Thursday, October 11, 2012

THE METABARONS is not a graphic novel created by robots

Over at Unleash the Fanboy, I have posted a review of Jodorowsky's and Gimenez's classic graphic novel, THE METABARONS. Here is a snippet:

Back in 2003, I attended a screening of Santa Sangre at the Los Angeles Latino Film Festival. The film's director, the great filmmaker and graphic novel author Alejandro Jodorowsky introduced the film, and at one point during the brief pre-screening interview he said, "I'm currently working on a new film, but it's unlikely that it will screen at the cinema, because it is a film by a poet, and not a robot."

The robots have completely taken over what passes for popular entertainment and culture, while the poets are increasingly marginalized. As the cost of everything goes up, the situation only gets worse. The robots take approved intellectual property A and match it with approved concept B to create corporate art marketed to fans who will then turn around and prosthyletize on message boards and websites. These products -- movies, comic books, video games -- are designed to create specific responses in consumers -- namely, brand loyalty -- so that consumers will continue to buy more products with the intellectual property to which fans respond.

 It's gotten even worse in comic books. In the past, the difficulty in translating comic book characters into believable and popularly-accessible films meant that the characters merely had to entertain readers. Today, when comics-based films can bring in a billion dollars worldwide, the characters are no longer characters. They are corporate assets, to be treated in very specific ways that will not damage their money-making potential. In DC's "New 52," writers are complaining about the level of editorial interference in the books. Editors (along with marketing, legal, promotions, and licensing staff) are calling the shots, while the writers and artists act as robots who are plugging in the approved concepts, which have themselves been strip-mined from decades of past continuity. DC's recent Craftsman tools tie-in, THE TECHNICIAN, is the extreme example -- a character that exists in the DC Universe for the sole purpose of reminding readers to buy tools.

 "Illusion of change" has transmogrified into "Illusion of story." Mainstream comics exist not as works of art created by poets, but as commercials created by robots.

 Fans have become complicit in this. As "Toy Story 3" illustrated, the owners of intellectual property expect the fans to help them promote their products by spreading the word to others. Fans understand their role not just as consumers but as prosthyletizers; it's why you see them threatening and insulting critics who challenge a film's "tomatometer." There's a lot invested in the idea that what we're being fed by the robots is not, in fact, capital-S Shit, but capital-A Art. This is why fans attempt to canonize comic book films within a week of their release -- this list of the "Top 10 Comic Book Movies [Updated 2012]" appeared only a week after the release of "The Dark Knight Rises," and only about a two months after the release of "The Avengers," and yet both of those films landed in the meaningless "top three." The robots who are creating mainstream corporate art are plugged into the emotions of fandom because they share their meager goals. When Kelly Sue DeConnick explained what she hoped to accomplish when she took over as concept-arranging robot for AVENGERS ASSEMBLE, she stated that her goal was to create the mainstream-comics equivalent of money shots:
Singh then followed up by asking DeConnick for a one-word description of the series and she said "AC/DC." "I pitched it as the short rock, classic Avengers. When I saw the movie, I managed to keep it together until that point when Iron Man flew on the screen with AC/DC playing. Then I started bouncing in my chair clapping, and that's what I'm writing for. That's the moment."
No interest in exploring character, culture, politics. She knows there's no point, anyway. Even if she weren't a robot, the owners of The Avengers (Disney, which released "Toy Story 3") won't let their intellectual property be used for anything other than selling product, and the fans themselves really only want money shots anyway.

And you can read the rest here, if you want.

1 comment:

Thrill Fiction said...

Football/soccer, comic books, movies, television. The retreat of the working man is now established $billion cashbox for the 1%. Fans/fanboys only have themselves to blame. As such there is no need for revolution. However, there is always need for art.