Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Short Enz

If you put the word "short" into a blog post title, the post itself must be short.

Let's see what happens.

I was rooting around the interwebtubes earlier, procrastinating like all writers do, and I came across Robert Hewitt Wolfe's Untitled Novel Blog, wherein he lists word count by the day. DAMN, he was disciplined during the strike! I hope he finishes it and sells it and it makes him a gazillion dollars and more famous than JK Rowling. So there.

That aside, I thought it was a fun idea and since I started a new book today, I will play along. Although don't get too excited -- I'm not that disciplined. But anyhow. The new book was started. Chapter one was vomited forth. The word count for day one is 2029, which is a good number and an excellent science fiction title.

I don't think I'll get anything done in the next few days because we'll be breaking our Moonlight episode. See? I said there would be excuses right out of the box. But 2029 for a first day? Not bad. It will all be rewritten in the end, but not a bad opening salvo.

I don't have a ton of time for content today (remember -- 2029 words!!) but there's a lot to talk about. Here's something I can mention but don't feel the need too build into a gazillion word rant.

Diablo Cody won an Oscar, as y'all know, and the Diablo backlash has gone a bit mad. Some dude who writes for the LA Times (friend to no writer -- see strike coverage) had this to say:

"Everybody was ... rallying behind her before `Juno' hit $125 million at the box office, and now comes the inevitable backlash where they see her selling out to Hollywood," observed Tom O'Neil, a columnist for the Los Angeles Times' "The Envelope" Web site.

"She always seemed like a rebel, a social rebel who now seems to have cashed in and joined the club. And I think what we're witnessing is resentment to that," said O'Neil, who noted that Cody's raunchy backstory likely proved irresistible to Hollywood types who don't get a chance to show their bohemian, darker sides in public.

Hilarious, right? Diablo Cody wrote a SCREENPLAY, it got MADE, she won an OSCAR, and now she's sold out. What exactly was she supposed to do with a screenplay? She's not that DIY band playing in their parents' front room. SHE'S A FUCKING SCREENWRITER. She writes screenplays. She's reached the goal of all screenwriters -- to see their fucking words onscreen. So WTF? Is she not supposed to succeed? Even a hipster (in a good way) like Cory Doctorow makes a living as a writer.

I love the notion that Diablo Cody's a rebel, too. Exactly what is she rebelling against? What the dude really means, frankly, is that she doesn't look like the rest of the schlubby writers. Girlfriend's got a persona, she worked it, and it got her noticed. But what seems to be lost in the shuffle is the fact that she can also write. She's got a gimmick, but she's NOT a gimmick.

And her "raunchy backstory" makes "Hollywood types" jealous because they "don't get a chance" to be that way? WTF does that mean? They're not clergy. If some "Hollywood type" wants to get all up in the world of pole-dancing, then go for it. Nobody's stopping you.

Seems to me that this dude is pissed off that somebody he considers a novelty has garnered acclaim and legitimacy. Seems to me that buddy-boy's jealous. Look, no matter what goes on with Diablo Cody's persona, she's got to put the work on the page. Maybe she'll be a flash in the pan. Maybe she can't top Juno. But maybe she'll have staying power and she'll really make her mark. It's impossible to say now, and it's ludicrous to begrudge her the success she earned by writing a script people really liked.

In the interest of full disclosure, I enjoyed Juno but do not consider it anywhere near genius. But then my geniuses include people like Paddy Chayefsky and Billy Wilder, so maybe Diablo will forgive me for not including her in that illustrious group just yet.

In this age of the internetwebtubes, we should all take advantage the way she did. It's hard to get noticed and just sitting down and writing is, unfortunately, less and less a part of that than ever before. Anybody who can game the system is a hero in my book.

There's an "oh, SNAP" moment from another dude:

Movie critic Robert Wilonsky of the Dallas Observer thinks potshots against Cody are rooted in jealousy.

"She deserves what she has coming to her," Wilonsky said. "This is not accidental and it's not undeserved. Anyone who says otherwise is just a would-be screenwriter with a movie script sitting in their desk that nobody has any interest in."

Word, other dude, even though I fit the latter category, I ain't jealous of Diablo Cody. Well, not in the bad way. In the "Gee, I wish that were me" way, absolutely. Because we, too, have that funny, weird script that we're totally proud of, the script that makes people go, "Um... what?" in a good way, the script an agent won't touch and a producer won't read. But we haven't figured out how to get it noticed yet.

But that isn't Diablo Cody's fault. So congratulations, Diablo Cody, for winning an Oscar and having the ride of your life. Thanks for raising the torch for all female screenwriters, for making writers hot, and Goddam you to hell for giving sleazy producers the idea that they can find hot female screenwriters by searching the web for porn.

Now we all have to start hitting the gym, trade in our jeans for animal print sarongs, and figure out our stripper names.

np - Crash My Model Car, "the Flying Rodleighs"


Jake Hollywood said...

I'm one of those people who isn't a fan of Diablo Cody. I don't think it's jealousy (though it could be--do jealous people are a lot like delusionals, they never know they're actually delusional, right?), but it could be a strain of the envy virus.


I think I may have nominated Diablo Cody as one of the Hollywood Savior of the Year.

My Nominations:

DIRECTOR: GIL CATES - not only did he save the WGA from itself, but he personally saved the Oscars and bored us to tears while doing it.

WRITER: DIABLO CODY - not only has she become the this years "it" writer (anytime the media needed a quote about the writer’s strike who did they ask?) and is the writer we all aspire to be, but she’s a damn snappy dresser, too.

ACTOR: AN A-LIST TIE (Hanks, Clooney, Streep, DeNiro) - how can you not love those actors who can most afford it trying to shut out those struggling for work actors from SAGs voting process–I mean, who do they think they are, the WGA?

ACTOR: KATHERINE HEIGL - for being the outspoken spokesperson for both the WGA & SAG and by dominating both the TV and Silverscreen as an actress and her social activism (Gay Rights) stances... How does she find the time?

HOLLYWOOD UNION BUSTER: NICK COUNTER - Gotta love a guy who even when shut out of the process still manages to take slaps at the WGA.

WRITERS WHO BORDER ON SCABBING: ZWICK and HERSKOVITZ for their borderline scab show (sold to NBC during the strike) Quarterlife. Ummmm, fellas? I thought that was a WGA no-no?


HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: NIKKI FINKE - love or hate her (and that’s a minute by minute judgement call), at least she gives a damn. That’s a lot more than most “insiders” can say.

BLOGGER OF THE YEAR: Oh, I don't want to embarrass her. Buy you can guess, right?

Kati S said...

Here's my problem -- can't someone not like Diablo Cody, her film, or the fact that she won an Oscar she didn't deserve without being "jealous"? I'm jealous of everyone in LA, but that has nothing to do with how I feel about Juno. I think the backlash is about the EXCESS attention being lavished on A WRITER for no other reason than that she was a stripper. A whole mess load of people loved Little Miss Sunshine, but no one knew what Michael Arndt's face look liked until the Oscars. Not that writers, particularly female writers, shouldn't get attention, but some of us feel her back story warped the judgment of how legitimately good the screenplay (which relied heavily not on story or character, but a bunch of one-liners) was. That's all... Also, I'm still a little sad no one noticed how friggin' good The Darjeeling Limited was.

Scott Stambler said...

Word Count

I heard that Gay Talese writes a paragraph a day. Obviously a damn good paragraph.....

Josh Olson said...


First of all, Juno didn't make over a hundred million bucks because it was written by an ex-stripper. The overwhelming majority of people who bought tickets to it have no idea who Diablo Cody is.

Second, Cody's played the game like a master - this is showbiz, and she's had the balls to make herself a star. You take what you have, and you work it to your advantage.

I'll cop to it - I envy the crap out of her backstory. She worked it like a champ. Now she's in the position of being able to do the work she wants, and if she can back it up, she'll be around for a long time. That's the goal, and she's hit it. More power to her.

Lastly, in all the Cody rage, this gets lost, especially by writers - she won one of our biggest battles. No matter whose name runs after the "film by" credit on the thing, it's HER movie. A WRITER'S film. More people can name the writer of Juno than the director. That's a win for us, no matter how you feel about the movie or her.

And PS: While you may have gotten beaten over the head by the dialogue, Juno was ALL about character. There were some beautiful, smart, subtle and complicated characterizations in that film - some VERY real writing going on there.

Kati S said...

Josh, since you wrote A History of Violence, which I admire hugely, I defer to your superior wisdom... But while I agree to disagree about Juno, my response to Kay's post didn't mean to be so much about Juno's merits, but that her sudden rocketing to superstardom seems a bit disproportionate to the work. More importantly, I think a person should be able to dislike the film, writer, heck, even Ellen Page, without their critique being disparaged as rooted in jealousy. Wilonsky's statement is absurd and not dissimilar to people who say anyone who disagrees with the war is anti-patriotic and thus their opinion means nothing. It's dangerous to so idolize someone (whether it be Bush or Cody) that a person (and here, a movie critic no less) is not willing to have an intellectual debate of Cody's work. To boil others' opinions down to mere jealousy is simply absurd.

David Rosiak said...

Some beautifully written characterizations? Seriously? Maybe I was watching a different film.

Because I seem to recall that nearly all the characters spoke in exactly the same voice (ie Cody's cloying blog-isms) through the entirety of the film. And I think that's what annoyed me the most -- there was a bland sense of sameness to every character and every contrived, snarky bit of dialogue they rattled off. And dialogue aside, we're in formulaic, after-school-special territory here. This is a hipster film that, five years down the line, is going to seem as antiquated as BREAKIN' 2.

Personally, I can't wait until JENNIFER'S BODY comes out, and everyone suddenly realizes that Cody makes guys like Tarantino and Smith look like masters of distinctive characterization -- jeeesus, what a terrible script!

As for Cody herself, I guess what bothers me the most about her is how she happily rode the studio publicity bandwagon during the strike (she only picketed a scant number of times for photo ops) Yeah, she worked her story, at the expense of other writers who were actually on the line.

Fuck that.

Priya said...

As a writer from Minnesota (sadly, not a stripper -- sad for me, not for the folks who'd see me nekkid if I were), I'm jealous as hell. I got envy coming out of every orifice. Diablo Cody's career is the one I want to have.

Sure, she's on Letterman. Sure, she's got all of this publicity. Sure, she just won an Oscar in million dollar shoes and a crotchless dress. Sure, she's got a spiffy little script that turned into a spiffy little movie that I adore. Hell, I'm woman enough to admit that I laughed, I cried, it was better than Cats.

However, the thing I absolutely love about her career (no, I wouldn't turn any of the above down), but as a woman screenwriter from Minnesota... the ONE thing that makes me shit with envy?


On the marquee of the Uptown Theater.

What I don't really understand, because I pretty much laud everyone's success (my attitude's: one person in the door, means someone made it in, means there's hope for me). There have only been two people whose success has been a bitter pill for me to swallow. Even then, I tried to look on the bright side. Thing is? I knew them personally. I don't get all the hatred and venom for some chick people don't know, why they hope against hope that her next script will crash and burn. Because, seriously, what's it hurting them that she's succeeded (did I mention "Written By Diablo Cody" on the UT marquee???).

Anyhoo. I think DC's kind of awesome. And if her next script sucks (I didn't hate it, I didn't love it) as a movie, so be it. Hopefully she'll have loads more scripts to prove the naysayers wrong.

If I were a betting woman, and I am... I'd put my money's on the stripper from The Vu.

Sorry Kay, I'm procrastinating so this is a long ass response. I'll keep the next part short:

Hi Kay!

Anonymous said...

I'm with you on Diablo Cody, Kay. It's always a thrill for me to see a woman take that prize, and I imagine it always will be. It doesn't happen nearly enough. She could wear assless chaps and a rainbow-fro wig for all I care. When you consider that the last big high-profile screenplay win was the oh-so-precocious 20-something "writing" team of Ben Affleck and Matt Damon ... I can't help but admire the hell out of her for pulling it off.

- Jayebyrde