In this day and age, one must feel lost without the presence of social media. Or maybe they feel relieved? Lord knows, I'll never know the difference. Not a day goes by now where I haven't tweeted, posted, or hashtagged to let others know what happened throughout my day. And, unfortunately, I'm sure I'm not alone...
I am on the record in my support of the all-female Ghostbusters movie we’re getting next month. Some of the reactions to it from fandom communities have been so annoying and offensive that I’ve never in my life wanted a film to be great just to silence its detractors. Multiple blogger have taken to the internet in recent days to write essays in which they are swearing off seeing Ghostbusters, as if not seeing a movie is some kind of impressive gesture of defiance, because their beloved franchise is now being fronted by women. They feel a righteous indignation that the Ghostbusters movie is being ruined, and they’re very vocal about boycotting it.
And now, it’s my turn.
We live in a world inundated with books and movies focusing on dystopias: The Hunger Games, Divergent, The Fifth Wave, The Maze Runner, etc. It’s easy to believe that the economic crises and international political upheavals starting in the late 1990s created a market for stories about corrupt governments and damaged societies, but the genre has much deeper roots. Logan’s Run, based on the 1967 novel of the same name, debuted in theaters on June 23, 1976, and given there’s hardly a dystopian novel or film without my name written all over it, I’m shocked I hadn’t seen it until now.
It feels like an impossible task to sit down and write coherent words about Anton Yelchin’s sudden and tragic death in a freak, single-vehicle accident in Los Angeles. On hearing the news, my immediate thoughts were stuck in a numb refusal to accept the idea. “This has to be a hoax.” “He’s too young.” “He has too many movies coming out.” “But his career is just getting going.” As the news was confirmed, I started to look through his IMDb credits and realized that, with 65 roles under his belt by the age of 27, Yelchin was much further along that I realized.
Warning: Spoilers for the TV series, Fringe, are inevitable. Proceed with caution.
There has been no time in history when humans have not been trying to work out family issues through some form of artistic expression, culminating in an immense catalog of art forms devoted in one way or another to this topic. A quick mental scan through pop culture media will generate an extensive checklist of characters with complicated paternal relationships, including Thor, Tony Stark, Peter Quill, Franklin Richards, Damian Wayne, Tyrion Lannister, Luke Skywalker, Indiana Jones, Marty McFly, Danny Torrance, Wilson Fisk, Michael Bluth, the Winchester brothers, Boromir and Farimir, Carl Grimes, Sherlock (in the Elementary version), Nemo (the Pixar clownfish, not the Jules Verne Captain), and on, and on. We’ve begun a tally that can almost not be completed, and we haven’t even started on the villains with “daddy issues.”
No, I am your father.
My father died when I was eight years old. He died six months after being diagnosed with a tumor in his brain, and it’s simple now to say that my whole world was changed. That was the same summer that The Lion King came out, and though I was too young to understand that it was based on one of the greatest works of drama that has ever been written, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the subject matter touched me deeply. I felt that Simba had it easy: Scar was responsible for killing Mufasa, and though he avoided his past for a long time, he was able to convert his grief into action against Scar and triumph. I wasn’t able to comprehend the breadth of what cancer was enough to turn my sadness and loss into energy against it; I had no scheming uncle to toss upon his own allies, so though I experienced a profound empathy with the character, I also found myself competing with his pain in a way. The scene that stayed with me was when Rafiki confronted Simba on facing his past and not running from it anymore. In this way Rafiki became my first Mystic (as an archetype). The following scene with Mufasa’s spirit brought me little solace and further distanced me from what I felt was a story not quite enough the same as mine.
When slackers rule the Earth: an adventure 30 years in the making.
There’s something magical that happens when you find all of your responsibilities absolved for a day: the joys of summer vacations spent fritting away time with no care; a canceled class replaced with a sunny day in a park; snow blanketing the world and burying work; school and transit in a gentle, yet firm, suggestion of “nope.” These are examples on a page, but nothing can convey that feeling save through art, and no film does it better than Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
“Darwyn always made me feel like when he was talking to me, he was 100% focused on me.
It's because he was...he was like this with everyone. It was his superpower.
To live in that moment and give it his all.
His art was a physical version of this. It's why his art reached so many people.
He was speaking directly to you and giving you every bit of himself. I'm going to miss you, man.”
- Shannon Eric Denton (Writer/Artist, Spectrum, Fleshdigger)