When I wrote the Man of Destiny series, I knew I needed to find a plausible reason for a parliamentary democracy to collapse into civil war and then become an empire. The storyline I chose was one where the ruling elites had fumbled the situation badly and an ‘interim’ coalition of back-bencher politicians formed a shaky coalition government with barely enough votes to keep a majority. Everyone assumed that this would come apart at the first shock, but in fact it held together precisely because it was so weak. The politicians didn’t like each other, but rather than be sent back to obscurity, they were willing to take ever more extreme measures to stay in control.
I wrote this series more than six years ago and if you look at what’s happening in Canada, I wasn’t far off the mark. Two minority parties in coalition are increasingly violating just about every rule to hang onto their offices – including using wartime powers to crush peaceful protestors.
I have no particular insight into Canadian politics, I was simply following the simple rule of write what you know. I had first-hand knowledge how legislative deals were struck from my days as a staffer and I’d done historical research on how democracies collapse.
Writing what you know isn’t unique to me – in fact it’s pretty much been the rule throughout history. Mark Twain traveled a lot and so that was what he wrote about. J.R.R. Tolkien was a distinguished scholar and a WW I veteran with strong religious convictions, so that’s what he wrote. Stephen King had a miserable childhood and adolescence, so that’s what he wrote. I could go on, but you get the point.
The problem with today’s writers is that they know nothing other than how to be woke, and it shows.
Personal and Professional Ignorance
As I’ve noted many times before, Joss Whedon is a moral degenerate, but he has undeniable writing talent. He has created many quirky characters and pens brilliant dialogue. His weakness is his inability to understand – and therefore write – anything resembling a healthy relationship. He can’t write what he doesn’t know.
He does know genres, however, and that why he has had success.
The necessary knowledge to write well typically comes from personal experience, but diligent research can go a long way.
The problem with today’s writers they lack both. They live in an insulated bubble whose boundaries are prep school, college and then an entry-level gig often facilitated by their social network. Their education was mostly limited to critical theory and grievance politics, and they have a total contempt for older works of art or literature because everyone before they were born was a bigoted sexist racist. Their ignorance is in fact a point of pride.
Thus, when they reach a crucial point in a plot or franchise, they freeze. They have no idea how to resolve plots because “real life” is as foreign to them as classic literature. They’ve had limited experience with people outside their social class, so they don’t understand how those people even think. That is why we get the abrupt character shifts in Star Wars and Game of Thrones.
It’s also why so many of their conflicts are confusing to the point of being nonsensical. The infamous use of light-speed travel as a weapon in Episode VIII was because the writers were ignorant of the established physical rules of the Star Wars setting. They also didn’t know anything about tactics, so the only way to drive the plot forward was break the universe.
Virgins Writing About Sex
How do you write a fight scene when you’ve never been in a fight? How do you represent the importance of training when you’ve always been able to take a short cut?
Every wonder why so many movies feature endless fight scenes where nothing really seems to happen to either combatant? That’s why.
In my ongoing study of 80s movies, one thing I notice is that while the firearms use is often absurd (looking at you, Rambo), the fight scenes are typically quick and brutal. Even lighter fare like Roadhouse (which is mostly about Patrick Swayze’s butt) does not pull any proverbial punches. Go back to the original (and best) Batman of 1989 and you do not see people throwing each other through the scenery without any apparent effect. Far from it, they look hurt, and that’s because the writers – and audience – knew that hitting and being hit hurts.
There used to be a put-down in certain circles about virgins offering sexual advice, and like so many jokes, the punchline is now reality.
Upper Lower Middle-Earth
There is a certain irony in these people trying to write about the Second Age of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth. The Second Age is the most obscure part of his fantastic history, with not a single complete work on the topic – all we know comes from the late author’s papers posthumously published by his son.
Anyone wanting to write authoritatively on the topic would at the bare minimum need to read:
The Lord of the Rings (including appendices)
Unfinished Tales of Numenor and Middle Earth
Obviously, none of these midwits took the time to read any of this, which is why have written what appears to be a Dungeon and Dragons story using names cribbed from Tolkien’s index. Gosh, maybe the orcs will be the good guys?
The trailers and interview make it clear these people know less about the Second Age that Alec Baldwin knows about the safe handling of firearms. What they do know is the look and feel of Peter Jackson movies, so they are going make low-rent knockoffs using their own pathetic ideas, which are…wait for it…chiefly woke.
The Cheap Dates Are Getting More Expensive
Why would Amazon fund this? Well, there is abundant proof that like comic book fans, Tolkien enthusiasts tend to be cheap dates. As I’ve noted before, Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Ring isn’t that good, but it benefited from the confluence of two groups. The first was that Tolkien fans were eager to see even the most warped approximation of the books rendered on screen. The props were great, the locations breathtaking, the cast was solid, so who cared if the story was wrecked?
Fantasy fans are even less discriminating, and taken together, these two audiences poured money on the Lord of the Rings and the even less coherent The Hobbit. Amazon probably figured that this was a risk-free undertaking.
The solution isn’t going to be demanding that these people try harder, because they can’t. They don’t know what they don’t know and don’t know how to learn.
Hollywood’s only hope is to bite the bullet and start hiring people with actual knowledge of the world – even if they aren’t woke – because that’s the only way they’re going to make money.
Editor’s Note: Black Pigeon Speaks (Felix Rex) takes this point another step by suggesting Top Gun: Maverick has unexpectedly put Woke Hollywood on notice.