Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Entitled To Your Opinion

"You're entitled to your opinion, even though you're wrong" is a catchphrase of mine that I frequently use to wind people up. When you read it though, it is false. No one is entitled to a wrong opinion. On matters that are completely subjective, such as whether a film or song is good or not, there is never a right or a wrong. However, on some issues, ones that can be rationalised or reasoned, you are entitled to an opinion to the degree you are informed. For example, a man cannot have an opinion on how painful giving birth is because he cannot be properly informed on the subject. He can watch a woman suffer the ordeal but his opinion is never going to be as valid as a woman who has been through it.

You see, with the debate of every topic going global, instead of a more compelling debate, we have ended up with a more noisy and less informed conversation. Numbers do not mean the discussion improves in quality. Look at debates in Parliament against Prime Minister's Questions. The former tends to be a smaller number of MPs that are educated about the topic at hand and they discuss it passionately but rationally. Go to the latter and it is a circus, geared towards cheap point scoring over one another. I'm not saying that debates become better with sparsity but with education. It is not the quantity of those involved in the debate but the quality and if you look at Twitter, Facebook, BBC Question Time or any other forum, you will find an infuriatingly poor quality of knowledge.

In July 2013, we saw people outraged that politicians are suggesting that they get a pay rise of around 11%. That outrage shows how uninformed people are. Politicians deferred the right to dictate their pay years before and an independent body now recommend it. Yet if you trawl the forums, you will find a majority of people who are disgusted that politicians are giving themselves a pay rise, while a small minority waste their time trying to correct these people. In this instance, you are not entitled to be angry at politicians for giving themselves a pay rise because they haven't. It is an unfounded, unreasoned and irrational opinion. It is therefore invalid and no, you're not entitled to it. You are entitled to be called an uninformed moron though.

Let me also dispel a myth in regards to opinions. "Don't knock it until you try it" is the slogan of a fool. Not everything requires first hand experience to be able to formulate an informed opinion. I know I made reference to a mother's insight on giving birth is always more valid than any man's opinion but that rule is not applicable in all cases. For example, I don't need to do drugs to know that they are addictive and destructive. The exhaustive studies and documentaries mean I can have a perfectly valid opinion that drug use is a bad idea and anyone who indulges in such an addiction is an idiot. We do not live in an era of ignorance. The internet is replete with information on this issue and people who disregard all of it in exchange for a quick high deserve the suffering they bring on themselves. Their opinion on drugs is invalid. They are not entitled to it. They try to say that they are free to do what they want to themselves but it inevitably impacts other people. It is at this point that an opinion becomes completely invalid.

An opinion that is detrimental to a more reasoned and informed insight, on matters that are above subjectivity, is something that should stay in your head and be crushed by education of a better reality. A debate is not enriched by everyone bringing their voice but by informed minds coming together. Those minds could have got to their validated opinion by experience or study but either way, they are the only opinions that count.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Bring Back Indy

When Disney bought Lucasfilm, the buzz around the purchase was all about Star Wars. Disney announced that a new Star Wars film, namely episode VII, would be made and with it would be episodes VIII and IX. Even new stand alone movies, set in the Star Wars universe would be released, meaning that the sci-fi saga would have a new movie every year until 2020 and it will probably go beyond. This is how Disney intends to make its $4 billion investment back and they will be successful.

However, in buying Lucasfilm, Disney also took ownership of another important franchise. One of my all time favourites. Indiana Jones.

As it stands, Disney have said there are no plans to release more Indy movies but I think this is a missed opportunity. Even when Spielberg released that atrocity of a fourth film, it was massive at the box office. The public criticism of it, which included my own voice, has probably led to Disney's "no touch" policy on the world's favourite archaeologist, although problems with distributors and rights seem to have a hand in it too. However, I think they should learn some quick lessons from that disowned fourth film and the original trilogy, as well as other film franchises.

First of all, let Harrison Ford go. Yes, he played the role for 4 films but Indiana Jones is an evergreen character and can be recast. Some names have already been suggested but I honestly think Bradley Cooper would be an ideal choice for Indiana Jones. The A-Team proved he was more than capable of action roles that required some levity. He has this plucky, rascally charm about him, which is what Ford brought to the role and made Jones so likeable.

Second, don't make the mistake of Crystal Skull and instead follow the lead of Temple of Doom by taking it back in time. Plan a trilogy set before the events of Temple of Doom and then you can seamlessly connect the two (real) trilogies by setting the final film in China. Surely Indiana Jones had plenty of reckless adventures in 1932, 1933 and 1934!

Third, find the right MacGuffin. The Crystal Skull was the weakest of the four objects Indiana Jones went for. If the MacGuffin is weak, such as the Sankara Stones in Temple of Doom, you need to have a side angle which keeps the stakes high. In Temple, it was about saving the children as well but even then, it became about stopping an evil army rising to invincibility. So something like going for the Spear of Destiny would be an obvious choice. The Spear of Destiny was supposed to be the lance that pierced the side of Christ. It was deemed by some to be divine and the legend went that whomever held it, their armies would be unstoppable. The legend said that Charlemagne held it and that he died shortly after losing the Spear. If I can find a suitable MacGuffin with one Wikipedia search, anyone can!

Fourth, less CGI. Special effects do have a place in Indiana Jones but they are also a homage to the old matinee movies. Keep them as old school as possible, otherwise they lose their charm very quickly.

Fifth, be inventive with the action sequences. What made Indiana Jones was that opening sequence in Raiders. From thereon, we would have sat through any film after such a masterful beginning. The fact that it went from the rolling boulder and kept coming up with iconic action scenes for two more movies is why we stuck with the whole rollercoaster. It needs to keep us on the edge of our seats and make us laugh. Disney wouldn't go far wrong looking to its other recently required properties, Pixar & Marvel, as a resource for creative action sequences.

And finally, pick the right kind of director. In choosing JJ Abrams for Star Wars, they have shown that they know what kind of person they need to do this. For Indiana Jones, have no illusion, it needs someone just as brave. Spielberg's action movie days are done. So who to turn such a monumental project over to? Options include Martin Campbell (who did a great job with Zorro, so a safe hands choice), Joss Whedon (the heir-apparent for me), Joe Carnahan (comedy and action are his strong point) or Neill Blomkamp (if you fancy a gamble).

I never tire of watching the Indiana Jones films and it is time the Fedora got dusted off and the whip got cracked. So I am pleading with Disney to bring back Indy. Just don't let Spielberg and Lucas ruin it for us all again!