What’s going on at the hallowed halls of those institutions who have acquired and taken charge of our favorite franchises? Imagination Connoisseurs from throughout the PGS write in to express their concern, dismay and big ideas …

If you’re going to get poked in the eye, of course you’re going to take it personally.

Rob and the PGS,

In Superman III, Robert Vaughn told Richard Pryor, “I asked you to kill Superman, and you couldn’t even do that one simple thing.” It looks like JJ Abrams and Ta-Nehisi Coates may succeed where Pryor failed in that mission.

After all the education we’ve gotten about the 2009 black Superman who became President, we now learn Coates has decided to do Clark Kent. And we learn that on Henry’s birthday. When corporations make a mistake it is like trying to derail a train to course correct. Will The Rock play Black Atom against a Superman other than Henry Cavill even though they share the same agent?

I admit I don’t feel the emotional investment some people do in any case. I get that you pretty much have to see the movie that results in order to opine on it. But I’d like to see someone crush the idea that race relations hinge on this Coates iteration being made. Remember 2016 when the Patriarchy was smashed forever by Paul Fieg and Melissa McCarthy?

It would be very welcome to learn just who makes what decision where. Who chose May 5 to repeat the information about this new Superman and add new layers? If AT&T hired JJ Abrams to the tune of $500 million and not the Warner establishment, then it seems there is no hope of pushback against that succeeding.

When a publisher set out to release a JK Rowling book saw some lower level workers walk out in protest or another publisher saw the same phenomenon over Woody Allen’s last book, this helped paint the picture of entry level staff and interns fresh out of what Jonathan Haidt would call safe space college playing activists.

Regardless of their misguided ideals, I as a hypothetical publisher would take that walk out as resignations. But I have the hindsight of seeing those cases, so I would bake that into any contract so it would not be a shock. These might just be better dressed versions of the stans on Twitter trying to rule the world with hashtags.

A certain pop culture figure was once told by an activist in a face to face meeting (presumably socially distanced) to avoid responding to emotion with logic. Considering that so many Twitter fiends use social media instead of the psychotherapy they dearly need, I’m not sure I could abide the admonition against logic that just lets emotions run rampant.

The Eugenics question of whether people should be genetically or chemically improved in the womb or at conception managing chromosomes takes on a bemusing edge when you consider all the sex-sellection abortions that go on around the world. The Dictator satirized that, asking his pregnant girlfriend, “So are you having a boy or an abortion?”

I recently saw a post going around that claimed Star Trek has always been pro-choice, and I admit I must have missed that episode. I think the universe is complicated. Aristotle himself had a stance like, “It should only be allowed if the baby is going to be deformed or female.” So of course cancel Aristotle and his patriarchal poetics and story guidelines ! Or not. Cultures with no particular connection to him have come to the same gut wrenching conclusions. I won’t say dehumanizing because there is a mechanical and cold aspect to many decisions humans have made. Like overpowering other cultures physically and exploiting them.

It would be naïve not to think that the weapons of today – social media and hashtags and boycotts or walkouts and outright slander – will not be used by those who think they can rewrite history or the human genome by being spoilers and cancelling people for failing to be all in on their own pet causes.

Just what is going on at the major studios like Warner Bros. and Disney/LucasFilm?

Countries like Germany have educated each generation about the horrors of the past and America (as well as Canada maybe more effectively) sweeps these things under the carpet so there has been a repressed and suppressed process of grieving and redress. But there is a rootless and unhinged quality to the beizuo or false signaling of virtue versus actual demonstration of it.

It has been said that we still don’t know who at Lucasfilm composed or posted some of the more incendiary Tweets over the past year or ignored the 90th birthday of James Earl Jones for example or put some misleading mustard on the announcement of Carano being removed from Star Wars. We don’t know exactly who decides Carano’s name will be withheld from the National Geographic episode where she was the guest. We have to rely on youtubers to promote the night, which I believe is May 10th.

It smacks of the same ratfucking we get from those entry level workers at publishers. The same kinds of gremlins at Lucasfilm run rampant at Warners now. Shedding bright light onto them is apparently the way to get rid of them, so the more we know – right down to doxing at this point – the better. The buck may stop at one person or another, but somebody is handling day by day shenanigans.

The United States would be less dangerous if it had a gun policy like Australia, and I do not care about gun rights, but I would hate to see them removed from movies or treated like cigarettes were. I don’t smoke and I discourage cigarettes, but if it were up to me maybe Bond would still smoke. CLEARLY those who focus more on movies as real estate to conquer – maybe taking it from the straight white males in and around middle age – do not care about cinema or any other art form they want to brand as problematic. We do play into the hands of the wackos if we announce that we are not going to watch whatever is being foisted on us (that removes us from the market and we get even less consideration) or that we will rise up in a belated response to the Joker movie and be those deranged allegedly “incel” gun freaks that were predicted. That would only make life difficult for the rest of us being openly critical of pop culture. There has been a successful creation of a stigma for those who reject loaded spins on once powerful brands.

Even as this is typed I cringe a bit. Honesty can be uncomfortable. It is at least heartening to know that Michael B. Jordan is not interested in being an alternative Clark Kent. He had been thinking of the President Superman you had mentioned. He knows the movie Coates wants to make would be little more than an expensive troll job. Maybe not worth taking the bait. I mean it is already a risk to put anything in the cinemas now, let alone something that might deserve a Brie Larson warning like: Not made for you.

Since I no longer belong to the target demographic even for the genres I like (18-35) with that mix of disposable income and susceptibility to advertising, I still keep an eye on it. Even if it is the eye that is getting poked.

William La Rochelle

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Did the horror get in the way of the real story in THEM?

Greeting Rob and my fellow PGS community,

I’m back again with another letter that I debated to write or not. On Robservations #471, you had brought up the show Them and was intrigued by your words and the article you read during the show. It still wasn’t enough to convince to watch, until during the last members only chat a fellow member had talked about the show once again. His description nevertheless had finally told me to perhaps give the show a chance.

No worries.

THEM contains a powerful story wrapped in a delicious layer of horror – but the truly disturbing stuff goes beyond the gore.

I, like others, hope this letter won’t be controversial or to get a rise from others. It’s simply my own perspective of the show itself. I will say I did find the first 5 episodes to be truly fascinating and fairly hard to swallow. It was a brutal depiction of racism in the 1950s that didn’t hold back. Yet and forgive me for not sounding so empathetic as other people have described the show, not too shocking. As a minority myself I kinda hoped they went a bit deeper.

Yet and oh by the way this letter will contain SPOILERS so fair warning. The shocking 5th episode which depicted a black female being raped by Caucasian men, while a Caucasian female placed a baby in a pillow case and tossed it around was indeed shocking. I feel this was the limit the show had reached.

While I do understand the criticisms of the series being perceived as trauma porn. And before I say my next statement, I did very much appreciate both Get Out and Us from Jordan Perle as well made horror films that cover a similar subject. I did feel Them used horror to be a somewhat excuse to be shocking for the sake of of shock, almost to the point of exploitation.

Sure, each black character had its own horrific entity to deal with on their own besides the disgusting racist white neighbors, but was it really necessary? The neighbors were enough to deal with as it was. May I mention the character of Betty is by far the most horrific one in horror since Annie Wilkes. However I didn’t buy her demise as it felt a bit forced. Which is exactly how I felt about the last 5 episodes as well.

This is definitely a rough TV series to watch for sure but I felt the potential was there, yet fell apart by the horror elements. Yes we all feel racism is wrong and is still heavily in the news today. Sure you can have a black faced character and a man of God become corrupted, but does it always need to be within the depths of a genre like horror?

Again this is just my opinion and I am trying not to be controversial at all or cause a stir. I’ve heard there will be a 2nd season that deals with a different story and family. I just hope it doesn’t hide behind the horror genre once again and just tells the best story possible.

Thank you Rob for reading my letter and together we are one.

Black Philip Alvarez

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Mikeylito recalls his journey as a connoisseur of the imagination.

1949’s TWELVE O’CLOCK HIGH

It is 1949. An American in London emerges from a hat shop after spending an hour and a half purchasing an English bowler. He stops at a nearby antique shop using its window as a mirror to admire his new purchase. Suddenly, his attention is diverted to an old jug he sees in the window of the shop. He goes inside and purchases the jug, asking the shop’s owner to pack it carefully.
Hello, Rob and greetings to my fellow imagination connoisseurs.

During your monologue at the beginning of Robservations #682, my mind drifted back to the 1949 classic film from 20th Century Fox, “Twelve O’Clock High.” It has that quiet beginning featuring veteran character actor Dean Jagger, who some may remember from television’s “Mr. Novak.”

As the film continues, Jagger’s character boards a train and travels to the English countryside where, after a short bike ride, he wanders through a pasture to reveal an abandoned airfield. As he looks around, it’s clear he is awashed in memory, and the film drags us there with him.

So begins a war film even a pacifist can enjoy because it is a story about men and their fight to maintain sanity in a world gone mad around them.

You often ask the members of the Post-Geek Singularity what makes them an imagination connoisseur?

My earliest memory of film was “Goldfinger,” a 1964 film with grand scope hopping back and forth between Europe and the United States. The scene made its indelible impression when Goldfinger has 007 strapped to a table about to saw him in half with a gold laser. Even an 11-year-old boy understood that while Goldfinger expected Mr. Bond to die, the first thing to go would be his genitals. Talk about dangling participles.

Barely a year later, I was going with my sixth-grade class from Catholic school to Radio City Music Hall to view “The Sound of Music.” For all the sound and fury about the length of films today, “The Sound of Music” had a running time six minutes short of three hours AND it had an intermission. Imagine that.

My funniest memory was watching “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes” on television and later that night dreaming of an orange with enough of its skin cut away to form a tail and the orange chasing me down the streets of Brooklyn. I woke to the sound of hysterical laughter — mine.

Close to graduating high school in 1970, I was introduced to Broadway in the form of “The Me Nobody Knows,” a play about kids growing up in the world and struggling to be kids still. If Steven Spielberg really wanted to impress me, rather than producing “Cats” or filming “West Side Story,” he should mount a production of this play as yet another reminder that the more things, the more they remain the same.

Through the years, all manner of film, theatre, television AND radio has influenced my life as a consumer of imagination. Content as varied as “12 Angry Men,” “It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World,” “The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms,” “Schindler’s List,” Orson Welles’ Mercury Theatre presentation of “The War of the Worlds,” the original 1974 version of “The Taking of Pelham One, Two, Three” — baseball on the radio. And, so much more.

Imagination has no boundaries, no restrictions. It goes far beyond spies and superheroes, space and cat videos. Its only limits are whatever your mind can comprehend and, perhaps, a few things that it cannot.

So, thank you, Rob, for providing an outlet to discuss these things and more. I don’t necessarily agree with what you say, but I usually find your program interesting and stimulating.

Have a better day.

Mike (a/k/a Mikeylito)

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The importance of capturing the right “tone” when it comes to extending a favorite franchise.

Hi Rob,

Here’s something that I do love about the Mandalorian and Clone Wars / Bad Batch. They embrace their “Star-Wars-iness.” The sounds feel right. The ships look like Star Wars ships. The terrible CRT style monitors feel authentic to the Star Wars Universe.

THE BAD BATCH may, in fact, be made from the ideal Star Wars recipe.

The Mandalorian isn’t Shakespeare, but if given the chance to wave a magic wand and erase it from existence and let someone else give it ago, I would not take that risk. I’m not rolling those dice. I don’t think someone else would do better Star Wars with the same time and budget.

If someone offered me the same magic wand with regards to recent Star Trek, yeah, I’d roll those dice. Sometimes it feels like the people making Picard lost the license to Star Trek designs. There are several secondary characters on the bridge of Discovery. You can’t remember their names.

I don’t understand why more modern Star Trek episodes don’t open with a Captain’s Log. The template is already there. It’s such efficient storytelling. Here’s where we’re going, and this is the situation. There’s a problem to solve, a goal. It immediately creates interest and suspense. How will our characters possibly meet this challenge?

Could Voyager have been better? Sure. That’s a show that might have benefited from greater continuity. Have ship damage carry over to the next episode. Make survival a theme. Play into what that show’s premise was. But I still liked it for what it was. If there was a bad episode, at least there was no risk of it being a whole season of nonsense.

Watching Bad Batch, I’m really happy that they have people who know what continuity fits in the particular time period. I’m not saying the show is perfect. It’s kinda for kids. But I am asserting that the people making the show benefit from their institutional knowledge. They seem to understand their characters and what makes Star Wars tick.

All the best,

Collin

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Can one have too much “Cruella” in their media diet?

Hi Rob,

So recently Glenn Close did an interview with Entertainment Weekly and Variety to promote her new jazz album that she did with Ted Nash. During both of these interviews, she has expressed interest in playing Cruella for a third movie.

Glenn Close as “Cruella” – is it possible to have too much DeVille in your life? We think not.

In the interview, she says “I have a great story to make another Cruella with my Cruella” Her pitch is that Cruella comes to New York and disappears down the sewers. I find this interesting.

The last time we saw Glenn Close play this iconic villain was in the movie “102 Dalamtians” which was released in theaters on November 22 during the Thanksgiving season back in 2000.

Although, a ton of time has passed since “102 Dalmatians” was released, depending on how well the new “Cruella” movie with Emma Stone does with its day and date release in theaters and on Disney Plus with Premier Access, do you think could Disney actually greenlight a third Cruella movie with Glenn Close in the role? And if they did that, would you even be interested in watching it?

Would love to hear your thoughts,

Matthew Ryan Stanleyt
Ps. Trivia fact, The live-action version of “The Grinch” with Jim Carrey opened in theaters on November 17 which was 5 days prior to “102 Dalmatians” opening in theaters. Plus “Unbreakable” opened the same day as “102 Dalmatians”. The three of them went up against each other. According to Box Ofice Mojo, “The Grinch” took 1st place making $73,523,665.00 “Unbreakable” took second making $30,330,771.00 “102 Dalmatians” took 3rd place making $26,236,096.00

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Old-time TV tips for youngsters.

Hi Rob, moderators, and Post Geek Singularity,

You don’t find wholesome entertainment like THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW on TV anymore.

Something about that article you read, about millennials and old movies, made me realize how the same type of thing happens when it comes to tv shows.

What I mean is how millennials don’t really watch older shows anymore, similar to old movies.

There are many great shows which are older, but are still really good, and perhaps even better than shows coming out now, like I Love Lucy, The Twilight Zone, Perry Mason, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Andy Griffith Show, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Gilligan’s Island, All In The Family, and many others.

I’m a millennial, and I have seen and liked those older shows, but not many people my age will see them due to the fact it’s older.

As much as young people like modern shows now, like Better Call Saul, Good Place, Stranger Things, and all the shows on tv and streaming services, I do think there is a little bit of lament because they don’t watch older shows.

Thanks, live long and prosper.
Omar 94 

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