Sasha Frere-Jones takes a look at rock critics’ fear and loathing of Justin Timberlake and pop music in general in Slate. It’s a great article.
Ivan Askwith in Salon argues that, because it’s coordinated tightly across comics, video games and films, The Matrix as a networked fiction “offer(s) a new model for storytelling in the detail-obsessed, information-saturated digital age.” Several of the claims here are a little hyperbolic and dubious — if we’re so “detail-obsessed,” how come a considerable chunk of Americans think Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden are related? — and, in the end, even Askwith admits that the Wachowski’s “new model of storytelling” looks an awful lot like the one George Lucas started 25 years ago. But, the article does raise the issue of what makes our perception of Matrix a little different from our perception of Marvel or DC or even Harry Potter: the idea that the Wachowskis are not just producers but auteurs, that their vision is enforced upon the franchised fiction system more powerfully than ever before and that the the product(s) of such a singular vision are de facto better than those produced by a lot of visions working together.
Even if the idea of a “singular vision” in a fiction network wasn’t totally divorced from reality (meet Geof Darrow and Steve Skroce, just to start), I don’t see why that centrality and unity is necessarily better. There’s no question that the Wachowskis have strong control over Matrix, and that this control has resulted in a narrative with greater unity and coherence across all its media than, say, The Hulk. But let’s think about some of the assumptions here: if unity is better, why? (Matrix is certainly innovative, compelling, and sophisticated, but is that because it has unity?) Perhaps more importantly, does greater control equal greater creative power?
Maybe I’ll mess with “auteur” as a concept later, but suffice it to say that I’m not sure it’s fair to all the other people who have built The Matrix to assume without question that these guys are better artists, rather than better managers.
My name’s Jason, and I’m a Ph.D. candidate in English at the University of Texas at Austin. I’m (hopefully) less than a year away from finishing my dissertation. I study popular fictions in the mediasphere (X-Men, EverQuest, The Matrix), considering issues of authorship, audience participation, “narrative management” and story multiplicity. I’m being kind of obtuse here, but I hope you’ll get a better idea as you read the entries.
I’ve just come back to school after 3 years in “the world” developing Web applications: a year at ActiveInk Corporation during the heady days of start-ups and two at Cirrus Logic after that bubble burst. I’ve been working with ExploreLearning this summer and hope to keep doing so throughout the year. Most of my time’s been spent with Java/J2EE and ColdFusion. I’ve done a lot of XML programming (Java XML APIs, schemas, XSLT), and XML’s holding a lot of my interest at the moment. I’m also about to enter the world of PHP with an app here at school.
I’m married to a fantastic guy named Mike.
I read a lot of comics.