Saturday, December 25, 2010

Tom Ronca’s Godzilla: The Naked God (Godzilla Without Mercy)

Dear Tom,

Thank you for sending me your script for "GODZILLA: THE NAKED GOD/ GODZILLA WITHOUT MERCY" -I hope I am not wrong in interpreting those to be the titles of your proposed script, as these are what is written all over the outside packaging, cover and elsewhere. There are other things written as well, but these strike me as good titles and the other expressions are harder to make out as you have very thoughtfully recycled pages from "Jugg Thugs" as material for wrapping, binding and printing your script.

I really enjoyed your script and feel that it is simultaneously a bold departure -a re-re-reboot -as well as a thoughtful tribute to the long tradition of Godzilla films. In fact, the fact that you so obviously know that tradition well and hold in the same high regard as many fans makes some of your more aggressive and outré choices somewhat baffling.

After Godzilla vanquishes Gigan he does things... these things are not traditional or canonical. Once a foe is dead, Godzilla typically just turns and walks into the ocean. He leaves. He does not take further action against an already dead enemy. Specifically, he does not rape or abuse their corpses.

It's true, as you say, that Godzilla is a monster. Yet, nowhere is it implied that he is this kind of monster. I really suggest that you change this scene. Maybe some music?

Likewise, it is true, as you say, that Godzilla is an organic being. An enormous organic being with proportionally large bladder and bowels. There is a reason previous films have not chosen to depict this in any great detail. There is no official treatment of how Godzilla disposes of his wastes, but it is certainly not “down each of King Ghidorah's severed necks, as promised."

Most of the scene in Paris is fine, as far as it goes. I do not think it is necessary to subtitle Godzilla and Mechagodzilla's roars in French. In any case, the French text you have provided appears to be Serge Gainsbourg lyrics anyway.

It is less clear why you think this whole exchange between the two is necessary. Why should being in France change either Godzilla or Mechagodzilla's well-established behaviors? They do not NEED to talk. Emphatically, Godzilla does not NEED to challenge Mechagodzilla to a "jerk-off contest on the Arc de Triomphe." Mechagodzilla is a ROBOT. What purpose does this rather sordid episode serve since Godzilla waits until Mechagodzilla "whips it out" and then "pounds his shiny faggot ass"? This scene seems both explicitly homoerotic and violently homophobic and more along the lines of Crusing than a traditional Godzilla film.

Another endemic problem I see with your treatment is equally serious, and, I fear, will prevent anyone from taking it seriously, indeed, even finishing it. I understand there is a conscious attempt here to recapture the naïveté and innocence of one's first encounter with Japanese film and perhaps even some effort is deliberately directed at reclaiming such stereotypes. Nonetheless, your treatment instead comes off as severely handicapped with respect to race. Specifically: it's totally racist.

Some of the peculiar constructions used in the early English dubs relate to the technical problem of matching Japanese lip motions with English words. This does not reflect the reality of how Japanese people talk. In reality, Japanese people are perfectly capable of speaking perfect, fluent English, or any other human language. There is no real reason for everyone to talk in a kind of crude, forced pidgin, particularly during the love scenes.

Furthermore, it seems as though the Japanese have no actual language of their own. For example, you have the newspapers headlines read: INVLADERS FLOM SPLACE! Furthermore, no Japanese News Agency refers to itself as “Slant-Eye Witness News,” and with good reason.

Were that the only problem with your treatment. Instead, in every scene Japanese people are described as either: 1) eating rice, 2) making cars or electronics or 3) "committing seppuku." Also, Tom, not all Japanese women are geishas, nor are geishas exactly what you seem to think they are. Your description is more like a Hooters with Kabuki make up. Geisha are not strippers. They are not ninjas. They are generally not robots. I know you have seen things, things that may have convinced you otherwise, but Wikipedia assures me this is so.

Likewise, Teppanyakki, though delicious, is only one mode of food preparation in Japan. The General’s suggestion that they “go to Benihana’s” makes no sense as Benihana’s is an American restaurant and is unlikely to have a branch in the cafeteria of a super-secret base. The wise-cracking Teppanyakki chef is indeed one of your most original (and least racist characters) in your script. From his monologue are we to suppose he is Mickey Curtis' character from Fires on the Plains? The one who ate people? Didn’t he die? In any case, I would like to suggest that relying on him narrate segues between scenes, though charming, is perhaps unnecessary

In a related vein, the ethnicity of the Xliens, as you describe them, seems problematic. I agree with that your characterization of them as "tiny, clever, cunning and deceptive" is consistent with their previous portrayal.

However, you go on to say that they are also "greedy, gold-loving, usurious, controlling CNN and the source of all wars." Tom, where are you going with this? You know what I am talking about. The Xliens always wear black, but you have them now wearing little tiny skullcaps. The alien salute is now "mazel tov." The fact that Mel Gibson is interested, I think, seals my point here.

I understand the well-established tradition of exploring ethnicity through science-fiction and fantasy you allude to. Yes, the Vulcans and Ferengi can be thought of as self-constructed projections of post-racist ethnic fantasy identity that reclaims bad stereotypes. The fact remains that the Xliens, as you describe them are the crudest and most objectionable of stereotypes, being basically a race of hamburglers from space that speak Hebrew.

I think it is highly appropriate that you include Mothra in the lineup. I assume you mean "Mothra" and not "Mothera" as it is typed in the treatment. Less appropriate seems to be your treatment of the twin fairy princesses. The fairy princesses are indeed, tiny and beautiful and go everywhere together. I have no doubt that they do indeed love each other. However, Tom, NOWHERE, NOWHERE, IN NO MOVIE are they portrayed as having an incestuous lesbian relationship. Yes, Tom, I have seen that yuri manga, but these fairy princesses are unrelated. The island they live on is called "Infant Island" not "Ultra-Lesbos." Mothra does not protect the island against "men with their weapons of war and their stupid penises." I cannot help but think that some confusion or synaptic misfire has clouded your writing with respect to these characters as I cannot make even sense of such passages as "Mothera has now entered the clitoral stage." The passages I can understand, such as the mechanism of the "activating twin fisting power" strike me as unfilmable now that Bob Guccione is dead and do not redeem your treatment of its problematic homophobia any more than Showgirls does Basic Instinct.

Finally, as a writer of little more than para-literary pastiche myself, I have no objection to mixing genres or "cross over" characters from another series, even a radically different one. And yet the deus ex machina of having Mork from Ork appear at the end seems totally forced and implausible. Never mind that you have him emerge from "an egg vomited out of the Fonz's interdimensional vagina." I know these characters have met before. I recall your previous script that explains the Fonz's "void orifice." I understand that it, and the repeated, rather shabby treatment of Mindy McConnell are a well-established part of M/M BDSM fan fiction. All these things speak against their inclusion in a Godzilla picture, much like your suggestion for an all King Crimson soundtrack. And, again, many of the characters in the sex abattoir of the fifth act are from Taxi, not Happy Days (please see attached chart).

These are, of course, simply my reactions to a fine and original script. However, I feel these are the logical and reasonable observations that any reader would make, any reader who is not already wearing a red and silver Orkian travel suit with a zip up egg mask. Perhaps this is where the genesis of and work shopping of some script elements has gone astray?

Your script for Transformers 3, however, is brilliant. I would not change a thing (well, maybe just one suggestion). I do not know if the people in charge of this profitable franchise can be interested in a script where the Transformers neither transform, nor speak, nor move, but I sincerely wish they could be. Perhaps if Jim Jarmusch were involved, rather than Michael Bay. As it is, your script represents a series of hour long monologues of the main characters complaining about their problems to semi-trucks, race cars and jet fighters that never respond. I was particularly moved by Shia Labeouf’s complaints about his mom, though, again, I sense the script way not be best served by the conventions of slash fiction here and threatens to trivialize the theme of incest.

Also, I really don’t understand what to make of this scene:

Mom, I just want what every other kid has got. Some cool friends, going to parties, a regular hangover. Just to wake up and not be worried about anything other than a term paper. I’ve been running so long, Mom, so long, ever since I met these machines. I feel like I’m old, really old. Older than Dad. As old as they are.

I know honey. You have an extraordinary fate. A lot of lives are shaped into something, different, something amazing, something that other people will read about by sheer force of circumstance. But not you. You always would have seen a bit more. You would always have to go a bit further. Maybe father than anyone has ever gone. Trust me on this, you’re not missing much –one drunken kegger is much like another. Now rub this oatmeal on me and put the chew toy back in my mouth.

This is an intense scene, Tom, and very much more along the lines of the New Trangressive French Cinema than anything really legal. But it's very confusing. 

To begin with, when you write "Shia Labeouf" you mean his character, right? Because this is a movie script. It is not real.

Likewise, by "Shia Labeouf's Mom" you mean his character's mom, right? Because she keeps calling him Shia and "Shia Labeouf" call her "mom" and sometimes "Tom" and frequently "Tom Ronca." In fact, I think she refers to herself as "me, Tom Ronca, your hot mom," more than once.

I know this scene is important to you Tom, because you have described it many, many times to me. And also the altered pictures you sent.

I honestly think it’s a good script, Tom. I really think that were Shia Labeouf to read it, he might indeed be as impressed as you say he will. I think the pictures really detract from what I take it you are trying to say here. So my heartfelt advice is for you to stop sending them. Stop sending them, Tom. Stop. Let your script with its highly original elements and eloquent moments speak for itself and not be drowned out by endless of series of highly vocal autoerotic performances left as voicemails that end “That was for you, Shia, baby. Love, Mom.” Because I think those might be misinterpreted, much as your legal counsel has stressed. 

Anyway, thanks for sending your scripts. And merry xmas.


Monday, December 13, 2010

Some Unusual Qualities of Particular Labyrinths

The mirrors in the so-called "Palace of Narcissus" actually served a distinct purpose, as do mirrors in palaces generally, to serve as simple surveillance systems controlling vulnerable points of access, such as stairs. It is for this reason true that, as the lyrics of the lay go, the number of mirrors proliferated as the number of actual personnel in the palace declined. However, the importation of more and more mirrors into the palace was rather the effect of fewer and fewer personnel (the mirrors being needed so fewer and fewer guards could control the same amount of space) rather than as folklore has it, the cause.

Further, it has been mathematically demonstrated, that, owing to the well-understood laws of optics, it is wholly possible that the palace’s main chamber could have contained numerous blind spots, because of, and not despite its mirrors.

It is, no doubt, by the cunning exploitation of this geometry and physical fact that the victims of the palace were dispatched, by assassins unknown, rather than strangled by their own reflections, as legend has it.

The Labyrinth of the Minotaur, it is said, possessed unusual acoustics. This we read in the excellent "Encouraging Voice of the Labyrinth."

It is said that the "fatherly voice" in the labyrinth is "heard everywhere and at all points equivocally." Further, that the Minotaur could hear everything that happened in the labyrinth equally well, from any distance or position, as though it were occurring in the folds of his ears. This is the unstated reasoning behind the author's claim that time and space did not exist in the labyrinth for the Minotaur, for whom it is completely transparent and intelligible monad. The author then goes on to identify the Minotaur as God, as Mithras, in whose catacombs there is terrible enlightenment, or as Moloch, to whom all children are ultimately sacrificed.

As for the unfortunate children of Thebes, it was said that the sound of their own footsteps or voices were alienated from them, appearing to approach them from behind in a distorted form, perhaps owing to the same sonic dynamics that gave the Minotaur his omniscience. Perhaps further, the victims of the labyrinth were so chased by their own magnified footsteps and panicked voices into delivering themselves into the den of the Minotaur himself.

If so, this perhaps explains how the Minotaur had complete and instantaneous intelligence from every point in the labyrinth: the Minotaur may have occupied some central location to which all the passages of the labyrinth conducted and magnified all sounds.

If any of this is plausible, even possible, it provides a possible context for an explanation of the enigmatic "voice" of the labyrinth. It is the distorted and pitch shifted echoes of the doomed youths themselves as they grope their way to their doom. Both the voice and the encouragement are chimerical.

Its author could certainly not be the Minotaur himself, who is described universally in all accounts as mute.

"Our Life Now" is the title of an artwork noted at the Venice Biennale 2048 for its shockingly high casualty and fatality rate, even at a Biennale where lethal and near lethal artwork were very much in vogue. The labyrinth section of the installation begins with a highly realistic scale replica of a mall shopping arcade in Hong Kong in the late 20th century, whose glitzy twists and turns eventually become those of an Egyptian tomb, which alludes directly to the author's previous collaboration on the retail sarcophagus of Madonna and his still earlier work on the "hidden retail spaces of the dead.” *

This museum quality replica actually holds the mummified body of Norman Mailer, a fact that is only revealed in the following darkened chamber, where viewers are forced to endure a reading from Ancient Evenings read by a Mailer lookalike.

The viewer's only escape from this ordeal is to discover the concealed secret door that leads out of the reading, as the passage by which they entered is slowly filled in with sand during the reading.

The secret passage opens up onto a maze whose walls are virtual advertisements that patrons must negotiate using eyemice or I-GUIs. Revolutionary at the time, this maze of ads is now a staple at tradeshows, air and infospace musems and arcology condo displays. Indeed, the viewers are inclined to believe they have reached the end of the installation as the virtuspace commercials are for the very corporations that sponsored the exhibit.

Instead, the maze itself collapses and the viewers instead find themselves in the very real freezing mud of a trench in Le Mort Homme in 1916. Viewers have no sooner taken positions to view the bleakened craters of the field before them, when sharp whistles announce an incoming enemy assault, in this case, wave after wave of celebrity lookalikes with live historically accurate ammo.

A pitched battle generally ensues between the panicked art going public (which has the advantage of position) and the waves of hardened celebrity imitators, ultimately descending into extremely vicious hand to hand close quarter combat as the celebrities overrun the trench, using such improvised trench combat weapons as sharpened shovels, Grammys, Emmys, Cable ACE Awards and Academy Awards. This is where most casualties occur as the art going public usually has little more than the Biennale schedule and artist's statements to defend itself.

*Very different in its signification than the artist’s Universal Centotaph for Tom and Suri Cruise, Whose Circumference is Everywhere and Whose Center is Nowhere, which consisted of several strains of engineered bacteria carrying various slogans, such as “EXTREME WEALTH BRINGS ITS OWN WOE, WHICH HAS NEITHER SYMPATHY NOR DIGNITY” and “WHOM GODS WOULD DESTROY THEY FIRST GIVE AN INCOMPETENT PUBLICIST” as well as samples from Cruise’s most famous films that can only be played back on the now obsolete 120 BB (gram negative) gPod. ("Pain and Information Aesthetics" NAND, Vol X).

The very undecided and deeply problematic nature of the Labyrinthus Pareidolia on Mars makes its inclusion on this list controversial. Aresologists, exoarcheologists, Marsologists and geologists remain violently divided as to whether the structure is a natural formation, alien artifact, giant facbot printing error, hoax or advertising campaign from the future or symptom of material planetary mental illness. As such they have differing opinions and analyses as to whether the “friezes” “faces” and other depictions of the labyrinth depict Martian mythology or history, attempts at therapy, or “a trailer for the extinction of the human species.”

This leaves aside the perennial controversy over whether or not there is Afterlife on Mars.

Most Marsologists maintain that Mars as a natural phenomenon effectively ceased to exist with the successive printer errors of the Mars Condo Society and that as rogue facbots and frankenweiners have effectively remade the planet, Mars has effectively been not so much terraformed as “anthropomorphized,” and, as such, Aresologists have no actual object of study (Aresology actually being a branch of human and post-human cultural studies). On the whole, Marslogists wish to continue the venerable tradition of empirically based intersubjectively available science and reject the operational premises of Aresology as wholly lacking any intelligible criteria for its purported phenomena or testable hypotheses or statements, being not so much a science as a catalog of pseudo events and quasi experiences.

Aresologists, in turn, cite the catastrophic events, unexplainable data and failure of the missions previous to Mars Condo One as dispositive of the peculiar cybernetic and psychological phenomena of Mars having some indigenous origin and point to the continuing vexing presence of Martians as indicative of phenomena that cannot be accomodated in traditional natural science, no matter how our concepts of space, time, cause and identity are modified, but rather can only begin to be described in a new framework that accepts such paraphenomena as Martian Spiders as "para-phenomenologically pseudo-real abstractions as given reals."

Despite, or rather because of this, there is actually quite a lot of consensus as to the proposed demolition of the labyrinth and any other observable structures on Mars. However, rather than a preemptive strike on Mars in a presumed Earth-Mars War, as some critics have claimed, this is simply to, in the words of one Nobel Prize Laureate “place man back in his proper position as a thinking being and re-enable the regularities that are the conditions of possibility for natural science.”