Friday, March 6, 2009

A Most Unusual Sci-Fi Reference

Sometimes you stumbled on something online that you don't know whether the right response is to laugh or feel insulted. Something so strange you just feel compelled to share it's existence. I image some people have felt that way about some of my rants, or I hope they have. However the last place one expects to find a rant is in the context of an "encyclopedia" entry, even if it is found online. Maybe it's just me but aren't encyclopedias supposed to be dispassionate dispensers of information slash almanacs of rarefied factoids and trivia? Yet, when a Google search turned up this entry on producer Glen A. Larson (Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century):

"The only thing Glen A. Larson knew about science fiction was that other people were making money off of it. So, whenever the time seemed propitious, he stepped in to claim his piece of the pie, producing mounds of wretched entertainment to the benefit of no one but himself and members of his immediate family."

Yowza! And that's just the opening paragraph. Well, as you can probably guess, my curiosity was morbidly piqued and I went a-browsing and if you thought the above was harsh check out this from the entry for producer Gerry Anderson (UFO, Space: 1999):

"If the nations of the world ever decide to stage Nurenberg <sic> trials to punish the makers of bad science fiction film, Gerry Anderson will be the first defendant."

I'm caught between applauding, because that's really a great line to quote, yet at the same time I'm thinking: "Ouch!" because Mr. Anderson's live action work wasn't that bad; at the time. Was it? And how about the first sentence from the entry on George Lucas:

"In order to discuss George Lucas in the mythological context he would certainly prefer, might I suggest the term "hubris"? "

Zing! At this point I feel it's incumbent on me to point out that the above quotes come from: Gary Westfahl's Biographical Encyclopedia of Science Fiction Film. The quotes so far may read like they have been dipped in liquid repugnance for the subject matter and some may wonder how any so-called encyclopedia dedicated to a specific topic or theme could have entries so salty. Yet that's not really how all of the entries read. Yet, stumbling in as I did at random, it's does almost sound like this isn't an encyclopedia but a hater's anthem, their middle finger salute to something they objectively loathe and despise, how else to explain the gratuitous barbs that start off the entry for Ricardo Motalban:

"With a different producer, and different writers, Fantasy Island could have been a fascinating program; a team of Gene RODDENBERRY and Rod SERLING, for example, would have found many intriguing stories to tell about an enigmatic rogue apparently gifted with the magical power to make people's dreams come true. But even a science fiction critic must avoid discussing fantasies; in reality, Fantasy Island was produced by Aaron Spelling, and written by nonentities, and it was a mindless, offensive spectacle of nonstop inanity."

Notice the barbs appear to be universally directed at producers. So I'm going to go out on a limb and say, whoever this author is based on the glimpses of his entries I've read so far, he's one hard core science fiction fan that's fed up and decided to shout to the world he's not taking anymore of this nonsensical claptrap being passed off as science fiction more than he is a genre hater.

Too, I do see his point about Fantasy Island. It was vacuous and sophomoric but wasn't that the point of it? I remember watching this as a kid with my mom, one of the few shows that was mother approved by the way, and I don’t recall ever wishing it would have been more than the silly escapist fantasy it was. Not that you'd expect a kid to but, c'mon, it was okay for what it was; which was better than watching LOVE BOAT.

If you read the full entry it is short and some of the comments stray close to being offensive, if you're viewing these sorts of things through rose tinted politically correct lenses, but then so are most of the entries. But I've probably written worse and, honestly, I have to admit to harboring a bit of admiration for this gentleman's turn of phrase. Take this bit of snide filled snark that starts the entry on Arnold Schwarzenegger:

"Of course, it was all a plot. Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger longed to enter American politics, most likely beginning with a campaign for Ronald Reagan's old job as governor of California. But the essential prerequisite for such a shift in vocations is a failed acting career, as was achieved by Reagan, George Murphy, Fred Grandy, and others who sought elective office only when they could no longer land attractive screen roles. A successful film actor will inevitably find it impossible to walk away from million-dollar contracts and international adulation for the more spartan glamour of press conferences and the rubber-chicken circuit; hence, after a promising start as mayor of Carmel, California, Clint Eastwood's political career fizzled because his movies continued to be box-office smashes. To avoid this unpalatable fate, Schwarzenegger set out to sabotage his own enviable position, deliberately choosing projects that would be spectacular bombs so he would drop off of Hollywood's A-list, receive fewer and fewer irresistibly lucrative film offers, and thus face no impediments to entering politics."

BRILLIANT! That didn't just have me snickering it made me decide to write this article about the site and the encyclopedia. If this "encyclopedia" wasn't intentionally written as a work of satire then the author has some serious issues with the genre. But I'm assuming the author was just trying to keep it real, tell it like it is, meaning how he sees the facts, and that can make for a rather refreshing (and humorous) read at times. But be forewarned, some of the entries are also infuriating as they're hyper criticisms that may touch a nerve with the more nostalgic amongst us. And, going by what I've read so far, there's apparently a LOT to criticize. But read the entries and judge for yourself!

End of Line.

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