online dating…with swords

I didn’t post this weekend because Saturday night I did a shoot for one of my other projects, and it destroyed all my plans for getting my various reading/writing done.  This is the lesson for you…never try to do anything good.

Hence, I’m posting on a Wednesday night.  Also hence why I’m drinking a full throttle energy drink at 8:45 pm.  I’m ok with full throttle, but I prefer one of the low/no calorie versions of rock star, because that shit will light you on fucking fire.  The first time I had a zero calorie rockstar I was living in Savannah and I had driven to the laundry mat.  I had thrown in all my laundry when I realized my detergent was still in the car, so I sprang to go outside and BOUNCED off the plate glass window of the place like sweaty blond Wiley Coyote.  I washed the SHIT out of that laundry.

Anyway, energy drinks are awful for you.  I don’t do coke, I don’t shoot heroin between my toes.  I’m going die of a heart attack anyway, so why not at least give my heart some foreshadowing as to what that’s going to be like?

It might actually be a good thing I didn’t post this weekend, because Monday, while riding home on the 720 bus, I had one of those top shelf epiphanies about my script that makes your hair stand on end, and put the mark into your book (or close your kindle, in my case).

So I’ve vaguely touched on the lady romantic interest character, the karaoke girl.  I haven’t been avoiding the subject because I don’t find female romantic interests significant, in fact, it’s exactly the opposite:  I’m so antagonistic to the possibility of having a token female character that I don’t want to even tackle the subject until my brain finds an answer for what to do with her.

I’m really uptight about the ladies in my scripts.  If you were to ask me,

“How do you write interesting characters?” I would say,

“Be an interesting person, and make interesting friends.”

If you are an interesting person, you will be a magnet for that affinity, and therefore, your voice will come to contain, to whatever degree, the voices of those characters that populate your inner monologue.  Everyone has friends, relatives, past and present that populate their conscious, it’s just awkward for us to admit it.  We allude to you.  We start big smiling phrases with “I think of you every time I…”  and hopefully the latter half of that sentence is something agreeable to everyone.

Similar to how I described the VIP room of the script’s theme, people have their own VIP rooms for their consciousness.  You might populate it with lots of weird characters…Virgin Mary, a guidance counselor, Mom, Ronald McDonald.  “What Would Jesus Do?” is the bumper sticker version of this phenomenon that we all use every day without giving much thought to it.

So hopefully, if you’re a cool enough person to have genuinely interesting individuals of the opposite sex in your life, you shouldn’t have to stretch yourself into crazy shapes to write in their voices.  However, some of my favorite filmmakers have been essentially worthless at writing women.  I don’t think John Carpenter could write a real woman to save his life.  Hitchcock was an undeniable genius, but I think his only good female characters were totally written by other people, and even then, he’d just put them into a labyrinth and make them run away from shit.  Run from this bomb!  Run from this queer psychopath!  Run from these fucking birds you blonde bitch!  You can almost hear Hitch, can’t you?

So my brain has been rattling around the stone of somehow getting a love interest counterpart into the Engines of Victory world, the gaming world, but I am completely loathe to going the obvious route and either–

A) giving her some hot chick avatar in game, and making them have parallel courtships, unbeknownst to each other…hilarity ensues, OR

B) making her a secret villain in the game, in order to lead to the shocking twist.

both of these have just felt like too PG-13 for me.  This is a movie about juvenile shit, but it’s not a juvenile movie.  It’s really important to make that distinction.  Never tie your hands by starting off judging your own subject matter or your characters.  The example that comes to my mind is FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL.  That movie is awesome.  It is straight up, just a great damn movie.  It has all the hilarity of the other Apatow films, while retaining all the believability of Freaks and Geeks and not jumping any of the sharks that GET HIM TO THE GREEK or SUPERBAD did.

Holy Charming Accents, Paul Rudd!

Like, how much do you like Jason Segel by the end of Sarah Marshall?  And Russell Brand even?  You want to marry them both.  Amiright ladies?  It’s just a great romantic comedy, and hits all of its notes.  It’s a totally serious movie about ridiculous things.  It’s intentional.

So, with no obvious prodding, my brain asked me…”What if the online version of the girl was artificial?  What if the online chick was total AI, and then Frankie could be forced into a situation where the villain is using her as a hostage?”  She’s a REAL hostage because since she’s pure digital life, she only exists online, there’s no player in the real world puppeteering her.

screencap from Everquest

This then allows the dichotomy between the online girl and the real life romance to fit perfectly with the theme of virtual vs. “irl”.  My goal has never been to proselytize either for or against the online life.  I don’t have a dogma on this topic.  I definitely don’t think that spending a great deal of your life in an online world is inherently negative.  We’re populating ourselves online all the time.  You and I are populating them exactly right now through this blog.  Just because we’re not pounding mountain dew and screaming about magic spells doesn’t make us particularly better than the gamers or christian dating site trolls or craigslist prostitutes.  Ok, maybe it does.  The point is, online life vs. not is totally an open and relevant question.  How does this parallel life enhance me?  Is it separate from me?  How so?  Is it elevated above, or is it less than my i-r-l, and what does that mean?  What about people who see their online personas as their real selves?  Does the meat body, or the meat brain, become the “soul” of the avatar?  The more real the online life becomes, the deeper the implications.

So, Frankie’s choice can therefore become–

“Join us, the baddies, and save your penultimate lady friend.  Luke, I am your father…no.”

OR

Eff that Ess, let the bitch die, or better, kill her yourself, in the uber display of Trainspottian life-choosing.  I don’t want this to be a preachy, “Real life is better, kids” moral though, so I think we’re going to have to rig the dice here in some way.   Funny how my first fear wasn’t the implications of murdering the female persona of your perfect theoretical lover.  I think part of my brain pulls the rug out from under that anxiety on the at least two levels at which this babe is “artificial”.   In order for this thought experiment to work, Frankie would have to already be aware, by some part of Act II, that she’s an AI girl, or else the hostage scenario doesn’t work.  Therefore, in order for her worth to bankrupt, she has to lose some other qualifier of real-ness, even if it’s his own mental state.

I no longer see you as real, therefore you are not.  It’s actually not vastly different from traditional filmic realizations about romantic interests that aren’t worth your time.  They’re one dimensional, they only want “Z”, they can never give you “Bla”.  The romantic interest doesn’t change, the hero does.

This also steps a weathered leather boot squarely into the analogy of online life as mistress, which is worth exploiting.

Hmmmmm.  This is leading me to another thought.

About Clark Kent…

Hello Lois

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