Star Wars: How To Make It Better!!

Recently, I went and saw Solo: A Star Wars Story. I actually enjoyed it quite a bit. It was fun, full of action, loved seeing Donald Glover as Lando. But here’s the thing. I had to ask myslef at the end whether I truly enjoyed it as a Star Wars fan, or if I just enjoyed it as a fun movie? It took me a while to realize it, but I hadn’t enjoyed it as a Star Wars fan. If anything, it was just a generic science fiction movie with some interesting characters and a fun heist going on (though I will admit I did love the Kessel Run. Less than 12 parsecs, haha). I wondered why it had worked for me, but not on the level of it being a Star Wars film? There are several reasons and I think they actually start with the Last Jedi, which I’ll get to after the discussion on Solo.

Han Solo has always been one of the most iconic characters in the Star Wars Galaxy. We know his look, his attitude, and his weaknesses. We also know his history, If one looks into the character of Han Solo, they’ll realize that he already had a well established origin story starting with the book series in the 1980s, I do believe, and followed in the late ’90s with The Young Han Solo Trilogy that pretty much covered his entire youth from being a their on Corellia, to pissing off the Hutts on a regular basis (there’s also a Lando Calrissian series that I hope they consult before making any new Lando adventures). The fact that they took Han Solo’s origin and almost completely threw it out the window is part of the reason why it didn’t resonate with die hard fans.

The characters didn’t resonate with fans because most of them didn’t exist, which actually makes it more of a mess than Tauriel in The Hobbit movies. There were only three characters out of the original origin that they kept, Han, Lando and Chewbacca and that is an issue. Why? Because when you mess with people’s heroes and break canon, fans don’t like that. They want the hero that’s always been what he is due to the origin they already know and love, not some bullshit that someone is just pulling out of thin air. That’s not the way it works, especially with a fandom like Star Wars. With the continuation of the story after the Trilogy and the creation of The First Order, fan were sort of okay with that, but Disney is kind of pushing their luck. Again, completely breaking with canon is not wise.  Also, where did these characters that they added to Solo come from? Who is this Qi’ra character, or these bandit types who keep chasing them, and WTF is with that reveal at the end? It’s just confusing. And for Star Wars fans who know anything about the canon, it’s just nonsense.

So what do we have to do to fix this mess? Solo wasn’t a bad film. It was actually quite good and I enjoyed it. There were just far too many issues as a fan that didn’t make it a Star Wars film. And that is what fans have to decide now. Whether they can enjoy these films as Star Wars films, or if they have to put their faith in the franchise aside and watch the movies as “just another science fiction movie.” Because, Star Wars fans won’t keep watching if they don’t feel like the franchise is staying true. They will abandon it, because suggesting that you can give them crap and they’ll just keep coming back isn’t true at all. Down the road, they’ll realize they’ve been had and they’ll walk away grumbling about the fact that Star Wars messed up Star Wars. Some already have. And no this doesn’t have anything to do with subliminal messaging from “the left” or “social justice warriors.” Star Wars has been about social justice warriors since film one. That’s just a fact.

Solo definitely didn’t get enough marketing time. Also, it was definitely released too close to The Last Jedi. There’s no doubt about that. There was literally no time to build up hype or get excited about it. Also, I don’t think Star Wars is anything they should even try to make into a Marvel Universe kind of franchise. Releasing a film every six months is just going to create over-saturation and then there will be no excitement at all because, “oh, it’s just another Star Wars movie, who cares?” I care. Many other fans still care. What they should do Disney should space them out like Warner Brothers is spacing out the Harry Potter prequels and maybe put out a new Star Wars film every year-and-a-half or so. That way people can get excited about it, hype it, make it special again.

Diversity is never a bad thing. I think that we need a director and a writer of color to work on Star Wars. The last woman to even touch Star Wars was Leigh Brackett in 1980 for The Empire Strikes Back. She passed away from cancer before the script was finished which is why George Lucas and Lawrence Kasdan also have writing credits on it. Bringing in PoC is never a bad idea. If we can get someone like Ryan Coogler to direct a Star Wars film, it would probably be great!  As for me, as I’ve stated before, I want to be the first WoC to write a Star Wars film. In fact I’ve already started. It may never see the light of day, but at least I did what I said I was going to do. Adding new voices with diverse perspectives is just something that should happen. And, we’re tired of J.J Abrams and his ridiculous nonsense, haha.

The last thing I would suggest for Disney is to go back to the original canon for the series. Maybe not completely, but just nudge it a little bit. There are so many great Star Wars characters that you’re just basically throwing in the trash. Like Mara Jade, Kyp Durron, Corran Horn, Kam and Tionne Solusar, Winter, Salla Zend, Talon Karrde, Admiral Daala, So many whose stories deserve to be told because they are part of the Star Wars fabric. And to totally throw them out and ignore them is to basically spit in the face of fans who loved them.

I have always had one rule for any director or writer who works on Star Wars, no matter who they are. They have to be fans. So far I have seen very little evidence of that. The Last Jedi was the closest film so far (maybe Rogue One), but that’s just not good enough. You have to do better, Disney, or all of the Star Wars fans are going to jump ship. Thanks for reading. I hope you liked this post! Let me know what you think!!

Writing Male and Female Characters: Why We Need More Women In The Writers Room

Recently, Wil Wheaton posted an article about the fact that Gillian Anderson was bothered by something. The fact that the writing team for the X-Files was all male.   Here is the link to the article. While this is indeed annoying, it is actually quite common. Despite the fact that Hollywood has called for change, little change is happening, and the status quo is still in effect. This could create a problem however. The issue being that the show has a team of men who are writing both male and female characters. There’s nothing wrong with men writing female characters. The issue is that there is a “team” of writers, and yet there is no room for even a single female writer on that team, meaning there is no true female representation or perspective. Writing for the opposite gender can be difficult. I’ll give you a few examples from myself that are interesting to consider.

As a writer who does not have a team, I cannot really and truly understand the male perspective. I have written male characters; many of them, but I am not an expert on maleness. For example, when writing a book that should be out this winter called Dragon Fire, Angel Light. Both of the main characters are male. In fact they’re males who love each other and have chosen to be together despite the fact that both are a bit supernatural and it creates issues. When writing the characters, while I can make the males male, some of their mannerisms and things that they say aren’t exactly the most male. There are quite a few instances in which the characters engage in what would be considered “mushy” behavior.  They will come straight out with the “i love yous” and the “I want to look in your eyes” when having sex (oh golly). They have no qualms about calling each other “my love”, “my lover” using terms like “making love” instead of just “doing it”. It’s all very romantic, but is it male? The fact is, I don’t really know because I’m not male.

Another example is my book Tales of the Driss, Krystal Dragons. It’s a fantasy novel based off characters and actors that have influenced and inspired me (thank you Dean O’Gorman and Aidan Turner). These guys aren’t lovers, they’re brothers, but even with their lovers, they don’t act very male. They have long conversation about how much they love their lovers after sex, they wax romantic when they’re asking their lovers to marry them, once again coming straight out with the “I love yous”.  They talk constantly about the merits of love and how it’s effected them. I don’t know if this is especially male either. Do men often go off on romantic mush fests? Do they just lie in bed and talk about how much they love their lovers after sex? Once again, I couldn’t say.

Screenplay Harold Godwinson has gone through many incarnations. and many drafts, however, the story has always stayed the same. So the relationship between Harold and his consort Edith has always been the same, and they face the same issues. An over romantic man driven more by feeling than by power, gain or perhaps even reason. Instead he’s more invested in justice, happiness, and caring. which is, once again not very manish, of so it would seem. One would think that the second most powerful man in Britain would be mad for the power that he could claim for himself, going forth on his own conquests and calculating his possibility for advancement. That’s not the way he’s written because when I looked at his life, that’s not the way he seemed. A man writing for this character might have seen the more calculating man in search for power. I did not. He loves his consort, he loves his land, he’s not out for himself, he’s looking out for everyone else, which may or may not be very male.

There are many stereotypes that still exist when one writes female characters. This may be because that is how women have always been portrayed to men. Seeing as history and many of the great works from the past were written by men, the male perspective may have overshadowed some of the truths about women. Throughout history, women have always been cast in certain roles. The two most classic being the fool and the seductress, or sometimes even both. If we look at the Bible, there is the story of Adam and Eve. There is Eve who is the first one seduced in the garden to eat the fruit which makes her the fool, and then she convinces Adam to eat the fruit as well, in a way seducing him into doing so. No one considers the fact that the second hand information given to her from Adam about the Fruit may not have impressed the danger of eating it. There is the story of Pandora who just couldn’t resist opening a box because, you know, the curious woman. There’s the story of Samson and Delilah, the seductress who betrays her lover through seduction and lust, and there’s the fallacy that Mary Magdalene was a whore. If we can break the stereotypes, then we can write better women. And who is the best at understanding women and the stereotypes applied to them? Women.

While it’s not a bad thing for men to write female characters; some female characters are wonderful, powerful, beautiful, and non-stereotypical. They’ve been written by great authors like Ibsen, Tolkien Hardy and so many others. However it’s also not a bad idea to have a woman to at least help better understand women and how women think, act, interact. And when you can have a team of writers, I’m sure that there’s room for at least one woman. Women need to be heard, as the female voice is just as important as the male voice, especially when a woman can write a woman for women. She wants the same opportunities that male writers get. She’s just as good, just as creative, just as interesting, and has the added bonus of being a woman. This also applies to people of color, but that’s a discussion for another time. Maybe next blog. Women want a chance to write. If Hollywood gives it to them, Hollywood won’t be sorry.

 

Thoughts on “Logan”

*I shall attempt a no spoilers post*

I recently went and saw the movie “Logan” which is the last film in the Marvel film series about the X-Men (or so it would seem).  I must say that as a person who has found just about every Marvel movie annoying since the original X-Men series, I was very pleased with this movie.  While all of the X-Men films, and Marvel films in general, have been the same special effects driven, generic movies, “Logan” had a a gritty, real world feel to it that made it far more engaging than the usual superhero movie.

That is because Logan (played by Hugh Jackman) is one of the few characters from the original films that is still a mutant and still has powers. However it becomes clear very early in the movie that his powers are waning, and he’s not the paragon of strength that “Wolverine” used to be. He’s looking old, his scars are showing, his eyesight is failing, he limps like a man whose worked too hard and is in his sixties, and his wondrous healing powers that had seen him through so much are disappearing. He also seems to be extremely depressed. After years of being something, he’s been reduced to a limo driver whose purpose is to drive around drunken idiots. He’s also taking care of his old friend, Professor Charles Xavier (played by Patrick Stewart) whose very old and suffering from Alzheimer. Logan has no choice but to watch as one of the most powerful minds in the world deteriorates into nothing. Professor X, on the other hand, is very aware that people are “just waiting for him to die.” Many older people experience this, which brings to Xavier a feeling of mortality as he realizes the restrictions of his brilliance brought on by old age.

The audience gets the feeling that Logan is about ready to give up. He’s carrying around an Adamantium bullet, the only thing that he knows that can definitely kill him. He’s realized that most of the purpose in his life has gone away, and he is ready to die. When he meets the little girl Laura, who has powers just like him, his will to live is renewed as he cannot help but love the child who becomes more than a little special to him.

Logan is a very interesting character to study, especially as he progresses through the series. When we first meet Logan, he is, indeed, a cage fighter in Canada, running away from a past he can’t remember and trying to avoid all human contact. This is probably because he’s trying to avoid getting hurt. He is very aware that if you care about anything, losing it means the potential for emotional pain. While he presents himself as a character with a massive chip on his shoulder who cares for no one, that doesn’t seem to be the case at all. In fact, he may be a loner, but he also has a big heart that is easily shattered by loss and pain. Throughout the series there are several deaths and un-requited love stories that he goes through.

What Logan’s attitude boils down to in the end is fear of loss, fear of pain, and possibly just a desire to not have to deal with that anymore. By the time we reach the Logan story, he has to be almost three hundred years old. In that span of time, one can be witness to more human tragedy than anyone should ever suffer. Some part of him probably longs for mortality, the release of death means the release from pain, which is probably why he carries that bullet around with him.

As Logan goes through the story, he realizes that he doesn’t have to kill himself. With his failing powers, he’s staring down mortality. And he realizes the limits of his strength just as any normal human would. The audience can tell that this brings him both relief and fear. But there’s one last thing he has to do. That he has to finish. And finish it he will, even if it ends him.

The movie “Logan” is all about endings. In some ways it is also about beginnings. There is the classic theme of passing the torch from one generation to the next. This is a theme that is as old as story telling as the old hero passes his sword to his child so that the child may carry on when he can no longer. It is also a story about how even heroes all fallible. Logan, who was once invincible, is no longer what he used to be. The mask of the hero is lifted to reveal a mere mortal. It is also about facing down fear, whether it be the fear of taking the risk and loving someone, or the fear of mortal limitations. All in all, it is perhaps the best film in the series.

Just like Deadpool, this movie is not really appropriate for children as it has it’s share of swearing and stabbing people through the head. However the violence in this movie is not a bad thing. It actually contributes to the story and the character as Logan, the Clint Eastwood cowboy type, carves his way to a difficult victory. In some ways it is like watching an old Western movie like The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, or a Chinese Kung-Fu film like The Blood of the Dragon where the hero doesn’t even fall down to die. Which in some ways kind of makes it a guy movie, but just about any X-Men fan, or action movie fan and sit and enjoy it. In fact it’s kind of nice that heralds back to that old action movie feel. The tone is both modern and nostalgic for those who have always loved action movies.

Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed it.

The Value of Fan Fiction, Fan Art, Fan Videos and Costumes

 

 

Hello all. Thought I would go ahead and post something because it is one of those things I am interested in.  It is often said by some that “fan projects” are not worth the time or effort. This is not true at all. “Fan projects” are more pivotal now than they ever have been. Why do I say this? Because engaging in fan activities such as writing fan fiction, doing fan videos and creating fan art are fostering the next generation of artists. Basically what I am saying is that, with these projects comes knowledge, practice in the art that you want to be involved in, and experience.

Lets start with fan fiction. Many authors will say that this is not the kind of thing that “real” writers engage in. That is not true. Even writers and film makers that are well respected have dabbled in borrowing, fan fiction and “ripping off”. Take Suzanne Collins who wrote “The Hunger Games”. It is quite clearly based, in some form off of the film “Battle Royale”, A Japanese film about a group of Japanese students who are forced to fight to the death in a contest where only one is meant to come out alive.

Then again, “Battle Royale” is much more interesting and amusing, because it is not a film made to be considered as “overly serious film”, it is a film that caters to the interest of many audiences, action fans, Japanese film fan, people who like the irony and strong social messages put forward by the film. But basically it is an “it is what it is film, and if you try to make it something more, you’ll merely disappoint yourself”. The Hunger Games” caters to it’s built in audience, and is therefore full of teen angst and characters that one only finds interesting if they are into that sort of movie. There’s nothing wrong with the films. For me, they are just not as entertaining as a film like “Battle Royale”. But still, it cannot be denied that the premise is basically the same and one is simply more entertaining that the other.

Let’s take a moment to look at “Star Wars” and George Lucas. George Lucas’s earliest movie was “THX1138”, a dystopian film about a very controlled society. Here we actually have Lucas who has borrowed from George Orwell, who’s books (that later became films) are basically the same story. People living in a controlled society. Then when it came time for “Star Wars”, George Lucas, who was a great fan of Akira Kurosawa, basically took the plot of Kurosawa’a film “The Hidden Fortress” and set it in space. The George Lucas ripped himself off and Created “Willow” which is the same story with little people and Val Kilmer. Then, as Honest Trailers pointed out, J.J. Abrams basically recycled the plot, except this time around, Luke was a young woman who didn’t whine or complain as much. And in fact, you could say that Collins ripped off both Lucas and Orwell…Haha…

Even a smutty book like “Fifty Shades of Grey” was borrowed from the plot of “Twilight”, which I have always found amusing. Anne Rice took the plot of “Sleeping Beauty” and filled it with smut. Also borrowing from other people is what remakes are, adaptations are, they are also why Marvel keeps regurgitating it’s superhero franchises.

So here’s the thing. If these people are allowed to borrow, adapt, rip off and do all these other sorts of things, why can’t we fans do so? Some writers will say that, “ah, fan fiction. That is no good because you’re just taking someone else’s story and doing things with it.” Well yeah! That’s what art is all about. Copying and borrowing from the masters in order to gain competence. Even Da Vinci and Michelangelo started, probably from copying some of their art, or borrowing it from the person that they learned from. Everyone learns something. The difference is how quickly you can pick it up.

Also they say, “oh you don’t get good feedback on fan fiction”. Not true at all. If you are a good writer, people will know it and know how to respond to your writing, regardless of what it is based off of. There is a difference in writing styles and motives in fan fiction. One is for the writer who someday wants to write. The other is for people who use it for some kind of odd wish fulfillment, which shouldn’t be in the same caliber. However, I have gotten a lot of good feedback from writing fan fics. People seem to like what I write and know what kind of writer I am, and therefore, they ask questions, point out plot holes, make comments on my having too much exposition, all kinds of useful comments. So one cannot claim that they do not get good feed back. If you are a good writer who is working to morph a good narrative, readers will know it.

Some fan videos are wonderful, and I enjoy watching them. They can be funny, touching, interesting visually, and just plain emotional. So here the thing. What you are looking at are the writers, comedians, film editors, and producers/directors of the future. If you can make a good fan video that people like, then chances are you want to work in film. The fact that you are working with someone elses content, just as long as you make it clear that you are playing with someone elses baby, and you’re not slapping your name on it saying, “this is mine”, I don’t see a problem with it. When I edit photos, people know they are not mine. Nor do I claim them as mine. They belong to someone else, and I try to make that as clear as possible when I give credits to people. So we should not demonize people for stealing when all they are doing is borrowing. If they have the footage, chances are they own the original, and most people still like to buy the DVD. Personally I don’t like downloads of anything, whether it’s film or music or game content. I want something I can hold, that is mine. So I still buy DVDs and things. I love things like commentary and interviews and extras, so I buy the damn movie! It isn’t mine. I claim nothing because I cannot. All I do is what most other artists do is borrow and take what I can from a given plot and work with it. Here are a couple of videos from Sweetladybat that I just love.

Fan art is also a very useful teaching tool. Again, learning from the masters. Also fan costumes. If you go to conventions, you will see thousands of costumes that people have worked numerous hours on, sometimes just to wear to one event. What you have here is artists in the making and future costume designers. You may have the next Edith Head amongst their numbers. Or even a Donatella Versace is you think about it. why would the film industry and fashion industry not take advantage of these people and their art?

There are so many fandoms out there, and there are so many people who want to be a part of them. And if you do not foster the talent of the next Shakespeare, or the next Da Vinci, or the next Edith Head, the industry will be missing out on some great and awesome talent.

Thank you for reading, I greatly appreciate it!! Shara

Aidan Turner Shirtless Scything: Sexism or Just Something That Happened That Women Love?

Hello ladies and gents!! Just thought I would give an honest opinion on something concerning the Lovely actor Aidan Turner since it still seems to be everywhere. I was cruising around on Facebook in one of my groups, one dedicated to Aidan Turner, and I came across this article: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-life/11561120/Poldarks-Elizabeth-Aidan-Turner-topless-obsession-is-sexist.html#disqus_thread . Usually I don’t read these kinds of things, but I decided to give it a look. I won’t say I was surprised, but I will say that I found it interesting on several levels and this was my original comment via the group:

Okay, here is the first reason why this is ridiculous. The term “reverse sexism” is absolute crap. There is no such thing. Sexism is sexism and it applies to anything/one. Just like the term “reverse racism” is bull. Goes which ever way, racism is racism. Also there is the fact that it’s about time that women started objectifying a man, as it’s usually the other way around. Women objectify men much less than men objectify women. Suggesting this is wrong because it is a man is just silly. I mean let’s go for a little equality in harmless objectification. I mean it’s not like we are demanding that we want him to go around with his shirt off all the time. Nor are we asking that he take it all off in anything more than jest. Women’s sexual wants are no less than mens, we just express them less publicly and not all the time. I mean when you think about it, there are far more magazines in the stores with women hanging out of clothing than men. Anyway, a mere opinion. And one would think that he would be a bit flattered. “People like me, hopefully body and soul. I should be happy of that. And if it’s just body for now, so it goes. It’s still recognition.”

Now that I consider this, it is both true and not true. While he is getting exposure, so to say, it is not necessarily the exposure he wants. Then again there is the old saying that, “any publicity is good publicity”. Again, both true and not true. While Aidan Turner is at a point where he is on the edge of  the “wide exposure/discovery” stage of his career, as before “The Hobbit” and “Poldark”, most people within the United States (and some other countries) might not have known him very well, he runs the risk of being know for a very long time as “half naked scything guy from “Poldark”” (sorry Aidan, had to go there). He may be at the point where he is trying to decide if that is what he wants. He could end up in the same vortex as Mark Hamill who will always be Luke Skywalker, William Shatner who will always be Captain Kirk, or  any other number of actors who will only be therefore identified with one role or type of role. Aidan probably wants to be seen as more versatile, as he is more versatile than that. There is a lot of potential in Aidan, and he wants to express that. Maybe he will go on to be James Bond, or an action star, or take on comedic roles. If he is going to do that, he has to paint himself as something more than a British period series sex symbol.

Aidan Turner in the BBC show "Poldark" Scything and asking the fundamental question.

Aidan Turner in the BBC show “Poldark” Scything and asking the fundamental question.

However, the above statement that I made is not completely wrong either. Women are far more objectified than men are. The fact that women are taking an interest in a sexy guy and letting it be known should not be a shocking thing. And in some ways I think he should be a bit flattered. Most people would enjoy a bit of mild fawning over their sexiness. I know that if I were a bit more sexy, I would want a bit of attention. Then again, too much is too much, and we should all be respectful. Aidan works hard, is proud of his work, and he thinks focus should be on more than just his sexy physique. That’s a good thing. They should all be proud of “Polark”. It was a good series, it was interesting, people seemed to like it, be proud!! But it cannot be denied that if they hadn’t had Aidan, and they hadn’t utilized him…So to say…The show probably would not have been as successful as it was.

One cannot deny that Aidan Turner is a sexy man. I still think he should be named “People Magazines” Sexiest Man Alive!! I mean, if they can make Chris Hemsworth the Sexiest man Alive… He has a bright future ahead of him, and it will be interesting to see how his career plays out. I do not think that his stint at scything will be anything other than good for him, and it certainly cannot be considered a “bad thing”. Do I believe it is sexism? Maybe it is. More than anything, if it is a respectful admiration of something beautiful, then perhaps not. Appreciating something for it’s beauty is not necessarily sexist. When people are disrespectful and degrade it, that is the point where it turns to sexism. Personally I am of the opinion that everyone should keep their clothing on. Taking off one’s clothing, hanging out of it, or just not caring about states of undress merely defeats the purpose of clothing…So either go with or go without.

As for Aidan…He can go with, go without, hang out in his Kili costume. Whatever floats your boat. It won’t change the fact that he’s still a very attractive man, and if we choose to fawn, so we will.

Thank you for reading!! I hope to hear from you!! Now for a relevant song…Or somehow I feel it is…