I have been accused numerous times of being too critical of certain media. Sometimes this lends me well, as a beta reader for various scripts and novels for instance. Other times it seems to alienate me from conversations with others when they ask my opinion and my answer isn’t glib. Conversely, if I say “I liked it” then they feel that not enough information was given. It seems I can’t win.
Recently, I was recommended to watch True Detective and for no particular reason, I had held off. Crime dramas are not usually my cup of tea. Police procedurals give me headaches in their poor recreation of protocols and realistic shows mainly give me a misanthropic view for a time afterwards. Don’t get me wrong, I have read or watch numerous true crime but usually from case files, the boring stuff with underpaid, normal looking people and dirty concrete walls for interrogation rooms. Having known and worked with a number of police officers, including quite a few involved in criminal science divisions, these shows are far more interesting to me in character studies within the political climate that can be involved at times. So for these reasons, I don’t watch a lot of “detective” shows.
After seeing it was only eight episodes, I gave in. I know it’s rated well, and it’s well acted, actually allowing me to like Matthew McConoughey for the first time ever.
But after a while, it became plugging in to get to the end result. This will probably earn me quite a few enemies, but I’d like to get it out over the anonymity of the internet.
My issue with True Detective was that, it didn’t really offer anything new. For some reason, early on in the episodes, I had been reminded of “The Killing List”. Both provide exposition on two men who work together; one a family man, the other is wild and single. There are differences of course, but the format remains similar. They both provide an exposition of their personal lives and professional lives, the walls that may need to be placed in order to deal with the horrible things they’ve seen. Both even deal with occult-ish symbolism and bad men going after worse men, reinforcing that there are varying degrees of “good” and “bad” in this world. Each also have various discussions concerning religion and morality, questioning, without questioning whether they are actually intrinsically tied together? But I probably won’t revisit either show or movie again anytime soon.
I must be the only person in the world a little tired of worlds where men win by machismo and women are only extensions of the male leads. This may seem like a little thing but after reviewing maybe three novels in the last month and arguing against why I had no desire to see Wolf of Wallstreet, it all comes across a bit tiring. (FYI full of T&A is not a selling point for me) Someone voiced to me how women want movies that make them cry and men want things that blow up and it was extremely irritating. The success of Magic Mike has proven women don’t always want to cry and the fact that men have been going to see films like Maleficent proves that wrong.
Is it wrong to ask a little more out of movies and books? Break up the male gaze, make characters complicated, satire something, offer up more imagination, and don’t answer every little thing into a nice neat present by the end? They are not guilty of all these things, but most are guilty of more than one as a plot point. Of the three novels reviewed, one was post apocalyptic, one was science fiction and one was historic fantasy and every single one offered up boring ideas of gender, politics and the inner workings of the characters minds. I can’t understand why nomadic warriors living off the land would worry about propriety or why someone exerting their will onto another “for their own good” would be a precursor to kissing?
Entertainment Geekly has a wonderful article on the reasons why Hannibal has handled beautiful but horrific imagery better than both True Detective and Fargo. (Everyone go read it now, it’s much better written than this) But it was nice to see that others have thought the same things. Sometimes these shows (or books) take themselves a little too seriously and while well acted and beautifully shot, once again, don’t really offer up anything new or exciting? Or I have read and watched so much that it all seems the same to me at this point. While a fan of the original Hannibal series, I am also a fan of artists who can piece together darkness into eye candy. I am drawn to works that are visually interesting like films by Tarsem Singh or Chan Wook Park, artwork by H.R. Giger fall into this category as well as photographer Florio Sigismondi’s work. I can even forgive a poor story (to a point) if the visuals are meant to draw the viewer in, but usually a slick looking film is not enough to keep me drawn in. (I’m looking at you Michael Bay.)
I have been accused of overthinking things, a lot. So that insult would be nothing new to me, but does anyone else wondering, while watching The Great Gatsby, why Daisy gets such an awful rep while Gatsby is the hero? Gatsby was a liar and criminal attempting to convince a married woman to run off with him. Does no one else question these things? I don’t doubt F. Scott Fitzgerald did while writing his novel, but with the numerous criticisms out there about Daisy’s character, where are the varying viewpoints on all the characters?
On a high note, I recently did see Absentia, a small indie film with loads of mood. This was a wonderful character study with understated creepiness. If anyone has any recommendations like this, I’d be happy to hear them.