Quotes

Quote: Mel Brooks on seriousness in comedy

Mel Brooks at the White House for the 2009 Kennedy Center Honors by US Federal Government
Mel Brooks at the White House / Picture by the U.S. federal government
At the weekend (on Saturday February 17th) the BBC aired a special about Mel Brooks – Imagine…Mel Brooks: Unwrapped. As well as new material it included archive interviews, including this great quote:

“All my films are serious, if you examine any one of them. Because they are passionate and the depict human behaviour at given points in human history. They are not dramatic, and that’s the difference. You’ve got to be careful what you say when you use those words.

You can’t make a successful comedy that doesn’t have any passion. It will not be successful. You’ve got to say something about the system. About the social structure. About prejudice, about people, about behaviour. Comedy is not successful unless it deals with… even Laurel and Hardy, you could say they were cheap comedies, they have to deal with the system. The Marx Brothers always dealt with the system.

Every picture I’ve ever made has dealt with some aspect of the social system and human behaviour within it. I don’t want to get clinical about it but The Producers was about the dream of little Leo Bloom, about success. Zero Mostel in it says ‘Bloom, Bloom I’m sinking. I’m part of a society that demands success when all I can offer is failure.’ Blazing Saddles is about racial prejudice. It’s all about the hypocritical west shitting all over a black sheriff, wanting him dead.”

Analysis, Egotism

Reflective Analysis – Freedom

Freedom 20180217_1725 cropped
Yesterday I published a poem here on the blog – Freedom – which I’ve also written a ‘reflective analysis’ about. This is a form of literary analysis which involves the writer going back and thinking about the choices they made – often on a subconscious level – as a way of better understanding their creative impulses.

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Read my Poetry

Freedom

Once a month the nation bow their heads.
One nation under God.
Check the killer’s skin:
Is it ‘seal the borders’
Or is it ‘nothing could be done’?

Thoughts and prayers.
Think and pray.
Do not act.
The nation could be torn apart,
If someone were to act.

A sacrifice to Freedom,
The true god of America.
The freedom to tear flesh from bodies at 1200 feet.
The freedom to end the lives of others on a whim.
The freedom to make one’s rage another’s problem.
The freedom to become important.

Jehovah does not live here.
One nation under Freedom.
Human sacrifice is demanded
And the great god is appeased.

A gun in every classroom,
A sniper in every tree.
When paranoia and chaos reign,
All men shall be Free.

  • David Stringer
Praying People Playground Helmet Kneel Bench Man
Kneel-Bench-Man 2599320 by Unknown via MaxPixel
Film & Television Opinion

Mythos in Star Trek Discovery 1.14: The War Without, the War Within

This blogpost is focused on looking at how The War Without, The War Within, the fourteenth episode of Star Trek: Discovery fits into the events and themes of the previously established universe. I’ve written similar blogposts looking at each previous episode (you can read the first here, and a full list under the Star Trek Discovery tag).

Surgical Alterations in Star Trek

It had been confirmed four episodes earlier that Tyler is really Voq, surgically and mentally altered to appear Human, but in this episode the viewer gets more of an insight into the process than had previously been the case. Tyler tells Saru that the process cracked his bones open, reduced the size of his heart and shaved down the tips of his fingers. He reveals that the Klingons refer to the process as a “species reassignment protocol”, which grounds the process in the language of real world sex reassignment surgery. In a previous recap I mentioned Arne Darvin, who in an episode of TOS replaces a Federation diplomat’s assistant. A 2007 comic depicted Darvin’s quite graphic transformation, which overlaps with what Tyler describes.

Star Trek Blood Will Tell

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Egotism, Film & Television Opinion

IWSG: The Power of Scifi

This is an entry for the Insecure Writers’ Support Group, a way for writers to discuss their writing anxieties. It cross-posts on each others’ blogs on the first Wednesday of each month.

In my writing I wander a lot around different genres, but the one that I’m most strongly attached to (as you might suspect from my blog’s name) is science fiction. The thing I’ve always loved about the genre is the scale and sense of escapism. Classic science fiction has always dealt with really big ideas – Isaac Asimov’s Foundation saga is about the collapse of a corrupt empire and the people trying to replace the chaos with something better. Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001 is about how Humanity will cope with contact from alien races who are beyond our comprehension. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is about the creation of a new form of life, and the moral responsibilities involved. Great science fiction takes what could be dry academic discussions and breathes life into them, making them real.

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Analysis

Mythos in Star Trek Discovery 1.13: What’s Past is Prologue

This blogpost is focused on looking at how What’s Past is Prologue, the sixth episode of Star Trek: Discovery fits into the events and themes of the previously established universe. I’ve written similar blogposts looking at each previous episode (you can read the first here, and a full list under the Star Trek Discovery tag).

Climate Change

The Terran Empire’s toxic approach to the mycelial network is essentially a fossil fuel metaphor. Whereas the Prime Universe crew are conscientious about doing as little damage as possible, the Charon’s mycelial power core poisons the wider mycelial network while drawing power from it. Saru to be shocked by the Terran Empire’s short-sightedness, given that the process means that eventually, in Stamets’ words, “life as we know it will cease to exist”.

This recklessness works as a parallel to the real-world use of fossil fuels. Despite its hippyish idealism, the Star Trek franchise hasn’t touched on climate change and environmentalism as often as might be expected. The most notable exception is the TNG episode Force of Nature – built on the premise that warp engines damage areas of space which have excessive warp travel, an issue which isn’t revisited on-screen. (I’ve read that the reason Voyager’s warp nacelles physically rise before the ship goes to warp is to counter this effect, though I’m not sure whether this is canonical.) The climax of What’s Past Is Prologue implies that this analogy won’t be immediately revisited, but it’s a storytelling device that DIS could reuse in future.

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Analysis

Mythos in Star Trek Discovery 1.10 Despite Yourself

This blogpost is focused on looking at how Lethe, the sixth episode of Star Trek: Discovery fits into the events and themes of the previously established universe. I’ve written similar blogposts looking at each previous episode (you can read the first here, and a full list under the Star Trek Discovery tag).

The Pseudoscience of Star Trek’s Parallel Universes

The TNG episode Parallels has Worf travelling through parallel universes .On his way back to the Enterprise from a holiday, Worf’s shuttle passes through a “quantum fissure“, which causes a “quantum flux” in Worf’s cellular RNA. As a result throughout the episode when Worf is close to Geordi La Forge, a “quantum field pulse” that Geordi’s visor sends out, interacting with Worf’s altered state, pushes him into the body of himself in a slightly different parallel universe. During this process Data confirms Worf’s account by noting that his ‘quantum signature’ is different to the rest of the crew – a line repeated in Despite Yourself.

These shifts are very subtle at first. The first Worf notices being that Picard shows up unexpectedly at a party. These differences become more divergent from the main timeline, until Worf ends up in a timeline where Captain Riker commands the Enterprise, Worf is his first officer, and Wesley Crusher is a member of the senior crew.

The coincidences of the Mirror Universe often seem incredibly unlikely – same people, children of the same parents, serving on the same ship…even though the fundamental philosophy of their society is different. But using Worf’s example justifies this. In a multiverse of infinite possibilities, he travels first to those universes most like his own, getting further and further away, but never too different. (He is always serving on the Enterprise, never anywhere else.)

Perhaps the Mirror Universe has a few big differences in it’s ‘quantum signature’ but is otherwise similar to our own, which makes it easier to access than some others. If you think of it in terms of magic rather than hard science, it works. I doubt that any of this has anything to do with the real theoretical science behind parallel universes, by Hugh Everett and others. It’s probably best to think of this level of ‘science’ in the same manner as magic – what matters is that it serves the story and is internally consistent.

(Incidentally, Burnham refers to the ‘mirror Discovery’ which I think is the first textual mention of the term ‘mirror’ in relation to the mirror universe.) There’s certainly no mention of the term in Mirror, Mirror – the TOS episode which introduced this timeline.

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