Wednesday, July 23, 2008

genre desperation

I started watching old episodes of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer. I can't say it ever caught my eye before. But after getting endless pleasure out of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog (the first two episodes, anyway) and Firefly, and having subsequently read countless ravings from fans of Joss Whedon, I figured the series was worth investigating.

Just a few shows into the series, the villain is a woman who transforms into a giant praying mantis. A giant bug. Buffy takes it down with bug spray and a recording of a bat's sonar.

A giant bug.

Never underestimate genre desperation. Countless horror fans wade through bad story after bad story because there simply aren't that many great tales of horror. Likewise, there are fans of vampires, monsters, dragons, wizards, space colonies, aliens, war, great leaders -- people with favorite settings and character types, and they're always on the hunt for the next worthy showing.

So why not shovel garbage down their throats and make some money, right? No, the point I'm getting at is that genre fans will cut designers and storytellers a lot of slack, so don't pay too much heed to expectations.

For example, having grown up on The Hobbit, Dragonslayer, and D&D, I'm a fan of dragons.

That picture's from Reign of Fire. Simple awesome.

I prefer dragons that don't speak English or cast spells or anything like that. I just like huge, flying, intelligent, nasty-tempered, fire-breathing lizards that love to eat people and burn villages to ash. When one starts talking, I'm a little disappointed. But my love for dragons outweighs my distaste for certain details, so I keep watching the movie or playing the game... begging to be satisfied. And you know what? Sometimes I'm happily surprised, like with the first Dragonheart film.

If everyone expects elves like Legolas, Galadriel, and Drizzt, that doesn't mean you'd be shooting yourself in the foot to give them Dobby.

Expectations aren't iron-clad. They just mean you'd better be substituting something cool or genre fans will forever curse you for spoiling hallowed ground.

By the way, I'm also a fan of ghosts and monsters. One of my favorite books is a collection of Victorian and Eduardian ghost stories. I think this is an updated version.

1 comment:

  1. Dobby the House Elf, or Gollum by any other name.
    I know people love Harry Potter, but I, like you, desperately wanted something original from those stories, and for the most part, it was one rehash after another.

    Going off on a tangent but with the same theme, I get slightly annoyed with people telling me how original The Matrix was.

    Now I happen to like that first film very much but the whole 'reality pill' first came up in Stanislaw Lem's 'Futurological Congress', a book written a long time ago.
    Trouble is, I seem to be the only person who has ever read that book!

    If you get the chance, try it. Lem's writing can be quite difficult to read, but the stories themselves are great.


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