Would y’all be interested in some Star Wars extended universe blogging? I’m thinking about diving into the books about the Yuuzhan Vong wars, but I’m not sure if you guys would be interested–or even tolerant. I’d try to to be too nerdy: I’m interested in wading in to the novels as a way of thinking about extended universes with multiple creators more generally. If that sounds like Dullsville, I’ll keep it to myself. If not, let me know.
I don’t have much to add to Graeme Wood’s account of how Afriqiyah Airways (centered in Lybia) censored Tropic Thunder, but I highly recommend it. It’s a fairly hilarious look at a business gingerly negotiating its engagement with Western culture on the raunchier end. I’m flying to Phnom Penh by way of Seoul on Thursday (details on how you’ll be taken care of in my absence to come), and it looks like Korean Air has a pretty good selection of movies on the longer leg of my trip. If they do anything funny to Julie & Julia, In The Loop, (500) Days of Summer, Up, Public Enemies, or District 9 (which I’m looking forward to watching again), I promise I’ll let you know. And I’m definitely going to have to check out “Take Off,” which has the following description:
The first ever Korean ski jumping national team is rapidly put together to help the nation compete for the Winter Oympic hosting bid. With the recruited members having no ski jumping experience at all, they embark on tough training to become true ski jumpers.
I can’t imagine it’ll be as absurd as Cool Runnings, but a girl can hope, right? Oh, and cross your fingers for me that the flight doesn’t get stuck with Juno on repeat, which happened when I flew to Tokyo last spring.
Ta-Nehisi’s absolutely right to point out the absurd tightness of “Millionaire,” the Kelis-Andre 3000 track off the former’s album “Tasty.” I mean, come on people. Wow:
Verses like this demonstrate why I wish Andre would keep rapping forever:
Where there is cheese there are rats,
Wherever there are rats there are cats,
Wherever there are cats there are dogs.
If you got the dogs you got bitches.
Bitches always out to put their paws on your riches.
If you got riches, you got glitches.
If you got glitches in your life computer turn it off and then reboot ‘er.
Now you back on.
It’s very syncopated, but delivered smoothly. I don’t adore the implication that “bitches” are always going for a man’s money, but the whole thing has a “As I Was Going to St. Ives” (“Kits, cats, sacks, wives”) vibe to it that I really like. I continually struggle to describe what I think makes flow near-perfect, but when I think about how herky-jerky Lil’ Wayne’s delivery would be on this, it makes me cringe. Eminem probably does the delivery of echoy lines a bit better than Andre, but Andre’s up there. I’m so absurdly envious of that skill set that I have a hard time understanding how Andre could even consider walking away from it to pursue other things, but I do recognize that’s just me projecting, and of course he has every right in the world to pursue new artistic horizons. But one reason I’m so hungry for the release of Big Boi’s solo album, Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty is that I want to hear Andre rapping while I still can. Each verse seems increasingly precious with the risk there won’t be more of them.
Daniel Strauss asks a terrific question in one of his recent blog posts, declaring: “I submit that seeing the movie or t.v. adaptation of a book series that you like risks ruining your vision of the entire world that you’ve learned to love and that can happen even if it’s a good movie or show.” And since he asked me to weigh in, I will.
I’m not willing to categorically agree to that statement in a world in which the A&E Pride & Prejudice adaptation exists. It’s the absolute acme of such projects: faithful line-by-line to the original without being stiff, funny and warm, lovely in its historical details. And in Darcy’s plunge into the lake, the miniseries managed, with a single historically plausible detail to link desires past and present in a powerful moment. It was a small alteration, and enough to lend the entire thing some serious zing. I feel fairly similarly about the 1994 Little Women adaptation–watching it as a 9-year-old, I cried so hard when Beth died that a friend of my mother’s, who was in the theater at the same time, called home to make sure I was all right. That movie marries a similar fidelity to the novel’s detail with some appropriate and updated sizzle: Jo’s smooch with the Professor backstage at the opera in the movie adaptation lent a sensuality to the novel that the original lacked, leaving a sense of disappointment to Jo’s eventual marriage.
But I understand that it’s an extraordinarily difficult brief to live up to. I think it’s extremely rare for directors, writers, and the actors they work with to stumble into that deep sympathy with an original work, and for them all to understand how to create a space for audiences to recognize their highly personal interpretations of fiction. I’ll also concede that there are few characters and universes that I’m so wedded to that misinterpretations of them make me sick. It’s how I’ve been able to enjoy the Star Wars extended universe: my desire to see the world I love grow outweighed my need for fidelity to the originals and my emotional conception of them. It’s not an easy choice, though. And I understand where Daniel is coming from.