Steve’s Update 4/17/2022

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Here’s my latest update. Things got a little behind because of a lot of chaos – schedule changes, exhaustion from my fourth shot (little nausea, but definitely some tired), etc.

The Way With Worlds series: “Misinformation, Disinformation, Propaganda, and Worldbuilding” has been edited after the above disruptions.  Now it’s just a matter of getting it out this week.  I’ve attached the cover below – tell me that doesn’t have impact!

“The Agile Writer’s Mindset”:  I did a few tweaks on this to get a crude outline.  The next goal is the “official” outline then to start writing.

The Compendium of Writing Advice: Yeah, not giving up on this but boy I didn’t touch it this week.

The Seventh Sanctum rewrite: The Anime Attack generator, the last one, is halfway done.  It’s taking time because instead of a “one off” I’m using this to build in more options into the code.  I’ve honestly forgotten how complicated some of this is, but then again when you have a 20+ year old site . . .

Giveaways
Let’s check the giveaways!

The Transformation Conundrum

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Not a week goes by where there’s not some question of why a big company/author/etc. doesn’t do something innovative and transformative.  Usually, it’s Disney, at least as of late, but I’ve been seeing this question for years.

Why doesn’t this big company/important person who could genuinely engineer culture do so for good?

Sure we’ve seen some good, along with a lot of evil from media companies.  But they’re in a prime position to change the world for the better, and they don’t!  That’s because sometimes being big and powerful is the very thing that keeps you from changing.

Giant organizations depend on many, many things – cash flow, supply chains, media deals, etc.  Just keeping something like that running takes a lot of effort, but it also means that such organizations are risk-averse.  When your entire giant communications colossus is a huge juggling act, the first thing to do is not drop any balls.

Changing the world means not just risking dropping the balls but throwing them.

Large organizations are also distributed.  They’ve got multiple physical footprints, studios, deals, and clients.  Distribution of resources is often a key to security and stability but may also make you vulnerable due to various dependencies.  It’s hard to change the world when your world is so complex.

Stability can be stagnation.

Finally, imagine if a big media company decided to change the world and engineer a better culture – they’d probably have to work at their own destruction.  Large, monolithic organizations with a lot of power controlling culture aren’t good for long-term social and cultural health.  If they truly innovated and improved culture, the stockholders, board members, etc. might not go for the results.

Honestly, except for one or two Big Media Companies, we may be doing better than we could be due to constant activism, pushing, and some well-meaning people.

If you wonder what kind of media company landscape I’d want to see, I’d probably say “distributed network.”  Many media organizations (sometimes cooperating) and multiple distribution systems (sometimes cooperating) to allow for innovation and opportunity.  Such “best-sized” organizations could survive and prosper, but neither could seize control of too much, and the loss of one will see it replaced in time.

Perhaps someday. Until then, don’t let up on them.

Steven Savage

Double Dragon The Movie: Inside Not Out

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

I have never watched the entire Double Dragon film from 1994, the infamously bad video game “adaption,” until recently. I say adaption as the movie has nothing to do with the game – a game I remember playing in the arcades. Since the film is terrible, it probably makes the game look better.

Many things that make the film bad – the acting, the effects, the script. But one of the strangest things is that the movie has an enormous amount of “plot” that has nothing to do with the game. Does a film about “two guys beat up a gang to rescue someone” need a post-apocalyptic LA, gang politics, magical amulets, and the like? It’s a story where everything is grafted on.

None of this worked, as you may guess.

I started thinking about how others might approach a property like Double Dragon’s beat-them up. I was thinking specifically about some Hong Kong b-movies studios, indie studios, and the like. The plot was a significant problem of the movie, so how might someone with a fresher, “punkier” sense make such a movie?

The original game has no plot except “beat people up until you save the victim.”  Some versions add a few simple elements – the martial arts the heroes practice, their enemies (The Black Warriors), being in a post-war New York, and the heroes’ hope to save their kidnapped mutual love interest. Not a lot to go on, right?

So let me ask, what if you ran with this paltry lore instead of piling on extra elements. Don’t add things on, but go deeper into what you have from the limited lore. Indulge me for a moment.

First, two brothers practicing a strange martial art and with a potential romantic rivalry? With the right actors, that’s a core dynamic right there! We have two talented martial artists with a great burden – and a petty rivalry eating away at them? How do they evolve and grow as they battle their way through post-war New York? There’s a story!

Now lets’ take the Inevitable Kidnapped Interest, Marian. Rescue-the-girl tropes are sexist and overdone, so let’s shake it up. Marian let herself be kidnapped to infiltrate the Black Guardians, all arranged by the heroes’ master. Only the master got himself killed before he let them in on his plan to take down the Guardians. Now Marian has to pull a Die Hard from the inside to help the two occasionally bickering heroes defeat the bad guys and get her the hell out.

So we’ve got a Martial Arts Die Hard with arguing brothers? What about the setting?

We’ve got post-war (indeed post-nuke) New York. So let’s toss in some politics, just not the egregious ones of the film. Several martial arts groups have worked to bring the city back, and some of the gangs would be up for it – except the Black Guardians want to rule. So our heroes have a chance to unite the gangs to fight for the city, and battling the Black Guardians can do it. That was their master’s plan all along . . .

There you go, you’ve got a film. There’s an epic journey across a devastated New York, with the city’s future on the line.  Two likable badasses with a weak spot for arguing, trying to save the city and their love interest while fulfilling their masters’ last wish. A put-upon and clever female lead operating from the inside, trying to corral her would-be rescuers. Gang politics as an excuse for epic fights – and of course, it must end in all the gangs attacking the Black Guardians in a kind of Helm’s Deep of epic action.

You didn’t have to add on tons of unrelated stuff. Just extrapolate and go deeper with what you have. It’s still two guys battling to rescue a girl in a post-War gang-infested New York. You add some depth to make it mean more.

Less isn’t always more. But a few things with depth can make a movie or book or whatever far better than many elements with no depth.

Steven Savage