Burn Hollywood, Burn: My Hot Take On The ‘Death Of Movies’ Discourse

by Shelt Garner

There’s a lot of buzz of late about the “death of movies.” And, sadly, I fear some of it may be right. American culture is facing something of an existential crisis because the very idea of any sort of “mainstream” is now beginning to melt away. Identity politics is now so absolute that the legitimacy of any heteronormative story is up for debate in the overwrought conversations of Twitter.

I know I sound a little too Joe Rogan with the above, but it comes from a place of love — a love of movies as an art form.

You know it.

Here’s what I think is going to happen — movies are going to continue to drift into culture insignificance until one of a few things happen. If we stop being force fed movies about people running around in capes, then, maybe people might sit up and take notice. But this is unlikely to happen because you can make a shit ton of money with movies like that, so, lulz.

Another way to “fix Hollywood” would be to end “Woke Hollywood.” Instead of trying to make us more woke, tell us a good story. Don’t worry about identity politics — tell a good story. I want less Beanie Feldstein screeching about lesbian sex positions to a Plain Jane lead in Book Smart and more, I don’t know anything. I only keep ranting about how much I fucking hated Book Smart because I was shamed into seeing it by my center-Left echo chamber and the movie is the epitome of preaching to the audience about how being woke is so important.

But, as I always say whenever Book Smart is brought up — I wasn’t the audience. So if you’re a bi-curious high school girl in the suburbs of LA, you probably loved that movie.

Yet another way that movies may come roaring back is because of technology. It could be that once we fully transition to MX (VR and AR) or, hell, even some sort of Strange Days-like MindCap technology, that movies will, like vinyl, make a big comeback as young people grow disillusioned with immersive media.

The crux of the Hollywood’s current problem is a combination of industry dynamics and the need for it to suck its own cock when it comes to there being a “message” in movies. America is so tightly wound at the moment, that a huge segment of the potential viewing audience is turned off with Woke Hollywood, hence the popularity of message-free MCU movies.

I only get a little upset about this specific issue because I love movies. It’s not that hard to tell a great story in a movie. Hell, *I* want to tell a few of those great stories so bad that I recently bought Final Draft. So, lulz.

But are movies dead? Yes, in the short term. Long term, however, I believe they’ll turn out just fine. We just need a New Era of story telling that harkens back to the early 70s.

The Struggle With Word Count

by Shelt Garner

Generally, from what I’ve read, it seems a thriller’s “sweet spot” is about 100,000 words. I read a comment on Facebook from someone who said *40,000* was what the industry wanted and I call bullshit — that’s barely more than your typical novella. It’s comments like that that make one feel more stupid than before you read them.

But anyway, I’m shooting for something no longer than 140,000 for each book I’m working on. It was when I wrote the whole story out as one book and it came out to be 200 scenes or 200,000 words that I decided to split the story into two, ending the first book with a cliffhanger.

The reason word count is so touchy for me is I have the structure of these two novels mapped out after about three years and I hate the idea that after all this hard work, they’ll be rejected not because of my bad writing but because they’re just too fucking long.

But I’m prepared to self-publish if need be. I just know I’m working really hard to make these two novels as fast a read as possible, so hopefully a literary agent will notice that and forgive me for how long they are.

Only time will tell, I guess.

Incels, MAGA & Undead American Democracy

by Shelt Garner

The key issue to understand is American Democracy as we know it is dead. About half the population wants an autocracy pretty much because they can’t get laid. Technology has made it so blue collar men without a college education can no longer afford to get married and raise a family.

Everything else is just rationalization.

As such, at its core, the racism, misogyny and bigotry of MAGA is pretty much just men angry with blue balls. Or put another way, the idea of the “incel” is far more significant than one might think when it comes to how fucked up American politics is.

If you think you’re being forced to be celibate, then you’re probably going to be open to the ideas of the Proud Boys, or other forms of extremism. I guess what I’m suggesting is under the “resource” theory of history, a big chunk of men hate women and minorities because they lack the means to acquire the “resource” of sex.

The point of all of this is Trump has about half the population begging him to be an autocrat, to kill American democracy once and for all and, in a sense, he can’t get it up. To date, at least, he’s all talk. He gave Republicans hundreds of young hack MAGA judges and a huge plutocrat tax cut….but he can’t be bothered to take the final step of killing American democracy. This, even though a huge swath of the population wants him to do it. Like I said, in fact, people like Lou Dobbs and Gen. Mike Flynn are literally BEGGING him to do it.

And he can’t do it.

This is not to say America isn’t still in a very dangerous situation. Trump could still do something really, really crazy in a last ditch effort to stay in office, no matter what. He could very well snap in some way and destroy the country out of spite — and a fear of going to jail in New York State.

I have no idea what is in store for America at this point.

A lot depends on the economy and people like Tom Cotton. If Cotton manages to become president in 2025 or 2029, then that’s it, we’re an autocracy. The United States will be little more than Belarus.

And, yet, that’s kind of our best case scenario, given macro trends. The worst case scenario is there will be an organized effort to give Trump his Reichstag Fire NOW, so he can stay in power. It is easy to imagine a situation where there are a series of Oklahoma City bombings across the country in major Blue State cities between now and January 20th.

Or there’s a war with the DPRK or Iran.

You name it. What otherwise might happen gradually between now and 2029 might happen violently between now and January 20, 2021. You can dog whistle the need for violence for only so long before someone, somewhere is going to take you up on it.

And we haven’t even gotten to the part where Trump doxes Electors.

So if we manage to punt this particular autocratic problem down the road one election cycle because, in the end, Trump really is just an empty suit, no an autocrat, well, I don’t know if I’m supposed to laugh or cry.

Could Trump Replace AG Barr With Rudy?

by Shelt Garner

First, when it comes to Trump at this point, nothing is off the table. So, yes, I could totally see Trump firing not only Wray at FBI and whatserface at CIA, but Barr at Justice.

And, really, there would be nothing we could do about it in real terms.

So, in these crucial two weeks before the Electors actually vote, interim AG could inflict a huge amount of damage on our form of government. The question is, is there really anything stopping Trump from doing such a thing other than it hasn’t occurred to him to do it yet?

Because of the gray area we’re currently in politically, Trump’s already near-king-like immunity to any political consequences is even more so now. So, really, just like Caligula named a horse Counsel, Trump could very well name Rudy interim AG any moment now.

Of ‘Network’ & The #Novel I’m #Writing #AmWriting

by Shelt Garner

The thing about the film Network is it’s both timely and timeless. It pretty much sums up how America was feeling at the time it was produced. It’s set in simply “the now.” As such, that’s what it makes it a timeless work of art.

I find myself thinking about Network a lot as I develop and write this novel because while I strive to write something as good as it, I realize there are some notable differences. My novel is set in a specific time and place. It’s meant to wallow in some of the major controversies of the Trump Era. But, hopefully, it won’t come off as preachy like Olivia Wilde’s “Booksmart.” It’s meant to be a fast, easy, pulpy read that keeps you up for two nights you’re so eager to finish up.

That’s the dream. That’s the goal.

But to achieve that, I have a huge amount of reading to do. My writing is only mediocre on a good day, so, lulz. And, yet, I’m really throwing my heart into this novel so, if nothing else, it will be well thought out and articulated. I really have a commitment to the conceit, if nothing else.

The theory is, if I believe in this story, you, the reader, will, too.

I have thought out to an extreme level the different parts of the canon to such an extent that I’ve got a Star Wars-sized universe to play with. But, let me note, this is all in my head. I have done a lot of writing as part of development, but some pretty basic things — like formal character studies — I have yet to get around to doing. I may do that between finishing the first draft and starting the second draft.

I’m really looking forward to jumping into “Part 2” of the novel. I have a huge amount of work to do to get it to where it needs to be, however. It’ll never be as good as Network, but that movie definitely is influencing my ultimate vision for the novel.

Of #TrumpTaxes & The Allegorical Thriller About The Trump Era I’m Writing #AmWriting

by Shelt Garner

It’s hard to properly convey how much rage I feel towards the Trump Administration these days. With the punt on the part of SCOTUS in regards to Trump’s taxes, it seem pretty obvious that Trump is going to cruise into a stolen second term.

On the bright side, now I can throw my heart into the novel I’m writing which is meant to be one epic rant about the surreal excesses of the Trump Era. I’m a man of peace, a man of ideas but I also feel extremely powerless to do anything about Trump. So, all I can do is use my native storytelling ability to hopefully get people thinking about what a fucking monsters Trump and his enablers are. The goal is for that rant to be so diffused, however, that it won’t be preachy. It is designed, however, from the ground up to be able to lay out an indictment of extremism on both sides of the political spectrum.

The story is set in the immediate past, right before the pandemic. The second book is likely going to end just about the moment in early 2020 when it became clear that COVID19 was about to strike the United States. I also, for what its worth, do some down low ranting about people being oblivious to global climate change for good measure.

Anyway, as I have said before, I hope to have something of a personal writer’s retreat this weekend. I need some time to just stare out into space, recharge my batteries and maybe drink and read a lot.

I’ve come up with a very unique way to rant about the Trump Era. All systems are go right now to start writing on the first draft sometime after I get back from my writer’s retreat. I still have a huge amount of reading to do. So much reading. But it’s worth it.

Having a novel to develop and write distracts me from being enraged over how Trump and his minions are turning the nation I love into a managed democracy like Russia.


Edging Closer To Wrapping Up Development On The First Draft Outline

by Shelt Garner

I talked to a FBI PR person today and it was a lot — a LOT — of help. He really opened my eyes to some things I was totally missing when it came to the actual meat-and-bones of why you would read a story like this: the actual investigation.

He didn’t like it much when I mentioned The Company, even in fiction. That was a tense, awkward moment in an otherwise very pleasant and informative hour-long conversation. Talk about power. The Company is a very, very powerful organization within the Federal government.

Anyway, even The Company would likely get a kick out of how I’m portraying they and the NSA in this story. I’ve come up with something that resembles a Donald Trump waking nightmare after he’s had one too many Diet Cokes before bedtime after having watched the latest James Bond movie. This whole thing is meant to be rather pulpy and with a dab of magical realism to it than anything else. Or, put another way, you might see it as a Coen Brothers interpretation of Stieg Larsson, if you will.

So the next few days I’m going to plunge into the outline I’m working on. Hopefully, I will finally wrap it up by just after the July 4th weekend. I really need to root around the story on a structural level to make it clearer some of the aspects of the investigation and where things stand when the FBI character appears at the midpoint of the plot.

Wish me luck, I guess.

It’s The Title of Jessica Alba’s Netflix Vehicle ‘Trigger Warning’ That Is Making Me Nervous

by Shelt Garner

The novel I’m developing is very personal. It’s also very much something of my autobiography in a gauzy, fictional form. But Jessica Alba — the Taylor Swift of major Latina movie stars — has a project with Netflix in development that’s really making me nervous.

It’s called Trigger Warning and when I heard the title my heart sank. It would be very easy for it to be essentially the novel I’m writing. In fact, Trigger Warning is one of several discarded titles I’ve mulled for the novel over the last two years.

But the once I learned what few details I could about Alba’s project, it just doesn’t seem I have THAT much to worry about. Yes, the two projects are similar in some respects, but I THINK that has more to do with simple form follows function than anything else.

And, yet, as I’ve said, should something happen, I’ve developed this novel far enough that I can pretty easily use the characters I’ve come up with for a different plot.

I hope it doesn’t come to that, but who knows. Stranger things have happened.

Sometimes, you just have to believe in yourself.

May Actually Overshoot My Goal With This Novel

by Shelt Garner

The novel I’m developing is turning out to be be really, really good — at least in my eyes. Yes, there’s that Jessica Alba vehicle Trigger Warning lurking out there, but the more I think about it, it seems any resemblance between it and what I’m working on comes more from where my head is as I develop my novel than anything else. Or something.

I guess, in a sense, all that is first child jitters. Though I will admit that now that I finally have the hang of writing a novel, I’m likely to just keep writing them no matter what. All I want is to write a novel where someone who doesn’t know me reads it and asks, “So what happens next?”

The novel I’m developing definitely has franchise written all over it. Though, if I did manage to sell the first two books, I would go back in time and write two prequels. Those two stories are pretty well thought out in my mind and would be pretty easy to write given how much I had to think them to through to write the novels I’m working on now.

But a lot of all of this comes from simply not only not knowing what I’m doing, but not having anyone to tell me “no.” Or, put another way, if I had, like, friends and stuff — or maybe a wife or girlfriend — it’s unlikely I would have gotten this far with this project because everyone would have gotten so frustrated with me that they would have finally successfully told me to “just write a short story.”

Fuck such thinking. Fuck short stories. I want to write a novel.

It’s wild how little support I’m getting from anyone about writing a novel. Everyone wants me to write a screenplay or a short story or whatever the fuck else they think I should write. But no one is like, “Hey! You’re writing a novel after talking about writing a novel for years, good for you!”

I can’t help how extroverted I am. That’s just who I am.

This Novel Has No Literary Aspirations

by Shelt Garner

I have a small library of books I want to read as part of the development of this story (one story, two books.) I have so much I want to read — and learn — that I’m a little nervous (but not too much) that I’m going to come out the other side over shooting my goal rather significantly.

It’s all rather amusing. Everyone — EVERYONE — thinks I suck. That’s all I hear about every aspect of anything creative I want to do: you suck. So I have something of a creative chip on my shoulder. But I’m working as hard as I can to at least not embarrass myself.

This novel pretty much wades into every major cultural wedge issue with guns blazing. My vision is to wade into a number of extremely controversial subjects in a way that is at least palatable to people from a wide spectrum of political views. Except MAGA. They can fuck off, those fucking American Nazis.

What I need is an editor. I need someone to help me figure out what’s important if I have two ideas that are of equal value in my mind. But I’m flat broke and pretty much everyone has an agenda if you’re not paying them, so lulz. It’s comical how poor I am at this point in my life and no one is going to help me unless I pay them.

And, from what I can tell, editors are extremely expensive, even to look over a small portion of a work-in-progress.

Anyway, this novel is meant to be a fun, breezy read. That’s it. I want you to be able to pick it up and read it straight through over about three days. I want you to read these two novels so fast you lose sleep, maybe get to work late. That’s my dream, my goal.

I’m nervous that if the novels accidentally get too literary that that aspect will slow down the reading experience some.

But, really, that’s just me daydreaming, pysching myself up.