James Bond’s Future

by Shelt Garner

The world is descending into fire and brimstone at an alarming rate, to the point that we may not live to see the next James Bond come out. But, just for fun, let’s mull how we might revamp the storied franchise.

A new Lisbeth Salander in the Bond universe?

The obvious “woke” answers are — a female James Bond. Or a black James Bond. Or an Indian female James Bond? But I think all those ideas kind of miss the point and might even kill the franchise.

What we need to do is for three movies turn Bond into the bad guy — sorta.

Use his status as the ultimate “legacy brand” to allow you to wallow in all the unwoke elements of his character one last time before even Bond is finally enveloped by the all powerful embrace of Hollywood wokeness.

Here’s how I would do it.

Have Bond up against a woman who wants the same McGuffin that he wants — or whatever. Someone who is his equal. While I think it would be neat if his foe was a Indian woman named Raj, I still believe that pulling Lisbeth Salander into the Bond universe would be a great way to juice the franchise in an interesting way.

My favorite Bond.

Get some young, tiny actress to play Salander and then let these two de facto superheroes have at it for three movies. I could see the whole thing being based on some sort of misunderstanding between the two of them. Bond does his usual Bond shit with a Bond girl…but…he’s a little too rough with her maybe? And this accidently roughed up Bond girl complains to Salander who decides to come after Bond with everything she’s got. Throw in them both wanting something from SPECTER then you really do have a three movie franchise on your hands. It would be so cool!

Given Salander’s absolute mortal code, having her fight it out with the old school, rakish Bond would be very entertaining. Salander could be a proxy for “woke Hollywood” sensibilities. Or something.

Anyway, the point is, doing something to put Bond in a bad light and then have him fight it out with the equally alienating Salander would be really fun because you could have people who took Bond’s side and people who took Salander’s side. In the end, of course, the misunderstanding is fixed and the two former rivals come to respect each other as they go their separate ways.

Paint ‘The Town’ Woke

by Shelt Garner

One of my favorite media industry podcasts is The Town. It’s great. I really enjoy it and I recommend you listen to it. And, yet, this most recent episode left me thinking, “What the what?”

So, our intrepid media reporter Matt Belloni had his good buddy from CNBC Julia Boorstin on to talk about gender inequality in Hollywood. So far, so good. I was going to do some blogging this evening and that sounded like something fun to listen to while I did some writing.

And then.

Boorstin comes out swinging, saying that it’s all Hollywood’s fault that starting around 1983 smelly boys took over the software industry because of the popularity of movies like Wargames. Now, some context, as I understand it, most “computers” before the rise of personal computing were, well, people — women, specifically.

And I was a horrible college student and even I know that “correlation is not causation.” Maybe it’s not that Hollywood drove women out of the software industry, but rather Hollywood was picking up on changes in not just society, but all the wealth being generated by successful programmers. And it’s a pretty high level of “presentism” when you assume that given such a development that Hollywood execs would suddenly show a 2020s level of wokeness and decide they were going to produce all these movies showing how great it would be for young women to be programers.

Of course the did what they would always do up until Woke Hollywood — try to tell stories that got people (specifically sweaty young people who needed a dark movie theatre to make out in) into theatre seats. Again — I just don’t think you can blame Hollywood for “driving women out of the computer industry.” Hollywood is reactive, not proactive on a lot of social justice issues — and everything else, for that matter.

But, back to the story. No longer was a human “computer” using brute mental force to get us to the moon. Now, it was male programmers who were doing a totally different type of job with a totally different value in the eyes of society. And I just don’t see any scenario where Hollywood back in the day was going to say “THIS WILL NOT STAND” and be go out of their way in 1983 to make sure women continued to be “computers” only now called “programmers.”

It’s all very murky and could be interpreted in a variety of ways. It all depends on your agenda and if you want to sell books about the gender gap in high profile industries or not.

First — does pointing this out make me “problematic” and “canceled?” Probably. But, in my defense, I point all of this out because “wokeness” — specifically in Hollywood — is really, really hurting that industry. As the popularity of Top Gun: Maverick attests, sometimes, people just want to see a movie without any ulterior motive.

And, I will note, that I’m writing a six novel series with a lot of representation and a lot of empathy. And, yet, of course, given that I’m a middle age CIS white male and a lot of Leftists will probably freak the fuck out that I would do such a thing — even if I try to be as empathetic as possible to women, the LGBTQ community and POC.

Given how many non-male, non-white, non-straight characters I have planed for these six novels I’m working on, it’s going to be pretty ironic when I’m attacked when I don’t fit the media narrative on this specific issue.

And, really, like I said, this is all a matter of interpretation. It’s easy to spin the particular in either direction. But at least, even I, someone who sees himself in the center-Left spectrum of the political debate, have to admit that “woke Hollywood” exists and it’s poorly serving the audience.

What Does ‘Woke’ Mean?

by Shelt Garner

Because the “woke cancel culture mob” has become such a massive abstract fear on the part of Traditionalist conservatives, and the idea of “wokeness” has been demagogued a great deal, it’s rather difficult to come up with a coherent definition of “to be woke.”

It really boils down to if you watch a lot of Fox News or not. If you watch a lot of Fox News, then your definition probably is something like:

Woke: the idea that all white, straight Christians — especially men — are evil and as such everyone should be Godless, gay and take their toddlers to drag shows.

Think of this as the “Red Pill” definition. This is the definition that is loosely used by Ben Shapiro and other leading conservatives.

Meanwhile, here’s the definition I would use.

Woke: a tendency to conspicuously note that America is browning and while acknowledging an increasing acceptance of LGBQ individuals in American society.

This is a far more accurate description of what “woke” means. But, of course, everyone wants easy, pat explanations to the complicated problems facing America. So, I don’t know what to tell you. Either you’re “Red Pilled” or you’re not.

Don’t Worry Olivia Wilde

by Shelt Garner

Let me begin by saying I’m always wrong. Always. And the following is just for fun because I find myself thinking about what the fuck is going on with Olivia Wilde and this is what I manage to come up with.

Here is what might explain Olivia Wilde’s career path — she really resents how much emphasis has been placed on her good looks over the years. I think she is very tired that people think she’s hot to the point that they ignore any of her other talents.

This aggravation has driven her to be “woke.” And she has even said in at least one interview that what I propose about her motivation is right. She recalled that early in her career she was told to “sex things up” if she wanted to get an acting role.

Anyway. Just had to get that off my chest.

A Sly Way To Make $1 Billion In Hollywood

by Shelt Garner

If you wanted to make a quick, massive return on an investment and you happened to be MAGA Republican oligarch, here’s a way to both stroke your conservative ideological cock and make a lot of money — finance a series of middle-tier “anti-woke” movies with big name stars.

America can’t even agree on what’s funny.

But the key issue is you can’t be conspicuous about how you are actively being “anti-woke.” Not only is there a huge, huge audience for natively conservative songs, TV shows, movies and, hell, even comedy, but the country is tearing itself apart at such an alarming rate that all you have to is build your conservative media and they will come.

It’s not like this sort of sly messaging hasn’t happened before. As I seem to recall, there were a series of movies — Blood Diamond among them — that each addressed some sort of political cause as the basis of their plot. So, what you do is you, maybe find someone like Clint Eastwood and give him a three picture deal to essentially make a series of “anti-woke” movies that would be designed from the ground up to appeal to MAGA Republican (fascist) sensibilities in such a way that is so subtle that the average person isn’t alienated.

I’m not advocating this, but I am pointing out that money is being left on the table by Hollywood by not doing this.

Of ‘Problematic’ Authors

by Shelt Garner

As someone who has rarely done anything “normal,” I find myself dwelling upon my fate should I actually overcome the odds and sell a pop novel in the vein of Stieg Larsson. I’ve done a lot over the years that if you rooted around in it not knowing me or the context that could definitely get my ass “canceled” by the “woke cancel culture mob.”

It’s with this in mind that I think of J.K. Rowling. I don’t have a vested interest in either her or the controversy that now surrounds her, but I do have Traditionalist relatives and I find myself torn. It’s Rowling’s “cancelation” for being a TERF that, well, is very difficult for me to defend to my Traditionalist relatives.

I’m aware that there is more going on with Rowling than just her being a TERF, but it’s her status as someone who has a more traditional belief on what a “woman” is that is the thing that MAGA Republicans latch on to because it’s simple to understand.

Out of spite to the “woke cancel culture mob” I bought Rowling’s latest self-indulgent tome out of curiosity as to how she managed to write a 1,000 page novel about herself.

So I continue to ponder my own risk of being “canceled” should I ever become a public figure because, oh boy. I was a drunk idiot for a number of years and there is plenty of bad behavior to rummage through if the occasion arose. And, of course, there is the cold hard fact that I may never even get that far, never be given an opportunity — apparently, in general, literary types think I’m too bonkers to associate with.

But all of this points to a broader issue, which is how illiberal some elements of the Left are in the United States. I continue to be dubious about the idea that the “woke cancel culture mob” even exists. I think it’s more a matter of changing social expectations between generations combined with something of a “soft Singularity” taking place.

I say all that, of course, before I get canceled because of some dumb thing I did 20 years while I was drunk in Seoul.

Have I Accidently Red Pilled Myself?

by Shelt Garner

So, I decided to buy JK Rowling’s self-indulgent mystery tome out of spite towards the “woke cancel culture mob.” I have a feeling, given my dissipated youth that if I manage to miraculously sell my first novel, I’m probably going to get canceled pretty quick.

But, who knows, maybe I’ve overthinking things.

Something about why Rowling has been so vehemently “canceled” doesn’t set well with me. Her “cancelation” because of viewpoint that a lot of average people have is very troubling for a number of reasons. It’s because of shit like that that we got Trump.

When the average person begins to believe they risk their entire life being ruined for holding a view that seems pretty obvious and simple — then you have a serious problem. That’s when they start to doubt the very legitimacy of democracy and fascism becomes more and more appealing to them.

And I say all of this as someone who fucking hates the MAGA New Right. I suppose you might call it a little bit of political tough love. In the end, I think the “woke” era is going to end either when we have a civil war or when we turn into an autocracy.

The Existential Nature of a CIS White Male Writing a Novel With an Amerasian Heroine

by Shelt Garner

The more I learn about how novels are actually bought and marketed the more I begin to realize there may be some existential issues that I just can’t wiggle my way out of.

There are two such issues that are giving me serious pause for thought. One is that my protagonist is a POC — specifically Amerasian. The idea that THAT would make it more difficult to sell my novel kind of boggles my mind. Any modern American story has to address that American is browning and, as such, not every story can be just a bunch of white people talking to each other.

Having a non-White heroine — who, in my mind, looks a lot like Olivia Munn — is existential to the story I want to tell. And I’ve come up with a really interesting, clever story that I think is engaging and will appeal to people who liked stories like Mare of Easttown and Stieg Larsson’s stuff.

The other existential issue is, of course — me. The idea that a middle aged CIS white male would write a novel with a non-white heroine as its protagonist is, unto itself a big issue with the “woke cancel culture mob.” And the fact that I would write in the third person intimate POV and I shift POVs is another issue that could cause a lot of problems. Or not. Maybe I’m being paranoid.

This was a huge issue in the controversy around the novel “American Dirt” which was written, as I understand it, by a white woman. It told the story of, I think, an undocumented Latinx.

There are two lesser issues. One is, well, how I hope to make it clear over the course of these six novels how much I fucking hate Trumplandia. I hate it with the hate equal to the center of the sun. I suppose if I actually sold this first novel, my political views would become known and that, unto itself, might turn some people off.

Meanwhile, there is the still very nebulous prospect that Something Big and Bad might happen in late 2024, early 2025, to the point that it will be difficult for any novel I sell to actually be read because either people will be dodging explosions or a weaponized ICE will start to knock heads.

But I would like to think that, maybe, if I manage to write a good enough story that all of these obstacles might not be such such an issue. I am also the first to admit that this project is based on delusion and me having a huge ego. And, yet, lulz. Why not?

All of this gives me something to think about. Something to focus on other than how I’m about to be 50 and have nothing to my name other than a failed expat magazine in Seoul.

A Review (Of Sorts) Of ‘Lightyear’

by Shelt Garner

I finally finished Lightyear. But I’m drunk and lazy. So, this is going to be a “review” as done under those conditions. So, the key thing that pops out at me about this movie — which looks gorgeous — is how dull it is. It’s boring. I just didn’t feel any emotional connection to the story or the characters.

It was only because of that that I noticed how “woke” it is.

It was very, very woke.

Now, let me give you some context to all of this relative to me. I’m writing six (!) novels that I’m using as a creative outlet to rant at the top of my lungs about how much I fucking hate Trumplandia and, as well, the “woke cancel culture mob.” A pox on both your houses, as they say.

But I’m going to use subtext. I’m not going to deconstruct the white savior trope. Or have characters be gay just to make myself feel better. I’m not going to bang my political views over you, the reader, in other words. But the whole thing is designed to, at the end of six novels, layout why I fucking hate extremism from both sides of the aisle.

Anyway, back to Lightyear.

If it wasn’t so dull, I wouldn’t care how woke it was. If it had a good story that was compelling and didn’t have me thinking in the back of my mind, “Ahhh, of course, this is supposed to teach White People A Lesson About Relying Upon Brown People” because it was so dull, then that would be a whole different situation.

And, I’m sheepish to admit, I found myself rooting for Zerg. I agreed with his motivation. But, then, that might mean more about me not being the kid audience more than anything else.

Lightyear is not a bad movie. But it’s very much more a movie you might want to see on Disney+ as opposed to in a theatre.

‘Lightyear’ As a Woke Deconstruction of The ‘White Savior’ Trope

by Shelt Garner

Ok, I’m working my way through Disney’s “Lightyear” and I’ve reached a pretty woke aspect of this movie — its determination to attack the “White Savior” trope for the benefit of the plot. They even go so far as to say, at one point, “we don’t want us to save us, we want you to join us.” (Or something like that.)

Let me be clear — I’m anti-fascist and I fucking hate MAGA. But I’m not oblivious to what’s going on. Lightyear is, in a sense, woke propaganda for the benefits of the browning of America. I’m indifferent to the browning of America and definitely wouldn’t even notice this attack on the “White Savior” trope if the movie was…good.

But the movie isn’t very good. It’s boring. I just don’t care. I don’t know how much of that is it’s meant to be a kids’ movie and how much of it is, well, it really is just boring.

If Lightyear was a better movie, I would be so engaged by the plot that I wouldn’t have time to notice the “woke” elements of it all. But, lulz, nothing matters.

I suppose the point is — give me a good plot and I won’t care how woke your story is.