#Novel Update

by Shelt Garner

  1. After about two years of struggle, the novel is finally where I want it to be. My story telling ability has finally improved to the point that I can “just write” as people kept telling me two years ago.
  2. Things are moving very, very, very fast now. Any delay will simply be that it takes physical time to write a novel as long as I intend this one to be.
  3. Wish me luck.

James Bond Has Really Let Us Down In The Gadget Department

by Shelt Garner

My novel is growing far more scfi in nature far earlier than I predicted. Or, put another way, my heroine’s interaction with advanced technology is beginning to become a central part of the plot sooner than expected.

Right now, I have two major issues to deal with — how often we get to see the heroine’s POV and how often the “embraced and extended” gadgets of James Bond I’ve given her influence what she does as part of the plot. I also have the issue of the nattering nabobs of negativism at VOX waiting to pounce on my pop-lit novel if it doesn’t fit their corporate liberal metrics.

But I’m being both “delusional and stupid” about even selling this novel at this point. I’m an untested, unknown male author who probably comes off as just a well-meaning Internet crank if some lit agent looked at my online ID at this point. I can always self-publish if need be.

Anyway, I’m very pleased with the gadgets I’ve come up with for my heroine. They’re very innovative, next generation and kick ass. And, in the second book, some REALLY cool things are going to happen because of them. I’m really into flipping the script as much as possible, so a lot of themes one might expect in a novel such as this are implemented in an unexpected fashion.

I at least hope so.

The point of all of this is I feel the folks at Eon have let James Bond — and us — down. Bond is about girls, gadgets and guns. While the girls are still hot, the gadgets these days are so so. Just turn on the TV for your inspiration. There’s some seriously cool things being cooked up in tech right now, why not use it?

I guess some of it is producers and screenwriters just aren’t woke to some of the cooler things being designed right now. So, I guess, in a sense, I have my in to entertain readers in an unexpected fashion. I’ll put a move on you, as they say.

Male Author Angst

by Shelt Garner

I’m beginning to wonder if, by definition, a man writing a story involving women is “problematic.” I say this as someone you is center-Left and extremely empathetic to many Leftist causes.

It’s just when I see that there are actual people who like crap like “Booksmart” it makes me wonder if I just have to suck it up and do whatever the fuck I want with my novel, damn the consequences. I hated Booksmart with a white hot rage for a number of reasons. One was out Olivia Wilde went way, way, way out of her way to make sure her heroine was a plain Jane. I felt this selection was an insult to the audience.

We go see movies — or novel — for escape. We want to see hot people do hot things that make us laugh, or cry, or have personal catharsis. When someone who is hot like Olivia Wilde specifically picks a plain person in an effort to prove a point about Hollywood and beauty it really fucking grates on my nerves

Hollywood is an industry. “Doubledees, doubledees” as the old SNL skit goes. Or, to put another way, sex sells. I really like Olivia Wilde. She’s smart, attractive and talented woman. But give me a break, lady, you could not possibly have been so na├»ve as to think the moment you started your career in Hollywood it wouldn’t be more about T&A at some points than your acting ability.

The reason for the above rant is the novel I’m working on. I just want to entertain people. I just want to give them a thought-provoking, allegorical thriller that wallows in Trump Era tropes. But I often find myself mulling some pretty dumb things. Like, why can’t I have a hot heroine? Why can’t she be sex positive? How do I have a really interesting woman without haters at VOX simply telling me I’ve created a thinking man’s “sexy slutty assassin?”

Ugh. Fuck Vox. They’re why we can’t have nice things.

It’s very frustrating. I just can’t win because I’m a member of the patriarchy. Or, put another way, I’m self-aware enough and look at enough Twitter to know that even if I do what I want to do — create strong, interesting female characters — that because I’m a man who hasn’t — uh — lived my life according to the media narrative that I’m inevitably going to be “canceled” for some bullshit reason.

And, yet, all that’s just me venting. I’m really sensitive at times, especially when it comes to my art. I know I’ve come up with a great, great pop-lit novel. If that means I have to endure the slings and arrows of outrageous woke fortune, so be it.

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The Internet Archive Strikes Again

by Shelt Garner

I’m obsessed with my Webstats. I’ve been obsessed with Webstats since at least the 1994-1995 timeframe. Anyway, someone looked at something I just posted on this site using the Internet Archive. It makes me wonder why they would be so interested in the post about why my novel is probably going to be relevant even though the Trump Era is (hopefully) wrapping up.

It’s all very curious.

I honestly can’t help myself when it comes to writing about writing. I’m such an absolute extrovert that I would just be really, really miserable if I went dark on the subject of what I was doing with the novel. So, let the chips fall where they may.

But I’m now moving EXTREMELY FAST with this novel. The first draft should be done — hopefully — a lot sooner than you might think. I keep expecting someone to steal a march on me at any moment. I would be devistated. But I now know how *I* develop a novel, so my replacement project — should it come to that — would not take 2 years to get to the point this novel currently is.

It would be a painful turn around, but it would be very possible to do it pretty quick once I recovered from having this particular dream squashed.

Of Taylor Swift

by Shelt Garner

I really like Taylor Swift. And, yet, there’s something “hot-but-not-sexy” about her. This, I think, is why she will never have any career in Hollywood. She has a very passionate fanbase who would be flabbergasted in the extreme if she, say, did nudity in a movie to further her career.

And, really, I don’t even think she should worry about it. She’s hitting on all cylinders right now…why change? She probably has a 30+ year career ahead of her — if not more – and she’ll sort of a far more popular version of Shania Twain when she’s in her 40s or 50s.

Though, it might be her natural ambition that gets her in trouble. There’s going to come a point when she’s married and has kids and basic human nature will kick in. She’s going to be, “Fuck it, a little T&A never hurt anyone, right?” I guess what I’m saying is, she could lay the groundwork for that NOW, instead of springing it on her fanbase later.

She’s done a few things here and again to spice her imagine up, but nothing too provocative. And, again, she’s fine. She has no reason to change. She is in the exact center of pop culture right now — no need for her to to an all-female version of Midnight Cowboy or anything.

The only thing I could maybe see causing her to change her imagine some is if, say, Miley Cyrus’ career began to eclipse hers or something. But Ms. Swift is such a gentle, awkward soul that I would be stunned if she did anything, anything at all, to change her imagine.

And I can’t say I blame her.

The Future Of Hollywood in Autocratic America

by Shelt Garner

America is now an autocracy. It’s obvious that the Trumplandia infection gone septic. Because of white identity politics, about 50% of the population is so afraid of being “canceled” — or are seriously greedy fucks – that they would rather end 240 years of liberal democracy than risk giving away power to the browning of America or women with sexual agency.

But, is becoming a common refrain for me, none of this is going to happen in a vacuum. As TrumpBarr begin to strengthen their grip on America in an practical fashion — probably by weaponizing the already existing ICE infrastructure — this is going to give creative types something they thrive on: a limit. Art has to have limits so they can be toyed with, almost crossed and generally fucked with. Artists need something to make them angry and if they know speaking ill of the autocrat is a big no-no, then, of course, that’s the one thing they’re going to want to do.

I know for me, at least, that my rage against the Trump Administration has fueled the two years of hard work necessary to get me this far with the allegorical thriller I’m working on. (But it’s not Network — it’s not nearly as allegorical as maybe it should be given how aggressive ICE will become soon enough.)

It’s at least possible that once the shouting’s over and Trump’s court coup is successful, that 50% of the American population is going to need a cathartic release. As such, the entire American entertainment industry might be revolutionized. (But this in context — Hollywood may move somewhere like Perth before it’s over with if Trump puts the squeeze on studio executives.)

The point is — if nothing else, a lot of angry art might begin to grow very popular. We might, just might see the return of punk or rock music. The gritty movies like we had in the early 1970s might grow more popular. There might be extremes — the serious movies will grow darker and the funny movies more funny.

They will all have a point, though — attacking the autocrat without crossing the line so everyone gets arrested and thrown into an ICE camp.

A Tale of Two Franchises: The Real Reason Why ‘James Bond’ Succeeds While ‘Star Wars’ is a Dumpster Fire

by Shelt Garner

You hear a lot of bullshit among the Joe Rogan types about how Kathleen Kennedy has “ruined” Star Wars for this or that reason. They think up a lot of thinly veiled misogynistic rhetoric that boils down to a MAGA circle jerk. And, yet, another franchise run by a woman that men love — James Bond — continues to do well on both a commercial and artistic level.

I would suggest that it’s not a matter of Ms. Kennedy being too woke for her own good. I would suggest that the difference between Ms. Kennedy of Disney and Barbara Broccoli of Eon is one of fandom. Given the steaming pile of dreck that Ms. Kennedy has managed to churn out from the Star Wars universe compared to what Ms. Broccoli has produced it definitely seems as though Ms. Broccoli is a Bond fan while Ms. Kennedy is not a Star Wars fan.

I have no idea if I’m right or not, but just as an audience member — an aspiring novelist obsessed with story — the most recent Star Wars movies suck so bad because they’re not seen as movies so much as vehicles to sell toys and a “message.” The Bond movies, meanwhile, are, on their merits, good movies. Ms. Broccoli “gets” Bond in a way that Ms. Kennedy does not “get” Star Wars.

Now, I’m pleased that Eon is working to update Bond by bringing in someone like Phoebe Waller-Bridge to spice up the script. That’s really cool and makes a lot of sense. But it’s still being done within the context of understanding what the audience goes to see a James Bond movie for — girls, guns and gadgets.

Meanwhile, Star Wars movies are all over the place. They totally misunderstand the origin of the passion associated with franchise. The whole thing is so top heavy with identity politics, “slaying the patriarchy” and, most of all making that sweet, sweet cash from selling toys that the thing that brings people to the movies — a swashbuckling space opera — is totally muddled into oblivian.

The sad thing is, it doesn’t have to be this way. The Star Wars universe is massive. There are soooooooo many secondary characters that are beloved. There’s a whole canon to be referenced and riffted upon in a way that would bring tears of joy to millions of fans. But they have totally squandered all of that in an effort to get little kids woke and to get them to buy toys along the way.

Part of the problem Star Wars faces is it each movie is such a cultural event — and it’s so associated with little kids — that’s its difficult for them to pair back the edifice and get back to the fundamentals of good storytelling. Just by using the Star Wars brand, you can’t really have any type of sex and your violence has to be comic in nature.

In an ideal world, you would have an “adult” Star Wars franchise and a “kiddy” Star Wars franchise. For adults, you would have The Empire Strikes Back with sex and violence. For the kids, you have the more campy aspects of A New Hope. As it stands, you have a Star Wars movie with a 30 minute subplot designed specifically to get kids to buy toys. What’s more, you have a very contrived and painful to watch plot point that creates a massive hole in the entire Star Wars canon simply to bludgeon audiences with the idea of “trust women.”

This is not brain surgery. You could very well get an actual Star Wars fan like Kevin Smith to write and direct a really good Star Wars movie that would bring back the magic of A New Hope and The Empires Strikes Back. But I would suggest trying to be a least a little bit original by thinking up an entirely new clan to follow the exploits of. You have an entire galaxy to play with — why do we have to keep getting Skywalkers to blow up bigger and bigger Death Stars? It’s becoming quite ridiculous.

The James Bond franchise, meanwhile, has a winning formula and runs with it. What’s more, they’ve managed to turn the campy Roger Moore James Bond that I grew up with into a very serious, dark Daniel Craig James Bond that really takes the whole franchise to the next level.

It’s wild how out of all the franchises that exist in Hollywood today, Bond is the only one that hasn’t either run out of steam (MCU) or that hasn’t been strip mined into irrelevance (Star Wars, Star Trek, Alien, Terminator.)

But no one listens to me. And maybe they shouldn’t. But it’s a tragedy to me that Star Wars has all this unlocked value and its producers are such non-fans that they don’t understand what to do with it.

Mulling The State Of Star Wars

by Shelt Garner

As I have said before, I’m not really much of a fan of Star Wars. But the franchise is such a cultural powerhouse, that it is interesting to try to understand where it stands.

To me, the existential crisis of Star Wars has nothing to do with the franchise itself. It has everything to do with how the bolts are popping off civil society in the United States. Throw in the quirks of the modern Hollywood economy and you have a recipe for the entire edifice to collapse in on itself.

The reason why what’s “wrong” with Star Wars is so difficult to understand is there’s a lot going on with the franchise. The convention wisdom on YouTube, often advocated by angry young men, is Star Wars where it is because of the malfeasance of Kathleen Kennedy. She’s a very convenient scapegoat for some legitimate problems with Star Wars.

I’m of the opinion that things just aren’t that simple. Disney paid something like $2 billion for LucasFilm and, as such, they decided to use it as a money tree. It seems to me that what all the complains are about has more to do with modern Hollywood in general than Ms. Kennedy.

Three major things are warping Star Wars so as to cause a major rift between the studio and the fanbase.

  1. MAGA-Qanon is consuming America
    A lot of unhappiness in the Star Wars fanbase likely comes from how the United States, in general, is extremely divided. This is out of the control of anyone involved. Everything — EVERYTHING — is seen through the prism of politics, and, as such, given that the Star Wars fanbase is made up of young men, it’s inevitable that they will be unhappy if there’s a whiff of “liberal bias” in the storytelling.
  2. Disney wants to sell toys
    Next, Disney really, really, REALLY wants that sweet, sweet toy money. So that bends the storytelling associated with Star Wars to such an extent that they throw in an entire subplot that’s devoted exclusively to featuring creatures that are to be sold as toys.
  3. “Woke” Hollywood
    This is probably the most conspicuous problem with the franchise and, in a sense, the most intractable. Woke Hollywood screws with some basic tenants of storytelling to such an extent that even the average casual Star Wars audience member can be left a little annoyed.
  4. Disney isn’t a fan of Star Wars
    I think this is the real problem with Star Wars. They just don’t “get” Star Wars and where the magic comes from. It’s like a bookworm trying to be a basketball coach when they don’t even know the rules of the game. They know how to make money, but they have lost sight on how to tell a Star Wars story the way the fans will really like.

I honestly don’t have a solution to any of these problems. Disney does run a real risk, however, of driving the franchise into the ground to such an extent that they can’t make any more money off of it. I have suggested before than someone like Kevin Smith (who is a huge fan of Star Wars) should be given a three picture deal and a lot of creative control.

One thing that is really staring Disney in the face and they’re ignoring it is how huge the Star Wars universe is. It makes you start to think whomever is in charge of Star Wars (Ms. Kennedy?) is either not very creative or too timid to do what is needed.

Why not just find a minor fan favorite character and think completely out of the box with them. No Skywalker. No Darth Vader. Nothing from the known canon of the franchise. They’ve got a whole galaxy mapped out in various ways in “Lore” and so forth, why not just pick a direction, any direction and run with it? Why be so absolutely tied down to the major aspects of the canon?

But I guess all that would require money and risk that Disney isn’t prepare to get into. Though there may come a day when they grow so desperate that they don’t have any choice.

Jesus Christ Is Hollywood A Mess

by Shelt Garner

Hollywood is currently so out of fumes that it makes you wonder if we’re finally at the end of the post-9/11 Era, at least when it comes to the arts. Hollywood has squeezed ever penny it could possibly get out of the MCU and all of the major franchises are in various stages of clusteruckery.

It’s possible that the last big Avengers movie might be it. That might mark the end of about 20 years of Hollywood history. The question, of course, is what happens next.

As I’ve said before, I think the 2020 election is going to decide what happens. Given that something truly astonishing would have to happen for House Trump not to end the Republic by winning the election, I would lean on the side of Hollywood entering its late Weimar Republic stage. As House Trump strangles freedom after freedom in quick succession, it seems as though it is only a matter of time before it comes after Hollywood.

Hollywood is going to face an existentialist choice.

Does it allow itself to be enveloped by House Trump or does it bounce? Given the fast majority of major Hollywood producers are “Germany Industrialists” in their politics, I think we all know the answer to that question. But I guess it’s somewhat possible that some of Hollywood might decamp to somewhere like Australia…maybe Perth? because of the weather and land requirements it needs. Though, honestly, given how much is done on a soundstage with CGI, some of the coming Hollywood diaspora might endup in Great Britain.

But, on a broader level, it makes you wonder if we do manage to have some semblance of normal life in the next four years, what will it look like? I can’t think of a single major Hollywood franchise that has not either been played out or driven into the ground. Right now, both Star Wars AND Star Trek are dead in the water for various reasons.

As such, it would seem to make sense that given how art abhors a vacuum, that something completely new might pop out pretty soon. Or, if you really wanted to be depressing — given how everything sucks — you could say that the economics of Hollywood has changed so drastically that we just going to tread water until AR / VR (MX) finally matures enough that mainstream storytelling goes in that direction, with some sort of fusion with the video game industry occurring.

Given how dark things are right now, I don’t have much hope. And, yet, history has shown that someone, somewhere may very well do SOMETHING original that is both a creative and financial success for Hollywood. But it could be that “woke” Hollywood is the future of things and we’ll have to wait, like, 40 years until the founding of a Second Republic for everything to get sorted out.


‘Burn, Hollywood, Burn’ #COVID19

It’s going to suck.
Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelt Garner

Hollywood, we got a problem. It’s at least within the realm of possibility that not only will all entertainment production shut down soon because of a pandemic, but people will stop going to the movies for a solid year. If you work on the assumption that for about a year — until a vaccine is finally approved and mass produced — some fundimental assumptions about everyday life will be suspended then Hollywood as we know it is a Dead Man Walking.

By the time things go “back to normal,” we may not even have a traditional Hollywood anymore. “Immersive media” in the guise of VR and AR may pop out of the rubble and take over the entertainment world. But another thing to remember — when will the crisis reach such levels that there aren’t live studio audiences for late night talk shows? Or everyone on TV starts to wear a mask? The issue is if you see the coming pandemic in the United States as a process, not an event, a “new normal” will happen at some point where we move past the “event” stage into the “process” stage where everyday life begins to come back, albeit in a dramatically different form. It will be surreal, at first, but it will have to be done.

The whole thing is going to suck. But at some point The Powers That Be are going to encourage “normal” TV to come back for no other reason than to make the life of pandemic — where everyone has to stay inside — at least a bit more bearable. Remember, whatever the pandemic is called will be, will said in the same breath as the Civil War and World War 2. So, eventually, inevitably, we’ll figure out some way to go back to “normal” while we wait for it to end.

But one thing that will be interesting to look at will be the rise of Immersive Media. How fast will that happen? Telepresence will be a huge growth industry in the middle of a pandemic. It will be interesting to see how that will work out specifically.

I am curious what will happen to music. Will someone write a pop song that alludes to the effects of a pandemic? How would they pull it off? I’m tempted to write some doggerel. But I see writing song lyrics a huge waste of time when I have a novel to develop and write. But someone should start thinking about that.

In the end, even with a pandemic all around us, life will go on. People will have sex. Babies will be born. People will die.

Life will go on.