The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Remaking "Kung Fu." Oh, my

Apparently, Warner Brothers is re-making “Kung Fu” (before you scream about remakes, note that a film version of a television show isn’t a “remake” any more than is an adaptation of a comic strip or a book. In the top ten films currently playing, two actually are remakes, one is a book adaptation, and one is an adaptation of a television character. To contrast, 30 years ago, the top boxoffice of the year included one film adapted from a magazine article, “Saturday Night Fever”, one from a stage play “The Goodbye Girl”, and three from books—“The Deep”, “The Rescuers”, and “The Spy Who Loved Me.” Hollywood has ALWAYS looked for material from other media, or its own history.)

I’m nervous. The original series just lit me up. I loved it. Learning the tragic circumstances behind its origin (co-created by Bruce Lee, he was denied a lead because of his race.) or even more savage irony connected with it (after Lee’s death, his pet project, co-written with James Coburn and Sterling Sillophant, was finally made…with David Carridine, star of the television series. Jeeze.) I was watching a “50 Great Horror Movies” collection yesterday, and the one frozen on my screen is “Deadly Hour” starring Boris Karloff as Chinese detective “Mr. Wong.” Remember when there were Asian detectives like Mr. Wong, Charlie Chan, and Mr. Moto? Notice that as soon as it became politically incorrect to allow whites to play Asians, you never saw these characters any more? So bizarre, and so sad. At any rate, please note the following description of the actor sought to play “Caine”:
“For now, they’re searching for “Caine, Male, 20-35. A handsome mix of East (Chinese/Asian) meets West (American). A man with the emotional capacity of a young Clint Eastwood. Charismatic and charming, Caine was raised by Shaolin monks after his mother’s murder and became a highly skilled fighter. In addition to being a strong actor with the right look, the actor for this role should be athletic and although not required, some martial arts training, gymnastics or ballet are a plus.”

Anyone catch it? Anyone? Alright, here it is: we know that Caine had an Asian mother and a White father. Did anyone out there catch that they equate “American” and “White”? This is not a mistake—it is the automatic, unconscious pre-assumption of the majority: we are the norm. Anything else is “other.”

The ability to “norm” yourself, place yourself at the center of the universe and think that everyone else is “other” “less” and “different” is one of the hidden, invisible and almost insurmountable advantages white Americans give their children. It’s like the ability to look at “flesh” colored band-aids or crayons, and never, ever consider that there might be something odd in that label.

BTW—I’d figure there’s about a 40 percent chance that Keanu Reeves will get the role of Caine. He does actually have some Asian blood, at least. What would be astounding is an Asian actor “made up” to look more Caucasian. Never, ever seen THAT.
Today I start my second round of “4x7” aiming at FlowFit 2 and the Bruiser Gama Cast Century. I made it to 12 sets of 9 reps. After the last cycle, I felt sore, so I think I moved a little too quickly, and kept my volume too high. I’ll start at 8 rep sets this time, and move up the ladder more slowly. The problem is one of recovery, and allowing my body to tell me if it’s too much. I think that 1-2 Bruiser workouts per week is plenty: it’s whole body like crazy.
Today I start the rewrite on “The Good House” for Fox Searchlight. One executive wanted me to cast a “good” magic and a “bad” magic on the basis that that’s what audiences want. I will if I have to, but have an aversion to this. Seen it too many times—and the “bad” magic is always something practiced by some dusky people, while the “good” magic is usually Christianity, or something practiced by Europeans. First of all, that’s just Cultural bigotry. Second, according to my own studies and experience, it’s over-simplification and simply inaccurate. Magic is a lot like looking at a pile of rocks, finding the one that holds the others in place, and slipping it out, triggering an avalanche—in other words, a release of potential energy that already exists in the natural world. It is a neutral force, like fire or water. Fire can cook your eggs, or burn your house to the ground: it is neither “good” nor “bad.” Those labels are added by human beings.
My best guess is that the obstruction experienced by those assigned to the 9/11 commission was real, but not the result of people trying to cover-up a plot. More likely, people trying to cover their asses in the face of a horrible cluster-fuck.

Worst case scenario I consider likely? That Bin Laden’s boys were helped along by folks looking the other way. Motivation? A bunch of ‘em, some venal, some nationalistic and patriotic, ranging from fear of radical Islam to the need to obtain oil for our national welfare to the desire to make a TON of money exploiting Iraqui oil. But that’s the outside range of what I could believe happened.

The thing I don’t believe at all is that “controlled demolition” brought down the Twin Towers. Why? I would guess it would take weeks, and hundreds of men, to wire those towers for demolition. And the evidence would be massive, and witnessed by thousands of survivors. And anyway, why in the hell would you demolish those towers if you were planning to slam airplanes into them, anyway? Make no sense. The airplanes ALONE would be enough to trigger a war. Doing something that would have to have, at the least, hundreds of witnesses who could send you to the gas chamber with a single whisper makes no sense. Conspiracies just don’t work like this.

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t something rotten in Denmark. Remember: just like Conspiracy theorists would like you to believe damned near EVERYTHING is a conspiracy, anti-conspiracy theorists would like you to believe NOTHING is. Oh, really? I can’t believe either extreme. There’s never been an effective conspiracy that unraveled down the road? Never? A statistical impossibility, I’d think. And at every step of the unraveling, the best defense is to promote the worst, most wild-eyed “straw man” theories and mock them.

Of course, that doesn’t mean 9/11 was anything other than a series of massive screw-ups, triggered by a brilliant coup on the part of Bin Laden (and I really think it was brilliant), who correctly predicted that people would think that the best way to deal with hijackers is sit quietly and obey. It has, and will, NEVER happen again. That was a one-shot deal.

One thing that disturbs me is how frightened everyone got about the whole thing. Wait: something like one ten-thousandth of a percent of our population was killed, and people were willing to change our entire way of life over this? Like, if I’m the patriarch of a clan of a million people, and ONE is killed, I’m going to disrupt and frighten the rest of my family to get the perp? This really doesn’t make sense to me. Other nations have dealt with terrorists without spending a trillion dollars, or (contributing to the killing of) a million citizens of a country that never attacked us.

And how powerful was Bin Laden, anyway? He got in one sneak punch on us. One. And we freaked out. And what has he done since? A single suicide bombing? No? Nothing? Hell, if he'd pulled off so much as a car bomb during the Xmas shopping season, he could have really hurt us. Nothing. For SIX YEARS. Does anyone believe he wouldn't have hurt us, if he could? And if you really believe that we’re “fighting them over there so we don’t have to fight them over here” do you really believe that terrorists don’t KNOW they aren’t hurting us as much in Iraq as they would be blowing shit up in New York? Don’t you think they’ve heard that slogan, and know that we’re “deliberately” drawing them away. Do you think they’re that stupid, that if they could reach us, they wouldn’t?

Maybe you do. But boy oh boy, if so, you see a very different world than I see. Frankly, I hope you’re right, because if you’re not, we’ve done one of the stupidest, most cowardly and evil things I’ve ever seen. And with the recent information about George Tenet, the head of the CIA warning Bush DIRECTLY that best information said Saddam had no WMDs...and that Bush discounted him. Now, let's assume that Bush had the best intentions, and was misled by his "superior" data. I have never seen any evidence or suggestion that Tenet's info was passed on to Congress. And unless it was, you CANNOT say that blame for the decision to go to war must be equally shared by the Senators and Congressmen who voted to give Bush that power. Even if you think he had the best of intentions, if you can't admit, by now, that the White House did not provide the American public and their representatives the information necessary to make an intelligent decision...then with all due respect, I suggest that that article about rigid neurology and Conservatism was hideously dead on target.

No comments: