Five Things I Am Into Right Now, October 2014

It's The Great PumpkinSo I have to accept the fact my kids are not going to be into the Peanuts. I truly see the generational gap there. While I can write a post dissecting the interworking genius of It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (which I did do here), my kids would rather watch something else.

Actually, my son had a really good answer for not wanting to watch the show. He said they used bad language. Which is true, if you consider the word “stupid” a bad word, as we try to do in our house.

And while my son loves looking at my old comics (especially Calvin & Hobbes), he has no interest in looking at Peanuts. So while I’m busy each year collecting the complete works (thanks to the releases by Fantagraphics Books), my old paperback copies sit gathering dust on his shelves. Once I tried reading him the books and he was startled by them.

“Why are they so mean to Charlie Brown?”

“Well, it’s…”

Now how would you answer that? Is it funny to be mean to someone? Are we laughing at a child’s pain? In our age of fighting bullying, is Charlie Brown a victim? Granted, in the later years of Schulz’s writing, Charlie Brown took a back seat and much of his torture disappeared (usually everything seemed to be about Rerun), but it is there in the early years tenfold.

In the next year we’ll be getting a new Charlie Brown movie. The trailer looks beautiful, but I wonder how they will handle this stuff. It could either be a rebirth for the franchise or the final nail in the coffin. When Charles Schulz died he made it very clear he wanted everything to stop after his passing. His family seems to have done everything possible to keep it going though; yet, a part of me believes Schulz had it right. Especially now.

Now on to my October list! Continue reading

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Re-Blog: Downton Abbey Post.

Tonight on PBS Masterpiece Theater, the third season of Downton Abbey begins. It’s been fascinating reading some of the articles leading up to the premiere. For example, a lot of critics seem to dismiss the second season. I think that is harsh. (Heck, critics also like to attack the new Hobbit movie. Seriously, what do people expect? Both series are not going to change! They are what they are; and I think they are great.) Of course, it can be argued that critics (and it should be) need to find something to write about. It’s their job, and controversy will always bring in readers over a nice little pat-on-the-back article… which I guess this one is! I hope you enjoy the new season.

The Musings & Artful Blunders of Scott D. Southard

Television is rarely art.

A big part of that is because of how it is made, this is especially true in America.

American television is a business model made out of light entertainment, with the hope of reaching as much of the viewing population as possible.  While a creator may start with the spark of an idea, it is in the manufacturing of that idea where the art is lost; and business men take over, hoping to stretch an idea out for as long as possible, generating the highest quota of viewers and advertising sales. And through this process sadly creators can disappear (Consider Dan Harmon and Community, which I wrote about here), walking away (or forced away) from their own creations, their own babies.

To understand what I mean about art, consider one important element that makes a good novel art. It is not merely the initial…

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Downton Abbey as Art: Some Thoughts on the Great Series

Television is rarely art.

A big part of that is because of how it is made, this is especially true in America.

American television is a business model made out of light entertainment, with the hope of reaching as much of the viewing population as possible.  While a creator may start with the spark of an idea, it is in the manufacturing of that idea where the art is lost; and business men take over, hoping to stretch an idea out for as long as possible, generating the highest quota of viewers and advertising sales. And through this process sadly creators can disappear (Consider Dan Harmon and Community, which I wrote about here), walking away (or forced away) from their own creations, their own babies.

To understand what I mean about art, consider one important element that makes a good novel art. It is not merely the initial idea, but the follow through from the beginning to the end, everything coming together to make a wonderful perfected whole, like a present with a bow on top. Television doesn’t have that, especially in America, and it is rare that any writer or even creator know what they are working towards. Don’t believe me? Remember when they gave an end date for the show Lost and everyone thought that was revolutionary?

So while a show might have a few great episodes, a few great seasons, it is rare you can step back and look at a complete package and say that is a well-told story from beginning to end. Continue reading

Five Things I Am Into Right Now, September 2012

Autumn is around the corner, and in my neck of the woods the leaves are just starting to change colors and my son is already talking about his Halloween costume.

He wants to be The Flash this year, but next year he wants to be Captain America with a shield which he threatens to throw around; so it’s good for everyone (especially the dog) he is The Flash this year. My daughter is Princess Leia, because I thought it would be cute and she is too young to argue; and I made sure to pick it up before the mom got a chance to say no. Yes, I am happy with this action on my part, and I will do it again in a heartbeat.

Okay, I must admit I skipped on my list last month. And that is okay, seriously, I had no time, focusing most of my attention on writing my book while listening to Fiona Apple. Yeah, Fiona’s new CD (The Idler Wheel…) is definitely becoming my mental soundtrack for this opus, but I already talked about the CD enough on this site. You don’t need to read me praising it again… Oh, what the heck– it is my favorite CD of the year so far and you should buy it.  Onto my list: Continue reading