I know the summer movie season is over, so this is a bit less imperative than it was some months ago, but are there any stories to tell that don’t involve comic book superheroes? It seems like 7 out of 10 movies involve capes and jetcycles and supercars and guns and ridiculous heroism and equally ridiculous villainy. Granted, I’m not a comic book fanboy type, and to them, it’s probably a golden age ofthe adolescent power fantasy splashed large and unending in great waves of expensive cgi pixels, but, fuck, enough. Enough already with the characters who are nothing more than collections of costuming, speculative weaponry, and a moral certainty that relates in no way to actual life. All the hoohah about the latest Batman movie. Isn’t it just another Batman movie? Batman: the one with the motorcycle thing. I just don’t get it. For awhile, okay. But superhero movie number seventeen thousand and eleven? Are we done yet?
On a side note: eighteen thousand gazillion comic book movies, and no Wonder Woman? Is it because women prefer to achieve in reality rather than watching a simulated (and highly bogus) achievement onscreen? Because the stunted man-children of the comic-con set are already so fragile and intimidated by women that a supergal would just be too much?
I mean, seriously, it’d be worth it just to get that theme song out into the culture again.
Not the Billy Joel/Attilla version. And yes, this is just a gratuitous way to get a shot of the album cover art into a post.
I’ve gotten a couple of emails about the script piece I did. They’re mostly younger people and granted the young are stupid, but they all ask what software or font* made it. I can understand that they may not know the intricacies of Spencerian script, but I cannot understand their assumption that there are no intricacies to be known.
There is an idea that seems to be prevalent lately that there is not much to be known about anything. This link is a potshot (assuming it’s not a hoax), but there is abroad what I think of as a late mutation of the self-esteem movement: that our own knowledge is the only knowledge. The lady in the clip (to whom we’re all supposed to feel superior (when frankly we should be ashamed at the depths we’re willing to allow our educational system to sink to)) does something that a lot of us do: takes her own assumptions as totally, unquestioningly valid. From there it’s not a big leap to start spinning harebrained theories.
Theories not unlike the ones in my emails: the existence of software that somehow automatically draws flourishes for you, or that there is a font with those exact flourishes included. Theories that don’t include the notion that someone worked for scores of hours refining a design on a piece of tracing paper – actually, many many pieces of tracing paper – before getting a computer involved at all.
One more (supremely irritating) example: often I typeset really horribly written copy. Can I express the seething locomotive of hate that barrels through my brain when the grammatical corrections I’ve made get unmade? No, I cannot.
There is a lot to be known. And, not to get all Rumsfeldian or anything, I think you’re much likelier to improve once you’ve begun to embrace the existence of known (and unknown) unknowns.
* I hate the word font as much as I do the word blog although both are perfectly valid and reasonable – but then again I also hate moist and blinker too .
It’s time for a new feature on your Untitled blog: Tuesday’s Rant. Tuesday because it’s Tuesday and I haven’t scanned anything. Of course, it’d probably make more sense to make this Wednesday’s or Thursday’s rant (full of woe and half baked, respectively). But it’s Tuesday and we’ll just have to make due.
Today: The end of Marketing.
These rants are basically theories based on nothing but my own cranky bias, so we’ll take that as a starting point. It seems to me that among the few things upon which there is general agreement, regarding the downfall of Detroit auto makers, is their decades-long streak of woeful products. I have to believe that the designers are good (it’s not easy to get into, much less complete, auto design coursework). And the manufacturing can’t be that bad. So why do the cars suck such big donkey dick?
My theory is that the designers don’t make the decisions; don’t have very much input in the direction of the products at all. It seems like the marketers poll their focus groups and develop cars based on the whims of a small section of consumers (consumers who, let’s face it, don’t have anything better to do with their evenings than sit in a small room with a two-way mirror, eating Reese’s Pieces and talking about cars with the worst people in the world). The result is cars envisioned by two groups of people (marketers and focus groupers) with zero experience in designing or building cars, with virtually no interest in the history or future of autos. And the people with the experience and interest are directed to follow these directives, constrained by the economics, and we end up with cars that are almost instantly out of date.
The advantage of this method is that it’s safe – you can make a profit projection (probably pretty small), and safely make it with a car (or SUV) that will sell enough to make the margins. This is what marketers do.
The problem is that you’re then always running behind. I think the beloved cars of past decades (and for that matter, the beloved architecture and signage and graphic design, etc.) was generated by designers creating something out of their own blend of expertise and historical understanding and craftsmanship. It was then the job of the marketers to sell it. The general public has never created something exciting, engaging, or lasting because the consensus is, by definition, bland.
Will the auto companies figure this out? The marketers will never surely never go away, but shouldn’t the scales be tipped to better balance the importance of design, of the actual things the companies make? Of course they won’t. So maybe it’s time for the companies to die if their structure is so flawed that they no longer know how to make something salable. They should die like old people die: slowly and at great cost to everyone’s bank accounts, to lessen the impact. But die nonetheless.