Take It To The Limit

December 14, 2009

I just watched Clive Barker’s Dread. I’m a huge Clive Barker fan. Have been for years. His recent work (since Coldheart Canyon) has left me a bit off, but I still consider him one of the best working writers today (let alone horror writers). So why do adaptations of his works always fall flat on their faces? It’s not like his work is particularly arcane or opaque. The stories are relatively clear and straightforward, generally speaking. So why is there always such drastic deviation from the source material? And it’s not even the big things that get changed. No — generally the hard stuff gets filmed and then they screw up on the little things that, when aggregated through the narrative, make or break the story.

It’s like how Midnight Meat Train deviated from the source material drastically in the last five minutes and that — I think — actively ruined what could have otherwise been a phenomenal adaptation and the best horror movie of the year. Dread is in the same boat as Midnight Meat Train. The ending is so fundamentally different from the short story that I actually felt ripped off. I’m usually not a stickler for adaptation’s felicity to the original. Hell, Blade Runner is a brilliant movie despite not being anything like Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. But in this case what I watched wasn’t Clive Barker’s Dread it was Some Other Guy’s Movie About Fear That He Wrote After Reading The Books of Blood.

Seriously. Dread is a tight, terrifying story. The movie sets up the premises and characters well enough (despite some pretty deplorable dialogue). And then it drops the plot within sight of the finish line. It would have been a good ending, too, if it were some other film. But it’s not some other movie. It’s Dread and as such it’s a total disappointment. I can’t recommend it to anyone. And I was watching it as charitably as possible!

More fiction tomorrow.

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I’ve recently been listening to a lot of nerdcore hip hop. Not that I’m new to the genre — I discovered the Rhyme Torrents compilations some years back. But I never really dove headfirst into the various bands and thoroughly checked out their back catalogues. I’m glad I have recently, because my random appreciation for various artists has mostly been validated. MC Frontalot, Beefy, mc chris, YTCracker, MC Lars, I’m looking at you.

Apparently there’s been — shock horror — upheaval in the nerdcore music community in the past few years. Which I managed to completely miss and am only now finding out about. The whole thing makes me sad. I’m talking about mc chris’ various rejections of nerdcore, of course, but also MC Lars’ blog post of some time ago that proclaimed “NERDCORE IS DEAD” along with an Ebaumsworld video of nameless thirteen year old boys embarassing themselves.

Let’s talk about that. Want to do a critique of nerdcore as a genre of music and the expectations of the artists making the scene as well as the fans embracing it? Fine. But why take a video pretty clearly mocking the participants as your starting position? Last I checked getting made fun of and having our various nerdy proclivities highlighted by others was one of the things that most of us hated about high school and — hopefully — left behind us when we left it. Also, how could random thirteen year olds screwing something up make us think that there’s a problem aesthetically or culturally with nerdcore? It’s not like we automatically assume that thirteen year olds are going to be good at what they’re attempting. Basically judging nerdcore based on that video is like judging free verse poetry based on what I wrote in high school. Not a very good idea.

Of course now just watch. Those two kids will turn out to be two of the great contributors to nerdcore or something, and in my blissful ignorance I’ll just be highlighting my… blissful ignorance. Er.

Some posters around the tubes have linked MC Lars’ arguments back to the Jello Biafra clip in Nerdcore Rising. The venerable Jello gives the viewer a warning about a gimmick becomming a prison, and I think the point is a valid one. Jello warned us about punk becomming just another stale cartoon, after all, and he was certainly right in more ways than can be counted. But there’s a difference between delivering a warning in the fashion that Jello did and harshing on people out of some sort of genre complaint about acceptable artistic expression. MC Lars, I think, crosses the line from the former into the latter.

Which is a shame because MC Lars self-identifies in his records with post-modernist expression and new modes of thinking. I would’ve imagined that he’d be all for the explosion of amateur artists within the scene rather than complaining about staleness and the need for a reinvigoration of “authentic” expression. Stating that nerdcore should be about being who you be, to quote Beefy shamelessly, is one thing. To then go and argue that there’s some sort of essential artistic spark that only the elite few can grasp, transcending genres in pure artistry, is quite another. It’s little more than the same tired elitest argument that signed the deathknell of the decadents and got the modernists into so much trouble when the avante garde came around.

And it’s why I think mc chris’ mini-rants about there being exactly one good self-proclaimed nerdcore artist out there are fairly bogus. Elitest presuppositions of art or strong rejection of genre classification belong in mainstream music; they’re qualities of media that I come to the independent scene specifically to avoid. Feuding in the manner that Monzy and MC Plus+ do is one thing, but to blatantly fall into the same patterns of behavior that the mainstream musicians do is, to my way of thinking, bad form. I don’t care about whether or not a musician I’m listening to is an authentic artist any more than I care about the size of their bank accounts, and I don’t care about whether the genre they’re coming from meets with my expectations of acceptability. All I care about is if the music is good and engages me in some fashion.

If I really wanted to rip it apart I’d critique their scansion, or something.

So forget the feuding, ignore the protestation of classification, and don’t give credence to the proclamations of a genre’s death. Nerdcore is alive and well, even though  I’m late to the party. Check out any of the musicians I’ve mentioned in this post — you won’t be disappointed. Some of them even have brand spanking new albums, and they’re all amazing.

Back to grading papers. Hopefully some fiction will be going up tomorrow if I figure out how to transfer it from my ‘pod.

Addendum Connundrum

December 8, 2009

I’m also wondering how or why this site is all that different from Livejournal or any other social networking utility. The only real difference that I can see is the theme utility and the ability to gauge external traffic. Which would be neat, I suppose, if one weren’t a single voice shouting into a hurricane.

First Conundrum

December 8, 2009

Welcome to a semi-experimetal blog. I’ll be posting more as time allows — I’ve got term papers to grade right now and I’ve spent far too much time today reading about how mc chris hates nerdcore.