December 12, 2009

STILL THE KING OF THE WORLD

It takes a hell of a lot of nerve for a man to stand up at the Oscarcast and proclaim himself King of the World. James Cameron just got re-elected.

In short, this review by Roger Ebert of Cameron's Avatar... and the fact that all in all, the movie year 2009 was entirely forgettable with the the exception of Quentin Tarantino's gloriously ambitious mess that was Inglourious Basterds tells me one thing. If you're a writer, become a director. I know, I know... much is being made of the nature of the "collaborative" business that are movies (or comic books as well), when all of it really is, at least for the most part... it's creation by committee, and worse than that, it's a committee you – the original creator – didn't (s)elect. Entertainment (not what passes as "art" these days, I am talking about entertainment, and entertainment always needs two elements, the creator and the audience... in short, you ain't doing this for yourself alone, boys and girls, you're doing it for the applause at the end) needs a unique vision, undiluted by retards who tell you that "character building is unneccessary" and that all that is needed are girls in fetish outfits...

... if you will dress them, they will cum, right? Now, feedback is important, is vital... whether it is an editor or someody pointing out to you, "but wait a minute, how the hell did character A get to point B", because those are the same questions the audience will ask later, be it reading your book or watching your movie.

But that is not what most "collaborative" business in the comic book industry and movies is about, these days. It's about enforcing the retarded notions of fun of a guy who has money onto the final story, and to fucking hell with the audiences, I have the money, you will give me a blow job, get the fuck down on your knees, and start sucking.

I – like most writers – in those "collaborative" businesses, have sucked that dick, and like that call girl selling herself to pay for law school/art school/whatever, I have justified it by telling myself, just a while longer, you need this book out there, you need it so you can say that you are a professional.

But kids, that ain't what makes you a professional. It just makes you a whore. What makes you a professional is one thing: give a damn about those people who will pay 10 bucks, 15 bucks and more of their heard-earned money to watch or read something that you made. You're not a whore. You're a carpenter (and we all know where carpenters end up, eh? At the age of 33 on a cross). You're a craftsman/woman. This is what you are. This is what you should be. This is what has made James Cameron one of the very few true entertainers we still have. He gives a fuck about you, or like he stated in a CNN interview a few weeks back, "You have to give the audience something".

Not just something... everything. They have earned it. Each one of them, they have earned it by showing up and paying for it.

And if you do a movie about a different planet, then what the hell, you go all-out. If you do a romance set on the Titanic, you go all-out. If you have a story that is set underwater, you go all-out... and have your actors bitch and moan about the amount of extra work they have to put into it. One of my favourite James Cameron quotes is this: "If I can be underwater for six hours, directing this thing, then you can be underwater for the same amount of time." So, yes, stop your damn whining, I am going to push you to your breaking point, and then I am going to push you some more, because I am pushing myself just as hard.

And if that makes you a dick in the eyes of those who think that they can cut corners, that they can be lazy, that they can do something that is not pushing hard enough, far enough... so be it.

When I was running The Official Dreamcast Magazine, management decided to dump an editor on me who – in their eyes – was a terribly disruptive force. He would game most of the day during office hours, and not the games he should have been gaming, but rather the predecessor of World of Warcraft: EverQuest. They parked him with me, because they couldn't downright fire him, and my team needed another editor, so – in classical management stupidity – hey, let's dump him there, and he won't be our problem no more.

First time I met the guy, there were two things I saw immediately. One, he was a nice, decent guy. Two, he didn't believe in the system anymore, and he thought about me, hell, here's just another asshole who doesn't give a fuck. Now, me? I never believed in the system. I worked inside it. And for the most part, it is broken beyond repair. And this guy, he had been crushed by it. He had simply opted out. Sit. Play EverQuest, make no waves. Roll over. Play Dead.

"You know they want to fire you," I said to him. "Right?"

"Yeah, I know," he said.

"They say you don't give a fuck," I said.

"Yeah."

"I don't give a fuck what they're saying," I said. "Here's how this will happen. As long as you are a part of my team, I will have your back. You can do whatever the fuck you want. If you want to play EverQuest during office hours, you can do so. I don't care. In fact, if you run around naked and are wildly masturbating in the office, I don't care. Here's what I do care about. If and when I give you an assignment, you will hand it in on time, you will be responsible with our designers how the story will look on paper, so you will sit your ass down with them, you will not fuck that up, because if you do, I will know about it, and I will stop being polite, and trust me, you don't want me to stop being polite. You will do your job. If that means you will do your job at home from 1 AM to 3 AM, I got no problem with that. But you will do it. And for that, I will have your back. I will not let management come down on you, fact is, I will not let anyone come down you. If somebody comes down on anyone, it will be on me. Are we clear?"

He looked at me, quite unsure.

"Yeah," he said.

"Good," I said. "Now let's have a sitdown with the rest of the team and discuss what we are going to do with the magazine."

"In the conference room?" he asked.

"Hell, no," I said. "We're going all out for coffee. Conference rooms are for retards, who like the notion that everybody else is forced to listen to them, because they sit at the top of the table."

That editor never failed me. He always did exceptional work. He still played EverQuest during office hours (which pissed off management to no end, and they did come down on me, hard, but I told them, what? He is doing his job. He produces results. It ain't important to me that your problem seems to be that you need to control him), but he never gave less than the best, his stories were always on time, and they were good stories.

He also gave me my first nickname, simply Papa Bear.

One of the things I noticed during the two years and three months of creative slavery that I went through was how many times my publisher said, "it's good enough, nobody will notice". Well, guess what? People did notice. All the things that I said would happen, if we had to rush things, that's exactly what the reviewers then rightfully criticised.

The audience, boys and girls. If you create something, that's what you have to think of. Every time. Every moment. Every sentence you put down on paper. Every design you make. Every movie you make.

The rest? The rest is just bullshit.

And thankfully, the world has James Cameron to remind us of that.