Cut to the Bone. Drink the Marrow.
Occasionally, I’m concerned that I’m a basic bitch. Forgive the coarse terminology, but sometimes I consider what shaped me. Maybe you do, too. Especially as a writer. What you consume is your fuel, right? Movies, books, etc. It’s good to know where the fuel comes from.
For much of my life, that fuel was harvested from everything I consumed in my youth. Horror movies. GI Joe cartoons. Comics. Nintendo.
It’s not a very exotic pedigree. But for a while, I think maybe it was. Up until the ‘Age of Marvel’, the stories I drew from - consciously or not - weren’t thrust into the spotlight on the center stage. Now all of these things that played fundamental roles in shaping my creativity are … common. We have a new Marvel this or a Star Wars that just about every week.
All of the things I loved are now the things that everyone loves.
I don’t mean to say this as a gatekeeper. Everyone is welcome. You’re just learning who Drizzt Do’Urden is? Cool. Let’s chat. You’re into comics, but you only like Archie? That’s cool, too. I love comics.
What I’m saying is, how can I be uniquely creative when all of my sources are laid bare for everyone to see?
That’s the challenge for all of us creators. Ideas don’t form ex nihilo. And you’ve got to continuously consume - pump in new fuel - so that you can deconstruct, assimilate, and turn it all into something fresh and novel. And hopefully a little weird.
To that end, I’m going to endeavor to get out of my comfort zone this summer. Maybe I’ll read a book that doesn’t have any wizards in it. Or I’ll watch a movie where nothing explodes. Regardless, the landscape has shifted. I’ll need to dig deep.
The top of the list?
Maybe reading some Paul Coelho
Watching some Truffaut
And absorbing the work of LURK
I’ll keep you posted on my progress. Any suggestions?
The Lawnmower Man.
Okay. So I’m not off to a great start with that whole dig deep and drink the marrow thing.
Have you ever had a piece of media that snuck inside and stayed there, lingering around behind the couch or maybe living in that spare room you never use? You consumed the media. You thought you discarded it, yet you keep referring to it, making jokes and sly (albeit dated) references.
But then, when you finally decide to open the door to that spare room, you find that … you don’t know this person at all.
You’ve never seen this movie. You’ve never read this book.
And yet you’ve been casually referring to it, thinking you were quite familiar with it.
I’ll get to the point.
I thought I had seen Lawnmower Man. Within 5 minutes of pressing ‘play’ on HBO MAX, I realized I had never seen this bit of much-maligned science fiction. It’s like if Flowers for Algernon were made with an N64. And it’s glorious.
And let me tell you - this is like 1992 Jason did 2022 Jason a favor. I was a surly teenager when this movie was released. I scoffed at its primitive CGI. In just a year, Jurassic Park would be in theaters, making the FX in Lawnmower Man seem primitive. I would not have enjoyed this movie in 1992. But now? As a curious artifact of the 90s? It’s delicious.
I’m afraid Lawnmower Man 2 may be in my future. But before or after 400 Blows?