…Does it still vomit up blind men, even if no one sees them?
Just a quick note, Bloggers: I am off to see Aida tonight, as you know the most sheerly spectacular of operas…but Aida has already proved me a liar, since I promised my young opera-going companion some papier-mache elephants, and as it turns out there will be none. And I can’t quite understand this. After all, you can crowdsource papier-mache to elementary schools. When I was young, our brilliant-yet-imposing music teacher had us all learn to sing The Toreador Song, then arranged for a boxing ring to be built in the school gymnasium, then arranged for two chicken costumes to be made, then put two students in the chicken costumes and then put them in the ring with a whole choreographed boxing routine, and then put all of us around the boxing ring with betting slips in our hands like it was Guys And Dolls or something, and had us all explode into ruinous song.
Parents weren’t even invited.
As far as I know, none of them even knew it was going on.
She would’ve arranged for each elementary school in Vancouver to work on a part of a papier-mache elephant’s body — foot, trunk, tail! — hmm, it’s like an elephant, only missing a trunk! — tail! — foot! — and then at the end arranged for all the parts to be delivered to the opera company, only wanting a bit of twine to tie them together, in exchange for a bank of cheap seats at each performance…
…Because nothing is more delightful than seeing little kids attend the opera and not hate it…what you do is, at intermission you buy them all five-dollar cookies from the concession…
…But unfortunately, she retired from active subversion before this show ever went on. And that’s a shame, because…you know, elephants.
It just isn’t the same, when they’re not in the room.
…So let’s talk about The Avengers. It opens this weekend, so this’ll be the last good chance to talk about it.
I’m not seeing it.
You should see it if you want to.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the advertising campaign on this one. It is a BIG advertising campaign, have you noticed? It’s beyond impressive, it’s…er…well, the only word is, it’s positively TITANIC, you know? It’s all over the place; it’s everywhere. I’m stunned at the total media penetration that’s going on with this one, can’t think of a movie in my lifetime that’s had such a full-court press going on in the ramp-up to the opening weekend. The energy being expended is fantastic, and so the aim is clear: this movie can’t be permitted to fail. This movie is receiving the full attention of the parent company, in terms of marketing. I wonder if even Gone With The Wind was so heavily, ubiquitously promoted. I mean, it really seems to have become a big deal, somehow. Everybody’s talking about it, somehow. In the customary lingo of the old-time record industry, it’s clearly set to debut at Number One. The fix is in.
And one really has to wonder why such effort has been expended, to make sure that’s the way things go. Or…does one? Everybody knows about comics, but no one knows what comics people know about comics, and that’s what has kept — and still keeps — the comics business from scoring massive PR heat from a public at large that is quite prone to look at business practices of the type routinely practised in comics, and give a big ol’ SHIT IS FUCKED UP AND BULLSHIT to it. I mean, seriously, it’s pretty politically-charged stuff everywhere else it happens that people notice it, right? But the comics biz has long enjoyed a low enough public profile, that no one with a big CBS eye behind them ever felt moved to opine, Keith-Olbermann-style, that at long last sir have you no sense of decency.
And so, that this lowness of profile is changing is both a good thing and a bad one, for the large corporate superpredators that now control, and wish to make hay from, the irreplaceable and now-irreproducible IP stables of the comics business. Big blockbuster movies, YES!! They can be had, out of this. Merch receipts dropping from the skies. A glorious nostalgia inspired among an increasingly-jaded populace, for the half-remembered sharing of the things of youth. You could see a perfect storm in that, if you had half a brain: a return to the marketability of superhero comics properties that hasn’t been seen in fifty years, and as the businessmen say in their most deleriously-exuberant moments, it’s win-win-win-win…!
…With just one small defect in that colossal heavenly lens, which is: what the fuck are regular people going to say when they find out how all the creators of said beloved nostalgic properties got fucked, when they were making them? What are they going to say about how the health insurance couldn’t be found, how the skinniest percent of a percent couldn’t be liberated to help somebody keep a home, or put food on the table? Real people do care about such things, you know; there really is a presumption out there that if you made something worth millions (let alone billions!) then you damn well get proportionally-compensated for it. No one cheers for the guy that screwed the guy who made him his fortune, they really don’t. Why I do believe they even make movies about how they don’t. So, it’s a bit of a problem, I’m sure you can see. But thankfully, there’s already a solution to the problem available, that’s been most thoroughly tested. On a small scale, to be sure, but in principle the thing is extensible…and actually it’s all real simple, right?
As we all know, don’t we?
What you do, is you make the people who might object to the poor treatment of creators complicit in that poor treatment. You get them liking the stuff, see? You get them boosting it. Then when the truth comes out, they’re implicated: they’re shamed, they’re guilty. And this provides a most powerful motivation for them to turn their back on the issues at hand. If I talked up the Avengers movie, and then found out how Marvel treated Jack Kirby, then my only choices would be a) to walk it back, or b) to push it ahead, and guess which of these is easier? Out of “I was wrong”, and “I don’t see what the problem is”? Well…there is always the danger that the whole thing will backfire, that somebody somewhere will find a way to build a more successful soapbox because of the increased visibility of the superhero stuff, the heightened sensitivity to the hypocrisy of the superhero business…but then what are the superpredators supposed to do: not try to make blockbuster movies and giant merch-showers out of the IP they now control? And if the worst-case turns out to be the actual case, then of course there will be damage control to be done, but when you consider that what “damage control” means in this case is only making a few retroactive agreements, possibly shaving off just a few tenths-of-percents of profits, then as long as the snowball keeps rolling you can afford to lose a few flakes, right? And if it ever stops rolling, then people will stop caring so it won’t matter anyway, and in the meantime what you can do to ameliorate this potential equitable-payment disaster is get your public attached to your properties, just as the comics public got so attached, and thus give them a motivation to scuff their feet and drive those guilty consciences under the carpet. Beat the implications, by getting people implicated first, before they even know what’s going on.
And if worst comes to worst…well, so you pay the people! And say you’ve fixed it.
And then everybody’s happy!
But then again…
It may never come to that.
And it probably won’t, but you know there is something you can do, and I can do, and we all can do, even if we do want to see the movie…even if the ending of this story is pretty well predetermined…
That is: we can just skip the opening weekend.
Just the weekend.
That’s not too hard to do, right?
It may not seem like much, sure. Well, it really isn’t much! But the small thing that it is, is at least a very definite thing…
…In that it at least the elephant keeps on existing, even when there’s no one there who wants to see it.
Which is, you know…
So why not just give it a try, Bloggers? Close your eyes and just visualize that elephant, eh?
That’s what I’ll be doing, tomorrow night.
What fun it’d be, if we could arrange to do it together!