Category Archives: Pet Peeves

Movie Fight Scenes

When the audience is young, suspension of disbelief is much easier. I watched some abysmal movies and TV shows up into my teen years that usually didn’t bother me.

Whether the movie is good or bad, though, the fight scenes are almost always laughable. Once you begin paying attention, it’s hard not to notice the cheesy aspects–like Western Union Punches, for instance.

See if anything bothers you about the clip below:

Now, granted, this fight scene is from a comedy. But what’s sad is, films we’re supposed to take seriously are just as bad.

Notice the Adam Sandler character, who has been a brawling goon up to this point…how he just stands around waiting to be hit. It’s in the script for him to lose the fight to Bob Barker, so he just plays crash dummy.

Maybe I’ll post an example of a good one some day, if I can find one…

haltvsfreeze

Military Hand-Arm Signals in Movies

A general pet peeve of mine is when an author or film maker attempts to depict military action, or a military milleu, and obviously lacks the knowledge to do it right.

One specific annoyance in the last decade or more is the hand-arm signals used by actors portraying fighting men.

(Such signals are used by marines and infantry while moving tactically in the field, prior to contact, lest they break noise discipline by talking.)

Now, granted: units down to the platoon level often develop their own S.O.P.s for signaling, but in my experience the basic set of signals (get in the wedge; move out; double-time; cease-fire; rally point; head count; halt; freeze; enemy sighted; etc.) are universal across the combat arms in both the US Army and USMC.

So here’s what I think happened: Some movie was made depicting soldiers or marines on a patrol or some other tactical movement. The point man heard or saw something to make him suspect the enemy was close, so he gave the signal to “freeze.” The grunts stopped in their tracks. Some other film maker watched the scene and decided, “Hey, that’s kinda’ cool. Now I know everything I need to know about tactical movement.”

So that film maker, when it was his turn to display his wealth of military research, had an actor use the gesture when it was his turn to film such a scene. Problem is, he thought it was the symbol for “halt,” (open palm facing the troops: “Come to a stop, you richard-heads.”) which is used in different circumstances than “freeze” (raised fist: “Don’t make a move or you might get all our asses shot off!)

After that, any time a similar scene was shot in any subsequent military movie, rather than hire an advisor to police basic minutia like this, the director went by how it was done in the last flick. After all, “it looked cool.”

So now, invariably, the “freeze” signal is used to command a halt on the screen (even in non-tactical situations, and even in vehicle convoys).

The fallacy is so ubiquitous that I wouldn’t be surprised if actual soldiers begin jacking up the S.O.P. in a life-imitates-art manner after having grown up on these poorly researched movies.

[End of rant.]

dukequote

To Retort, Or Not To Retort

…That is the question I’ve been pondering for a while with regards to dishonest, drive-by, one-star reviews at Amazon and Goodreads.

Conventional wisdom is for authors to avoid responding to negative reviews, lest you look defensive, yada yada yada. I’ve done that up until now.

But I’ve been mulling over something I read about Trump: He’s one of those successful guys who fires right back when criticised. First debate with Shrillery notwithstanding (because he did actually come off as defensive), this has worked pretty well for him.

I’ve received negative reviews on all my novels, and some of my shorter books as well. But one of them from about a year ago stands out as the wthoughtcoporst. It’s intentionally insulting, first of all–no doubt a ploy to get an emotional rise out of me (all the more reason for me to not take the bait, I suppose, but c’est le guerre). And it’s also intentionally misleading, by somebody who evidently didn’t read the book. It’s got all the fingerprints of an SJW troll attempting to protect unwashed brains around the world from a counter-narrative.

The point-and-shriek review, and my response are here.

Random Musings on Apocalyptic and Post-Apocalyptic Entertainment

CATEGORIES

TEOTWAWKI or “The End Of The World As We Know It” is a brand which has been traditionally applied to post-apocalyptic movies, games, and books. In such narratives, the story begins AFTER some cataclysmic event has forever altered life on Earth.

SHTF or “Shit Hits The Fan” stories are about, or take place DURING the cataclysmic event. (Most “patriot fiction” fits inside this genre.)

It occurred to me we’ve been throwing everything under the TEOTWAWKI umbrella (including my own latest novel). Because I review so much work in the genre, I have now made a SHTF category and moved all (I hope) the relevant posts into it, for ease and accuracy of navigation.

UNFINISHED STORIES

I’ve been consuming a lot of SHTF and TEOTWAWKI entertainment lately. Recently I’ve tossed two books aside before finishing them. That has prompted me to create a new category called “Pet Peeves,” and this is my first post to be categorized that way.

There are a few different tropes that often annoy me enough to quit watching or reading whatever incorporates them. As regular readers of Virtual Pulp can probably guess, left-wing propaganda is one of them (explaining why I rarely go to movies anymore, and never watch TV). Another nauseating trope is the obligatory “strong female character,” which in action/adventure manifests as the obligatory Amazon Superninja.

Another deal-breaker for me is excessive stupidity, in whatever form. Going back to TEOTWAWKI, this is why I didn’t get very far watching the Jericho series on Netflix. It started out with a lot of promise, but smacked me out of my suspension of disbelief too many times to even be engaged by the point where we discover the EMP was caused by the Right Wing Boogeyman (egads! What a surprise!).

I recently picked up a handful of books on free promotion, for my Kindle. One of them featured a rare (for the SHTF genre) protagonist: an extremely naive civilian suburbanite victim of normalcy bias. I know too many people like this guy in real life (throw a rock in North America, and you’ll hit one), and find them a real challenge to engage with on any meaningful level. Yet, for me, it was a unique storytelling perspective (and perhaps overdue), and I guessed he would have to wise up in order to survive.

The character did show signs of maturing over the course of several chapters, and I gritted my teeth through his Pollyana attitude/reactions. I even held my peace, with an eye-roll or two, at how cash was still accepted after the economy, infrastructure, and even government itself were all rendered moot.

Then I came to a scene in which the protag and his companions are waylayed by literal highway robbers. Our hero is armed. The villains are not. He has some supplies he and his pals will require to survive along their journey. The bad guys want to take it.

So he lets them take it, in an alleged compromise (they won’t rape the girl traveling with him).

You have to wonder why some people even have guns, if they’re unwilling to use them even in matters of survival. The sad part is, this character is all too real, and the “compromise” is too perfect a metaphor for how we’ve allowed our freedoms, our government, and our country to be “compromised” away from us. Real life and its stupid people are more than enough, thank-you. This story and character is too much stupidity for something I read voluntarily and sacrifice time for.

OVERHAULING STRAIGHT AMERICA

The population has been so relentlessly conditioned that it’s hard to escape from the malignant sodomiphilic echo chamber even in indie fiction.

Another book in the genre was also from a suburbanite perspective. There were some trace amounts of the “all men are rapists” attitude in this one, but it wasn’t so “in your face” as to make it unreadable. I had finished reading about 90% of the book before the author sucker-punched me by revealing a character as homosexual.

The reaction to this by one of the main characters was how all reasonable, “open-minded” people are supposed to react: immediate support, equal or surpassing what a “straight” individual should get. Just in case there are still some dirty brains still out there, the efforts to wash them are ubiquitous and never-ending.

No thanks. Pass. I have no interest in reading the remaining 10%.

THE ROAD/JOURNEY PLOT

This really should have been pondered long ago, but only lately has it really become a point of fascination to me that 95-99% of post-apocalyptic tales depict a journey of the protagonist. Most often, the journey is taken in order to reunite with family.

On the one hand, this makes a lot of sense. When the SHTF a lot of people will be separated from loved ones by varying distances. They’ll be away on a business trip, or at the office, grocery store, etc., when disaster strikes. So it’s a valid plot.

It’s also a grossly overused plot. So overused that I’m now rethinking a few sequels to False Flag, and a zombie parody I had in mind.

That’s all for now. Happy weekend.