Epic

Blah blah blah, get a life

Some writers (myself included) approach dialogue with the ill-advised notion that, “Oh, I’m smart, so my characters should all sound like I do and it will be all good.”Yeah … well, your characters are going to sound like assholes. Seriously, no one wants to hear a writer’s voice when they think of what their characters sound like. Haven’t you ever heard a writer talk? Not the nicest thing to listen to. I mean, it’s bad enough that they’re megalomaniac enough to write a hundred and fifty-plus pages worth of a story that they feel is a priority, now they want you to wallow about in words that they would spew out like so much regurgitated knowledge?Which is where we get to the subject of bad, self-indulgent dialogue in literature. Not dialogue that services the plot – which is problematic but not something one would call bad. No, we’re talking about bad dialogue. Post-Tarantino, pop-culture-pornography in which the writer yammers through his or her (usually his) characters, which are usually based on his or her masturbatory fantasy alter-ego (again, usually his). Some writers can get away with it, but that usually only happens if the writer has either an inspired plot or writes from a first-person perspective that playfully implies the inner workings of a megalomaniac while still retaining enough interest in what is happening. Not everyone can be Nick Hornby.Dialogue is supposed to build character rather than the writer’s ego. For example, here is an example of bad self-indulgent dialogue:Jarvis: You’re nuttier than Conker’s turds.Wilford: Well, you’re lamer than the finishing moves in MK.Jarvis: Good comeback, noob.Wilford: L-O-L.This dialogue tells the reader that a) they play too many video games, b) they’ve never heard a real conversation (between two real people, anyway) in their life and c) they haven’t ever felt a woman’s touch.Here’s what concise, relevant dialogue sounds like when used correctly:Jarvis: Seriously, when you write dialogue like that, it sounds as if you’re just doing it to satiate some kind of unfulfilled promise to yourself. Like, you feel as if you’ve failed miserably in life so you need to succeed in the fantasy world you’ve created … with countless grammatical errors and misplaced punctuation marks.Wilford: You shut up! This is art! This is how I express myself!Jarvis: I know this is how you express yourself. As in, right now, you’re expressing yourself in a way that shows how lyrically impotent you are when it comes to creating spoken words that develop character. Stop watching movies, stop using TV shows as a reference and read a book that came before the Harry Potter craze. Indulge yourself in the world rather than yourself.Wilford: (sobbing) I’ve never felt a woman’s touch! Might I add that this is coming from someone who YouTubes all day when not on Myspace or Facebook.

Why some art sucks: Part 1

Seriously, will someone pick up a newspaper? Oh wait, the news sucks. Well, looks like we’re left to pool our resources — the intellectual equivalent of handball, if you will. Time to turn on the television.

My sister asked me if I watched the MTV VMA’s and I asked her if any of my favorite bands were on. You know … good music. She said no and I went back to reading about how terrible the world really is in my newspapers. Britney Spears parading her cellulite on screen while lip-synching to music processed in a computer somehow doesn’t seem as important as a country embroiled in a war or my health declining because I’m unable to receive health care. Lo and behold, there Britney is caught mid-undulation – like a vertical elephant seal – with the writer seemingly concerned about the feelings of a woman who would not wipe the sweat from her spoiled brow to quench the thirst of a dying pauper. This is news.

Well, that is why I think some art sucks. When a professional newspaper writes a column about a glorified brat, when a walking anachronism like OJ Simpson can slither his way back into the limelight and a college newspaper fails to send an experienced reporter to interview a presidential candidate because it isn’t as much of a priority as covering football practice for a college team that isn’t in the Top 10, that is when you can tell that the suck tsunami of modern art will drown out all that is creative and awe-inspiring for mediocrity and irrelevance to reign as king because no one really cares anyway.

The news and modern events are one of the many roots of art. And if the media won’t shed light onto things that matter – or things that should matter but are largely ignored, like lead-flavored toys – then it is failing in its duty and should be called out by a community that is in desperate need of information.

Now, I’m not blaming the news for making artists terrible. We have Norman Rockwell, The Beatles, South Park and several well-known writers for that – self-glorifying, overly-defensive, status-quo-upholding crap that they are. But, they do make it easier for mediocre art to be looked at as “great” and great art to be looked at as “elitist” or “pretentious.”

I heard one person say that Hemingway is too complex for them. Too complex? This is every Hemingway novel: surly American guy goes to Europe/Africa, gets drunk, falls in love, learns to hate women and eventually comes to the conclusion that life sucks. If he didn’t have talent, he’d be the godfather of emo.

When your culture can’t grasp Hemingway, then it indicates a severe deficit in creative cultural acceptance. How can Americans comprehend Vonnegut when they can’t even comprehend where their state is on a map? The news, by not challenging America, is putting the future generation of artists in a water-treading race in which every participant but the fattest, most bloated and full of hot air contestant will drown by sheer effort to stay afloat.

Seriously, when someone who reads books and acknowledges information is looked upon as an intellectual, snobbery is the least of insults one can hurl at the masses.