Thursday, June 13, 2013

Reality vs Superman... and Me

Tomorrow I will take myself to see the new Superman movie, Man of Steel. I expect it will be well made, and probably a lot of fun. I also expect to see a number of attempts made by director Zach Snyder and writers David S. Goyer and Christopher Nolan to "modernize" Superman, to "make him relevant to today's audiences." Fine, I say. Whatever. As long as the main character is still Superman.

It doesn't take much to amuse the little kid in me. Add Superman to a movie, or a giant transforming robot (or both!), and you're 90% of the way to making me happy.

Other people, I've noticed, are much harder to satisfy. They want their inner (and outer) adult catered to, with childish things put away (or left to cartoons). They want their movies to have Reality, to feature characters and stories you would expect to see in the Real World. Fantastic stories have their place (again, cartoons), but if you want Grown-Ups to like it, you must make the fantasy Believable. Relatable. It must Say Something About the Human Condition. And Gritty. Don't forget Gritty.

Grit is fine, in and of itself. I'm a big fan of many Gritty, Relatable films and stories (like Batman Begins, Michael Bay's Transformers, Iron Man, etc). I do not, however, think that every story of the fantastic needs to be that way, especially if the concept behind it doesn't lend itself all that well to those elements.

Take Superman. He can fly. He can see through walls. He can lift continents, and his fists could shatter the Moon. And, he's a pretty decent guy. Hooray, say kids! Nonsense, say Grown-Ups. A character like that can't possibly be interesting. How can you Relate to him? He isn't tortured! He doesn't like to kill people! He's NICE, dammit! Such a man can't possibly be REAL.

No, he can't. Superman isn't Real. He isn't supposed to be.

But... Superman is something the child in us wishes was real. He's an amalgamation of everything that's good in humanity (so it's only natural that he's an alien!). He comes from above us, lives among us, and protects us from the worst in ourselves (and Solomon Grundy). Fine, say Grown-Ups, but he needs a Believable Reason for doing so. Is he trying to avenge the death of his parents? Is he making up for a mistake that cost his uncle's life? Is he fighting to prove his kind aren't evil whilst fighting the evil members of his kind? For God's sake, is the man Being Paid?

No. And that's Superman's crime against Reality - he protects us from evil because he can, and because he believes it is the right thing to do. That's it. No burning rage, no agonizing guilt, no paycheque. He's just a really nice guy with super powers.

That, of course, isn't Believable. That's not a Well-Rounded Character. Nice isn't Reality! Grown-Ups hate Nice. It's naive... childish. Real people aren't like that.

Nice guys finish last, no one will go out on a date with them, and they always get picked last in gym class. Nice guys are NOT supposed to be able to save the world from asteroids, alien invaders, criminal masterminds and kitten-capturing trees. They are supposed to get kicked to the dirt while the Real Heroes - the ones with guns and knives and attitude - embrace their dark natures and show ya how we get things done!

But Superman doesn't get kicked to the dirt. Because he's Superman. Try it, and he could punt you into the dirt... on Mars! Except he won't. Because he's Superman. Instead, he'll tell you not to kick him because you'll break your own damn foot. Then he'll fly off to put a stop to Lex Luthor's insane schemes, pausing just long enough to rescue a little kid's balloon.

That's not Interesting! People can't Relate To That! It's not REAL!

Why not?

Because nobody's actually like that!

I know. It's a fantasy. For children, or the young at heart. Or the naive. Or anyone who still believes that people can be good.

So I'm going to see Man of Steel tomorrow. And I hope that, despite attempts to 'make him relevant', he'll still be the nice guy in the red and blue suit with the super powers.

There'll be plenty of Reality waiting for me afterward.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

June-Bugging, for want of a better title

May, my second-favourite month, has drawn to a close. Actually it drew to a close over a week ago, but who's counting? Well, me, I suppose.

Anyway, back to May. May is nice - not quite the boiling hot weather that is coming, but warm enough that there's usually no need to bundle up. I say usually, because the weather lately has been pretty wishy-washy. I suspect global warming at work. I also like May because that's the month when the summer movies begin. Already I've seen two sequels, one three times (that would be Star Trek: Into Darkness), and I have plans to see a reboot at the end of this week.

Now it is June. My latest work contract has come to an end, Violet and I have celebrated our 8th Wedding Anniversary, and I finally have new shoes. Hadn't I mentioned my desperate need for new shoes? Well, I needed them. And now I have them. Huzzah! Also, this week Violet graduates from George Brown college with a degree in graphic design. Huzzah for her!

I've done some more work for I'm sure you all remember my article on wedding venues in Toronto; I've written a follow-up to that, and it should be posted soon. I've also seen the publication of my article on Toronto tourist hotspots. This one follows on from an article by my good friend Jeff Cottrill. It seems we'd both worked on the tourist hotspot assignment, each of us believing it was ours to write. One of us was wrong, and that one was me. Fortunately, our editor decided to run mine as a follow-up, so the work was not wasted. You can read it here.

Right now, I'm putting together some ideas for a new short story. Another good friend of mine is putting together an anthology, Neverland's Library. I plan to submit something, so coming up with that something is currently my top priority.

Oh, and I've had my hair cut. Apparently I look much younger. See for yourself! Here's before:

And after:

Ain't I adorable?