Tuesday, December 07, 2004

nosce te ipsum, yo'

Andy and Larry have been sued for plagiarism, along with producer Joel Silver. James Cameron also got nods for the Terminator Trilogy. ...the FUCK? The men have been sued by a woman named Sophia Stewart. If she wins, Stewart is going to receive a settlement, supposedly (and who knows how much of this is hyperbole) one of the biggest settlements in Hollywood history for the Matrix and Terminator trilogies. Well!

I read the story from whence it supposedly came. Hopefully when you read it you’ll have some insight that I missed. The Terminator thing throws me a bit because the great Harlan Ellison already sued Cameron and won; his name appears on credits now. That is like, a geek legend. So I’m confused.

I think that one of the most relevant issues in this suit and in Stewart's documented opinion is that people would rather see such a story emerge from the mind of a White Man than a Black Woman. I think a lot of people would snort and deny this right away, but I think she's absolutely right. I know people who think that aliens built the pyramids...now do you think that if the pyramids were built in Greece that anyone would question their origin? Even the origin of the amazingly accurate Mayan calendar is not attributed to anything other than a superior grasp of mathematics and astronomy. That's some freaky shit and very telling. The most open minded people (the freaks who believe in aliens coming to Earth, something I really think is bullshit) still can't get over Black people with the intelligence to design and engineer something so grand. Then again, lots of Black people gloss over the thousands of slaves who died making those fuckers. We sure are bias happy little bipeds, eh? The point is, there is bias based on race and gender and anyone who says differently is full of crap. So Stewart has a good point, at least on that front.

I suppose a film that is the epitome of post-modern science fiction (thus far) will get its share of people saying that it was their idea. Entire passages of Jean Baudrillard's "Simulacra and Simulation" appear in the dialogue and the book itself is even featured in the film (right after "Follow the White Rabbit"...the chapter "On Nihilism" is actually one of the more lucid in the book but then, it's hard to complicate Nihilism). I am not linking to a bookstore because I cannot in good conscience recommend it unless you are a full-on post modern junkie. If you go against my super-cool advice and read it, take some aspirin first. This one makes James Joyce look like "See Spot Run" and that's saying something right there. I threw it at the wall one time because it was so fucking irritatingly post-modern.

The list of brilliant science fiction films is long and glorious. Most of 'em were great to watch, but they lead you on like a smooth talking boyfriend/girlfriend with vague what-ifs, maybes, and almosts and never do anything more than stimulate your senses and make you forget that they lacked any real depth, which was fine, until you met “The One”. The recent addition of the amazing "Matrix" trilogy did for the genre what string theory did for physics. Science fiction was no longer simply a tall tale genre. It had really cool metaphor and thought experiments (so often alluded to but never explored in sci-fi films) and added so many new dimensions that we sci-fi fans always knew were possible, but had never seen. For me, it was like a Greek tragedy, where the prophecy cannot be avoided. The only thing that the antagonist had was his own mind, but unlike a Greek tragedy, he actually used it to solve the problem before him. Previous attempts were 2001: A Space Odyssey and Blade Runner but they were not terribly appealing to the mass public. They required thought and depth. But the Wachowski's brilliantly assembled a mass of ideas that struck chords in the masses and made them (well, more of them than usual) wish to explore the mysteries of a ton of different "isms" that the general action film loving public would never give much of a fuck about. Plus...I have to be honest, I thought Keanu was a dork before "The Matrix" but a sexy bitch (who would look so much sexier with me sitting on his lap) after I saw it.

I'm taking this one a little personally. The thing that pissed me off so much about it is that if it turns out to be true, all they had to do was share credit with Stewart. I think that many of the ideas (Gnosticism, Buddhism) that were explored in the films are going to be connected with a batch of liars. This opens a much more serious can of worms. Spiritual posturing is the cheapest high on the market and it would blow to find out that the ideals that were used as a base for the "fighting the good fight" ethic in this film were as relevant to the boys who made it as a Papal edict is to, well, me.

Either way, the lawsuit is going to trial and the no-doubt scary Grisham-esque Orwellian law team assembled to counter Stewart's claims has thus far, failed to either pay her off or get the case thrown out. Sounds suspicious...

So when I read this story about the Wachowski brothers, I hoped (and still hope) that it isn't true because I would really, really hate to see someone else miss out on something potentially wonderful because they were as disgusted as I was at the same type of people. So I'm keeping my fingers crossed on this one, kids.

****LONG OVERDUE EDIT: The lawsuit was bullshit.