience member scratch his or her head and wonder just what the writer(s) were thinking—if, of course, he/she/they were even thinking at all.

How I usually envision those who laugh at jokes about rape, suicide, tragic historical events, and the like as well as blatant sexual humor and similarly low-hanging “comedic” fruit

Deliberate shock value. Call me a prude all you want, but many has there been a movie, television show, comic book, novel, or video game that just had to go that extra mile into “adult territory,” only to turn out to be a tacky, hollow, shallow, pandering, lowbrow, soulless mess on account of such a misguided decision. Granted, there have been instances in which extreme violence, foul language, sexually explicit content, and the like have been used in fiction to great effect and paint a rather bleak mental picture for audiences to perceive the story’s overall themes and message. At other times, however, such content has been thrown into such works haphazardly “just for the hell of it” for the sake of drawing in viewers, readers, listeners, and/or players. The result: an egregiously incognizant product that may draw in the morbidly curious for a while by promoting its “shocking” content, only to send such an audience off either offended once said content rears its ugly head or disappointed once its effects upon them wear off. It is in such works that extreme violence becomes less about dramatic, heart-pounding action and more about wanton gore. Similarly, characters spew forth so much profanity to the point where they come off as petulant and immature more than they do tough, sex scenes become more nauseating and lust-based than genuine and even alluring, and all other adult-themed content similarly loses its necessity throughout the course of the story. Granted, some people may end up enjoying these products ironically, but in the end, what more are they to these people than guilty pleasures? Worse yet is how the brunt of these pieces have shown to have very little to no substance lying beneath their “gritty” and “edgy” style and end up coming across as the blatant smut that they truly are, and even those pieces that do happen to have substance aren’t always guaranteed to tell a better story than their tamer counterparts unless their storytelling is spot-on from start to finish. As a result, such productions are either doomed to live on in pop culture infamy for their schlock value or die off almost as quickly as they’d come. Either case is usually for good reason, too, especially within the presence of so many other works just like them out on the market waiting for curious eyes to fall upon them and said eyes’ owners caving in to temptation and giving them a watch, read, listen, or play…only to discover the cold, harsh reality in the end.

Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2: 5% on Rotten Tomatoes out of 57 reviews with a 2.5/10 average rating, 13 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 16 critics, and nominated for six different Golden Raspberry Awards on account of its “tacky, numbingly inane” humor

Pandering to the lowest common denominator. This final flaw, in my opinion, has got to be the most fatal of them all when it comes to providing audiences with decent fiction. After all, even the most intelligent viewer, listener, reader, or gamer may want to shut his or her brain off every once in a while, but that isn’t reason enough for the producer of a given work of fiction to offer them something that treats them and the rest of the audience as though their brains don’t work at all. Even so, many is the moment in which the audience’s intelligence is either flat-out or accidentally insulted, such as when a joke or other occurrence is explained in-work for those who might not have “gotten it” or when random scenes successively take place with little to no context between them. I could say the same for events that occur with little to no buildup (particularly major ones, such as the reveal of a narrative’s chief antagonist) or when seemingly important information comes up during the plot’s unfolding, only to go on ignored later on either by the writers reducing its overall irrelevance or even outright refuting said information altogether. Don’t even get me started, either, on when a writer offers his or her audience a scene that defies conventional wisdom or logic simply to steer the plot in a given direction. Trust me, folks, for I, too, have felt as though I’d been talked down to when situations like this have played out in the fiction that I’d come across, and it’s not a very flattering feeling in the slightest. I’m sorry, but if a writer feels the need to explain to me the context of what had just happened, expects me to simply go along with a seemingly nonsensical chain of events taking place without any common ground between them, or demonstrates anything that is similarly jarring in his or her story, then I can’t help but question his or her mindset. Personally, I would like to think that the writers who commit such errors do so on account of just not paying close enough attention to their work. Otherwise, they would catch these mistakes in their screenplays, manuscripts, and demos before their ultimate production. I’m certainly no different, as I myself have fallen prey to my own anxiousness and have let a mistake or two slip through my fingers upon publishing my work. I’ve been making efforts to avoid repeating that process, however, and hope that other writers—regardless of the form their fiction takes—do the same. Alas, not every writer has proven to take note of his or her botches and done anything to correct his or her creative approach in the future. In fact, I’m sure there are plenty of writers out there who are unconvinced of how weak their grasp on storytelling actually is, and my gut instinct tells me that we all will be seeing more intellect-insulting narration down the line. Hopefully, though, it won’t be as bad as it’s been in recent memory.

All this in mind, let it be known that in order for intelligence to at long last claim a hold upon the realm of fiction, it’s up to the masses to recognize the poorly written stuff for what it is and do everything in their power to not support it. Sorry, folks, but it just isn’t worth it. Schlock is schlock, no matter what form it comes in, and even morbid curiosity—especially in the vain hope of liking something ironically—should never be considered reason enough for people to spend their time or money on it. Doing so, after all, only rewards the creators of such filth for making it, and if people are as adamant about the television, motion picture, video game, and literary industries smartening up and consequently creating more intelligent products, then they need to actively demand better. That doesn’t mean simply voicing one’s opinion about certain forms of media whenever and wherever one can, either. Sure, speaking out against the world’s dreck is a good start, but as the old saying goes, actions do speak louder than words. On that note, then, always regard that which you see and hear with caution when it comes to certain products, and if what you perceive doesn’t sell you completely on the product being advertised, then follow your gut instincts and keep your money and your time to yourself. Remember…first impressions might not be everything, but they still carry quite a bit of weight when it comes to determining the value of a given piece of media.

Somewhere out there, there’s a book out there with a sense of charm that can rival that of even the best Harry Potter novel that deserves every bit of attention that J.K. Rowling’s time-honored franchise has received over the years. If only one had the courage to seek publication for it…

In short, despite what progress we may have made recently in improving the quality of fictional media, we’ve still got a long way to go in achieving the level of storytelling excellence that I at least expect from this day and age. I’m sure that there are plenty of other obstacles that I haven’t even mentioned that creators need to overcome in order to tell the kind of stories that they think would captivate today’s jaded, demanding audiences. The apparent death of originality in modern-day media and the pressure of certain interest groups to create films, TV shows, and the like that appeal to their own specific tastes are certainly two that come to mind that are definitely worth tackling. However, without thoughtful, creative, intelligent writing serving as a foundation, no story can hope to win audiences over. After all, no matter how many people within the entertainment business will tell you that talent is “overrated,” we need talented and attentive writers more than ever nowadays to create the very works we need to immerse ourselves in from time to time and give us a break from this cold, harsh, and unforgiving reality we’ve all come to know. I sure know that as a writer myself, I have been improving my craft since the day I first created this blog, and hopefully the day will come when I can leave a positive grand-scale affect upon the literary market. Until then, though, I encourage the creators of today’s fictional media to step up their game and give us masses something we can support on a regular basis with sincere pride and satisfaction. Not only that, but I also hope that the undiscovered talent of today at long last get their time to shine and have their stories published, filmed, and presented for the masses to enjoy, thus proving to the world that artistic vision has more value than the detractors may realize. After all, considering the kind of crap we’ve had to endure over the years up to this point, I believe the time has come for us all to change things for the better in one way or another.

*****

All rambling aside, thanks again for stopping by, and as always, be sure to visit my author pages at Smashwords.com, Amazon.com, and Amazon.co.uk to see what I have available, and please stay tuned for more content in the near future. Until then, happy reading!

Regards,
Dustin M. Weber

*****

PS: All credit for the pics used in the above article goes to as follows:

CarPedalRecall.com
PatandJason.com
Lampray and Laser Unicorns
PixBit.com
PicSauce.com
IndieWire.com
Phylicia Rashad’s April 6, 2014 Interview with Huff Post Live
Giphy.com
GoodMenProject.com
Imgur.com
NotableQuotes.com
FansShare.com
MegaGrey’s Streets of Rage (Genesis) Blaze’s Bad Ending
FunnyJunk.com
RottenTomatoes.com
Infinite-Loops.Wikia.com

The opinions discussed within, however, are the author’s own.

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Poem of the Week: Autumn’s Here!

Autumn’s Here!
September 9, 2017

Sound the bells, my friend.
Summer’s come to an end.
Autumn’s here,
And time is near
To see what’s ‘round the bend.

A new year of school’s begun
For learners both old and young.
So much they’ve to learn.
Hopefully, they shan’t burn
Out ‘fore the school year’s done.

A new season’s begun for TV
With so many programs to see
With brand new seasons
For this or that reason
As well as shows yet to be.

So many new sights to see, too,
At festivals and markets near you
That not summer nor spring
Could hope to bring,
But when Autumn falls…sacrebleu!

Pumpkins, gourds, squashes…oh, my!
So many treats for the eye
In addition to leaves
Drifting down as they please,
Lest the wind blows them ‘cross the sky.

Let’s not forget, either, the food
To put our taste buds in the mood:
Apples, cinnamon, spice,
Carmel corn—it’s all nice,
For as I eat it, how can I brood?

Thing is, too, in a matter of weeks,
The one day meant for spirits and freaks
And monsters of all kinds
Is bound to unwind
As Halloween time once more peeks

‘Round the bend to greet us with a “Boo!”
And sends us searching for new
Costumes to wear
And treats to bear
To make youngsters go “Ah!” and “Ooh!”

A month or so later, Thanksgiving:
A true celebration of living—
Parades, football, feasts,
And not to say the least,
Family there to share in the giving.

So many are autumn’s joys
For all men, women, girls, and boys,
Should they but slow down
And travel ‘round town
To drink them all in and enjoy.

Alas, though, so wrapped up are most
Folks who claim to not boast
Any time to partake
In these things in the wake
Of the season ‘fore it becomes a ghost.

It really is a shame,
For according to the season’s game,
Autumn comes once a year
For but three months, dear,
‘Fore it fades away again. How lame!

Well, I sure know for a fact
That when autumn comes, I don’t slack
In taking in its gifts
In hopes that they lift
Me out of my mood when it’s black,

For if annual it must be,
Then why cheat myself of such beauty?
I could never forgive
Myself, should I live
To deny such a gift to me,

Which is why each year during this time,
I pause to take in the sublime
And escape from my hive
And thank God I’m alive,
Even if it’s but for a short time.

Such is how I feel when autumn comes
‘Til my eyes, ears, and tongue go numb.
It’s an annual thing,
So let the good times ring
‘Til the season’s at long last done.

P.S.: The pic used above comes courtesy of CanadianMusicHallofFame.ca. The attached poem, however, is the author’s own.

*****

Author Pages: Smashwords.com
                         Amazon.com
                         Amazon.co.uk

Poem of the Week: Retro-Reviewing Egomaniac

Retro-Reviewing Egomania
July 4, 2017

Talk, talk, talk—that’s what you like to do,
But little did you realize, friend,
That the more you open your mouth, the further in your foot
Goes in to choke you out in the end.

You sit there on your ass, flaunting your accomplishments,
Claiming superiority where you please,
Proudly sporting your fauxhawk, neckbeard, and thick-rimmed specs
As you ridicule others’ childhood memories.

“Oh, wow! What a lazy premise! What a shameless rip-off!
What cheesy music and animation!
I can’t believe folks actually watched this back in the day.”
Such is what you spew across the nation.

“Good grief! What a hokey scene! What a way to throw logic
Out the window just to tell a story.”
Hey, you’re the one who bothered digging up trash
From the past to show the world in all its glory.

Honestly, do you think we don’t know trash when we see it
With our own eyes and hear with our own ears,
Especially when it’s been out long enough for ourselves
To witness with embarrassment and fear?

Do you really think we need some snarky, immature know-it-all
Showing and telling what we can find out
Ourselves without any guidance? Please! Stop with the insults
‘Cause that’s what you seem to be all about,

So spend your free time doing something far more constructive
And meaningful in the long run of it all
Like warning us of the crap that’s been flooding the mainstream
Today before society further falls

Into ruin just as you claim it had back in the day
With the ages-old dreck you bash presently.
Seriously, you think the past sucked? Well, today’s not much better.
Just look around you, and you’ll see.

Once you do, I hope you at last come to see the light
And put your supposed knowledge to the test
To purge the world of ignorance—hopefully forever—
And put the media’s faults to rest.

Take the hint, then, cocky boy, and clean up your act.
Stop ragging on that which has long past
And do all you can to help us all move forward
And craft memories meant to last.

*****

Author Pages: Smashwords.com
                         Amazon.com
                         Amazon.co.uk

Poem of the Week: Of All Nights

Of All Nights
September 10, 2016

Of all nights for the aerial to die,
The night my show’s on has to be the night.
Thanks a lot, stupid storming summer sky!

Just came home from work, hung my coat to dry,
Sat down to watch some televised delight.
Of all nights for the aerial to die…

Wind, rain, and lightning streaked across the sky,
Clipping branches and power lines one night.
Thanks a lot, stupid storming summer sky!

That was already a while ago. Why
Should that in any way mess up my night?
Of all nights for the aerial to die…

Has the antenna unhinged? Is that why
I can’t watch any TV shows tonight?
Thanks a lot, stupid storming summer sky!

Tomorrow, I guess, to the roof I fly
To see if I can somehow set things right.
Of all nights for the aerial to die…
Thanks a lot, stupid stormy summer sky!

*****

Author Pages: Smashwords.com
                         Amazon.com
                         Amazon.co.uk

Bonus Poem of the Week: Blissful Ignorance (A Haiku Chain to Help Me Get Over a Really Stupid TV Show I Once Saw as a Kid)

Blissful Ignorance (A Haiku Chain to Help Me Get Over a Really Stupid TV Show I Once Saw as a Kid)
August 20, 2016

No regard for the
Lore, sloppy animation,
And mindless writing—
Such was the nature
Of the story I’m trying
To forget from years
Ago in the past
That I was dumb enough to
Watch in the first place.
Why I ever tried
Watching that trash, I can but
Guess, not know for fact.
Maybe it was my
Penchant to give new things a
Chance that did me in
‘Long with my boredom
In the “same old thing” I’d seen
Too much of back then.
Maybe it was plain
Morbid curiosity
That drew me to it
Like a moth to flame
Or like the masses to a
Chuck Lorre sitcom.
Maybe I was just
What I’ve nowadays come to
Hate: a mindless drone
Who watches that which
He’s told to, like so many
Kids are thought to be—
Not that kids are dumb
By default, but many kids
Happen to be so.
I sure was in that
I tried to find some kind of
Merit in the thing
And stuck around for
Some time, yet come up empty-
Handed ev’ry time
I tried to fish for
Anything that would prove the
Show was any good.
My memory since
Has been tainted by its mere
Existence, and I
Can’t seem to get it
Out of my head no matter
How hard I’ve tried, for
No matter what I
Say or do, the memory
Will linger. What’s worse:
I brought all this crap
Upon myself simply by
Checking out their dreck
In the first damn place,
Leaving myself alone to
Blame for the nightmares
That fester within
My brain today even as
I write this message,
Haunting, lingering,
Pestering me…all ‘cause I
Just had to answer
The call to check out
Something I was better off
Leaving well alone.
Don’t be like I was.
Don’t let curiosity
Let you do dumb crap.
Know crap when you see
It and let it be before
It takes over your
Mind and leaves you with
Bad memories that no one
Should have to ensure.
Take it from me: Crap
Stinks, no matter the smell, and
Should be avoided
At all costs, lest you
Want the same jaded mindset
With which I’m dealing.
Trust me…it’s not worth
It. Instead, live your life in
Blissful ignorance.

PS: Bonus points and bragging rights to he or she who can name the TV show I’m referencing in the poem above. 😉

*****

Author Pages: Smashwords.com
                         Amazon.com
                         Amazon.co.uk

Bonus Poem of the Week: Something Has Got to Change

Something Has Got to Change
October 5, 2015

It’s not about talent anymore. It’s not about sharing a gift.
It’s not about doing what it takes to give the business a lift.
It’s not about working hard or being original or having fun.
It’s about pandering to the lowest common denominator, hon.

Gone are the gritty gladiators who scratch and claw their way
To the top of the mountain that’s their field. Apparently, that’s passé.
Instead, we have whiny men-children who cry about their life lot
Who spend most of their time wallowing in nostalgia, self-pity, and snot.

Damned be the innocent romance so charming and heartfelt.
Why bother with wholesome purity with blatant smut flying off shelves—
The kind that makes even old ladies swoon and rave like teenage girls
Of “dream men” who’re really tortuous beasts ‘neath their boyish curls?

Why bother trying to be witty when you can instead be lewd?
That’s the kind of humor that sells these days: loud and crude.
Why try to be clever and subtle when you can shock the masses
And be an insensitive creep all you want to appeal to other jackasses?

Gone are those who’ve moved things forward with tales vibrant and fresh,
Putting new spins on what we know and crafty notions to the test.
Instead, we’ve more of the same old sludge clogging up our brain pipes—
Recycled rubbish from just yesterday—fad-fueled, self-dating tripe.

What happened to the revolution? Where’s all the spark and fire?
Where are the courage and drive that once took entertainment higher?
Where’s the reward for taking a risk and being open and true?
Trust me, if you think these practices still matter, I’ve news for you:

It’s all about making money these days—the good ol’ Almighty Dollar—
And getting the masses to speak of you, no matter how it is they holler.
Who cares how you get your attention when folks foolishly get behind
That which satisfies their shrunken standards and pleases their warped minds?

That’s how things have gotten now, and yeah, it sickens me, too,
When people buy crap for purchasing’s sake just ‘cause said crap is new
And read, watch, and listen to anything just to fill in the void
Of whatever idle time they have, and what’s more that gets me annoyed

Is how the truly wonderful works of each same industry
Are ignored by the masses and media both—which also includes you and me—
Never to see the light of day, save for maybe those who try
To root for them through the dirt and ensure their legends never die.

This pattern has got to stop somehow. Something has got to change.
Entertainment’s been trash for far too long and must be rearranged
So that the hacks who’ve become millionaires can stop hogging the sun
And talented folks can take over and produce quality works for everyone.

After all, many are wising up to the swill they’ve been fed
For so many years, and they, too, now wish this era was dead.
Sadly, there are still many who don’t see the warning signs
Of what may soon be, should we all leave our principles behind.

It’s thus up to all of us to ensure the quality of old return
And that into Hell’s fires go all the trash, forever to burn
Into naught but a mound of ash, for that’s how they should be
So that talent once again shines for all time. Now, who’s with me?

*****

Author Pages: Smashwords.com

                          Amazon.com

                          Amazon.co.uk

Poem of the Week: Wake-Up Call 2014 for Entertainment Supporters

Hello, readers!

For Heaven knows how many years now, the world of entertainment—books, television, cinema, music, and, at times, even video games—has been swimming in a pool of mediocrity based on both corporations’ fixation with profit and the masses’ ever-decreasing standards concerning the products they support. Even I can only imagine just how many hard-working and talented authors, musicians, screen writers, and game designers have struggled for months, years, and even decades only to have various publishers, studios, agents, and such dismiss their work as being worthless in favor of that which has proven to be little else than utter, indefensible trash by critics and audiences alike, yet has proven just as much to make oodles of money for the party/parties responsible for its very existence. Thankfully, not every movie, novel, album, TV program, and video game of questionable repute has proven to be a success, and I cannot help but exhale a sigh of relief every time I hear of some tacky, degrading, or simply lazily made product failing to achieve the success its makers had hoped for it. Unfortunately, one can also say the same for every product into which the creator(s) has/have put a lot of thought and effort, which makes me shake my head and wonder just how much certain people’s tastes have devolved in the past decade or two. Granted, decades past have produced their fair share of garbage as well, but thankfully, the passage of time has cleansed our collective memory of such shoddy work…that is, of course, until someone dares to remind us of such rubbish (e.g., chancing to see such an item on sale at a flea market or on a shopping website such as eBay or Amazon.com)

Regardless, thoughts of such a notion have inspired me to create the following Shakespearean sonnet, which I hope reflects what some of you might be thinking as well concerning 21st century media as we all know it. Without further ado, then, here’s Wake-Up Call 2014 for Entertainment Supporters. Enjoy!

*****

Wake-Up Call 2014 for Entertainment Supporters
September 2, 2014

How can something wretched attain great fame
And fortune in its mediocrity
When stuff exists that’s nowhere near as lame
Out there for the masses to hear and see?
Why can’t people smell stool for what it is
And move on to what they genuinely
Can perceive to be good within the biz
Of entertainment, messed-up though it be?
Why support a blatant, obvious hack
With the cash you’ve worked oh so hard to earn
When you know said hack’s work is naught but whack
And in the end will leave you oh so burned?
It’s time to toss the trash once and for all
‘Fore it further contributes to our fall.

*****

This hereby concludes this week’s poem. Thank you all for stopping by to read it, and if there’s any chance that any of you out there know of a particular movie, novel, TV show, et cetera out on the market today that you feel deserves much less praise/much more criticism than it has received, please don’t hesitate to leave a rant about it in the comments section below. I’m sure we all can recall at least one certain something that we cannot understand is as popular as it is/has been for whatever reason. Also, feel free to visit my author pages at Smashwords.comAmazon.com, and Amazon.co.uk to see which works I have available for purchase as well as my post on this blog about my latest project, The Kingdom of Somnia, to see if it is a project you would like to support, should it ever hit the market. Otherwise, folks, happy reading!

Regards,
Dustin M. Weber

Poem of the Week: Why I Hate [Certain] 21st Century Sitcoms

Hello, readers!

Just decided to post a quick poem describing a few things that tick me off about a certain genre of 21st century television as inspired by chancing upon one of the worst television shows I’ve ever seen created this past couple of decades the other night. Please enjoy, and thanks in advance for your continued support!

*****

Why I Hate [Certain] 21st Century Sitcoms
May 24, 2014

Recorded laughter that gets in the way,
Telling me that which I’m to find funny;
Modernized yet spent plots from yesterday,
Recycled solely for sponsors’ money;
Characters with whom I can’t sympathize,
Self-absorbed and obnoxious to a T,
Played by folks whom I’ll never idolize—
Loaded, but still whom I don’t want to be;
Humor that panders to the lowest form
Of intelligence humanity has—
A bitter, sneering, mean-spirited norm
On which long ago, I’d chosen to pass.
A long, deep scar on entertainment’s face,
Once enjoyable, now a sad disgrace.

*****

Author Pages: Smashwords.com

                          Amazon.com

                          Amazon.co.uk

Poem of the Week: Hope for the Future of Media

Hope for the Future of Media
July 25, 2013

Moving on,
Moving ahead,
Ahead with new characters,
Ahead with new stars—
Stars with personality,
Stars with talent—
Talent that will take them far,
Talent that rings true with fans—
Fans who see the effort,
Fans who appreciate the effort,
The effort of the players,
The effort of the writers—
Writers who have talent of their own,
Writers who know what they’re doing,
Doing what they can,
Doing what’s right—
Right for the future,
Right for the industry,
Industry that’s shot to Hell,
Industry that’s been dying—
Dying for a change,
Dying for a renewal,
Renewal for a new generation,
Renewal for a greater good.
Good riddance to the rubbish of the present!
Good luck to the venues of the future,
Future saviors,
Future salvation,
Salvation from redundancy,
Salvation from foolishness—
Foolishness of the tasteless,
Foolishness of the greedy,
Greedy for attention,
Greedy for money—
Money that they don’t deserve,
Money that could be spent on something greater—
Greater for the masses,
Greater for the world as a whole—
Whole world in need of change,
Whole world that’s been ready for change.
Change can be good.
Change is sometimes a necessity.
Necessity is the mother of invention.
Necessity can be a great driving force—
Force enough to shake things up,
Force enough to bring about what we’ve all been clamoring for…
For a better tomorrow…
For a future that’s bright…
Tomorrow…
Bright.

*****

Author Pages: Smashwords.com

                          Amazon.com

                          Amazon.co.uk

Poem of the Week: Rise Up and Make a Change

Rise Up and Make a Change

October 12, 2012

 

Nobody likes the same old song and dance.

No one likes being stuck in the doldrums,

But when it comes to other people’s plans,

All they ever offer are hos and hums.

It’s as if no one dares to shake things up.

Nobody has the heart to take a stand.

No wonder, then, things aren’t quite up to snuff

In any industry across the land.

If only people had more of a will

To change the state of things for everyone

And not just settle with things and sit still,

Then who knows how ev’rything will become?

The time for complaining has got to end.

It’s time to rise up and make a change, friends!

My author page at Smashwords.com

Twitter: @DustinMWeber