Saturday, July 25, 2009

Writing for the American Idiot

This town needs an enema.
-- Jack Nicholson, as The Joker, in Batman

I was going to write up a report on what a great time I had at Necon this past weekend. I was going to blog about how incredible it was to see old friends again and how I giggled myself silly off of tequila and dirty comments as I held my Foosball championship title. Or how great it is to be around like-minded people and get my batteries recharged.

But noooooooooooo. Instead I had to do some market research this morning, and am now filled with hate and rage (insert bitter box here).

I've been reading horror and watching horror flicks for a long time. I grew up with parents who let me pursue my interests freely. Books of Blood, Monster magazine, Fangoria... not much that was really off limits.

I saw the heyday of 80's horror when anyone and everyone was jumping into the frenzy to cash in. I read and watched a lot of... well... shit is the word that comes to mind. There were lots of diamonds in the rough, mind you, but you had to dig through the mess to find them.

Brian Keene predicted a while back that things were getting ready to implode. And, not that I doubted him, but holy shit kids... taking a look around this morning at the markets has me ready to line up double-shots of Yagër bombs and start howling at the sky.

"Enough with the fucking zombies!"

I've heard this rant again and again of late. And while I tend to agree as I'm getting a bit worn out by them... the undead won't go away if the american public demands them. And the writers who are doing it are laughing themselves silly. All the way to the bank.

Zombieland.

Dead Snow.

The Carriers.

Oh hell, I'm SURE there's more, but that's just off the top of my head.

But for the sweet blue fuck of all that's holy... ZOMBIENAUTS????

As a long time self-employed businessman, I understand supply and demand. I understand you feed into the trend of what's hot. But damn...

Zombies in space... that's a bit of a stretch isn't it?

How about... a little crew of people who were out on a three hour tour and got shipwrecked on an island? There'll be a professor, a movie star, a millionaire and his wife... GILLIAN'S UNDEAD!

Wait! I know! A ship full of sailors will find a zombie mermaid and they'll drag her aboard, infecting the entire crew until the ship runs into the land of the free and the home of the brave.*

Of late, I have become increasingly convinced that the days of readers seeking out a well written book with great characters and plot are gone. It is writing for the American Idiot.

"But wait, Bob," you say. "I'm not an idiot! I like great characters! I love great dialogue! I seek them out!"

Fine, pull up a rock and sit by the fire. You're like me. I can't handle two-dimension characters in a story that has a plot line thinner than a truck stop's bathroom tissue either. But guess what? WE ARE THE MINORITY.

Most of the public seems to want their fiction and flicks with sex and explosions all bundled into a fast food container so they can get in, get out, forget it and move onto the next carton of nuggety entertainment.

Don't agree? That's fine. Take a look at the majority of what's been on the NY Times Best Seller List. Look at what's "hot" at the box office.

Mmmhmm. Why are you so quiet all of a sudden?

The literary IQ of most of the public no longer requires that things are well written. Give it a catchy bass line and a good drum rhythm, and you're off to writer rock stardom. Things have degraded to the point where it's like The Kingsmen's song "Louie, Louie."

You know the song, right? The one from National Lampoon's Animal House?

Catchy beat right? Ok, now sing any of the lyrics other than "Louie, Louie, ohhhh no!"

If you know any lyrics beyond that, you win a prize of the next zombie novel to hit the shelves.

That's our majority right now. Quick catchy bursts that are fun while you're reading/watching them, but later, you realize you really don't have any idea what the hell it was about.


I'm done grumbling for now. I'm off to brainstorm about chick-lit novels and a zombie screenplay.


*If any of you bastards steal this and sell it to Hollywood for six-figures (which... in all seriousness, I think would actually SELL RIGHT NOW), I will hunt you down and beat you with a zombie arm. Or leg. Or whatever else I can find within reach.

9 Comments:

Blogger Kelli Dunlap said...

Electric Boogaloo!!!

Now then, did you get that out of your system? What did you learn...?

2:20 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2:25 PM  
Blogger Martel said...

If you think zombies in space is far fetched, try zombie erotica. I'm not kidding about this either...ugh!

Martel

2:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jason Keene said:

F***ing hear, hear!

Amen, brother. And now, what is there to do but sit back, strap in, and wait out the ride?

The current market definitely doesn't seem to be flattering itself. It's a hairy, husky woman in pantyhose and a thong--not pretty to look at and doing nothing to arouse my interests.

5:16 PM  
Blogger Joseph Mulak said...

Hey, we've had a leprechaun in space, and Jason Voorhees has been in space, why not zombies too?

I agree with you. It's hard to find good literature within the horror genre these days, but we still have those diamonds in the rough. There are still people writing good characters and coming up with plots that actually allow us to use our brains while we read. I'm grateful that there are still writers like that around and I'll keep buying their books as long as they keep putting them out.

9:57 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

Kelli - no... I did not get this out of my system. Zombienauts are like a rash that you have to keep putting ointment on.

Martel! Zombie Erotica? Ewwwwwww! That leads to all sorts of bad jokes. Yikes... but yes.. I CAN believe it.

Jason - Sad to say, but I agree... just strap in and wait it out. What else to do but keep churning out the pages. It's a balance between art and commerce I suppose. -- a "hairy husky woman in panthose and a thong" whew... hit the nail on the head, m'friend.

Joseph - Yep... I'm damned thankful too. Still makes me want to swat the majority with a rolled up newspaper for accepting the spoon-fed stupidity.

10:09 AM  
Blogger Nick Cato said...

I'm still trying to wrap my head around 007 in space (1979's MOONRAKER).

6:12 PM  
Blogger Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center said...

Um...you okay there, Bob? Stressed? Too much Rockstar, Mt. Dew & Apple Jacks?

4:02 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

As a matter of fact... not ENOUGH of those things.

Screenplay optioned. Full steam ahead.
Production company imploded.

Details pending.

4:17 PM  

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