So Comic Con has morphed into "A celebration of popular culture." A good time was had by all 10,000 nerds and 100,000 film executives. There was some slick marketing at work, too. AMC did a wonderful job promoting The Prisoner, and I have the Village picture ID to prove it. Disney created a Tron-tastic Flynn's Arcade. And someone told me that there were comic books in the dealer's room. I never got the chance to run them to ground, so I don't know if it was true or just some crazy dream.
I did three panels. The first was a TV writing panel that was VERY well attended, both on the panel and in the room. Because of this, there will be hundreds of people applying for writer's assistant jobs all over Hollywood. I also did a panel celebrating the films of 1979 but I stupidly decided to look at what TeeVee was on in 1979. So if you were at that panel and thought I didn't have the power of speech, well... that's why. There's only so much one can say about Star Trek:TMP and Alien, and I didn't say any of it.
The third panel was the much venerated Starship Smackdown, which is always fun even though it's FIXED EVERY YEAR, YOU BASTARDS! If you want to sit through 90 minutes of nerd mayhem, it's on YouTube. You can judge for yourself, but the Serenity and the Defiant got RIPPED OFF. This was not only MY impression.
Nobody went to the panel for the Patricia Heaton sitcom, which may dissuade know-nothing studio people from bringing shit that is decidedly not genre. Even the new generation wasn't fooled.
I didn't make it to the Iron Man 2 panel, the Avatar panel, the True Blood panel (haven't seen any of season two yet) or even the Torchwood panel. It was just too crazy. But something became sorta clear to me over the weekend. There's a split in geekdom. It's not totally obvious yet but it's the first time I've really seen it. I imagine the 2009 panel in 20 years (unless we've all uploaded our consciousnesses to the server by then). The panel will be discussing Transformers 2. Not Alien. There was a lot of crap in 1979 (Moonraker, Buck Rogers, The Black Hole) but there were also wonderful films (Apocalypse Now, Time After Time, Alien, Life of Brian). There was just a lot more actual storytelling, and less marketing and branding, back in 1979. But now, movies don't get made unless they're approved by the marketing department. And actual screenplays made up out of whole cloth aren't selling. It's all remakes and board games.
But for the people who wooted at Transformers 2, well... that's their Alien. They don't do story. They do giant robots somehow turning into Corvettes. Story simply isn't necessary when you have a million terrabytes of storage for your giant robot. Back in 1979, genre fans saw movies, but they also read books and comics. They were much closer to the origins of the movies they were seeing. Genre fans now, though, are much further away. Many of them just see giant robot movies and buy the toys. They don't have that connection to actual science fiction and fantasy. They don't want to read an Isaac Asimov book. They just want a giant robot in the movie.
I don't know if anyone else noticed this division but it was apparent to me that the discussions we were all having were being drowned out by the clamoring giant robot masses. We didn't grow up in the age of all marketing, all the time. We recognized it, sure, but it didn't permeate every aspect of our lives. It's doing that now. We're exhausted by it, but the people who grew up with this nonsense are exhilarated by it. They're used to it, and it works on them. Fighting that is a losing battle, as all the smart executives and producers also know.
But sometimes, when we got together in smaller groups, the spirit and the enthusiasm of great speculative fiction rose again. So no matter how bad things get, and they will likely get worse, there's always the hope and desire to go back to what excites us, even if we have to self-publish or make shit ourselves.
When I got home from Comic Con, I saw that NBC finally evicted Ben Silverman, replacing him with a dude whose resume is all reality and no scripted programming. I don't know what that bodes for NBC but what it DOES mean is that they know what they were doing wasn't working. It's actually a great time to fire him because it means that people won't have dead projects. Well, as long as all the other development execs stay. So going forward, hopefully NBC will have a new mandate. I have to think that they wouldn't have fired dear old Ben if they wanted to continue with reality nonsense. So even though the new guy's resume is all about reality, maybe they've got something up their sleeves after all.
A girl can hope.
In honor of Comic Con (not really), I offer you what may be the first in a series. Our first YouTube movie: A Child's First Hitchcock.
An actual short post today, because sometimes I keep my promises. Comments next time. Probably.