My so-called writing class hasn’t been going too bad so far. The reason I italicized “so called” has to do with the fact that we seem to be learning more on the history of films and pop culture than actually writing.
Yes I understand we all need some ground work to begin the writing process and I really appreciated the second class we had which taught us about a theory developed by a guy called Joseph Campbell termed “The Hero Myth” but enough already! When do we write?. Then I realized he was giving us some basic building blocks to be better writers, particularly the Hero Myth concept which basically itemizes all the steps any hero in a story/movie is supposed to go through. (So much for actually paying attention in class).
Campbell summarized his theory into this:
“A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man”
It is a cool theory but I could never understand why he felt the need to use the word “boon”. Couldn’t he just have said gain/benefit/blessing? But I guess he needed to be a little complicated otherwise his entire mythological take on the basic story would not seem as fanciful (or maybe I’m just too simplistic? Bingo!!). Anyway it is a cool breakdown at every story ever written. Joseph Campbell’s hero myth is famous for being the background inspiration behind George Lucas’s initial Star Wars Trilogy story (not the prequels, George Lucas messed that up all by himself) as well as The Matrix Trilogy (well the first one mainly, the others took on tangents that not everyone could understand. Example: The Architect and Neo scene. When that scene ended some people around me were going “Wow!! Deep”. My mind was going “WTF was that?”)
Anyway…I found the classes really exciting and was so happy to be learning new stuff in general that nothing could bother me. Then the teacher did it. I couldn’t believe it, but he actually said it and gave it to us on a sheet of paper. Yes, my friends, he gave us HOMEWORK!!
“Rasta doh deal up in dat kinda Babylon ting!!!”
Ok I understand that in every good class, one has to practice what is learnt otherwise it is not retained but I just refuse to do any kind of homework for this class. Why am I being so stubborn? Let me give you my reasons:
- The class is only six weeks
- The class and the teacher are not accredited
- Why give this man any info he could possibly use for his potential screenplay etc
- I’m too bright to have to subject myself to people who may not have good answers/work
- I am just real lazy.
You see my point? Honestly, if the class were an accredited one and I would receive some kind of certificate that could be added to a resume or something, of course I would be working my butt off, but this is not the case. The teacher is extremely competent and honestly strays off the point way too much into his own little crusade/artistic viewpoint, but all in all it is entertaining. (Well not the fact that class should finish at 8pm but he talks so much that 9pm creeps up on us. Actually it creeps up on him. Not even my hints, like picking up my watch every five minutes after 8pm, gives him a signal or a clue as to the time). He has a lot of conspiracy theories on why certain movies were made and to extent his rantings are believable.
- Did you know that Star Trek was initially funded by NASA as a means of getting the US population accustomed to space exploration and therefore made it easier for them to get greater government funding?
- Star Wars is all about Democracy winning over Communism?
- Independence Day caused the enrollment of African American men in the army to increase ten-fold, while also allowing the government to halt the closing of US Bases and increase it military funding in some cases?
- Jurassic Park was all about making stem cell research more palatable to the population.
Enough of that let’s get back to my problem. This guy wanted us to outline one of our stories for him using the Hero Myth concept and submit it for analysis. Nope…not happening. I made a mental note to check to see if he had anything published within recent times as he has been running this class for a few years now. (Nothing turned up).
On receiving the paper with the homework on it, I buss out on loud “STEUPS!!!!” in the class. Everyone laughed. I couldn’t believe that this was the assignment. (Here are the questions and some of my answers that I never submitted)
1. What are your 10 favourite (cinematic) movies of all time?
Mo’ Better Blues Apocalypse
City of God American History X
As Good As it Gets The Silence of The Lambs
Love Jones A Few Good Men
Shawshank Redemption Y Tu Mama También
The Color Purple Terminator 2: Judgement Day
Back To The Future Elizabeth
Indiana Jones & The Temple Of Doom Kill Bill Vol. 1
My Best Friend’s Wedding (don’t laugh)
2. 2.Who are your 10 favourite male movie stars?
Tom Hanks Denzel Washington Daniel Day Lewis
Jack Nicholson Johnny Depp
Kevin Spacey Liam Neeson
Sean Penn Morgan Freeman
Will Smith Jeffrey Wright (Basquiat)
3. Who are your 10 favourite female movie stars?
Cate Blanchet Meryl Streep
Angela Bassett Regina King
Kerry Washington Ellen Burstyn
Jodi Foster Toni Collette
4. What are your 10 favourite TV shows of all time?
Shameless (UK) Star Trek: The Next Generation
Little Britain (UK) My So- Called Life
The Bill (UK) Allo Allo
House M.D. Alias
Sesame Street Xena: Warrior Princess
The Bionic Woman In Living Color
Saturday Night LiveNYPD Blue
Star Fleet Are you Being Served
Gimme Gimme Gimme
5. Who are your 10 favourite male TV stars?
Michael J. Fox Alan Alda
Hugh Laurie Patrick Stewart
Stephen Fry David Boreanas
Tom Welling Martin Sheen
6. Who are your 10 favourite female TV stars ?
Cherie O’Teri Molly Shannon
Christine Baranski Megan Mullaly
Debra Messing Julia Louis Dreyfuss
7. What are the 10 worst movies you have ever seen?
The Hours (2002) Lost In Translation (2003)
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
The Avengers (1998) Batman & Robin (1997)
8. What are the 10 worst TV shows you have ever seen?
Family Matters Wayans Brothers
9. Identify the 10 best sequences or moments you remember on TV or in TV shows ever?
10. Identify the 10 best sequences or moments you remember from movies
Matrix Reloaded – Highway chase Scene
Titanic – The sinking and Breaking in half with ppl falling to their deaths
11. What are your favourite local programmes of all time? Rank them 1, 2, 3, etc.
Rikki Tikki Sugar Cane Arrows
Calabash Alley No Boundaries
Turn of The Tide Scouting For Talent
Play Your Cards Right Caribbean Wrestling
Party Time Cross Country with Ralph Maraj
12. Why are you doing this course?
13. What is your interest in TV film and pop culture?
TV is my life. I life vicariously through the characters on any given show and in many ways relate to each of them.
14. Rank your 10 favourite sitcoms of all time. (You can break it down into season e.g The 2nd season of The Bill Cosby Show.)
Little Britain – Season 1 Allo Allo (Season 1)
Seinfeld Will & Grace (Seasons 1-5)
In Living Color Saturday Night Live
Family Guy Cheers
The New Adventures of Old Christine
15. What are the favourite episodes of TV shows you ever saw?
Two & A Half Men – Where Charlie dates a witch who puts a curse on Alan.
Cosby Show – Where all the men are pregnant and give birth to sandwiches.
Now you see why I detest homework? This assignment, while a bit mundane and very juvenile, is still somewhat acceptable. The script/screenplay or story that we need to create and submit to him? Well that is another story.
The truth is, after reviewing the whole Hero Myth thing, I just don’t think that I can write that type of story. My myopic mind only sees the hero myth working effectively in Action/Adventure type movies but apparently it works for all types of movies. He recently used the movie “Notorious” as a good example of the use of the hero myth. A Puff Daddy/Diddy funded movie? “The years of drug use must be getting to him”, I thought.
Oh in case you were wondering about my responses, well it is hard for me to choose (I have commitment issues) as different movie/tv shows have different effects on me over the course of my life. E.g. I used to love “Family Ties” as a child but on looking at it as an adult, I found it banal and just not funny in the slightest. What the hell was the appeal back then? The Cosby Show, Seinfeld and I Love Lucy, still stand up after all these years but some others just crash and burn.
So I am rebelling against any homework until this course is actually valid one. I do enjoy it still and I always get the names of some movies that I have never seen that I should probably check out (Notorious? Umm we’ll see). I also feel really good in the class as my movie/tv knowledge is really good compared with my fellow classmates. When someone can’t remember the name of the movie, I normally ask for a synopsis of it so I can help them. LOL it’s really sad the comfort I take in certain things….
Oh before I forget, here are some comments made by Mr. Hyphenated Name (HN) at the beginning of every class, when we have to say what good thing happened to us to today:
“Ah jus wake up from sleeping in the car and ah didn’t feel hungry”
“Ah recently found a book that I lost for about ten years.”
“Today I decided to cut my hair then I decided that I don’t want to cut it but then I realized that my hair is in a mess and needs changing so in all of that I decided no to be so indecisive in the future.”
“today ah didn’t have a problem remembering the day before hand”
“There was a smell of an exotic and beautiful aroma of food being made and it wasn’t coming from next door but from in my house.”
I found my hair-band today and that was good ‘cause all weekend I was bumping into things as I couldn’t find it.”
Next week we discuss the basic premise behind soap operas and why Westwood Park is a failure despite its regional success. That should be fun. Heh Heh Heh Heh