Friday, September 4, 2009
Kill Your Idols: Overrated Characters
It doesn't surprise me in the least that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was an easily bamboozled, crackpot believer in spiritualism, because if the Sherlock Holmes stories are anything to go by, he had a belief that human reason worked in an almost mystical, intuitive way. Because Sir Arthur Conan Doyle controls the world, Holmes is always inerringly right the very first time he makes a deduction, never finds evidence too ambiguous to use, never needs to revise his theories or take into account new proof, and Holmes's single interpretation of multiple possible explanations is always correct. Holmes is only infallible because Doyle wrote him that way.
For instance, in the Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle, Holmes discovers a hat, and guessed the owner was once rich but recently fell on hard times, was having problems with his marriage, was of great intelligence, and had bushy hair of a certain style.
Holmes guessed that the hat's owner was having marital problems because of its poor condition. Well, what if the hat's owner was a bachelor?
And he figured out the hat's owner was once rich but fell on hard times. What about the possibility the hat was stolen, lost and found by someone else, or given away?
Apart from the magical, intuitive view of the process of reason, there's very little else to like in Sherlock Holmes stories, as for most of them Doyle just doesn't play fair with the reader and doesn't present all facts to the audience.
You know, I often say this or that movie is "formulaic," but with the James Bonds, it's literally true!
With the exception of the excellent Casino Royale, the assembly-line plot never varies, the characters are the same but with different names. There's never an attempt to do anything new or different. Even the actual events of the plots are constantly recycled. It reminds me of how Taco Bell tries to convince us they've combined their five ingredients in a totally new way! Always the scene on skis, always the scene in the casino that establishes that establishes how gigantic James Bond's testicles are.
In general, if you've seen one James Bond film, you've seen them all.
Worse, James Bond movies are either the originator or the perpetuator of almost every action movie cliche: the bomb with the digital countdown, the car chase, the ability of characters to run from explosions, the entire creation of scenes as setups for "witty" quips.
I remember when I was about to see my first James Bond movie at age ten or so on television. My Mom, who was not by any means a prudish woman at all, decided to watch it with me because she wanted me to know that women didn't really act that way. At the time I thought that was an overreaction (not to mention quite a buzzkill), but I have since come to the conclusion that Mom was right. Women don't really act that way, and saying the Bond movies are a fantasy doesn't get them off the hook. Lots of people have, frankly, embarassing fantasies and I'd rather not watch them, either.
The idea that Wonder Woman is as important a superhero, or at least as interesting, as Superman and Batman is pure wishful thinking.
I would do an article here, but the funny cats over at Topless Robot did it with much more panache and I have really nothing to add:
Top Ten Reasons Nobody Cares About Wonder Woman