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September 18, 2008 - Image 14

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2008-09-18

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68 - Thursday, September18, 2008

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.cam

The voice of a generation

From Page 4B
Reading his books or watching
the few interviews he gave, you
understand that this was a guy
far more attuned than the rest
of us to the everyday lunacies,
ridiculousness and unreason of
American culture. And yet he
took this genius and found the
humor in it - a witty and sar-
donic sense of humor coursing
through so much of his writing
like electric current. Who other
than Wallace would be brilliant
and clever enough to dedicate

an essay on the Academy Awards
of the porn industry to the fact
that "between one and two dozen
adult US males" are admitted
each year to the emergency room
for castrating themselves?
Yet there was also a despon-
dence in Wallace's writing. We
can see this when Wallace spoke
of his novel "Infinite Jest," and
said there was "something par-
ticularly sad about it ... a kind of
lostness"; or when the narrator
of the wrenching story "Incarna-
tions of Burned Children" plainly
tells us, "If you've never wept and
want to, have achild."
Other times this sadness, is
felt long after reading. Wallace's

most recent story, "Good People,"
is like this. It describes a young
man comforting his pregnant
girlfriend who's considering an
abortion, but also his struggle to
tell his girlfriend that, though he
supports her and cares for her,
doesn't truly love her.
Wallace was so many things:
sad, but also funny; at times
effusive, but capable of writ-
ing a single sentence that cut
straight to the bone. He was one
of the few American writers who
found meaning in an increasing-
ly meaningless and submissive
world; and now, without him, the
rest of us are left that much more

Stone's film wasn't genuine

"Hey, at least Brett Ratner isn't attached to this."
Hero or foe?0
"Heroes" creator torments fans with inconsistent work
By Dave Reap I Daily Arts Writer

While other comic book writers
use carefully crafted dialogue to
give their characters depth, Jeph
Loeb relies on phrases like "The
@#$%ing Hulk is here!" While
other writers take beloved char-
acters like Captain America, Iron
Man and Thor to newheights, Loeb
devolves them into testosterone-
overdoped meatheads. While other
writers strive to create plots that
don't leave the reader scratching
his orherhead, Loeblikestotossin
robotic clones at the most inappro-
priate times. I have a deep hatred
for comicbook writer Jeph Loeb.
That being said, I have great
adoration for Jeph Loeb the writer
and co-executive producer of the
TV show "Heroes" - the kind of
warm, fuzzy feeling that makes
me want to travel 2,000 miles to
the next Comic-Con, walk up to his
booth and giddily wrap my arms
around him. As Tim Kring's (exec-
utive producer, "Heroes") right-
hand man, Loeb has helped create
a masterpiece that featured dozens
of lovable characters connected
in a multi-layered and ultimately
satisfactory plot. The first season
of "Heroes" was so well planned,
written and executed that
it made people magi-
cally forget Loeb ever
wrote the screenplay
for "Teen Wolf" (1985).

thing from the show's refreshing ambassador to the comic world
take on the humanity of super- and chief counsel to Kring, Loeb
powered individuals to its use of needs to be held at least partially
long-time pal Tim Sale's (artist responsible for the show's current
of "Spider-Man: Blue") paintings problems.
made me believe - if only for a sec- Looking at his comic book career
ond - that Loeb should be known alone reveals that Loeb's periods of
as Mr. Fantastic instead of Reed great creativity follow times where
Richards of the Fantastic Four. he seems to lose touch with what
But alas, the good feelings I've fans want. His past achievements
harbored for Loeb, the television with DC, like Batman: The Long
sage, are rapidly dissipating. I may Halloween (1996-1997), show that
be forced to hate him altogether. hehastheabilitytowritenail-biting
The second season of "Heroes" detective stories with big payoffs
was so awful that during the writ- at the end. Additionally, his early
er's strike last year, Kring actually 2000s Marvel color series proves
issued an apology to fans. he can dig deeper into a hero's emo-
Last season relied on pointless tional state than most writers.
new characters, provided almost But that's in the past. Whether
no main character development Loeb is spread too thin over mul-
and employed agonizingly slow- tiple projects or is just trying to
moving plots. As a result, "Heroes" shock readers instead of giving
deservedly triggered the fearsome them quality nowadays, one thing
wrath of fanboy bloggers, a power- is clear: He'snot the same.
ful force thatcan only be rivaled by Yet the mysteriously inconsis-
one of Wolverine's berserker rages. tent force that is Loeb could end
When the dust cleared after up being the secret to the salvation
an embarrassing second season, of "Heroes." It was Loeb who was
"Heroes" was left without a chunk there for the birth and fleshing out
of its previous audience. While its of the show's original characters
sophomore collapse is not solely and now it's his duty to help refo-
Loeb's fault, there are some eerie cus on these more popular pro-
connections. Too many of the tagonists. He should fight against
show's ailments reflect the the creative team's recent trend of
poor choices Loeb has employing one cheap thrill after
made in his more recent another and push them to explore
comic books like Hulk meaningful personal interactions
and Ultimates 3. As between signature personalities.
Make no mistake, Loeb can help
"Heroes" get back to the basics.
He's an accomplished veteran and
must now apply behind-the-scenes
pressure on Kring to get things that
work onto the television screen.
With season three (the title
"Heroes: Villains" signals that
the heroes will come together to
fight the rise of the "bad guys"),
there's reason to be optimistic
that "Heroes" will return to its
old form. But let's get one thing
straight: If this season tanks, Loeb
has to be held accountable. If he
stands idly by while "Heroes" is
run into the ground, he might just
be the worst villain of all - more
than Dr. Doom, Magneto and the
Green Goblin combined.

From Page 5B
them. Thankfully, now that those
same wounds are, if not healed,
at least not as fresh, it's possible
to see the films for what they are:
manipulative, exploitative Holly-
wood cash-cows.
It's not that filmmakers
shouldn't tell stories aboutSept.11,
but in our media-driven age, when
anyone with a computer can go
online and watch the real footage
over and over, it seems odd that
filmmakers would feel the need
to recreate those events to put on
the big screen. Do we really need
to sit through a two-hour simula-
tion of something we all, to vary-
ing degrees, experienced in real
life? Must we really go through
the wringer again, just so a couple
of Hollywood big-shots can win
their Oscars?
If a film is going to tackle the
atrocities of Sept. 11, it should do
so from adifferent angle.A perfect
example would be the virtually
ignored Adam Sandler film "Reign
Over Me," which dealt not with
the day itself, but with the fallout.
In the film, Sandler plays a man
hanging onto the last threads of
his sanity after his family is killed

during the terrorist attacks. The
film is about dealing with grief,
something that many people expe-
rienced firsthand and could relate
to. While the film was flawed, it
didn't resort to the same maudlin,
exploitative tactics that the afore-
mentioned films did.
Another film that serves as a
surprisingly potent variation on
the subject is the J.J. Abrams-
produced "Cloverfield." I know,
I know - it's a monster movie.
But so was "Godzilla, King of the
Monsters!" (1956), and that's gen-
erally regarded as the first film to
openly address the horrors Japan
experienced after the bombings
of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The
visual metaphor is an under-
ueed weapon in the filmmaker's

arsenal, and "Cloverfield," with
its shaky camcorder footage of a
devastated New York City, makes
for an unusual and unpretentious
representation that's still familiar
enough to bring it all home.
Filmmakers should address
Sept. 11 in ways different from
how Paul Greengrass and Oliver
Stone did; instead of dramatizing
episodes in typical, sappy ways
that do nothing but play upon the
pathos already inherent in the
news stories most people watched,
filmmakers should approach the
stories from new angles. This
way, they'll prevent their films
from becoming little more than
flat made-for-TV movies, which,
frankly, "United 93" and "World
Trade Center" already resemble.


IS TO 26.


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