When I was around ten years old, I wanted to make a movie. This was nothing new: my burgeoning creativity had welcomed many a convoluted story constructed from construction paper and those pages with the fat lines meant to make a child’s handwriting bulky, as though the teachers want surefire evidence that you can’t spell the word “cyclops” right there in big and bold print. But I had an idea for a story that could only be told with moving images, specifically my collection of action figures puppeting around while my hands remained out of view. I called it Destroy the Thing! I know. Great title. I set out to writing the script, and I inserted many jokes into it, ones that could not be translated onto the screen. Bold and italic lettering, parenthetical asides—it was something I took seriously, but I wasted no time in making myself laugh. Suffice it to say, when my parents took a look at it, they both had the same qualms about its sloppiness, and when they expressed these views to me, I, in true young boy fashion, proceeded to give them the silent treatment for the rest of the day. They were my parents. How could they not support me? Spoiled, spoiled little brat.
There’s a sense of entitlement when it comes to art, in this particular case, writing. No matter how self aware you try to be with your stories, there’s always going to be someone out there who has something to say that is not necessarily “negative,” but most certainly isn’t “positive.” And no matter how more experienced they are, no matter how good they know their shit and every bit of criticism they give you is only meant to be on the constructive side, it’s almost easier to get angry at them and cite “they didn’t get it” or “they weren’t paying attention” rather than face the truth yourself: there’s still work to be done.
I entered Consequences into the Slamdance screenwriting competition a few weeks ago. I’d been on the lookout for a new contest to enter since I failed to place in the one put on by Zoetrope last fall, and Slamdance stuck out to me, mostly because they provided coverage, of which I am a fan. Let me make that clear: I wanted coverage. I wanted notes. I wanted someone, some stranger, somebody who surrounds themselves with film from all corners, to take a look at my script, jot some stuff down and then share it with me.
Yesterday, that coverage arrived. It has no bearing on how my screenplay will do in the contest, but what I read does not bode well for my chances. It’s never a good omen when they list the genre as “drama,” when it’s a frickin’ comedy, albeit a black comedy, and I submitted as such, but whatever. The notes: “Lack of real focus” and “no real active protagonist” were the notes that hit me in the face the hardest, probably because they’re the ones I disagree with the most. Don’t get me wrong, there were definitely many items that were good points, but because the overall tone of the coverage was “it’s good, but not great,” my initial instinct is to vilify whichever jackass wrote this as they completely missed the point of the entire story and blah blah blah vanity vanity vanity.
I’m a perfectionist. I know there is no such thing as “perfect,” but I need things to be perfect anyway, especially my writing. I finally got Consequences to a place where I couldn’t see any smudges, anything that needed to be changed, rearranged, or exorcised completely. But the fact of the matter is that there are things that could be fixed. Granted, this is all coming from the opinion of one faceless person, and other faceless people are bound to have their own takes, possibly similar, possibly drastically different. But besides my friends, with whom I can discuss my stories face to face(book?), I have yet to come across someone who really gets what Consequences is about, and instead of taking a step back and examining the flaws within myself, I blame them for the imperfection they’ve suddenly thrust into my arms, become bitter, and then predictably fall into a stupor of self-pity and questions over whether or not I’m actually a good writer.
I know I am. But there’s always a fear of delusion, that American Idol-esque misunderstanding where the bad singer has been told by everyone close to them that they are great, so to hear a lambasting from three professionals is more than jarring. Because it just can’t be true. It can’t! Artists are constantly seeking approval. They need to be validated time and time again that they are good. But it’s just not true for everyone. And no matter how much you tell yourself that you’re not one of those people who are just flat out wrong, there’s a good chance that you are. There’s a good chance that I am. At least, I’m not made out for the film industry. And that just fills my stomach with bile and pine needles, a stew of dread.
So, where to go from here? Keep writing, obviously; I’ll never stop. But contests may not be the way to go. I may need to start actually putting my material out there, more out there, not just within the offices of some film festival organization, but to you, the viewing public, who are starving for anything that will take your minds of the world for a few minutes. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet a big group of talent during the improv classes I’ve been taking the last year, and there’s always been talk about creating some kind of internet video presence. Maybe it’s about time we actually do something. Chances are it will be the greatest thing ever created.
While Johansson’s first Marvel appearance in Iron Man 2 may have relied somewhat upon sex appeal, this was quickly nixed in favor of characterizing her as the most cerebral Avenger. Her most important scenes in The Avengers relied upon her intelligence and skills as a spy, to the extent that she even managed to outwit Loki, the God of Lies. At the end of the movie, she’s the one who closes the portal that let all the aliens into New York. Then in Winter Soldier she’s given second billing to Captain America, a meaty role that showcases a wide-ranging skillset that stretches far beyond just “kicking ass.” At no point during any of these movies does she seduce anyone, by the way.
Sadly, there’s very little sign of this character in the most easily accessible reviews of both The Avengers and Winter Soldier. Judging by the Guardian, WSJ, or New Yorker, Black Widow is more like a blow-up doll with a black belt. By their logic, if she’s wearing a tight outfit, then she must be a sexy ass-kicker, meaning that she must be the token female character, and therefore is little more than eye candy.
With that thought process in mind, it must make perfect sense to relegate Black Widow to a single sniggering comment about her catsuit, because obviously Scarlett Johansson is just there for decoration. And if you’ve read in the New York Times that Black Widow is a token female character, then chances are you’ll have internalized that opinion before you even buy a ticket. The feedback loop of misogynist preconceptions continues on, and in the end, we all lose out."
Gavia Baker-Whitelaw, Every review of Black Widow in ‘Captain America’ is wrong (via fyeahmcublackwidow)
I still remember after The Avengers came out and a kid at work was saying Black Widow was useless. His rationale was that she didn’t have any powers and was only good for punching and kicking people, whereas the Hulk punched and kicked people and was therefore awesome. It’s the closest I’ve come to kicking a customer out with a flurry of screams, even if he was just an adolescent brat.
Scarlett Johansson and Black Widow are an essential part of the MCU. End of story.