Thursday, August 30, 2012

Swear Words (Warning "Coarse" Language)

Photo by:  Ian.Kobylanski


I was browsing through the news when I noticed a bizarre story that left me gobsmacked.  An Oklahoma teen was denied her diploma because she said the word “hell” in her graduation speech.

Photo by:  John Walker
"What the FUCK did she just say??"
This was a girl that never received a B in school, according to her father, and consistently had a 4.0 at the school.  She completed all the curriculum...and yet...they’re denying her the right to graduate because she said “a bad word.”

Let’s ignore all of that though.  I like consistency and stability, and if a straight A student was allowed to graduate for violating a rule that a C student was held back for, that would be garbage.  Instead, let’s constitute what makes a “bad” word for a moment.

Words only have the power that we give them.  When we’re afraid of a word, it gives that word a significant amount of power over our feelings, and it gives the wielders of those words power as well.  I’m not necessarily arguing that we forgo all instances of censoring ourselves in polite company, nor that we strip society of all conventions and run amok in our birthday suits howling at the moon.  I’m just saying we should take a moment and consider what we want to hurt us, and what we don’t necessarily mind slipping past.

Anecdotal examples:  Growing up, my mom did not allow swearing in the house.  That’s not to say that I didn’t partake in it at school on occasion, but with a few exceptions, I actually kept a pretty firm reign on the swearing even at school.  (This was partially because living in a small town almost guaranteed that if I didn’t, someone that knew my mother would wind up seeing/hearing my behavior and word would get back to my mom, but it was also partially because I genuinely took the whole “my kids are good kids” thing to heart.)  Regardless, the big bads--shit and fuck--were definitely not allowed.  Even the somewhat milder words, like damn, hell, and piss, were not allowed.  And taking the Lord’s name in vain was a no-no, so no way could I be goddamned pissed off about this fucking shit.  I had to be “gosh-darned ticked off about this freakin’ crap.”  Which was okay.  It occasionally felt like I couldn’t properly express my rage about things, but I didn’t necessarily depend on those words to express thoughts and ideas.

One day, I was visiting a friend--I don’t remember who, it’s been a looooooong time--and I made the comment that something was “crap.”  My friend’s parent admonished me for my use of “foul language,” and I was thunderstruck.  “Crap” was a bad word?  Really?


This was basically her reaction.

I also remember asking my mom if “heck” was okay to say.  Her response was, “It’s not the most polite of words, exactly.”  I think I was 7 or so.  I had been watching The Nightmare Before Christmas, and I wanted to sing along with “Poor Jack.”

I also remember watching Titanic with my dad and step-mom once.  I got into a huge amount of trouble when the navigator said something along the lines of “Turn the ship, you bastards!”  I echoed the guy’s words, “Yeah!  Turn it you bastards!”  HUGE TROUBLE.

Justine Larbalestier posted a really interesting discussion on Twitter about this very thing, which I’ll post below.
























I’m not saying I have all of the answers.  It does seem related to me that our standards for what is “obscene” has evolved so much through the years.

Remember how women couldn’t expose their ankles without being considered loose and whorey?  And what about now adays?  Men can go topless on a beach, and yet women are forced to wear what society deems “appropriate attire.”  If a movie features even a brief glimpse of a man’s penis, SWEET BABY JESUS SLAP A NC-17 RATING ON THAT BAD BOY!!! (See Saw IV.)

The point of clothing was once to cover ourselves and provide protection from the elements.  It’s purpose has moved beyond that.  What’s obscene about the human body?  What’s obscene about the word “fuck”?  Besides what it describes.  What about “fornicate”?  Or “sex”?  Are those bad words?  What’s obscene about the act of sex?  Is it not a natural and necessary part of life for our species to continue to exist?  What about defecation?  That’s a fine word, but “shit” isn’t?

These aren’t answers.  These are honestly just questions.  I’ll leave the answers to smarter people than me.  These are just thoughts that rattle around from time to time.  One thing that I do think: that teenager should not have been punished in such a way.  Even among the most conservative, hell is not that bad of a word.  You can debate about whether it was okay or not, but it's not like she shouted "FUCK" at the top of her lungs.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Flash Fiction Challenge: The Senator's Hamburger


Chuck Wendig, over at Terribleminds, has another Flash Fiction Challenge up.  This time, he used a random word generator to create a list of 8 words.  We had to pick four, and they had to be represented in our fiction.  To add to the fun, I numbered them 1 through 8, then used a random number generator to pick the words for me.  Below are the words from which we had to choose.  The underlined ones are the ones I used.  Word count: 999.

1 Cape
2 Joke
3 Senator
4 Hamburger
5 Laser
6 Gloves
7 Funeral
8 Motel

The Senator's Hamburger

Photo by:  chichacha of Flickr

The senator sent away his guards and sat down at his dining room table.  He gestured absently and soft classical music, an opera of some kind, pumped through speakers hidden in the ceiling.  Before him, a smorgasbord had been placed, each dish lovingly crafted by the finest chefs in the world.  His eyes scanned the glistening skins of the roasted duck, the plump carcasses of the turkey, the glazed, staring face of the pig, apple shoved so deep in it’s mouth it looked like a ball gag.

The senator sneered and raised his hand.  A servant appeared at his elbow in an instant.

“What is this shit?”

The servant stammered, searching the senator’s face for the right answer.  All he saw was hard lines and harder eyes, the face of someone who is used to getting what he wants.

“I’m sorry, sir, I do not know what it is you want from me.”

“I want my goddamned hamburger,” he said as he grabbed the servant by the lapels and shoved him away.  The man stumbled as he raced into the kitchen, choking back terrified sobs.

The senator crossed his arms, refused to eat until he had everything he wanted.  He sat and stared into the dark corner of the dimly lit room, listening to the soft opera as a soprano held on a sweet vibrato-laced note.

Someone came back from the kitchen.  This was a different servant than before.  He smiled and  set the covered tray in front of the senator, then raised the lid with a fancy flick of his hand as he did.  The hamburger shimmered with butter and grease.  Fluffy, green, crisp lettuce and a scarlet tomato stacked on top of two thick patties of beef separated only by a molten layer of cheese.  The senator felt his stomach rumble and waved the servant away.  He rubbed his hands together and reached for the burger, then noticed that the man still stood nearby.

“What?”

The servant smiled.  “Nothing, sir.  I just wanted to make sure the burger was as perfect as possible.”

The senator grunted and bit into the thing, feeling sweet juices leak into his mouth and dribble down his chin.  It might have been the most delicious thing he’d ever tasted.  He smacked his lips and made an effort not to moan with pleasure.

“It’s okay,” he muttered.

“Very good, sir.”  The servant bowed, but didn’t leave.

The senator plunged his face into the burger for another bite, attempting to ignore the servant and his eerie stare.  Finally, he plopped the thing back on the tray and whirled around to face the grinning idiot.

“Will you get the fuck out of here?  If you keep bothering me, I’ll have you fired and escorted out of here so quickly you’ll think you stepped into a wormhole.”

The servant strolled over and picked up the senator’s empty wine glass.  He examined it’s shiny surface and absently rubbed away a spot with his gloves.

“Do you have any kids, Senator?”

The senator took a deep, steadying breath, and tried to dull the pounding beginning behind his forehead.

You don’t have to answer.  I already know you have two boys.  They say that girls are the more difficult ones, but I always found my boy to be much more challenging than my girl.  There’s all that pent up aggression, all that anger and resentment when they’re young. They’re not quite men yet, but they think like them.”

“If this is some kind of creepy joke, you picked the wrong target, you fuckin’ nutbag,” the senator said as he reached for his phone.

The fork that had once been in the plump meat of the turkey slid through his hand and into the wooden surface of the table before he could blink.  There was a moment of cognitive dissonance, a moment of staring in confusion at the metal protruding from his hand, then the pain came in great, drowning waves.  It flooded his insides and washed out high, hysterical screams.

“What the fuck!  What the fuck!  Whatthefuckwhatthefuckwhatthefuck!”

The servant gingerly touched the end of the handle, his white gloved hands dancing with the finesse of a stage magician.

“Senator, we’re having a lovely conversation.  There’s no need to invite interruptions.”

“Please let me go.  I’ll give you anything.  Money.  Cars.  Women.”

“Women.  Now there’s an interesting subject.  My wife was a fine specimen of the better sex.  Gorgeous, independent, funny, strong.  There were times, when she was debating some sexist asshole, or holding her own in a courtroom, when she seemed almost bulletproof.”

The senator’s eyes widened.  He felt a door that had been closed swing wide open, and the revelation on the other side was like a cold north wind that set him to shivering from head to toe.

“Look, pal, you’re wife--” he winced at his hand.  “--Your wife had no idea what she was getting into.  She stumbled onto some stuff that she couldn’t recover from.  It wasn’t personal.”

The servant began to laugh.  It was a light, hearty chuckle, but the senator could hear the bitterness lurking beneath.

“When a man’s wife and children are gunned down on the way home from school...I’m sure you can see, Senator, how a man may take that a bit...personally.”

The senator grabbed the salt shaker and threw it into the man’s face, then grabbed the fork and ripped it out his hand.  Pain flooded his brain and threatened to drown him as the edges of his vision darkened, but he shook it off and bolted for the door.  He was inches from the handle when something cracked him on the back of the head and he collapsed.  The man’s face filled the senator’s blurry vision.  He brushed the senator’s cheek with one gloved hand.

“Senator...these next few minutes may not be pleasant for you.  But...it’s not personal.”

The senator squeezed his eyes shut, but he still heard the man laugh at his little joke.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Google Autofill Game: "Can I...?"

Wikimedia Commons

Alrighty, today, ladies and gentlemen, we’re going to play a little game.  It’s called the Google Autofill Game.  John Green, YA author and video blogger extraordinaire, plays this game on his Swindon Town Swoodilypooper videos.
The Google Autofill Game begins with a question entered into Google, and then each letter of the alphabet.  Today’s question is “Can I...”

Can I afford a house?

Erm...that depends.  Look at your money.  Do you have more than enough money to both pay the price of the house without going broke?  Yes?  Then yes.  No?  Then no.  Can you afford the loan payments without losing everything?  Yes?  Then yes.  No?  Then no.

Can I be pregnant?

This is a moment when you have to go back to basic biology.  Do you have a penis? Then no.  Do you have a vagina?  Have you always had a vagina?  Then yes.
Photo By:  Tax Credits

Can I change my Apple ID?

I have no idea.  I don’t know anything about Mac products.  My wife and I have one iPod Touch between us that we rarely use.  We have iTunes, but I don’t buy music from them very often.  I either buy from AmazonMP3 or physical CDs.  I know, how cute and antiquated, right?

Can I donate blood?

There are a lot of restrictions on donating blood.  There’s a height restriction (too short? No blood donating for you!), a weight restriction (too light?  No blood donating for you!).  There may be a certain amount overweight you can’t be, I’m not sure.  I know you can’t have blood pressure that’s too high.  I recommend that you look up the specifics, though, just to make sure.

Can I eat my period?

I...don’t even know what this means.  I mean...are you Pac-Man?  Do you wander around a maze eating those tiny dots?  Because you know, there’s only so many periods in the world.  Each time you eat one, that’s another sentence that goes unpunctuated.  Can you imagine what today’s youths’ sentences would read like if you weren’t so reckless about your punctuation eating?  Honestly, you should eat commas instead.  People way overuse them anymore.

Photo By:  Michael Hiemstra
Can I freeze tomatoes?

Actually, I’m almost 100% certain you can.  I mean, tomatoes are largely made up of water, and water can freeze.  So, yeah, tomatoes can freeze.  Should you?  I dunno.  It probably doesn’t really do much to maintain its freshness or texture, but it does at least keep it...not...rotten.

Can I get a refill?

Don’t be a douche.

Can I have your number?

Ha!  You wish.  You don’t know awesome until you’ve talked to me on the phone for hours and hours and hours about movies.

Can I increase my alimony?

Maybe?  Possibly?

Can I jailbreak?

I don’t recommend attempting jailbreaks.  I’ve seen the Count of Monte Cristo and other movies of similar subject matter, and they rarely turn out well for the main character.  Except for The Shawshank Redemption.  But, I mean, seriously, that dude took years to set up his plan.  Besides, leading a jailbreak involves being morally gray at best, and absolutely breaking the law.

Photo By:  Toy Eater of Flickr
Can I kick it?

Personally, I’m pretty okay with kicking it old school, myself, homeskillet.  I like to keep it chill.  I’m certainly okay with you keeping it real, as well, but I would prefer if you don’t kick it in my pad, ya know?  It’s a personal space thing, dude, for reals.  Just, you know, go find your own space.

Can I live lyrics?

I think living lyrics is a questionable practice at best.  Some songs have an inspirational message that you should, by all means, feel free to apply to your life.  But, I mean, how are you going to live by “I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together.”  I mean, I guess I can see a sort of “We are one” idea, but honestly, good luck living by such ideas.

Now, if you mean you want to live a lyrical life, you should look to John Green, Joe Hill, and John Scalzi if you want a study in what it’s like to be a classy son of a bitch.

Can I marry Lydia in Skyrim?

I have not played Skyrim, and I have no idea whom Lydia is.  That said, I wish you and Lydia all the best.

Photo By:  Lesley Middlemass
Can I Nair my nuts?

Can you?  I’m sure.  But should you?  I don’t recommend it.  I'm fairly certain that Nair shouldn't be eaten--in fact, it's probably poisonous.  Besides, think about it, it would probably burn the shit out of your mouth...tongue...cheeks...throat...on the way down.

Can I opt out of Social Security?

I don’t think so.  I’m pretty sure it’s an all-in system.  I’m pretty sure you can choose not to claim the money you’ve paid in, but I’m not sure you get a choice on the actual paying.

Can I play it?

A song?  If you know the instrument and the music.  A video game?  More than likely.  A board game?  Most definitely.  Game with my heart?  I wish you wouldn’t.

Can I qualify for a mortgage?

I honestly have no idea.  I’m not even entirely sure what goes into that kind of thing.  I’m still in a “rent rather than own” phase.

Photo By TC Davis
Can I run it?

Windows?  Probably.  Linux?  More than likely--it takes up virtually no space.  A foot race?  I guess that depends on how in shape you are.  I certainly can’t.  I went for a walk a few days ago, and I’m still sore from it.

Can I stream it?

Who freakin’ knows anymore?!  Netflix has different rules than Hulu that has different rules from the regular broadcasting companies--most of which suck.  Personally, the internet exclusive content--like Vlogbrothers, Ze Frank, and basically anything on the Geek & Sundry channel--can and is definitely worth being streamed.

Can I track my iPhone?

Yes.  I recommend turning out the lights so you can see the glow of its little screen.  Then you can see it easily when it cuts across the room and tries to hide under the couch.  Catching it is a whole different matter.

Can I use PayPal on Amazon?

No.  PayPal is an eBay company.  Amazon is...not eBay.  That’s like asking if...Walmart accepts Target giftcards.

Photo By: James Adams
Can I vote?

I’ll stick to US law.  Are you 18?  Are you registered?  Then yes.  As a matter of fact, I highly recommend it.  Apathy about our political process is one of the worst things you can have, because so much of it affects your life and how you live it.

Can I yell at a cop?

It’s not advisable.  I guess it would depend on the situation, but I’m pretty sure they can nab you for being belligerent or something.

Can I Zumba while pregnant?

Erm...maybe?  I’m pretty sure that exercise is recommended while pregnant, but at a certain point, you’re not really supposed to strain yourself a whole lot.  So, I would say, check with your doctor.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Flash Fiction Challenge: The Prison Break


It's that time again.  Chuck Wendig, over at Terribleminds, has yet another flash fiction challenge this week.  This time, he provided us with several settings/scenarios, and we had to pick one and write a story in it.  The choices were:

  • In the middle of a prison riot.
  • Chinatown during a hurricane.
  • In the Martian suburbs celebrating the Red Planet’s independence.
  • In a haunted mountain pass.
  • On the battlefield during a war between two races of mythological creature.

I chose the setting of a prison riot.  This is the idea I came up with.  It comes in at exactly 1000 words.  Enjoy.

The Prison Break
 
Photo From:  State Records NSW of Flickr

The guard is a mean motherfucker.  I’ve dealt with him all too often.  He called me names, he mocked my sexuality, he trapped me in iron chains and beat me.  I don’t even feel a twinge when I pop my hand over his mouth and slide my knife between his ribs.  He instantly goes still, slumps.  As I set his body down, I bump the iron bars and feel my skin sizzle.  I ignore it for now.  It won’t be much longer and I’ll be out of here.

I shove him over on his side and rummage through his clothes.  I feel a long, large lump in his pocket and shove my hand in deep.  When I wrap my fingers around the object, white-hot pain lances up my arm.  My hand feels like it’s engulfed in flames.  I bite back a scream and rip my hand out of the pocket, flinging the object into the back of my cell in the process.  I see it bounce off the wall and clang to a stop halfway back to me.  An iron key.  Bastard.

I wrap the bed sheet around my hand, pick up the key, and unlock my cell door.  The first step I take out of the cell, I stop and take a deep breath.  I let my bare toes curl and scrape at the floor.  soaking up the freedom for a moment and savoring the feeling of no longer being held in by iron.

“Hey, Teeth is making a break for it!”

I whirl around to the person who said that and hold my knife up to my lips, shushing them.  The satyr bows his head and looks up at me with big, watery, dark eyes.  Before my time in here, it would have broken my heart.  Now I just sneer.

“Will you shut the hell up?  You’re gonna let the whole place know.”

“...sorry.”

I unlock his cell with the key, then I hand it to him.

“Go open as many cells as you can.  We don’t have a lot of time before the guards start missing fuckface over there.”

He nods and hobbles off, clomping as loud as a goddamned horse.  Maybe I should have started with someone a little more stealthy.  Too late now.  I rush off to the next cell.  Unlike the others on this block, which mostly feature the traditional barred cell doors, this cell features a solid stone door.  I press my hand on it, close my eyes, and I’m inside.

The minotaur is laying on his cot.  A cigarette dangles from his lips, and I pause for a moment to take in that strange image before I shake it off and explain my plan.  While I talk, the minotaur doesn’t move, he doesn’t blink, and I’m not even sure he’s listening.  He just stares up at the ceiling and puffs on his cigarette.  When I finish, he waits a few moments before responding.  It’s not much, just a flick of his eyes over to me and a nod.

Back outside, the pandemonium is starting to get going.  The poltergeists were let out and have started playing catch with a rolled up cot mattress.  The leprechauns are tumbling and rolling through the halls, laughing and dancing little jigs, throwing gold around like it’s confetti.  The vampires stand in a dark corner and stare out at the madness with bloodshot, hungry eyes.  It’s probably been a few years since any of them have fed, if their balding heads, heavily wrinkled skin, and lean bodies are a testament to anything.

I’m scanning the room, trying to relocate the satyr when all of the lights go out around me.  I can see they’re still on, but it’s like none of their luminescence can reach me.  I turn around and greet the night fae with a sigh.

The night fae are all in a similar stance: slightly leaned back, arms crossed, staring out through black, razored bangs.  Their gothic style doesn’t suit the light blue jumpsuit they’ve been forced into, and it takes an effort not to mouth off.  I guess I can’t stop a small smirk because the leader curls her black lips into a snarl, exposing her pointed teeth.

“Teeth, what you’re doing isn’t going to work.  You’re not going to be allowed back into the Ministry of Molars.  They kicked you out for a reason.”

“You know it’s not just about my position in the Ministry.  How do you think I ended up in here?  That fat, pompous ass deserves what’s coming to him.”

The leader opens her mouth to say something else when the guards burst in, each armed with a different weapon.  Some carry stakes, some carry silver, some iron, some just carried guns.  They may not kill, but they hurt like a bitch.

The sight of a stake must enrage one of the vamps, because the whole legion of them dives at the mortal men with an ear piercing shriek.  Then the chaos really starts.  Guards flood in like cockroaches, taking up station at every exit, while still more join the battle.  I see one guard chasing after a giggling leprechaun.  He nearly catches up with him when the little guy flips backward and uses the guard’s balls as a springboard to hurl himself forward.

The night fae move to surround me.  I close my eyes, put all my energy into visualizing the stone door, and send the minotaur my thoughts.  The explosion is deafening.  The minotaur steps through the dusty hold and lets out a roar.  He turns, sees me, and charges.  The night fae vanish in a swirl of shadows just as the minotaur reaches them.  I grab hold of the minotaur’s horns and swing myself up onto his shoulders.  I hunker down as he bursts through wall after wall, until I feel the cool night air on my skin.

“On to the Faeworld!” I shout.  The minotaur nods, hunches over, and picks up speed.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Review: PROMETHEUS Part 3





This is it, ladies and gentlemen.  The final segment of my Prometheus review.  I know I’ve spent many words complaining about this movie, and there are many words left.  I’ve already demonstrated the largest flaw of the movie is that characters’ actions are often dictated by what should happen next in the plot, and not what makes sense for that character.  The movie’s tone is so mismatching that there are sequences that don’t match the movie that they seem to have made--which very well might have been a pre-production issue--and often they have to shoehorn plot elements in very clumsily to ensure that things happen the way they want.

In this segment, there are several more moments of characters acting inexplicably, a failure to follow up on incredibly significant plot details, and one of the stupidest deaths I’ve ever seen of a main character in a movie.

Let’s dive in to part three of my review.


Previously, Shaw had returned from a botched exploration mission only to see her best friend and lover sacrifice himself in an incredibly stupid fashion for an incredibly stupid reason at the hands of Vickers.  Why do I say incredibly stupid?  Because Vickers wouldn’t let him on for fear of infecting the entire crew.  However, she was going to let people who might be infected onto the ship, and if they did wind up being infected, she was going to lock them in a stasis pod until they returned home.  Okay...why couldn’t you do that for Holloway, too?

Shaw had fainted and come to in a medical bay where David was scanning her tummy.  We learn that she’s 3 months pregnant, which we know is impossible.  She just had sex, like, yesterday.  She winds up sneaking away and performing a self-abortion/c-section in a surgery pod.  This scene could have had quite an impact on Shaw as a character.  Afterall, we learned that she’s unable to have kids.  The mental strain that must occur when you finally do get pregnant, only to have to abort the pregnancy because your child is a monster?  That should put her through the emotional ringer.  But doesn’t.  Not really.  Sure she’s scared, but it’s more of a fear she might die than it is a punch to her emotional core.  And the audience couldn’t give a crap because they only introduced her infertility as a plot point right before it became relevant, leaving us saying, “Who gives a crap?”

[I get quite a bit of mileage from this picture, don't I?]
While Shaw’s playing Alien Baby Operation, the crew finds the Geologist’s crumpled body outside.  When they go to check on him, the Geologist springs up and attacks them with super strength and speed and kills a shit-ton of people before they can finally put him down.  These events are happening simultaneously, so when the captain hunts Shaw down to tell her that these aliens were developing biological weapons and that this planet was actually a military base and that the hollow mountain is actually an underground spaceship, Shaw has literally just come out of surgery.  I have something to say about that as well, but let’s stop for a moment and look at what the captain just told Shaw about this alien planet...

These aliens were developing biological weapons, this planet is actually a military base, and the hollow mountain is actually an underground spaceship.

HOW COULD HE POSSIBLY KNOW THAT?


It’s possible that the geologist might have ingested some of the black goo earlier when he fell face-first into it with his melted open helmet, and that might be what caused him to reanimate and go all mutant zombie killer on everyone, and if you add that to the way Holloway reacted when he ingested some of that goo thanks to David slipping him a mickey, you certainly might come to a conclusion that the black goo was some sort of chemical weapon.  And that would a reasonable deduction...

...except that nobody knew any of that.  They had no idea if Geologist swallowed a bunch of goo.  Nobody knew where Geologist was, nor what happened to him.  As far as they knew, he had been dragged away by a wild animal to be eaten.  And as for becoming a mutant zombie killer, any number of things could have caused him to react that way.  Perhaps when they all took their space helmets off underground, he caught an alien microbe?  Maybe their spacesuits weren’t protecting them adequately from this alien sun’s radiation?  Maybe he accidentally picked up a parasite somehow that was messing with his brain?  They’re on an alien world where they know literally nothing about this place.  There could be thousands of possible explanations.  For all they know, invisible Sky Care Bears were puppetting him around like a fleshy marionette.


And even if it was the goo, and even if they had the data to speculate that conclusion, what would make them assume the planet is a military base and/or that the goo is a weapon?  The goo could be blood, cloning materials, jars of decayed organs--who knows what it could be or what effect it could have on the human body?  Nobody ever ran any tests on it, or anything else really.

They are the worst...scientists...ever...

Besides the egregious leap in logic, this scene also suffers from plain sloppy writing.  It’s as if the filmmakers knew they needed to get this information across so that you could understand why the characters were going to do what they do next, so they just shoehorned in a character sloppily expositing all of the important info.  This, once again, makes characters act in ways they otherwise wouldn’t, and sometimes make leaps to ridiculous conclusions just for the sake of plot convenience.

Shaw, reeling from this crazy news (and the brutal, psychologically scarring c-section/abortion) rushes off to tell someone...presumably Vickers, about the captain’s discovery.  But wait, you may be thinking, what about the evil alien baby thing that she just cut out of herself?  Did she tell the captain about it?  Did he ask if she was okay, since it would be obvious that something was wrong with her?  No.  She just leaves it wriggling around in the surgery pod, never mentioning to anyone what she went through.  You’d think maybe she’d be like, “Oh, hey, there’s a mutant alien abomination thing in there, so...watch your step,” but no.


In search of someone to talk to, she stumbles upon them helping Old Man Weyland out of a secret stasis pod.  Turns out, he’s not dead after all, and he has been playing the role of the geriatric stowaway.  He wants to go down to the mountain/spaceship/funhouse of horrors to do a little exploring.  This is the corporate job that to which Vickers told them the science mission would fall second.  David has known this all along, and is determined (programmed?) to help Weyland achieve his goal.  Why did Weyland fake his death, lie to the crew, sneak aboard a spaceship, and fly light years across the galaxy? 

Because he believes that if the aliens created us, they must also have the secret to eternal life.

Hold on.  So far in this movie:

Scientists on Earth deduce that aliens visited several ancient civilizations because they all drew the same picture despite not having contact with each other and not being able to see the planet configuration depicted from Earth.  Instead of concluding that maybe these aliens came and helped get our civilizations started--ala building the pyramids or whatever--they assume that the aliens actually created us. 

That’s a huge leap in logic from the start.  However, compound that with the scientists further concluding that the picture--clearly done by ancient man--is also somehow an invitation from our creators for us to go find them...even though we would have been thousands--if not millions--of years away from any kind of space travel.

But now they’re assuming not only that they created us, and that they wanted us to hunt them down across the galaxy and find them, but also because they created us, they also have the secret to eternal life??  Where are you getting the data for your conclusions?!


Once again, this isn’t just a stupid leap in logic, it’s also another example of where the story begins to show the machinations of the plot behind the curtain.  Weyland, rather than just being some throwaway character--which is fine, not every character can be developed in a story--is now the cliched old man afraid of death just so that we have an excuse to go back to the mountain one last time.  Otherwise, we’d have no reason.

And that’s precisely what happens.  Weyland discusses going to find the Albino in the stasis pod from earlier and ask him questions--why they created us, what’s the secret to eternal life, why do fools fall in love, how much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?  You know, the classics.  Shaw insists on going as well, despite having JUST HAD MAJOR INVASIVE EMERGENCY SURGERY.  Her stomach staples are only minutes old.

Vickers tries to convince Weyland that it’s not really a good idea for someone so sick and frail to go traipsing around unexplored alien planets, but Weyland just shuts her down and has David carry him off.  NOW we can bring up something I said way way earlier.  Remember when I told you about how Weyland said David was “like the son I never had”?  Well it’s revealed that Weyland didn’t have a son...but he did have a daughter--Vickers!

Original Photo by: wearedc2009 Scholars

Who cares??  Why reveal that?  What does that have to do with the story they're trying to tell?  It doesn’t do much to enlighten us to Vickers character.  Yes, it gives her a little more motivation about why she’d do all of this for Weyland, but it also could have just been that he’s paying her a crap load of money.  Not everyone is driven by an internal moral compass.  Some people are greedy bastards.  At this point, we have spent very little time with Vickers, and this is just useless information.  What makes it worse is that it won’t have any bearing on the rest of the story at all.

They go to Albino Man’s space pod.  David wakes him up, but when Weyland tries to ask him about all of the secrets of life (I have a feeling that woodchuck one was particularly weighing on his mind), the spaceman goes apeshit and kills him.  I guess he didn’t like being interrogated first thing after a nap.  I'm sure teenagers across the western world can sympathize.  

During his rampage, Albino Man kills the rest of the crew as well,  and even rips David’s head off.  Then, he charges after Shaw.  She sprints away and makes it to safety--an impressive feat given that, in case I need to remind you, SHE JUST HAD SURGERY A FEW MINUTES AGO.  Instead of pursuing Shaw in his blind rage, he activates the underground spaceship and begins preparing for take off.  The severed head of David reveals that the Albino is going to go back to Earth to destroy the human race for...some reason.


How does David know that?  

Well, earlier in the movie, while he was playing explorer and doing his BUTTON TOUCHING THING, not only did he find Albino Man in his stasis pod, he also activated a hologram of the aliens running around doing things and talking to each other.  Because he is a machine with a massive database of languages, he obviously understands their language.  Apparently, in that scene, the Albinos were talking about coming to destroy earth.  For some reason, David decided that information wasn’t pertinent until now, which makes him stupid and/or cruel and/or sadistic, because taking Weyland down there with that knowledge was basically guaranteeing that not only would he die, but so would the whole crew, and possibly the entire human race, which once again makes us aware of just how bad the characterization in this movie is.  What makes David tick?  Is he a robot that can feel or not?  What is his motivation?  Did he want Weyland to die?  Why?  The rest of humanity were dicks to him because he was a robot, but not Weyland.  And if he did want Weyland to die, then how do you explain all of his earlier behavior.  You could have excused all of the BUTTON TOUCHING and slipping dangerous goos to crew members as working for Weyland and trying to find something that could cause immortality.  But now?  Now his actions make even less sense.

As the alien spaceship rises into the air and humanity looks doomed, Shaw contacts the captain and convinces him to crash his spaceship into the alien spaceship to save the earth.  Vickers, still on board, obviously disagrees with this decision and flees to an escape pod, which blasts her to the surface.  Meanwhile, the captain says his goodbyes to Asian Guy and White Guy, and then fly their spaceship into the alien's.  The blow to the alien spaceship sorta puts a ding in it, while utterly annihilating Prometheus, but it's enough to stop the alien spaceship and send it falling back to the surface.  Idris Elba, you deserved more than a "dead bro walking" role.


That's not entirely fair.  After all, the two other crew members died died as well.  It's just frustrating that he was the only African American character in the movie, and he died.  But if you thought his death was sort of stupid and avoidable, the next one will make your head explode.

As the massive round alien spaceship falls to the surface, it starts to roll, and Shaw and Vickers find themselves directly in the path.  Of the round...wheel-like spaceship.  Apparently, running around on the surface of the planet too much must have fried their brains, however, because rather than running left or right out of the path of the gigantic spaceship, they try to outrun it, instead.

Once again, this is clearly a dramatic action scene for the sake of a dramatic action scene, only this one is much worse.  At least with the approaching storm, the characters couldn’t just easily escape by stepping out of the way.  Good thing Shaw is a scientist, because all of that fancy learnin’ helps her figure that out.  Vickers watches her go, and keep running forward.  Then, she falls and actually begins scooting backward on her ass when she could have just rolled rolled out of the way. 

This is a shameful way to treat her character because it makes her character’s death not only pointless, but also incredibly stupid, and it robs her of a any dignity that she has, up until this point, actually maintained.


Shaw, safely out of the path of the crashing ship, discovers that she is low on oxygen.  Her suit tells her she has approximately 1 minute remaining, so she finds the wreckage of Vickers’ room from Prometheus.  Since it was made special, it’s in one piece and still has oxygen inside, so Shaw climbs in, presumably to search for more oxygen.  Inside, she discovers the alien baby thing has turned into a giant, angry, alien squid, proto-facehugger.  Somehow, no one noticed this.  Shaw is safe, however, because it’s sealed in a different room.  David then pops onto her radio to tell her that the Albino Man somehow survived the crash, and he's coming to get her.  I don’t know how he’d know where she was...I guess he read the script, too.
When Albino Man busts in, the proto-facehugger does, too, and grabs him.  They both fight while Shaw escapes.  She decides to go back to the alien spaceship to grab David's head and body and hijack another alien spaceship...because there are loads of them hidden underground apparently.  Even though a minute ran out a long frickin' time ago, she's fine.  She forces David to take her to the Albino home planet so she can get some answers, and the blatent sequel bait is complete.

THE END

Well, except the Abino Man’s chest bursts open and an alien that vaguely resembles the Alien alien crawls out and scampers away.

THE END 4 REALZ

So, that was Prometheus.  And despite all of my complaining, I like this movie.  It, unlike a lot of big budget science-fiction/action/horror movies that come out anymore, tried something new.  It didn’t exactly succeed, but it at least tried.  And, despite the massive plot holes, there were some pretty awesome sequences in there, and basically fantastic performances all around.  That’s honestly why I’m so hard on the movie.  There was a lot of potential in this movie, and it failed to meet that potential.  It’s clear that it suffered from production problems--possibly rewrites, which probably explains Guy Pearce’s role in the movie--and that makes it even more sad.

This movie honestly feels like two movies.  There’s the horror movie--ala Alien, and then there’s the deep-thought, question-asking, science-fiction movie--ala 2001: A Space Odyssey.


There were so many places where doling out the information could have been handled better.  For example, why did we need to think that these aliens created us from the beginning of the movie?  They already thought the aliens were giving us an invitation to come see them, why couldn’t we just go with “They started our civilization,” and then discover they actually created us while we’re on the planet?  That would have had bigger punch, and it would have created some fantastic moments where the characters would have to re-examine their faith and their understanding of our role in the universe. 

Another example, why did they have to info-dump the fact that the planet was a military base?  Why not find a room with plans or something that David could translate.  Hell, they could’ve explained away why they wanted to kill us, why they created us, and the revelation of all of that information in one quick scene:  The crew finds blue-prints in an alien script.  David translates and explains that they are blue-prints to create organic life forms as a form of biological weapon.  He then does his BUTTON TOUCHING THING and activates a video revealing that they, in fact, were creating humans.  Maybe show a human going bananas and killing a bunch of them...kind of silly since they’re 8 foot tall Albino body-builders, but whatever.  That explains everything we were left wondering at the end of Prometheus, and poses even more interesting questions that could either be answered, or alluded to, or even built up for  a sequel.

All in all, I still recommend that you see this movie, if only for the great performances, fantastic visuals, and gorgeous music.  If you are a writer, then my recommendation is even stronger.  This movie is a great lesson in storytelling, both what to do and--even more so--what not to do.  Given the crap that gets released under "science fiction" anymore, at least this movie tried something new.