Archive | May 23, 2011

How to Make a Renaissance Novel a Bestseller

La Princesse des Cleves

This story is a couple of years old, but I missed it the first time.

I read that book in senior year of high school; but I read it in French, and my French wasn’t that great at the time, so I don’t actually remember anything about it. But if it ticks off Sarko, it has my vote. (Well, unless that implies endorsing Dominique Strauss-Kahn ….)

Fear of a Red Planet

First the Pirates of Venus movie becomes Carson Napier. And now the John Carter of Mars movie becomes John Carter. Why the planetophobia?

A Princess of Mars

Maybe the feeling is: everybody nowadays knows that Mars and Venus are a) uninhabited, and b) inhospitable to human life, so audiences won’t buy seeing human heroes without protective suits running about in Martian or Venusian cities having adventures with the natives. If so, I think this greatly overestimates audiences’ concern with scientific accuracy and/or underestimates their willingness to suspend disbelief. (After all, Avatar audiences bought this.)

On the contrary, I would think that the phrase “John Carter of Mars” – which (even for people who’ve never heard of the books) promises science-fiction action-adventure – is a bigger draw than “John Carter,” which for most audiences suggests nothing in particular. (And ditto, mutatis mutandis, for Carson of Venus.)

Another suggestion is that the studio shortened the title in order to be able to establish IP rights to the name “John Carter.” (They already own “John Carter of Mars.”) But it seems to me they could do that just by releasing a five-minute animated tie-in called “John Carter,” and leaving the movie with the cooler title.

Actually I’d prefer the proper title, “A Princess of Mars.” But I’d be willing to bet that some studio exec thought, “Male audiences will be scared off by a film with ‘princess’ in the title; they’ll think it’s some girly rainbow thing.”

Double Doughnut Standard

I'm gonna kick your ass and get away with it

“[Police officers] need to move quickly, in split seconds, without giving a lot of thought to what the adverse consequences for them might be. … [A]nything that’s going to have a chilling effect on an officer moving – an apprehension that he’s being videotaped and may be made to look bad – could cost him or some citizen their life.” — Jim Pasco, Fraternal Order of Police

(Read the celý piroh.)

Hey Pasco – as you defenders of the surveillance state always say to us: if you’re not doing anything wrong, you’ve got nothing to worry about.

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