Tuesday, January 30, 2018

From the Writer’s Studio: The Star Wars Mythos, The Last Jedi, and the Destruction of the Nuclear Family

Increasingly, I've noticed a mounting phenomena or mood shift within my consciousness each time I see a new Star Wars film. On the surface, it’s not so much disappointment as it is a sense of puzzlement that is coupled with deflation, and well, the suspicion that I’m being subtly messaged. Now I know that the deflation claim may not be a surprise to many, as I have read that the most recent outing, Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, has received a very mixed bag of effusive praise as well as strong criticism. This has for the most part pivoted on very different sides of the coin, coming from the professional media critic front and the fan base assessment of the film. Largely, critical reviews from the obvious media sources, such as Rotten Tomatoes, etc., have ranked the movie fairly high, from a B+ to an A+, if we use grade equivalents, while the fans have weighed in on The Last Jedi with as low as a 35% approval rating, which as you know, is far below a failing grade.

In light of their great unhappiness with the film and franchise, or at the perceived direction of the franchise, many of the more disgruntled fans have taken to social media, and in hopes of trying to pin what it is that is structurally wrong with the film, they have sighted the Social Justice Warrior promoting aspects as the deterrent to them embracing the film and enjoying it as much as the previous outings. In response, perhaps not surprisingly, the virtue signalers on the far left have countered and declared that the only conceivably possible reason someone would not like this film is, you guessed it, because they're racist!

In my opinion, aside from the oh, so widespread delusional psychopathology that has pervaded our popular and social culture recently, this of course ignores the multi-cultural and egalitarian history of the Star Wars franchise from the very start. All the way back to Episode IV: A New Hope, where Japanese actor Toshiro Mifune was George Lukas’ first choice to play a then conceived of as unmasked Darth Vader, and his voice ended up being dubbed by African-American actor James Earl Jones, casting decisions seemed like they were never made uniformly or in a biased manner. 

Regardless, I’m sure that those who feel strongly to the contrary will bitterly disagree with my contention, but I must point out that this is by no means a localized phenomenon. For example, in China, a non-western nation that came to the Star Wars universe a little later than most, The Last Jedi took a dramatic 95% plunge in ticket sales from Episode VII: The Force Awakens, which by the way, essentially presented the same “ethnically diverse” cast. The general consensus of Chinese fans, at least those who are active on the internet, is that they perceive The Last Jedi as “Baizuo propaganda”. For those of you who don’t know what the Chinese term Baizuo (BY-ZOO-WAH) means, it roughly translates to “White Left”, which is a pejorative reference to histrionically triggered activists of the west’s far left, which the Chinese view as, well, weak and pathetic.      

I will get to why both the Chinese audience and a good chunk of Western fans are having a problem with this most recent Disney outing, but perhaps I should first explain how the Star Wars franchise has affected my life overall and my creativity as a screenwriter.

When I was twelve years old the first film, Episode IV: "A New Hope" was released, and like millions of other kids and adults, globally, I was smitten at first glance. In fact, I often like to say that 1977 was "THE year that taught me all I needed to know creatively”. As a young little artist taking my first few fumbling steps toward art school and developing my own creative vision, there were two media sensations that emerged in that pivotal year which essentially said, to me, that if you wanted to do art in any form, be it graphic, film, music, what have you, then all you needed to do was to pick up the tools of the craft and learn how to execute your vision, and of course, to doggedly stick with it.

Star Wars was the first of these sensations, and the second was "Never Mind the Bullocks..." - the first Sex Pistols album. Both suggested a "just do it" ethos, and at least to me, these anarchy-fueled Punk rascals had little that substantively varied from their filmic counterparts on any core artistic level.

You see, in case you don’t recall, directors like George Lukas and Steven Spielberg were at that time the young upstarts of their generation. They broke rules, took chances, and quickly crept their way from the art house to sitting on the boards of some of largest corporations in media history.

As an adult, when I became more serious about my writing, I observed that the appeal of Star Wars was the epic story-telling that transcended the melodrama and action. I’d wager that George Lukas felt this way as well, and if he did not, it certainly was pointed out in his relationship with the late mythologist Joseph Campbell. Star Wars was Gilgamesh, it was King Arthur, and it was the Bible, and it had keyed into an archetypal heroic narrative that we, as humans can all relate to, and thus, its massive popularity was easily justified.

As a father, I have been fortunate to see my children bond with the films as I did, and overwhelmingly, they ranked the first six films similarly as I did, by descending fault; from A New Hope, to Empire Strikes Back (actually the best but you need the first one for it to make sense), to Return of the Jedi, to Attack of the Clones, to Revenge of the Sith, to the midiclorion-powered let down known as The Phantom Menace.

My son in particular requested the toys and games as presents, and grew a great affection for the extended universe as presented in the animated series, The Clone Wars, and the currently running, and amazingly scripted, Star Wars Rebels, which has incidentally explored the middle path of the force (the “Jith” if you will) quite nicely.

Interestingly, my kids liked The Force Awakens, and they ranked it as about as good as Attack of the Clones, but recently, when I asked my son, who has seen all of the Star Wars films dozens, if not a hundred times, if he would like to see Rogue One for just the second time, he said “No thanks, Dad.”, and I understood immediately why. Rogue One just didn’t “feel” like a Star Wars film. In fact I routinely describe it as “the most expensive fan fiction film ever made”. While it’s not half bad, I feel compelled to mention that my biggest problem with the writing is easily seen in Saw Gerrera’s disastrous character arc.

Want to know why you didn't like it either? 'Cause it's really simple.

Saw is effectively Jyn Erso's surrogate father figure, yet he is not treated as such, and the writer/s play the paradigm incompetently. Her natural father persists, seemingly for the sole point of telling her where the Death Star plans are hidden, which could have been accomplished in any other number of ways. While Galen Erso's death does provide some emotional resonance in the second act, Saw Gerrera SHOULD have died at the point in the film where the blind Jedi-monk Chirrut passes away, but instead, he dies an almost arbitrary death at the wrong point within the narrative structure. I guess this bad ass rebel, who terrifies the rest of the alliance, and has fought the good fight for decades just waited for Jyn to show up so he could allow himself to be killed whilst everyone else got on ships and flew away. Sure.

As an aside I should point out a really good use of this sort of substitute parent-damaged child paradigm, and so, I encourage you to see, or re-watch, The Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 if you have not. In it, (spoilers ahead) Peter Quill, or Star-Lord and his erstwhile father-figure Yandu Udonta, experience and acknowledge the actual depth of their relationship literally just moments before Yandu passes away. Best scene in the film, and it almost chokes me up even as I write this.

But back to The Last Jedi.

While I admit that it was a necessary device to have Kylo Ren kill his father, Han Solo, in The Force Awakens, it has become obvious to everyone that this new trilogy is simply about replacing the original characters with young, new heroes for a new generation of toy consuming fans.

Sounds great, huh? Well, then what is it that the makers of these films are missing?

I would argue that the Star Wars mythology is essentially a generational saga of a family, a specific family; the Skywalker family. It is no different from the Corleones in The Godfather, almost any Shakespeare play, and a boat-load of ancient Greek tragedies.

From Shmi to Anakin to Leia to Kylo we have a direct line, but the character tree stops there. Rey, Poe and Finn are all isolated individuals in this otherwise dualistic universe, and I believe this reflects a political shift to promoting the dismantling of the western nuclear family from a Marxist deconstructionist perspective.

Generally speaking, the sort of ideologues who ascribe to these sort of radical principles often seek to disparage the traditional family, and if they are holding to doctrine, this is because they hypothetically wish to coalesce, or manifest, a society populated by individuals that serve a collective community that is increasingly dependent on the state for all of their physical, social and spiritual needs.

Whether this is being done consciously or not, this is part of Hollywood, and thus, part of Star Wars. 

Do not let them, (the leftist elite critical media) fool you that this is reflecting "changing sensibilities", modernization, or that it's about some vague notions of women’s empowerment either, because Star Wars has been empowering for women since Leia grabbed a blaster and started barking orders at Luke and Han like five seconds after she met them. By the way, boys loved that about Leia, and fell in love with her character, so there goes the third-wave misogyny theories as well.

In fact, at this point the conversation should be about the symbolic man-bashing, or mishominy or misandry, or what have you, that has increased in the Star Wars universe, particularly in the arena of the toys, where pitting heroic “good guys” in the form of beautiful women (i.e. Rey, Jyn, Leia, Sabine, etc.), against robotic appearing evil men (i.e. Vader, Kylo, Storm-troopers, Inquisitors) is a no-brainer. Even Poe Dameron, is presented as unruly and unpredictable and needs to be “tamed” by Admiral Holdo.

Marxist class war elements are also promoted in The Last Jedi, perhaps secondarily, but specifically on the gambling planet of Canto Bight, where the rich are presented as callous and abusive, not just in general, but to children and animals (gasp) specifically, because you know those rich people just suck, and need to have their wealth forcibly redistributed in order to fix the world!

I must say, that it’s amazing what a guiltily rich Hollywood Socialist screenwriter can come up with while typing on his three thousand dollar Mac and sipping a non-fat pumpkin spice latte.

Regardless, I personally believe that the main culprit of the questionable nature of The Last Jedi is due to this deconstruction of the family that is central to the saga Star Wars was based around, and by extension our nuclear families. It is the chasm that has undermined the solidity of the universe, and whether consciously realizing it or not, this is why the backlash has been so severe.

Now, what might have been some nice solves for this problem?

Obviously, to have Rey be Luke’s daughter would have been a good start, or for me, and I don’t know if any fan fiction has suggested this tact, but I though that it could have been revealed that she is an illegitimate child of Emperor Palpatine, mirroring the light side versus dark side generational flip seen in the Vader versus Luke paradigm.

Having known that Carrie Fisher passed away just prior to the release of Last Jedi, I think it would have made sense if the producers suggested re-editing the ending, and have it be Leia who rams her ship into the First Order’s Cruiser rather than Admiral Holdo. Nothing would have made more sense for her character to sacrifice her life in order to save the remnants of the rebellion. She had sacrificed everything to the rebellion and gone on. I can’t imagine she be up for seeing it die. Had this been the thinking, then this would have allowed Luke to continue for the span of the current trilogy. Unfortunately, now we’ll have to suffer Carrie Fisher’s otherwise talented daughter, Billie Lourd, being CG morphed to play her mother as well as her other character through the next film.

What might have made for a nice “C” story-line could have been a quest to contact former allies to come to the rescue of the cornered rebels, rather than just saying: “no one’s responding”. I mean how great would it have been if when Luke faced Kylo and the latter says “You’re the last Jedi”, and Luke responds with something like, “No, I’m not”, and real-life versions of Ezra Bridger from Star Wars Rebels and Asokha Tano from Clone Wars step out of the cloud of dust and draw their light sabers in front of a force comprised of Wookies and Mandalorians. Bam! Every hardcore fan passes out!  

One thing that I did like very much about The Last Jedi were the Kylo-Rey force connection and live action scenes. The dialog, as well as the screen chemistry between Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver was very nice.

As per those scenes I think one potential end point for the film could have been an unanswered cliff-hanger with Kylo offering his hand to Rey in his offer to rule the galaxy together. Cut To Black. We would have been forced to wait for the answer for a couple of years, and just imagine what kind of aggravating speculation that would have caused among the fan boys.

Ah, we can only dream.

Till next time.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Sculpture Garden: "Victorian Woman" - A Minor Update

With just a brief pause scheduled between political and screenwriting articles and film and music uploads, I though I'd share a minor alteration I made to one of my more recent figure works in thrown clay.

"Victorian Woman" (hand muffler, bustle, bun, and all) is a hollow wire-frame terracotta that was done one afternoon a few months ago. After air-drying, for some reason I left her outer surface unfinished for quite some time, but in this particular instance I finally decided to opt for a silver colored wax metallic finish made by a company called Craft Smart and dress her properly.

The picture itself was taken on my Galaxy Pad and was slightly filtered to soften the silver "glare", but I think it still relays what the piece generally looks like in real life. It's no great epic masterpiece by a long shot, but it is a suitable bit of side craft to punctuate the writing, film and music.

So yeah, call me a Renaissance man if you want. It's what I do.

Till next time.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Electronic Music Piece of the Day Give-Away

Hi again, and welcome back once again to the Gauntlet of Balthazar for another installment of the BandCamp hosted 391 & the Army of Astraea Electronic Music Piece of the Day Give-Away.

Today's languorous recording is called "Hanging Gardens", which is an obvious reference to the ancient Mesopotamian Hanging Gardens of Babylon. This was quite intentional of course as this soundtrack heavy piece is very trance-like and contains a number of sounds in addition to piano (prepared and otherwise) like bells, lute, and eastern drums which were included specifically in order to play up the faux-ancient quality. The composition was built around around a highly variegated rhythm track recorded in Pete Lockett's "Drum Jam" mobile music app, which is, I must admit, a very easy to use bit of programming with remarkably "real" sounding percussion samples. So, definitely, give it a check out.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this, regardless of the "background" quality of the piece.

Till next time.


Monday, January 22, 2018

From the Writer's Studio: Dystopian Television and The CW's "The 100"

As has become habit here on the Gauntlet, the "From the Writers Studio" feature has kind of drifted from a general discussion of the do and dont's and analysis of writing and screenwriting to something more of a review column that focuses on film and televised media that either vexes or delights me for a variety of scripting and political reasons. The CW networks' "The 100" is one of those so-called delights, and as it is about to enter its fifth season, and I have such warm and fuzzy feelings about it, I'll thought I'd take this opportunity tell you why.

Based on a moderate-selling YA novel by author Kass Morgan, and developed for television in true ensemble form by writer/producer/show-runner Jason Rosenberg, The 100 features a really swell bunch of international actors and great CG by Zoic, yet the viewership of the series has generally ranked low for a genre show of its type. I personally suspect that the episodes are being watched in a number of non-traditional ways, and I suspect that the CW suspects the same thing, because numbers aside, it is quite clear that the fan base is quite earnest in their adoration. But that of course begs the question, why is it so adored?

So lets get started with an overall synopsis.

The 100 is set some 140 years in our future, and at least at the beginning of the series, it has been 97 years since the earth has been destroyed by a global nuclear war. We soon learn, pretty quickly actually, that some two or three thousand persons have inter-generationally escaped the radioactive devastation aboard a composite and now failing orbiting space station known simply as "the Ark", for obvious reasons.

As a political aside, I should point out that the Ark is run by a council that functions similarly to a Communist committee, and rightly so, because the Ark is overtly collectivist in philosophy, is a closed circular economy, and all personal needs are sacrificed on the alter of community survival until the earth is suitable for resettlement.

Enter the protagonist, Clarke Griffin. Artistic, yet practical and expedient, Clarke is so "no nonsense' that she really needs the ensemble characters just to lighten her up most of the time. Regardless, Clarke is an imprisoned teenager, and daughter of one of the families at the top of the stations oligarchy, who is forcibly being sent to the ground with 100 others in order to test the survival potential of the earth, for as I mentioned, the station itself is on borrowed time.

Quite wisely, once the delinquents have been ferried down to earth, to the (unrecognizable) former DC area, the action continues aboard the station, focusing on the drama of the "adult" characters. This effectively divides the ensemble in half and offers a clear "A" an "B" story platform on which the early part of the series pivots.

Upon making landfall in a "drop-ship", the "children" are quickly torn between complying with their lifelong indoctrination to the Communist Technocracy, promoted primarily by Clarke, and embracing full-tilt Anarchy, under the somewhat self-serving needs of Bellamy "whatever the hell you want" Blake, a young man who is almost obsessively dedicated to the protection of his previously hidden younger sister, Octavia. They are the only siblings presented in the 100 universe (at least in space), as the Ark had a strict one-child policy, the violation of which was punishable, like all other infractions, with the death penalty.

The initial tension between Clarke and Bellamy's nascent "factions" is nicely paralleled by the  politcal wrangling of Chancellor Thelonious Jaha and Councilman Marcus Kane's utilitarian vs. humanist ruler-ship orientation conflict back on the Ark for the first half of the first season.

On the ground the younger characters are, perhaps not unexpectedly, beset by the gambit of basic survival needs and a mounting conflict with the "indigenous" population of mysterious and warlike "grounders" (the descendants of people who survived the nuclear holocaust) that they have unknowingly landed among. Back in orbit, survival becomes even more dicey as the Ark moves to failure and political break-away factions vie for control.

Clarke and Bellamy soon see the obvious expediency of "joint rule / chieftain-ship", i.e "Bellarke" (as fans like to call them) as their personalities compliment one another nicely. Likewise, Kane, Jaha, and Clarke's mother, Abby, start to work together more effectively.

Politically, this is a thread that moves the story-line from the Communist technocracy to a tribal aggregation, thus making the world of the Ark and that of the Ground mesh more effectively. As it turns out, and as we learn more about the grounder culture, it is revealed that their society is organized as a feudal confederacy (BTW actual feudalism here, not Game of Thrones faux-feudal culture), with a merit-based rotating tribal monarchy ruling from their "federal" capitol and religious center located at a half-demolished city named "Polis".

Having let you in on the basic paradigm, much of which can be gleaned in the pilot alone, if not before the first season finale, and rather than just compile a list of spoilers by divulging what happens throughout the four previously-aired seasons, I'd instead like to generally express what I like about the story-lines and writing, and posit some slight changes that I might have preferred to see had I had an influence on a few of the directions.

So, a screenwriter's wish list of sorts.

Unlike many shows that I do find problematic, (and believe me there are a boat-load of them), I find little to no flaws in the development arcs of any of the featured characters. They are all consistent, distinct, occupy a place in the "jenga" of story-line and never, or rarely, do characters act in contradiction to the parameters of their stated personalities, as it always should be. This is the essence of good episodic story-telling, in line with sound plotting, and whenever this aspect is ignored the suspension of disbelief is shattered and the show is bound to face disaster as sure as the Titanic did.

For me, the most dramatic, and most pleasing of the slowly changing arcs belong to Marcus Kane and one of the younger 100, rakish John Murphy. Marcus goes from a completely utilitarian stance to a fully humanistic one, even fighting against (the former humanist) Jaha's implementation of an Artificial Intelligence driven theocracy in season three. Murphy goes from a snarky, over-compensating, self-obsessed ne'er-do-well to a snarky ne'er-do-well who we know deeply cares for his friends and loved ones (particularly his mutant girlfriend Emori), though he never would admit it. Both Murphy (and Emori - or "Jomori") and Kane are The 100's consummate survivors, always trying to figure out what is the, or their, best next move, on micro and macro levels.

Politically, democracy rarely rears its head throughout the entirety of the series, excluding slight forays into mob consensus, lotteries, and protest movements like Jasper's ill-fated self-immolation cult. Even the calculating folks at Mount Weather, who we are led to believe are the descendants of US government and military personnel, seem to have moved to an hereditary presidency, so they too are oligarchic in structure.

Ironically, in the overall back-story, the impetus for almost all of the events presented currently stem from a single tech corporations experiments. However, the recurring theme is the destruction or perversion / mutation of corporate intellectual property by either later Communist or Feudal tendencies.

In fact, a grand total of only two Capitalist entrepreneurs are introduced as characters throughout the series. The first is on the Ark, in the form of an overtly disreputable female trading post operator called Nygel, and on the ground in the form of a well-meaning grounder trading post operator, and Clarke's sometime lesbian paramour, Niylah. Interesting that the names are so similar. Hmm.

Now onto my wish list and a few things that I have some (slight, but livable) qualms with.

I have talked to many people who found they couldn't take the show seriously from the moment when Octavia sounded the first words of anyone to set foot on earth in a century, by screaming: "We're back bitches!", followed by Imagine Dragons "Radioactive" kicking in as the soundtrack. Yes, it is juvenile, but, at least for me that is the point. These are kids, and juvenile delinquents to boot. I personally have no problem with that, but here are six of my other thoughts. (Warning: spoilers ahead!)

1. I would have preferred that when Chancellor Jaha eventually came down to the ground in solo form, that he landed much further away from Arkadia. I think ideally it would have been nice had he not only imagined that he heard a baby in his guilt over the earlier loss of his son, Welles, but that he actually had to save a few left over stranded Ark residents who would have been dependent on him and that he would have led like Moses toward the 100's camp over the course of about half a season. This would have contributed many opportunities to demystify the larger reality of the universe further afield of Polis, and still not diverted his eventual pairing with the "Ally" Artificial Intelligence and her cult of "the City of Light".

2. I would have perhaps preferred the use of a clever ruse of some kind that would have allowed for the Finn Collins character to go into exile rather than face death. Likewise, this would have allowed for his character to move beyond the immediate area, and used his character to explore the world further, opening up new story-lines. But, saying that, his demise is no deal breaker.

3. I'm not sure if the payoff for destroying the drop-ship under the control of former Chancellor Diana Sydney's mutineers was worth the bother. Sure, it damaged the Ark and sped their road to a dramatic decision, but any number of other calamities could have been used to replace that. Likewise, the reveal that it was brought down by Mount Weather was a minor plot point that merely supported Raven's much later discovery that Mount Weather possessed jamming technology. In my opinion, it would have been far more interesting had Sydney's group landed intact elsewhere and, like Pike's Farm Station, cultivated a very different relationship with the Grounders and served as yet another radical story variable.

4. I would have preferred that there was a verbally stated openness to more fluid attitudes regarding sexual orientation from the beginning of the series, rather than have it seem, in the second season, that characters who previously presented no interest in changing their gender preference suddenly are presented as bisexual or homosexual. Seems a little too political and virtue signalling to me, or shamelessly catering to fan service. But, hey, it is what it is.

5. Though I really liked season four, maybe even more than season three, I had some disconnect with the radioactive "death wave" that was presented as capable of destroying the rest of life on earth. If we can imagine a wave with that level of destructive capability, then why, oh why, would it only take five years for the surface of the earth to be survivable again. Once it was mentioned that the "fish and insect populations had started to die off", we're already talking about a Permian Era like extinction event. The ecosystem would be thoroughly beyond self-repair and it would take millions of years to recover. Generally, though it is speculative, the science usually works out on The 100 (especially with some genetic mutation cheats), and the show is overall pretty much realistic aside from that.

6. Lastly, I wish that it was explained, even briefly, in the last episodes of season four as to the reason why the laboratory / Ally's house on the island was not a suitable place to ride out the death wave. Mind you, I didn't need anyone to have done so, just that I wish it was explained why the environment was not suitable as a shelter. For instance; Murphy: "Why can't we just stay here?", Raven: "That would be impossible, the rocket's venting system will allow too much radiation in. It'll toast us in hours." Viola.   

While The 100 lies somewhere in-between The Walking Dead's catharsis inclusion paradigm and Game of Thrones third person detachment, it is nevertheless an intriguing and relentless action-packed ride into a fully dystopian future. It is also one in in which we can only sit back and hope that at least a few of the people we have come to know and admire will somehow survive through it. 

My bet is on Murphy.

Enjoy Season Five.

Till next time.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

100th Post: "The Gauntlet Manifesto"

I thought I'd take the occasion of the 100th installment of the Gauntlet of Balthazar to post a little artistic manifesto that I feel defines where I stand as an artist, how I relate to other artists, and where I believe art stands in its overall relation to society.

So, without further ado...the GAUNTLET MANIFESTO.

The creative impulse is the most primal human drive following our innate survival instinct, and the desire to endeavor to act is hard coded and tethered to this impulse. It is written in our genes, it jumps from one firing synapse to the other, and it is embodied within each and every composite cell that makes up our forms. It courses about our bodies within our blood and radiates in heat and sweat. It is pure energy when accessed in pure intention, and when we are at our most pliant, it connects us to other realms of existence. It allows us to channel simulations of artistic perfection through the miasma that separates our physical world from the other planes of existence.

When ever we hunt, grow, plan, build, procreate, pursue, desire, capitalize, design, write, paint, play, formulate a business, or invent, these are all elemental parts of the creative impulse, derived from the cellular makeup of existence. Every human who lives, has lived, or will live, possesses this potential, and every human can understand or learn from creative endeavors by interacting with them.

Some humans may have convinced themselves that they do not possess the technical or craft skill of a self-proclaimed or trained artist, but nonetheless, they have preferences, appreciation, and are capable of being emotionally moved by art or song and can understand anything born of creativity, as they themselves are products and participants in the universal cycle and recycle of creativity.

Creativity is measurable by output of intention and may be seen manifested in sparks of scintilla and the epiphany of idea. However, this supple transfer of universal energy is no more than an access port into the ever-running stream of intangible creativity which moves through and all about us, which is  called "process".

Art in all of its forms is the result of measurable creativity born in the process of creation. Yet, in this, the artist is nothing. The artist is but a conduit for the transfer of creative energy from process into craft.

Craft requires skill and trained talent, yet craft defines output and frames art, process and creativity by the empirical standard known as talent. All art must be judged by empirical standards of talent. To judge art simply by metrics of creative impulse and self-definition is to lose sight of the role of artist in relation to society, and trivializes the contribution of true art, overshadowing it through self-aggrandizement, overt hubris and cultural narcissism.

Art should be viewed firstly by a criteria of talent, but such an evaluation may be thereafter tempered by secondary considerations of intention, creativity, process, and other societal norms that art may break , bend, or conform to in order to posit the creation as a valid artistic statement. Thus, by this metric there is no such thing as "art for art's sake", there is only "creativity for creativity's sake", and faulty art may be freely disparaged for the meaningless posturing that much modern art is guilty of.

Vacuous and technically weak, these virtue signaling ramblings can at their best be viewed as elements in a larger interactive performance art, or as a self-aware sham or inverse troll, rather than as stand-alone statements reflecting greater human aspirations and endeavors, technical skill or talent, and wholly unique, directed, and inspired artworks.

Therefore, art must be functional and serve a purpose. Those purposes are in the hands of the individual artist, but if the artist abuses the process and only makes art for the self, or like-minded peers, the artist has already failed in the prime factor that art is meant to interact with the larger "non-artistic" public.

Laugh at art. Love it when it succeeds, and berate it when it is faulty, or fails completely. State your opinion out loud and smash the fascism of obscurantism and cultural conformity. Art is neither holy nor sacrosanct, and is not meant to be consumed only by an effete elitist class, or those who aspire to join their ranks. Museums should not be delicately trodden through like tombs where hushed silence prevails, and onlookers gaze in studied deferential solemnity, belittling themselves in the face of so-called giants.

Till next time.

Friday, January 12, 2018

New YouTube Channel Trailer

A little self-promotion once again if you don't mind.

This past Halloween we, Nevekari Enterprises that is, launched our official video channel with our first stand-alone short film release "The Dark Wood"; a narrated ghost story that was obviously meant to be holiday appropriate. This was quickly followed by the upload of a short film we created in collaboration with a group of people we met at the AT&T NYC Create-a-thon 24 hour film challenge called "Isolation Room".

Thus far, those two films are all that are present on the channel, and I must confess that this is mostly because we've experienced some unavoidable delays with the making of our next short, "Scrimshaw", largely due to the fact that I was ill for most of the month of December.

In lieu of that forthcoming release, and the fact that we're just getting on the road to writing and producing a thirteen episode "Isolation Room" series with those same Create-a-thon associates, I thought it a wise move to release, well, something.

This is that something. A nifty new promo pitch for our budding channel.

Aside from me stammering through the pitch, the video features short clips from our films, behind the scenes pictures, our many screenwriting awards, and as a backing track, the 391 & the Army of Astraea piece, "Asymmetric", from the web-series pilot script of the same name.

I hope you enjoy the clip, and if you do, please subscribe to our channel and watch our videos as they become available.

I know that you may have stumbled onto this page for a variety of reasons, perhaps political, but I do implore you to support our struggling artistry, as one is even less likely to make an impact in this business without the aid of potential viewers.

Let me know in the comments what you think of the trailer, or let me know in the comments here, or on the Gauntlet's new Twitter account @gauntlettalk. I think it came out pretty nice, thanks in no part to some clever editing to cover up my substantial non-acting skills. Till next time.