The Social Network – aka The Facebook Movie

Above all, The Social Network (2010) is a magnificent work of storytelling.  Especially considering that it’s a story based on boring litigation over the tedious topic of computer programming.  On the other hand, it’s a rare example of cinematic creative nonfiction.  How do you dramatize the truth, especially when all the action is cerebral?  I hate to say this because it might jinx some people from going to the movie, but The Social Network is an incredibly educational movie, especially about the nature of what it means to be an asshole.

The litigation over the creation of Facebook reminds me of the fight over who invented television, but few people will know about that.  Ditto for the radio, and many other major tech inventions of the past we take for granted.  It’s very hard to give exact credit when everyone stands on the shoulders of giants.  Few characters in this film come across as nice, many are assholes, most are viciously aggressive, and we see the very worse sides of greed and sex.

At a naturalistic level The Social Network is about alpha males fighting over intellectual territory while alpha females throw themselves at the perceived winners.  At the class level the story is about old money, old social networks, descendents of WASP wealth fighting Jewish upstarts who out maneuver the class incumbents to climb even higher on the social ladder.  At the economic level The Social Network is about the marketing of an idea as an invention and who really deserves the spoils of business.

The film is bookend by two women who try to enlighten the Mark Zuckerberg character about the specific traits of his asshole personality.  These are two of the three nice people in this film, the third being Eduardo Saverin, the nice guy who is fighting out of his league.  People who get into Harvard are by nature driven by ambition, if not naked aggression, so we need to factor such drives out of the equation to make all things equal.  But a bitch fight over billions is not pretty, so it’s hard to see the positive qualities of the combatants.  I’ve got to say the movie reflects the efficiency of our modern legal system because it took decades to solve the legal battles over television and radio.  And The Social Network does an apparently fantastic job of explaining to the public the complicated legal issues dealing with the foundation of Facebook.

To me, the saddest part of this movie is how poorly young women come across in this film.  For the most part, the females in this story are the prized toys that males win in battles of aggression.  They throw their beautiful bodies at any guy who succeeds, even the social challenged Zuckerberg, they frolic around lesser males who do the sweatshop programming, taking bong hits and acting sexy to spur on their coding success, and they lay on their backs to provide flat bellies for the rich to snort cocaine from.  The strong independent women in this film are savvy lawyers, but the endless hordes of legal teams, male and female, come across as brainy vultures.

Of course, the sex-toy women also reflects badly on the males, because they don’t see women as other than prizes for success.  Zuckerberg is portrayed as driven by envy, jealousy and desire, and the film makes a good case that Facebook exists because Zuckerberg was rejected by Erica Albright, and that he wanted the success of Facebook to give him another chance with her.  It wasn’t about the money, but female approval.

More complex to understand is the exact quality of Zuckerberg’s asshole-ness.  He’s brilliant and aloof, but he’s so lacking in social graces that you have to wonder if he has an autistic background.  Mark tries so hard to be liked while looking down on all others and squashing any attempts of communication with a towering superiority.  But isn’t that how most average folks see super-geeks?

I attended The Social Network on its opening weekend, a Saturday afternoon, and I expected the theater to be packed because of the overwhelming wonderful reviews and great word of mouth, but we sat in a mostly empty room.  Moviegoers might not find the topic of this flick appealing, but director David Fincher and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin have created a powerful, riveting and engaging story of our times.  It really shouldn’t be missed.

Finally, because the movie uses real names I must ask how much are the characters in the movie like their real life counterparts?  I’d love to find interviews with all of them where they talk about their portrayals in the film. Actually, someone should make a documentary of that.  Essentially the movie is metafiction, and that’s a fascinating topic by itself.

JWH – 10/3/10

Three on a Match (1932)


I wish I could put into words how I feel about old movies from the 1930s.  I wish I could understand why I love them.  I didn’t live through that era like my parents, not being born until 1951.  I grew up with black and white television and reruns of old films were a staple of TV stations back then, so that’s how I got hooked.  Millions of my fellow baby boomers growing up at the same time never learned to enjoy these films.

So why did I?  I think it has something to do with staying up late and watching them in the dark, with their flickering black and white light creating a strange alternate reality that imprinted on my mind.  I like to watch them best now late at night, when my mind is half dreamy, when they put me in a trance.

Last night I watched Three on a Match, a film I’ve seen before.  This DVD I got from Netflix is part of a collection called Forbidden Hollywood, Volume 2, a series that focuses on pre-code films (before hard censorship in 1934).  A good book that introduces that era is Sins in Soft Focus by Mark A. Vieira.  Many of the great pre-code films deal with feminist issues, and Three on a Match is one of them, even though it’s ending completely supports the status quo.

I think the best of modern movies are better made, better written, better acted than the old shows from the 1930s, but my soul resonates with the old black and white films.  Three on a Match is not a great movie, and most young people if they did watch it, would find it strange and clunky, if not silly and laughable.  For me, Three on a Match oozes history, both about life in America before 1932, and tinsel town.

What the moral police wanted back then, was to censor Hollywood from showing strong willed women.  The kind of women who wanted their own careers, or ones that wanted to explore their sexuality or escape the bondage of marriage, motherhood and even morality.  Three on a Match is actually a slight film, only 64 minutes, and much of that is filled with filler and back story.  Young Bette Davis and Humphrey Bogart have minor roles in this film, but story is about Vivian Kirkwood, played by Ann Dvorak, who is little remembered today.

Vivian Kirkwood does well in school, marries a rich New York lawyer, and has a child, but is bored.  In the scene pictured above she runs into two old friends from school.  The Bette Davis and Joan Blondell characters envy Vivian’s success and can’t understand why she’s not happy.  The flaw in this film is the audience is not shown why she’s unhappy.  We are given in a few short scenes where Vivian avoids her husband, especially his touch, and shows little interest in her son.  I wanted much more.  Maybe real explanations were too explicit even for pre-code Hollywood.

Mrs. Kirkwood asks her husband, a slightly older man played by Warren William, if she can go off on a vacation without him. William, another forgotten star, is wise enough to indulge his wife.  He hates to see her take his son, who he dotes on, but feels the kid belongs with his mom, and assumes the mom is less likely to go running around if she has the kid.  He was wrong.  Three hours after her husband leaves her, Vivian takes up with low life Michael Loftus, nicely played by Lyle Talbot.  Everything happens way too fast in this movie.

The movie is too short, but well illustrated by a few key scenes.  Vivian gets caught up in parties, drinking, and even cocaine if you catch a gesture that Humphrey Bogart makes.  Ultimately, Vivian comes to a tragic, but heroic end.

I wished the movie had been twice as long so we could have gotten deeper into Vivian’s head.  What made her so unhappy with riches, marriage and motherhood?  What drove her to risk everything?  We know the subject all too well, because we see it happening to young women today, with modern films telling the same story far more explicitly, depicting girls taking a walk on the wild side, but are today’s films any better at explaining why?

Personally, I think Bette Davis or even Joan Blondell could have played Vivian Kirkwood better.  Ann Dvorak does a good job, but she doesn’t look the part.  Ann Dvorak looks more suited to play the Joan Blondell part, and we know Bette Davis had the personality for the role.

Even though this film was slight, it was delicious.  I almost feel like watching it again tonight, to savor the beautiful black and white cinematography and to study all the character actors, but I’ve got to watch the end of Lost tonight.

I’ve leave you with this clip that mostly shows the back story, but it has many fascinating news reel clips – especially notice the two girls dancing, something that couldn’t be shown after the code was enforced.  There is practically nothing in this clip that deals with the heart of this film, so don’t judge Three on a Match by it.  It’s design to showcase the music, and uses extra content from the film for imagery.

JWH – 5/23/10

Will Internet TV Make Cable and Satellite TV Extinct?

There are two kinds of TV, live and recorded.  Internet TV sites like Hulu have already proven how well they can handle recorded TV shows.  Internet TV even does away with the need for a digital video recorder (DVR).  Think of a show, find it, watch it.  Internet TV like Hulu is even better than broadcast, cable or satellite for sponsors because viewers are required to watch the commercials.  And as long as they have such limited commercials as they do now, I don’t mind watching them.  Otherwise I’ll pay for streaming services like Netflix to be commercial free.

Where Internet TV is weak is for live broadcasts, like for sports and 24/7 news.  The infrastructure of cable and satellite systems have far more bandwidth for handling live television.  That won’t always be so, because I’m sure some kind of broadcast Internet technology will emerge to solve that problem and people will be watching live TV on their iPhones, iPads, netbooks, notebooks, desktops, HTPCs and Internet TV sets.

Digital technology ate the music industry, and is about to eat the book, newspaper, magazine and television industries.  I gave up cable TV months ago and for recorded shows I’m in hog heaven by using the Internet TV, which includes streaming Netflix.  I also supplement by viewing diet with snail-mail Netflix discs, but I see where that habit could be phased out too.  The only reason to get a disc now is for the picture quality of Bluray.  Future bandwidth will wipe out that technology too.

Owning music CDs and video DVDs seem so pointless now.  I wonder how that’s going to impact the economy and effect the entertainment business.  It also makes me wonder about my efforts of building an easy to use HTPC.  I’m struggling to get perfect Bluray playback through my HTPC computer, wondering if I should spend $80 for better software, knowing full well in the not too distance future I’ll phase out Bluray too.  The HTPC has phased out the LG BD390 Bluray player I bought just last year, and an Internet TV set could phase out my HTPC.


Last night my friend Janis had us watch Bigger Than Life on Bluray because NPR had praised this old James Mason movie so highly.  The flick wasn’t very entertaining, but it was fascinating.  The Bluray presentation of this 1956 CinemaScope production was stunning in 1080p high definition, showing intricate shadows and vivid colors.  Internet TV and streaming Netflix can’t provide that kind of resolution right now, but I imagine it will before 2015.

Technology is moving so fast that we buy devices we want to throw away in a year or two.  Growing up my folks wanted appliances and TVs that would last 15 years.  I remember Ma Bell phones lasting over twenty years.  I’ve had my 52” inch high definition TV for only three years and I’m already lusting for a new set.  Will technology ever settle down again so we can buy something that will last a generation?  I think it might.  Of course it will be terrible for the economy, but I can imagine TV technology that would satisfy me and take the ants out of my pants to have something better.

My perfect TV will still be a 1080p HDTV like we have today.  I’m pretty sure we can go decades without changing the broadcast standards again.  It will have a digital tuner to handle over-the-air broadcasts (in case the net goes down) and an Ethernet jack and WiFi for Internet TV.  It will have two removable bays.  One for a computer brain that can be upgraded, and another for a SSD hard drive.  As Internet TV is perfected the need for a local DVR will be diminished.  That will also be true for an upgradable CPU.  There will be no cable or satellite TV.  Everything will come to us by TCP/IP.  Broadcast will remain for the poor and for when the Internet fails.  Cable and satellite TV will go the way of the record store.  I also assume all Internet access will be wireless, but it will take 5-10 years to phase out wires.  Now that doesn’t mean cable and satellite companies will go under.  I expect them to buy into the Internet TV revolution.  I do get my internet access from Comcast.

Most people will think I’m crazy by predicting the extinction of cable and satellite TV.  They can’t picture living without all that choice.  That’s because of the channel switching mindset.  We have always thought of what’s on TV by flipping through the channels, even though very little TV is live.  Most of TV is recorded, and we fake immediate diversity by offering 200 concurrent channels to watch.  Eventually the only channels to watch will be live, because other technology makes it easier to find recorded shows ourselves.

Live TV will go through a renaissance.  Cable and satellite TV systems are still the best technology for live TV, and they will hang on to their audiences for another ten or twenty years as Internet broadcast TV is perfected.  However, guerrilla TV is emerging on the net, and micro audiences are evolving.  For the big networks, how many Today like morning shows will we need for live TV?  How many channels to promote sports?  How many to 24/7 talking head news and reality shows do we need?  How many live PBS networks will we need?  Will audience gather around central networks or seek out specialized Internet broadcasters catering to their personal interests?

Ultimately, how much TV really needs to be live?  Even 24/7 news shows spend a lot of time repeating themselves.  Live TV is leisurely.   The hours of the Today show are filled with just minutes of quality content, most of the time is fluff and commercials.  And if an opera is filmed live for PBS does it really need to be seen live?  Survivor and Amazing Race would be tedious if live.

When the flipping the channels metaphor dies out, and library checkout metaphor gains popularity, TV viewing will change.  People love football, war and car chases live, but will even that change too?  If you were sitting with you iPad killing some time, will you think, “Hey let’s watch the game in Miami,” or will you want to play a game or watch something recorded?   I can easily imagine sites of “WHAT’S HAPPENING NOW!” start showing up, listing thousands of events going on around the world.  TCP/IP technology will work better to provide that kind of service than cable or satellite.

Until you play with Internet TV you won’t understand what I’m saying.  You’ve got to sleep with the pods or drink the Kool-Aid to buy in.  Start with streaming Netflix and Hulu.

And if people love cell phones, Facebook and Twitter to stay in constant contact won’t they love live TV from their friends.  Instead of watching the crew of the Today show have fun, why not video link all your friends and create your own morning show?  And the emergence of spy networks will also change viewing habits.  If every daycare and classroom had web cams, wouldn’t parents spend more time watching them?  Won’t all the web cams in the world grabbing eyeballs destroy the audiences of the 200 channels of national networks?

We can’t predict the future.  Growing up in the 1960s I never imagined anything like the Internet.  All I can predict is change and more of it.  But I’m also going to predict that once the Internet and digital upheaval is over, we might settle down to a slower pace of change.  Well, until artificial intelligence arrives or we make SETI contact with distant civilizations.

Recommended Reading:

JWH – 4/10/10

There’s No Such Thing As Free TV

In the early days of television it appeared the shows were free, just put up an antenna and watch your favorite programs for nothing.  But as we all know, we paid for our viewing by watching commercials.  Then came cable TV.  We paid a small fee to avoid the hassle of messing with antennas, but we still watched a lot of commercials.  However, this started the upward cost of watching television.  Cable providers slowly added more channels and raised their fees.  They even offered commercial free networks like HBO and Showtime, but at an even greater cost.  It’s not uncommon today to pay over $100 a month for cable or satellite access.  Then they charged even more for DVR boxes and services so we could skip over the commercials.

Now people are abandoning their cable/satellite services to save money and going retro by using antennas again, and getting over-the-air (OTA) HD television.  They supplement their viewing variety with Netflix, HTPCs and now DLNA compliant devices.  Getting TV from the Internet gives the illusion that we’ve finally found a way to get free TV.  Don’t count on it.  We still pay $25-50 a month for broadband Internet access, and we still watch a lot of commercials.  And if the movie and television industry has their way, they’ll find new ways to charge us for watching our favorite shows over the Internet.

Netflix, at $8.99 for 1 disc service and streaming video via a Roku box is probably the cheapest way to get the most TV watching bang for the buck.  Now Netflix is under attack by the Hollywood Studios.  As the Business Week article points out, studios don’t like the all-you-can-eat streaming pricing.  They want a cut of the action for each movie you watch, because they consider streaming equal to cable/satellite pay-per-view movies, that cost viewers $4 a pop.  And the studios, like Warner Brothers, want to slow the access to movies that Netflix rents because Netflix is cutting into sales of DVD/BD discs.  I know I don’t buy discs anymore, so I can understand this.  And if you haven’t noticed lately, a lot of streaming content on Netflix started showing expiration dates.  Bummer.

Generations of television viewers who grew up after the Baby Boomers don’t remember “free” TV.  Every house had an antenna sprouting from the roof and you didn’t have to pay a monthly bill to watch your shows.  Of course, we didn’t have the power to skip commercials, and we only had 3-4 channels in our nightly lineup.  We had NBC’s Saturday Night at the Movies showing new to broadcast films, and each station had a library of old films they could show at odd hours of the day, usually in the middle of the night.  Life was simple then.  Of course, so were the shows.

Decades later, television shows and movies cost untold millions to make, far more than what broadcast commercials and movie tickets can finance.  Movie makers want to maximize their profits by selling their films several times, in a standard tiered released system where they get the maximum revenue at each stage:

  • Theatrical releases
  • DVD/BD sales
  • Pay-per-view
  • Premium cable (HBO, Showtime, etc)
  • Basic cable
  • Broadcast networks
  • [Netflix streaming?]

So where in the hierarchy do they release titles to Internet streaming?  And if DVD/BD sales are hurt by rentals, when do you release titles to Netflix?  Right now, I pay the most for movies because I watch a lot of flicks on the big screen.  I could probably save $500 a year by waiting for movies to come to Netflix.  This is one reason why I don’t care about getting cable TV anymore, or when movies get to Netflix.  But if you aren’t big on going to the movies, this does matter.

The trouble for movie makers is Netflix is so damn efficient and cheap.  Even without streaming, for $8.99 a month you can watch about a 100 movies a year, and with streaming, your selection is overwhelming.  Who needs to watch more?  And if you count that Netflix rents/streams TV shows and documentaries, that makes $8.99 a month the cheapest form of TV watching other than OTA viewing.  Sports is the main thing missing, and probably why more people don’t give up cable/satellite.

Now Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) is catching on, allowing you to stream video content off the Internet directly to your TV, without using a computer.  Geeks have been hooking up their computers to their TV for years, but it’s not an elegant consumer oriented solution.  All the major TV manufacturers are starting to build DLNA technology directly into their TVs, meaning you won’t need a Roku box to stream Netflix and Amazon videos.  Each manufacturer can choose which streaming system to support, or in some cases, they can support PC servers like PlayOnTv that will talk to your TV directly, or via your Wii, PS3 or Xbox 360, so you can watch Hulu and other emerging Internet TV networks.

Essentially, online TV networks like, CastTV and are ways to get broadcast and cable network shows free off the Internet, or free if you ignore your ISP bill.  But when content providers realize that these services will undercut services higher up the economic viewing ladder, will they continue to offer their content for free?  Will there be more commercials, or even subscriptions required?

I installed PlayOnTV on our Wii and played around with Hulu.  The Wii remote made a decent TV remote and worked well with the Hulu menu system.  This bit of testing provided an epiphany for me.  Internet TV is like cable TV – too many channels and too much to see!  Since I’ve given up cable TV and lived for a few months with just ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS and Netflix, I’ve learned to love simplicity.  I thought I wanted more documentaries which Internet TV might offer me, but it’s not worth the hassle of finding them. 

I like the higher quality of watching Blu-ray discs, or even DVD quality, over watching Internet TV quality.  Broadcast HD seems better than cable HD, and Blu-ray 1080p is even better yet.  I’ve gotten used to pristine picture quality, and for me at least, visual quality is better than viewing quantity.  I don’t mind waiting for BD discs to come in the mail.  I know my viewing habits aren’t typical.  My wife is a channel surfer and loves to see what’s on by flipping through hundreds of channels.  If you’re like her, then you’ll need to pay for cable/satellite, or spend the money for Internet TV options.

I pay $16.99/month to Netflix for 2 discs out at a time with Blu-ray.  That’s as cheap as I can get while getting the most TV watching for my dough.  If the movie studios force Netflix to charge more for streaming, I’ll live without streaming.  I’m a little annoyed that Blu-ray discs cost more to buy and rent than DVDs when they look physically identical, but the extra visual quality is worth it to me.  I don’t mind watching Big Love or Weeds months after their HBO and Showtime broadcasts.

TV isn’t free, but it doesn’t have to be expensive either.  How much you pay for TV depends on how impatient you are to see new shows and films.  As I get older I’ll probably stop going to the theater as much, because paying $10 to see a movie the first week it’s out won’t be as important.  I know a lot of old guys who stopped going to the movies altogether.  If you’re young, restless, twitchy and impatient, then you’ll probably love flipping through 300 cable channels and won’t mind paying $100 a month for that pleasure.

When I heard Warner Brothers wanted Netflix to wait a whole month before renting movies that had just gone on sale, I laughed.  At 58, a month is nothing.  To a teenager or twenty-something, waiting a month is probably unbearable.  I’m still finding new movies from the 1930s to watch, and I’ve seen thousands of them already.  I’d much prefer Netflix maintaining it’s low rates than getting movies sooner.  Let the young finance the movie and television industry – if you’re patient you can save your money for retirement.

JWH – 1/17/10

Sherlock Holmes and Other Modern Myths

There are some fictional characters that have achieved a kind of immortality outside of the stories from where they were conceived, and they get interpreted over and over again in new books, television shows, plays and movies.  These include Sherlock Holmes, Dracula, Tarzan, Ebenezer Scrooge, Frankenstein, Superman, James Bond, and to a lesser extent, Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, the March sisters (aka Little Women), and so on.  The list is surprisingly short compared to the millions of books that have been published.  And it’s fascinating to note the fading of some of these characters, like Nick and Nora Charles, Dick Tracy, Perry Mason, etc.

One way to understand fictional immortality is to study how various Shakespeare’s plays have been in and out of fashion over the last four hundred years.  We like to assume we’re getting the true Shakespeare when we read the plays, but are we?  Read a play and then watch it performed.  It comes to life with actor’s performances and the director’s interpretation.  I have read that Shakespeare changes with the generations and centuries. 

Another specific way to see mythmaking in action is to study Wyatt Earp.  Sometimes a famous fictional character is based on a real human.  Read a handful of Earp biographies and then watch several of the dozens of movies based on the Earp myth, especially the films with Kevin Costner and Kurt Russell.  You’ll begin to see how myths are created.  Absolute facts don’t count, but the defining of a Platonic Form that makes the character recognizable no matter when and where he or she appears and in what guise.  Wyatt Earp is still Wyatt Earp in My Darling Clementine, even only a damn few facts remain.  That’s the power of myth.

Many people hate when their favorite book is made into a movie because the filmmaker’s interpretation of their beloved character is different from how they brought the character to life in their mind.  But everyone’s mental interpretation is different, so I don’t criticize movies for seeing characters different.  In fact, I love seeing multiple interpretations, especially when moviemakers are trying to be faithful to the original story, or trying to tell the original story in a modern setting.  I love when actors inhabit a character and make them come to life.  I’m critical when a writer uses an iconic character for a stock performance, especially when they obviously don’t strive to add life to the character.

I found one source that said Sherlock Holmes has been played by 75 actors in 211 films, but it was dated 2005, so we know it’s at least 76 and 212 now, if not a good deal more.  Arthur Conan Doyle wrote four novels and fifty-six short stories featuring the detective adventures of Sherlock Holmes, so there’s a wealth of literary history from which to define the Holmes mythology.  And I think that’s what’s happening, our popular culture is giving life to modern myths.  I wonder if this is how the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans gave life to their gods?  We only see faint shadows of those ancient individuals today, and have no idea what their fully empowered identities were like.

Sherlock Holmes has been around since 1887, and Wikipedia has a fascinating summary about Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation, which also backs up many of the details in the new Guy Ritchie/Robert Downey, Jr. interpretation of the cerebral sleuth.  I am not a rabid aficionado of Sherlock Holmes – I’ve read some of the original short stories and seen many different Holmes movies over the years, so I can’t accurately judge how Guy Ritchie treats the canon, but read Tom Richmond for a true fan’s view. 

People who haven’t read Sherlock Holmes stories, or even seen any of the older Sherlock Holmes films will have a virgin impression of Holmes, and that’s fascinating by itself.  If they are now inspired to read the stories or watch older interpretations they might be shocked and dislike the non-Robert Downey versions.  Often filmgoers and readers imprint with the first encounter with a characterization, like ducklings to their mother, and find reasons to dislike any other performance.  I think this is especially true of Colin Firth’s Mr. Darcy.  For baby boomers and older folk, Basil Rathbone is the definitive screen Sherlock Holmes.  Such bonding is unfortunate because it restricts the evolution of the mythic character.  Often the character must be reinvented for each generation.

I hope I live long enough to see the Harry Potter books get made into a second set of films – to be epic mythic a character needs to have been in dozens of films.  Not that I don’t like the first productions, but I’m anxious to see new interpretations.  I suppose this is why there are nearly a half a million fan-fiction retellings of the Harry Potter stories.  I was very excited to see the new Sherlock Holmes movie hoping it would instill new life into the fading Baker Street citizens, and acquire a new generation of believers for the Holmes mythology. 

But here’s my problem, even though I can buy Robert Downey, Jr. as Holmes, and especially Jude Law as Watson, and love Rachel McAdams as Irene Adler, I’m not sure I can buy the plot of the new movie as a standard Sherlock Holmes story.  While watching the film I predicted how it would wrap up and I was satisfied with the direction the writers took, but think Ritchie went too overboard with the violence, explosions and especially the scene at the shipyard.  I absolute adored the recreation of Victorian London.  I would have been happy if the only action had been Holmes and Watson strolling for two hours around town and just chatted.

I bet the Sherlock Holmes virgins had a far more exciting time watching the new film than most of us older fans because they weren’t burden with worrying if the story disrupted the canon.  Besides the first time is always the most memorable.  Many Pride and Prejudice faithful can’t stand any of the film versions because they want to adhere to the purity of the novel, knowing any aspect of a film version can drown out content from the original story.  Most people will always think of Tarzan as Johnny Weissmuller even though the original 26 Edgar Rice Burroughs books describes Tarzan very differently.  I’m sure there are lots of kids that have never read the Harry Potter books but worship the films and they would be shocked to discover a very different Harry Potter described by his creator J. K. Rowling.

But I don’t think any of this matters.  Everyone can tell a cat from all other animals even though they come in an endless variety of appearances.  There seems to be an indescribable natural form that is the cat ideal.  You can always spot a Tarzan in any TV show, movie, book, comic, video game, cartoon, or other fictional venue.  Ditto for Dracula, Sherlock Holmes, Ebenezer Scrooge and Frankenstein.  In popular culture this is also becoming true for Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, but isn’t as widespread as those already mentioned.  I think the March sisters from Little Women have potential to evolve into 21st century famous fictional pop culture identities.  They were major in the 19th century, and they maintained their fame since at a steady low level, but I sense a new surge.  Pop culture prefers flesh and blood people to make famous, but it’s fascinating to see word and sentence people gain worldwide fame.

It will be fascinating to know if Sherlock Holmes or Tarzan, or even Harry Potter continue to exist one hundred, two hundred or a thousand years from now.  Isis and Osiris are still around, but how many average kids know who they are.  How many kids even know Odysseus or Gilgamesh.

JWH – 1/6/10

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Books & movies, art and thoughts.

Emily Munro

Spinning Tales in the Big Apple


hold a mirror up to life.....are there layers you can see?