Friday, 15 January 2010

Can I be cool and be myself, please?

This post over at Apex Books’ blog got me thinking.  And by thinking, I mean ranting.

There seems to be a lot of these sorts of feelings going around… The idea that, now we have big budge computer-generated special effects, the sci-fi/fantasy/spec-fic genre can finally be a popular, freed from the shackles of dodgy plot, dodgy sets and even dodgier ‘aliens’.

I mean, I’m not going to argue that SF/F/SF doesn’t have a reputation for those things.  Ask someone to draw a sci-fi fan, and you’ll get a picture of an over-weight, white guy in his thirties still living with his mother and a picture of the NCC-1701 on his wall.

What I don’t like is what people seem to be saying.  There seems to be an attitude of trying to reach out to the normal people and saying, ‘hey, you know all those shitty films with their shitty ‘aliens’? Yeah, they were shitty, weren’t they? Ha ha!  But look, we’re cool now!  Come play with us!’

I have a special place in my heart for bad sci-fi and less-than-great special effects.  It’s what I grew up with.  Those skeletons in Jason and the Argonauts?  Pure awesome.  But I’m not going to try and sell anyone on the idea they’re going to get new people into the genres.

But it wasn’t all that bad.  You remember Alien?  How about Blade Runner2001PredatorVideodromeA Clockwork OrangeWestworld.

There were fistfuls of excellent movies (hey, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure!) made before The Matrix.  These aren’t just movies which deserve to be remembered, they are our heritage.  They are our childhood.  They are why we love the genre.  Hell, they are what made us fall in love with it in a lot of cases.  Why the sudden rush to disown it?  Why is everyone changing their clothes, getting their hair cut and disowning their old friends to get in with the cool kids?  Why is everyone remembering The Queen of Outer Space and forgetting the original Terminator?

What we should be saying is, ‘hey, you liked Avatar?  Yeah, pretty cool film, isn’t it?  You know, we’ve been doing shit like that for years.  Hell, would you share Pandora if you didn’t have to?  Well, we didn’t want to either.  But as you’re here, let me show you a few things…’

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