atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#5825: Bake the damed cake

That sword has two edges.

Here's the thing: if my bakery is a "public accommodation" and must perforce not discriminate against anyone, regardless of my first amendment rights, that standard--according to the doctrine of "equal protection under the law"--must apply in all circumstances.
Now here's where it gets interesting. If the Commerce Clause gives government the authority to trump a businessman's personal beliefs, even if couched as a First Amendment expression, then the same logic that requires Christian fundamentalists to bake "gay" wedding cakes against their beliefs ought to mean that Amazon has no right to deprive the Ministry of a public accommodation because they "don't like" that Church’s view on gay marriage.
Seems fairly clear-cut to me.

* * *

Houston got hit hard, all right. Five feet of rain--that's an insane amount of water coming from the sky.

Prayers already got sent to Friend of the Fungus STxRynn, who (a few days ago) was expecting up to three feet of rain around his domicile. I hope everything's all right down there.

* * *

How would you like to have two months' worth of 2017 inventory a scant week before the next year's models debut? That's what we're looking at in the auto industry right now; dealerships have huge inventory backlogs and incentives are getting bigger than ever.

Not a good trend.

* * *

Really, no, this is a horrible idea. In the rundown of the history of the Joker in film and video, Jack Nicholson did set the standard--but showing how Jack Napier became Joker completely de-mystified him.

I do, in fact, disagree with citing that Joker as the exemplar of the breed. Heath Ledger's version cannot be topped; while Jack Nicholson's version is the whole reason the 1989 Batman did as well as it did--and his was a fantastic performance!--I didn't see him as the do-all-be-all of Jokers, even at the time. I found it wanting. I wasn't sure what until the Ledger version came along. "Insane menace" is what was missing. Nicholson had the "insane" but he just wasn't scary. He was too jovial; and the prosthetic grin was a mistake.

Nicholson's version was a necessary step, but not the ultimate.

But as things went on--and stepping out of cinema and going to TV, it looks as if we're seeing the beginnings of Joker in Jerome Valeska--who died, and who "got better" as predicted, and who had a whole episode of character development where he'd stapled his own face on--and even that character is better than the final entry at the post, Jared Leto's from Suicide Squad.

Suicide Squad was a complete waste of time. I knew it would be, going in; you cannot make a movie where bloodthirsty, insane, violent criminals are the protatonists unless you are really, really good. (Hint: no one in Hollywood is that good. Not today, at any rate.)

There are a few reasons why. First, there must be a clear-cut reason why these psychopaths are preferable to the antagonists. You end up with a problem of scale: Joker is a mass-murderer, a high-functioning psychotic who just wants to wreck and destroy, and doesn't care who (or how many) get maimed or killed in the process. Harley Quinn is essentially his creation, and she kills as casually as most people breathe. She's so violent and murderous they keep her in an isolated, electrified cage, and any time they let her out of it the guards in question expect casualties. What is worse than that? How do you make an antagonist to whom that is preferable? And how do you do it without making the movie so violent and gory that it can't even be rated R, but must be rated NC-17?

Second, once you've established that the disease is indeed worse than the cure, you need to make a group of violent psychopaths into sympathetic characters. The audience has to have some emotional investment in the success of the evil protagonists. You need to show the protagonists simultaneously being evil psychopaths while also getting the audience to root for them. The two are mutually exclusive; you cannot do that without humanizing them one way or another. At least, it is a very tight rope to walk, and it is seldom done successfully. In the case of SS, the protagonists inhumanity is what makes the characters; you cannot humanize them without making them into something else entirely, and then they are no longer inhuman monsters.

That really was the problem I had with SS: I wanted to see the protagonists get wiped out, to a man, including Harley Quinn. Yeah, let's defeat that bad guy--and notice that I cannot even remember who the antagonist was!--but in the process let's see the protagonists get wiped out, too, so that the only people on that side left alive are the government people running the SS.

Joker is the same way. Joker is an inhuman monster, something so divorced from his humanity that he thinks nothing of poisoning an entire city just because he likes seeing what happens. There's no profit motive, no lust for power, nothing but the desire to see everything burn to the ground.

So now DC thinks that a movie with the Joker as protagonist is a good idea, even in the wake of the spectacular failure that was SS?

What we have here, really, is the same problem George Lucas faced with eps 1-3 of Star Wars. Anakin Skywalker was supposed to turn from good to evil; and in fact it wasn't until the final half of ep 3 that Anakin actually turned--without any real buildup...and when he did, he looked petulant rather than evil. Anakin killing "younglings" at the Jedi Temple was supposed to be the big horror that confirmed he was Sith, but there wasn't anything to it, emotionally, either for him or the viewer.

Those movies would have been unpleasant (rather than boring) had Lucas shown Anakin's descent into evil in a way that made the viewer hate him. The "youngling" scene could have been more visceral had Anakin been shown to be enjoying the slaughter rather than approaching it with the kind of grim resolution that Ned Stark (in Game of Thrones) had when executing a criminal. Anakin could have shown rage, or self-pity, or anything other than "I'm doing this because I must!" and the scene would have worked much better.

That's really the problem, here you cannot make people sympathetic to Joker without ruining everything that Joker represents. You certainly can't explain his behavior and retain the psychotic menace of the character. In a larger sense this applies to antagonists in general; when creating a villain, you de-humanize him in order to ensure the audience has as little sympathy for him as possible; the instant you try to humanize that character, he's no longer a villain but simply a bad man.

You cannot have a villain as your protagonist.

In a larger sense, a moral sense, a story should not have an "anti-hero" as its protagonist. Stories should not glorify evil; there is nothing admirable about someone whose only desire is to destroy and the origin of a character like that should only be told in the context of the story of the character who is fighting him. The villain can win--that happens!--but there should never be any doubt about who is the good guy and who is not.

Actually, it's not just morality; it's good storytelling. "The hero wins at the end" is typical because that is the most satisfying ending for the audience. There are two basic story types--the comedy and the tragedy--and in both cases, good wins in the end even if (as is frequently the case in tragedy) the protagonist of the story does not.

It is possible to do a story about the Joker...but in order for it to be a good story it would have to be a tragedy in the classic sense, where everything happens in the story the way it does because it cannot be otherwise. The Joker as a tragic figure would--could--work brilliantly, but tragedy is not something Hollywood does well, at least not in the 21st century. (Witness please how well it worked when we had Anakin Skywalker as a tragic figure.)

So they won't get anywhere near a good story with this idea. They just won't. Particularly not with Jared Leto as Joker.

* * *

Family room ceiling looks fantastic. Can't wait to put the light fixture in and get ready for doing the walls.

Meanwhile I'll move on to painting the ceilings in other parts of the house. I have about 1.5 gallons of paint, and know where to go to get more of it. Next up is the front hall, though doing the part over the stairs will be...problematic. Then I'll probably work on the hallway and master bedroom; once those ceilings are done I can pull the vent fan from the computer room and patch the hole before painting its ceiling.

Mom wanted a vent fan; I installed one for her. That was more than a decade ago; it no longer works and I used its wiring for the ceiling fan, but the fan housing remains. I'll get rid of it and patch the hole.

When I went to Menards yesterday, for more paint, I found that they had 3x3 sheets of drywall, so I bought one for the princely sum of $3. I wasn't able to find the metal tabs, but realized that the hole in the ceiling is such that I need to cut away a bit more of the drywall, anyway--I did not make a very clean cut--and should be able to expose it to the joist and attach with screws on one side. Support other side with duct tape, spackle two sides with reinforcing tape, then once that's cured do the other two sides. The hard part will be sanding it smooth. Anyone have an orbital sander I could borrow?

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