Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tampering with Values

I cannot remember who was being quoted at the time, but I agree with the justification given for why Everyone Loves Raymond was ceasing production while still popular: "It's better to get off the stage before someone tells you to." I think this bears great significance on how we judge art pieces as a whole.

Two good examples for contrast and clarification would be the Calvin and Hobbes and Garfield comics. CAH, too, ended while it was still enjoying popular reception, but such a move, while it may frustrate fans, may have done more for the quality of the comic than continuing on could have. Assuming it never gets revived, we can look at the series and say that it is great rather than it was and nurse fond memories of it for as long as we shall value it. No where does one look through the completed collections and say "Oh, Bill Watterson should have stopped here." Instead the entirety of the series maintains a constant stream of quality, and at its end we still wish it to go on.

Garfield, on the other hand, has had its time. Nowadays the strip is simply a make-a-buck labor of non-love that probably isn't even draw by Jim Davis anymore. For those of you that have access to the earlier strips -- I'd say the ones before the 90's -- you'll notice that while it may not have been spectacular the strip was at least at one point worth reading. At one point it was creative, interesting, story-bound, and artistic, but now contains none of those features. Because the stream of mediocre strips has lasted for over a decade we no longer conclude that Garfield is going through some bad period in its production, but rather that it is now in entirety a mediocre strip. The bad comics have spoiled the evaluations of the good ones. When I look at my old books I am able to recognize the merit of the classic strips, but I feel more disappointment than pleasure since I cannot put out of mind what the strip is today. CAH got off the stage before they were told to, but Garfield still lingers for some reason, past his expiration date.

This is why today when I was surfing a forum I was disturbed to find out about this, a planned sequel to my favorite movie of all time, Who Framed Roger Rabbit. I remember a few months ago that I was, ironically enough, internally praising this movie for not having a sequel, for being a standalone in its quality with nothing to spoil it, but now I am dismayed to see myself incorrect.

While I would love it if they would make an honest sequel that matches its precursor in quality I fear that this is more likely a movie for money rather than art. Don't get me wrong: I love money and lots of it. But when money is the primary motivation rather than a natural consequence of an endeavor the quality of the means pursued is questionable. I believe Mary Kay (deceased makeup empire queen) has been attributed with the quote, "Do something you would do for free and someone will pay you well for it." I say make a movie for movie's sake; that's what will bring the crowds in.

As such, Hollywood's current reputation makes a part of me hope that this project gets canceled and never heard from again, but then again there is still the possibility that the movie could actually be good due to the seriousness required for dealing with source material of such a high magnitude. I'll be keeping an eye on it.

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