On the Virtues of "Trashy" Fiction
I'm a great fan of trashy fiction of all sorts, and not at all fond of "serious" fiction. I read adventure novels, romances, fantasy and science fiction. My theory is that these trashier genres are closer to the myth and legend that have been the mainstay of story-telling since the beginning of time. So-called serious literature is a relatively recent, and ill-conceived invention.
My favorite adventure novelists are Alexander Dumas (The Three Musketeers, The Man in the Iron Mask, The Count of Monte Cristo),Rafael Sabatini (Captain Blood, the Seahawk), Baronness Orczy (The Scarlet Pimpernel) and Anthony Hope (Prisoner of Zenda). For romance authors, I've been reading Elona Malterre (the Celts, Mistress of Eagles) and Diana Gabaldon (Outlander, Dragonfly in Amber, and Voyager).
The authors I've been reading most recently have been Kim Stanley Robinson (Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars), Lois McMaster Bujold (the Mile Vorkosigan novels, for instance Cetaganda and Falling Free), and Judith Merkle Riley (The Oracle Glass, The Serpent Garden, In Pusuit of the Green Lion). The first two are what I consider hard science fiction. Riley is historical romance with enough magic to border on fantasy. I'm looking forward to Diana Gabaldon's next two books excitedly as well.
There are lots of other good books available on line, for instance
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,
by L. Frank Baum,
by Bram Stoker,
Tarzan of the Apes,
by Edgar Rice Burroughs,
And a thing to remember: Books, tales and stories, literature as well as trash, are valuable and important, and must not be banned or censored.
Comic books are also good trash, and I read quite a few of them. Some of my favorites here are Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross's Astro City, Dark Horse's Ghost, DC's Legion of Super Heroes, Wonder Woman, Wendy Pini's ElfQuest and Hilly Rose.
I've started watching Sinbad and Tarzan, as well, and haven't really decided if they stand up. Tarzan is more faithful to the original ERB books than any previous TV or movie, but they had him leave Jane behind in London so that he coul be the Unattached Male Hero that Hollywood seems set on. (One of the things that made Highlander's first season so good was that they had a hero in a committed relationship.) Sinbad's not bad, but its cast is a little too Caucasian for Sinbad. I can buy Maeve being a Celt -- she's a sorceress they picked up in a mystical land (and I am a sucker for tall, milk-complexioned, red-headed Celtic maids) -- but Sinbad's brother is a dirty blonde. No one except the occassional villain looks really Arabic. They seem to have imported the major cast members from the US and Canada, so you'd have thought they could get someone a tad more Semitic-looking for some of the roles.
Since the movies are pretty transient, rather than citing specific movies, I'm doing that thing I don't like: a list of pointers:
Film.com has movie reviews and previews. An excellent source on the movies.
Another resource is Hollywood Online. It's pretty accessible and updated daily. They have movie and video reviews, news, film clips and just about everything you'd imagine for a Web site devoted to Hollywood.
The Internet Movie Data Base has become something of an internet institution. There are both US and UK versions of the site. Their new simplified search page makes finding information on movies or the people who make them quite simple. The data is provided by people on the net so it is occassionally flawed, but most contributors seem to be obsessive fans, so it is impressively good.
Many movie and TV studios have Web pages covering their latest productions.
- Walt Disney Productions offers Quicktime trailers for their films, and they always have at least a couple of excellent pieces of escapist trash out. Their site has evolved a good deal over time, and they seem to have a better understanding of what makes a page usable than most of the studios. Usually it is one of the faster and more accessible sites.
- Paramount Pictures' pages now cover their movies as well as their TV shows. Their pages are have generally been the most innovative of the studios, and entertaining in their own right. The others are now following suit. Unfortunately, in turn Paramount has caught the huge, slow, ponderous garphics bug from the others. Sigh.
- MCA Universal's pages tend to be slow to load, but they are quite extensive. The designers are extremely fond of huge graphics. They have a "full graphics" and a "quick" version of their home page. The quick version has a 38K image map as it's interface. The only clickable text links are on the full graphics version. Go figure. Their stuff is not up to the quality of Disney or Paramount, nor is the fare as good or trashy, but it is still worth an occasional peek.
They have sections for all the different parts of the MCA/Universal conglomerate, TV, movies, theme parks, and so on. I've mentioned the Hercules and Xena pages, above. There's also a Sliders page and one for each recent or upcoming movie.
The MGM/United Artists pages used to be one of the hugest and hardest to navigate. The site is still big and graphics intensive, but they have gotten easier to use while the others were growing and slowing.
I can't seem to get to New Line Cinema, but several months ago the story was like this:
New Line Cinema at least has a page that loads more quickly than the MCA or MGM pages, but I can't say much for the actual films. "Dumb and Dumber" and "Mortal Kombat" may be trash, but I really prefer good trash.
Brons December 19, 1996