Saturday, November 29, 2014

Star Wars The Force Awakens Trailer Insanity

Am I really writing a post about a movie trailer???  Yes, it seems I am, and sadly, it seems I'm not the only one.  I write when I have something to say and I'm tired of repeating myself.  And I most definitely have something to say about this.

For over a month now, people have been eagerly anticipating the release of this trailer.  And after all the hype and repeatedly being rickrolled, and forced (no pun intended) to watch some nice (and some not so nice) fan trailers, here is the moment you've all been waiting for:

Looks kind of cool, right?  Of course it looks cool!  It's a Star Wars trailer!  Nothing about that should ever suck!

Now, let's put things in perspective.

Good or bad, people love Star Wars.  It has embedded itself so deeply into our culture and we all feel it is an invaluable part of our lives.  We want it to be fun, and expect great things, but often we are disappointed.  We all have this collective vision of what Star Wars should be.  And on some rare occasions, we get our wish.

But seriously, movie trailers are designed to be freakin' awesome!!  Have you ever watched a trailer that sucked?  I doubt any director is going to create a teaser with the worst parts of their movie to showcase.  And how often have you eagerly anticipated a movie based on an amazing trailer, and the movie was the biggest waste of time and money ever made?  So this teaser truly is a teaser.  It shows you one minute of footage from a movie that will most likely have 120 minutes total running time.  It's like hearing one note from a song and making the blind assumption that it will be the worlds greatest song ever.  It doesn't say much of anything really.

And now, let's explore the dark side...  J.J. Abrams.

A while back, I wrote this whole rant (here) on how I dislike Christopher Nolan's style of directing and can't understand his success.  I should write a similar rant on Abrams.  Maybe I sort of did here when I complained about him ruling two equally important nerd universes.

Abrams has admitted himself, he uses too much lens flare.  It's his signature style.  He's also proven he loves his shaky cam during fight sequences, preventing us from actually seeing any of the action.  And he's shown he prefers dark drab lifeless colors in his movies, (as he took every chance he could to get the Star Trek cast out of their traditional red, blue, and yellow uniforms), filming dull dark colorless scenes.  Will he suddenly change his methods for the Star Wars franchise?  I can't imagine he will, but maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised.

It's also important to note, there is a huge difference between a director and a screenplay.  Alfred Hitchcock said "To make a great film you need three things - the script, the script and the script".  It's the directors job to film the story, and as long as the director has half a brain, and isn't trying to be too artsy, they usually can't screw that up.  But for a movie to be memorable, I look for something more.  A film should be like a moving painting for my eyes.  I'm not expecting EVERY shot to be a work of art, but I look for something visually entertaining.  

And in the interest of credit where credit is due... Abrams proved from Star Trek that he knows how to film ships in space.  He made that cool, and by showing X-Wing fighters, and of course, the Millennium Falcon here, he definitely proved he can still do that (so far).

So for me, this trailer only showed the movie is still being made and will be released next December 2015 (which I already knew).  If it's a good script, and Abrams lets me see the action, without any lens flare and shows me a decent color palette, it could be a good movie.  I can't be as 'pee my pants excited' as many people are, because Abrams is still the director, because I don't think he's that good.  But I will admit to being apprehensively curious.  I sincerely hope I can enjoy it, otherwise The Force Awakens might as well go back to bed (I doubt I'll be the first or last person to use this phrase).


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Injustice and Riots - A Nerdy White Guys Perspective

If you didn't already guess, I'm a white guy.  Maybe in some ways, I am overly white, or cliche white.  I really don't mind if someone says that and I joke about it myself sometimes.  It's easy to do.  But it's never been so easy or natural for me to joke about other races, because I respect other people, until they give me a reason not to respect them.  I work with white people, and Spanish people, and "black people" (I wouldn't call them "African American", because I really hate that label, and I don't think they're from Africa, any more than I'm from Germany or Ireland).  Each of them have their own traits and personality.  If I have a problem with someone, it has NOTHING to do with their heritage or their job, and in my mind, it never will.  If you're a jerk, you could be from anywhere and have any job.

Maybe some will say I look at the world through "nerd colored glasses", and I'm too optimistic at times.  Because unfortunately, the real world can be a frustrating place sometimes.  That's why I focus on nerdy things.  I prefer imagination and creativity over the harsh reality of disgusting things that I have no control over.

I don't think I'm delusional and I never just stick my head in the sand.  In fact, sometimes maybe I am too aware of what's happening.  I often research in depth from different sources so I can try to understand the truth. Especially when it seems we live in a world of misinformation and outright hatred.

But will any of my research help resolve anything?  Maybe not, and it causes me more pain seeing how people handle things, knowing in my heart, they're only making things worse.

Back in 1992, while going to school to study audio recording, I spent time as a security guard (stop laughing!).  Most of the time, all I had to do was stay awake.  It wasn't an overly complicated position, and I could study for school while staying vigilant over whatever it was I was supposed to be watching.

It was great... until Rodney King.

A black man pulled over by police, and they all beat the crap out of him while someone recorded it.  Common sense says this was wrong and the cops should have been locked up for abuse of power on an unarmed man.

But after a long court case, nothing happened to the police.... And many people in LA rioted.

I lived in Florida, but you can imagine how I felt, looking like a cop.  And maybe you can also understand, why I quit that job two weeks later.

Now here we are twenty years later.  Michael Brown, a black man, unarmed, was shot dead by police.  Just writing those words make my stomach turn, because after a Grand Jury examined the case, nothing will happen to the cop who fired the gun.  
But equally frustrating, many people in Ferguson, Missouri, where the shooting took place, decide to riot over this decision.

I read many posts from others on social media that said "This is crazy!".  I think the proper word is STUPID!!
So taunting police, smashing windows, burning down businesses, and flipping cars is your solution???  None of these businesses or cars or people had anything to do with this shooting!  Now you look like a child throwing a tantrum.  This makes you no better than the idiots with a badge abusing their power. 

Everyone needs to realize, there are a LOT of good people in the world.  Some of them are cops.  Some are white.  Some are black.  Some are Muslim.  The list goes on and on.

Maybe some of these businesses are on your side!  Maybe they agree with you!  Maybe some cops are on your side!  Nobody can say ALL cops are evil.

So what is the solution?  
I wish I knew.  But violence and blind hatred will never work in your favor.  I'm realistic to know the idea of "one man can make a difference" isn't so easy in 2014.  But I still try.  And all I can do is write.  I couldn't be more removed from this situation unless I was actually a space alien.  Maybe nobody involved in this situation will ever read my words.  But I made the effort intelligently and responsibly.  So if everyone makes an effort, maybe we can all make some change for the better?

At the risk of making this a nerdy post, (always go with your strengths), there are people that grew up watching Star Trek from the 1960's that were inspired to create a lot of the technology we use today.  And maybe their inspiration was innocent curiosity, but can't we also be inspired to create new laws and a better society through things that frustrate us? 

Stop thinking about revenge and start acting smart and maybe we can prevent this type of stupidity from repeating itself in another twenty years.  The world can be a beautiful place, with a lot of good people who want to help.  But burning it to the ground because you're angry, is never the solution.

One important thing to notice...
Millions of people care about what happened to Michael Brown, when nobody heard of him before this shooting. That alone makes a very powerful statement.