Homogeneity is The Enemy, musings on Comics & Hollywood
So anyway, I was thinking about Chow Yun Fat. He’s great, isn’t he? Cool as hell, and with charisma to burn… yet he doesn’t seem to be able to make it in Hollywood.
Why is that? Some people put it down to him being Asian, and Asians are usually shoved into stereotypical ‘silly Chinaman’ roles… but I think it may be because he’s not an actor… he’s a Movie Star.
And Hollywood doesn’t do Movie Stars anymore. You know the ones – Cary Grant, Humphrey Bogart, Vincent Price, Errol Flynn… they weren’t naturalistic. They didn’t ‘submerge themselves in their role’… they pretty much played themselves in every picture and made their reputation with charisma and force of personality.
Probably the closest we’ve got to that these days is Clint Eastwood. He always plays Clint Eastwood, but he’s such a primordial force of nature that we just don’t care.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Dustin Hoffman. But it seems that ever since the adoption of Stanislavski and in particular The Actors’ Studio’s version of it, it’s become the default setting. Suddenly, if you’re not submerging and ‘becoming the character’, you’re not acting…
Which brings me to comics.
When Marvel comics introduced ‘superheroes with real problems’ in the Early 60’s, it was groundbreaking. Spider-Man couldn’t get a date, The Thing hated his appearance, The X-Men were feared and hated by the very people they were trying to protect… Similarly, in the 80’s we had the deconstructionist antics of Moore and Miller where they broke the heroes down into their parts, looked at them and asked, “But what does this MEAN?”
Both of these things were cool and groundbreaking.
But they’re OPTIONS. They’re WAYS of telling stories. And it seems to me that rather than examining them and using them as options, they’ve become The Default Setting. People can’t see around them because they’re in them up to their neck. They don’t realize that there are different ways to tell a story besides Deconstruction and ‘realism’, when there are an almost infinite number of ways.
It’s words and pictures. Words. And Pictures.
In infinite combinations. Some which suit the story in question, some which don’t…
The secret is to find the BEST way to tell the story you want to tell. Some characters don’t work as ‘superheroes with real problems’, and some stories just break when you try and take them apart. I think it’d be neat if some of these guys took a step back so they could see that the little foxhole they’ve exiled themselves to isn’t the whole wide world – that there’s a vast and expansive plain all around them and maybe, just maybe we could get outta this damn rut we seem to be in just now.