Tim Burton’s Greatest Mistake?

Johnny here is trying to figure out how to get his soul back from Burton.

March 19, 2012

I was excited when I heard Dark Shadows was going to get a movie adaptation. First of all, it was being directed by Tim Burton. Second of all, it starred Johnny Depp, though that’s kind of a given at this point. Burton and Depp did a great job adapting Sleepy Hollow, one of the great horror comedies of all time as far as I’m concerned. Burton has a good track record (even considering Alice in Wonderland) and he has a style that would lend itself to the campy soap opera.

And then I saw the trailer. If you missed it in the last article, here it is. Keep a tissue handy. You may cry like I did.


I’ll admit I’ve never seen Dark Shadows. I wish I had. It was one of those shows that had a good amount of camp to it but managed to hold its own despite a hectic schedule and soap opera storylines. The fact that it’s still watched and talked about today makes me think it’s something to put on my Netflix queue. In fact, two of my favorite shows, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel could be seen as spiritual successors to some of the things Dark Shadows started, namely using supernatural themes

But this?

I’m getting flashbacks to Alice in Wonderland. I love Burton’s style. It’s like a child’s fantasy on acid. My on artwork was influenced by the darks and playfulness and the way something cute might become something horrific at any moment. Lots of black, lots of white, a little gray, and let the creepiness do the rest. Burton, though, seems to be forgetting the lesson he learned from Sleep Hollow.

If you change something, it better be to make the end product superior.

Sleepy Hollow by ~Mize-meow on deviantART

Sure, the old series was full of little mistakes and the production could have used some polishing, but at least it tried. Now, instead of a drama, we’ve got what looks like a fish out of temporal water story. We’ve already got the same tired joke of the visitor from the past getting freaked out by television and the very unfunny mix-ups with modern slang. So far, I haven’t seen anything that tells me this will build on the original series’ legacy or form. There’s nothing groundbreaking about it.

Maybe I’m wrong. I hope so. Alice in Wonderland was an atrocity. This looks no better. Next thing you know, someone will take Quantum Leap and make it into a zany buddy comedy starring Ashton Kutcher and Jack Black. Ooh! How about we bring back Law and Order but make it a musical comedy starring Zac Effron as Lennie Briscoe?

Hollywood, cut it out before we, the fans, decide to pool our resources and invest in a neutron bomb.

And to clean out the broken dreams, here is every episode of Itchy and Scratchy, all in one place.

Snooki vs Actual Comedy

It's like poetry... that makes you want to kill yourself.

May 2, 2011

Okay, I didn’t think the last article would make me think so hard about something that I had never intended to pursue further. No, I’m not talking about Ayn Rand and the idea of Objectivism as a path to a real Utopia.

Are the cast members of Jersey Shore comedic geniuses?

I posted a link to several videos where some cast members of The Importance of Being Ernest read lines from the show in-character. They often delivered said lines with a straight face, often with a bit of irony, but otherwise it was like watching Sir Ian McKellen do lines from Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.

Anyway, take a look at the first of five videos below.

Okay, a few things. The lines as delivered are hilarious. Why? I’ve heard these same lines from clips of Jersey Shore and I have no desire to watch the show. However, I would love to watch these two do more lines like this. Why? What’s the difference? Why is one funny and the other infuriatingly bad?

I once took a class on comedy. While it killed my ability to really find anything funny for six months since I kept asking myself, “Why is this funny?” it did help me analyze literature, film, and television in a way I hadn’t considered. Also, everything is somehow a phallus or about sex.

Mel Brooks once said that tragedy is when he cuts his finger because it matters to him. Comedy is if you fall into an open manhole and die. What does he care? Comedy, then, would seem to be a matter of empathy. If we don’t care about the jerk and something bad happens to him, we laugh. If we care about the jerk, then the comedy is gone. Think of a bad horror movie where you don’t like the white college students who go investigating every noise. When they get hacked into cat food, you actually laugh.

Well, I do anyway.

Jersey Shore by ~XhereXforXtomorrowX on deviantART

I looked up a few more quotes from the show and tried to imagine them being said by these two gentlemen. Needless to say, I think they highlight why empathy is lost on these tanned wastes of genetic material. Observe the wisdom of Jersey Shore.

Mike “The Situation”: You can hate on me all you want to, but what can you possibly say to somebody that looks like Rambo, pretty much, with his shirt off.

What can I say? Let’s see. “You’re a conceited prick who is hinging other people liking him based on his abs.” Oh, and Rambo was a Special Forces badass who was wronged by the government and went on to kill entire armies with a knife. How badass does drinking vodka make you, MIKE?

Angelina: I feel like this job is beneath me. I’m a bartender. I do, like, great things.

While bartenders do great things in the sense that they get me my drink at the bar, I wouldn’t say they do “great” things. Necessary, sure, but they’re not heroes. And I have full contempt of anyone who still says “like” in casual conservation. Yes, I’m a linguistic snob. Sue me.

Snooki: Every time I meet a nice guy, he dies. It’s the same with every pet, friend or relative I’ve ever had. EVERYONE DIES! Next it’s gonna be me. Its all just a big conspiracy!

One of the surest ways to spot a narcissist is to see how he or she reacts to events. When the deaths of others and their misfortunes are seemingly your fault no matter how removed you might have been from the event, that is narcissism. The only way she could be responsible for their deaths is if some being with the power over life and death were targeting her.

Mike “The Situation”: To call me fake, it’s just blasphemy to talk against the leader like that, in other countries you get hung for that type of shit.

I would never call The Situation fake. Shallow as a puddle of dog piss, yes, but not fake.

Snooki: I don’t go tanning anymore because Obama put a 10% tax on tanning. I feel like he did that intentionally for us, like McCain would never put a 10% tax on tanning… because he is pale and he would probably wanna be tanned.

Please see my previous note on narcissism.

Said in the right tone, these lines might work for comedy, but here’s the thing.

The cast members on Jersey Shore are stuck up jerks who respond to the most basic principles and seem, at least from what I’ve seen, to actively avoid complex thinking. These are the guys and girls who would join a frat in college just because they want to be close to the party. They think the worst possible things about women, relationships, and people in general.

Jersey Shore Quotes Poster by ~wiigamer024 on deviantART

They’re about as shallow as I’ve ever seen, and I cannot fathom actually watching any of them for more than five minutes, let alone an hour. I remember that television was once about drama, about wit, and comedy made of carefully timed situations. I remember that WRITERS were involved once.

When did we accept that just following people was interesting? Sure, some shows like Dirty Jobs, Pawn Stars, and others are actually interesting because the people we follow are, well, interesting. The parodies are funny because they point out how silly the cast members on Jersey Shore can be. Beck was funny until we realized he was being dead serious. A murder is no laughing manner, unless it’s a movie murder delivered in a highly ironic way to a character I feel nothing for. Real idiots are not funny. Fake idiots pointing out the comedy in someone actually thinking this is acceptable, though, are hilarious.

It just goes to show two things I’ve said for a long, long time. Real life is often the source of the greatest material for stories.

Also, we pay way too much attention to the idiots in society. Stop feeding them and they’ll go away or die.

Oscar wilde. Artist by ~Hallaserke on deviantART

Enough of that. Let’s get some links up in this!

  • Cracked has a scale on the good and bad side of song covers. I think the same could apply for literature. Want to make a fairy tale into a gritty cyberpunk tale? It could work. Want to take that beloved science fiction story in your head and turn it around into a steampunk noir adventure story? Have at it!
  • And finally, we have the new trailer for the last Transformers movie destroyed by Michael Bay. Just based on this promo, I can at least see some of the action instead of trying to make out colored blurs, but I’m not sold yet. I’m going to wait for it to come out, then see the response. Thoughts?

An Open Letter to Rebecca Black (And Anyone Who Wants to be Like Her)

She's everywhere! Make it stop!

April 8, 2011

Music’s dead.

At least, pop music is dead. I know, I know. Every generation thinks its music is crap. I’m too old if I start whining about the kids and their music and their Beibers and all that. Yes, I know that we’ve always had crappy music and the really good stuff is the stuff that gets remembered.

That doesn’t mean I’m going to dismiss the utter crap fest I’ve been hearing on the radio.

I stopped listening to the radio in about 1999, back when every other song was Backstreet Boys. I swore off radio and the closest thing I used for a while was Pandora. I really have only a cursory knowledge of popular music in the last ten years aside from what I see on TV, in movies, or happen to read about.

So, Rebecca, as a concerned artist, I want to tell you to stop.

You’re a celebrity. Congratulations. So’s Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, and Kim Kardashian. Nice list. They’re pretty much famous for making fools of themselves. And you’ve joined them whether you want to admit it or not.

Let’s go down the list of things done wrong, shall we?

Rebecca Black: Friday by ~mexicanpryde2000 on deviantART

Your parents paid for the music video and recording.

Someone else wrote the lyrics.

The video is just one notch above “middle school project with a camera and pirated copy of Final Cut.”

All you did was get dressed and sing. And you didn’t even do that! You got Auto-Tunned for half the song!

Look, I know Auto-Tunning is the latest, best thing to happen to people who want a music carrer. Without it, Ke$ha would be an alcoholic with a camcorder drowning in her own vomit. Even without it, she’s nothing special. You, Rebecca? You had a dream. You wanted to be famous. Did you practice singing? Train yourself in poetry and songwriting? Listen to the classics of pop music?

No. Your parents forked over $4,000 dollars to get your face plastered on a song where your own voice isn’t even heard. It’d be like me paying someone to write Charcoal Streets over a weekend, then putting my mug all over the cover.

Rebecca black by ~ItalianxGal on deviantART

Plus, the lyrics? I’d ask for my money back.

(Yeah, Ah-Ah-Ah-Ah-Ah-Ark)
Oo-ooh-ooh, hoo yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah

I already have a headache. It’s the lyrical equivalent of white noise. It also proves that if you have nothing to say, say nothing at all.

7am, waking up in the morning
Gotta be fresh, gotta go downstairs
Gotta have my bowl, gotta have cereal

Gotta have my bowl? Are you smoking weed? Are you on the dope!?

Seein’ everything, the time is goin’
Tickin’ on and on, everybody’s rushin’

Yup. You’re stoned off your gourd, aren’t you, Rebecca?

Gotta get down to the bus stop
Gotta catch my bus, I see my friends

Kickin’ in the front seat
Sittin’ in the back seat
Gotta make my mind up
Which seat can I take?

You remind me of that scene in Knocked Up where Paul Rudd’s character gets freaked out by the number of chairs in the room. Just pick a damn seat!

It’s Friday, Friday
Gotta get down on Friday
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend, weekend
Friday, Friday
Gettin’ down on Friday
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend

Also, people look forward to happy hour, 5 o’clock, lunch time, and the week’s episode of Criminal Minds.

Partyin’, partyin’ (Yeah)
Partyin’, partyin’ (Yeah)
Fun, fun, fun, fun
Lookin’ forward to the weekend

Okay, a few things. First of all, you’re thirteen. You’re frakking thirteen years old. What “partying” are you doing? Unless you’re snorting coke off a Justin Beiber CD or smoking that bowl from earlier, you’re not “partying.” You’re hanging out with friends at Chuck E. Cheese.

7:45, we’re drivin’ on the highway
Cruisin’ so fast, I want time to fly
Fun, fun, think about fun

Well someone’s been reading The Secret. Hey, I can think about fun all I want, but it won’t make it so. I suppose one could make the argument that by moving faster, as you suggest, you could indeed use time dilation to make time outside your vehicle move at a much slower rate… But I doubt your songwriter knows how to spell relativity.

You know what it is
I got this, you got this
My friend is by my right
I got this, you got this
Now you know it

I’m sitting in a chair. My hands touch the keyboard. My fiancé is at work. Okay, now your turn to spout out more blatantly obvious observations. Also, any point to telling us your friend is on the right? And, from a grammatical viewpoint, what is “this” you are referring to? I’m sorry I don’t speak “street.”

Kickin’ in the front seat
Sittin’ in the back seat
Gotta make my mind up
Which seat can I take?

Wait, you’re hanging out with high schoolers? You’re what? In seventh grade? How are these friends of yours driving?! …Hold on. I thought you were already in the car. What-

It’s Friday, Friday
Gotta get down on Friday
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend, weekend
Friday, Friday

Gettin’ down on Friday
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend

Partyin’, partyin’ (Yeah)
Partyin’, partyin’ (Yeah)
Fun, fun, fun, fun
Lookin’ forward to the weekend

Friday isn’t the weekend, Rebecca. On Friday AFTERNOON, you can start enjoying the weekend. People still work on Friday. If you’re so stressed in eight grade that you look forward to getting down on the weekend, you’re either in a very work-intensive middle school or you have no concept of what it really means to be stressed.

I’ve never seen a more blatant example of clutter in my life, too. There are words and phrases here that are just taking space. It’s like the writer simply got the beat for the song, then played Mad Libs trying to fill the void… and the void stared back and said, “Screw you.”

Friday by ~PeaceLoveMulan on deviantART

Look, these lyrics were obviously written by someone who wanted to appeal to teens who think the weekend is about partying all the time and dancing in a brightly lit room, but clubs are full of sweaty idiots who smell like Bud Light because they can’t stomach real beer. Real parties with teens typically have one idiot who brought a controlled substance.

Everyone has a dream. I have mine. You, Rebecca, obviously have yours. And I’m not being unfair by critiquing this. “But she’s just a kid,” I can hear some of my readers saying. “Leave her alone.”

No. You put this out there, you get the same amount of scrutiny the rest of us get when we put something out. I’m not about to give you a bronze medal just because you tried.

You, and Beiber, and Ke$ha, and your ilk are overproduced performers who go hyped to the top. You’re like Episode I, but more annoying because I can choose to not hear Jar Jar. I keep hearing this stupid song everywhere!

Let’s clean out those brain lobes with some linkage.

  • And finally, let me leave you with two of the most awesome things in the world: classic Michael Jackson and Transformers. See you Monday!