The Underground — Issue #50
Everything you need to know about in this weekly series: Peter Jackson admits he was winging it when he made The Hobbit, the best fiction within fiction, Cormac McCarthy’s most haunting book, the minimum wage debate, and what is coming to the future of cars by 2020.
At Social Underground we go beyond the mainstream stuff and see what’s underneath the surface. What should we get into, listen to, read, eat or watch? If there is something in our culture that needs attention that’s our job: Show you the underground things that you need to know about: Books, music, television, movies, comedians, art, and whatever else we can find to get you into something you never knew about. That’s The Underground.
1. Peter Jackson admits The Hobbit was just huge mess. When I first heard that Guillermo Del Toro was going to direct The Hobbit I was stoked. I figured Jackson was too burnt out on Tolkien to film another massive film in that universe. Del Toro was spending a lot of his time writing the script, designing characters, doing storyboard, and pretty much all the pre-production for a movie of this size, but many complications happened that eventually led to him leaving the project. Eventually, Peter Jackson came back to direct the film based on the book.
Since he took it over, he had to start all over again with limited time. Since the movie is based on a children’s book, it should be more than enough to fill a 3-hour movie, but since it’s Peter Jackson, he had to stretch it out to 2 huge movies. Sometime later we get news that it will be 3 movies based on a 300 page book. I gave him the benefit of the doubt since the LOTR trilogy was fantastic. Then I saw the first movie… oh no.
The problem was clear in the first movie. So much that wasn’t in the book was shoehorned into it that it ends 1/3 of the way to the destination. The moment it ends you realize that you have to wait another year to see even more of a road trip you already don’t care about. Sure, The Desolation of Smaug was alright, but it still felt forced with even more liberties taken from the book. I know I sound like one of those nerds that praise the book, but what made the book great was because it was pretty simple. While watching these movies, you can really feel that they’re trying to just milk the fans out of money. LOTR had years to do so much practical effects, and this was just a CGI mess. It had the look of “too much of a good thing.” It reminded me of when I would mix all the Slurpee flavors together. I would get this dark blue/purple colored sugary mess that I could drink only so much before I threw it out.
What this all led up to was Battle of the Five Armies. Another 3-hour film that’s basically based on a few pages of the book. This is where the crew of the film really derailed as they were really making it up as they went along — literally. The video below shows the behind the scenes of the last film. It’s sad that the filmmakers thought they had to make 3 films. They seem to be willing to torture themselves for no reason. You wouldn’t have so much stress if you didn’t makes a film series longer to watch than it is to read.
2. The greatest works of fiction within fiction. It takes a lot of hard work and imagination to create a work of fiction that isn’t terrible. It’s even more difficult to create a piece of fiction within the fiction you created. I remember reading WATCHMEN a few years ago and noticed an entire comic book story within the graphic novel that was pretty damn good all on its own, so it would be pretty cool to see what other great works of fiction also managed to pull that feat off.
Check out this infographic of the best works of fiction within works of fiction.
3. Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian is a book that you need to read to make you terrified of the Wild West.
When I first read Cormac McCarthy — one of America’s best authors — I decided to pick up the book I heard was a difficult read for even people with the strongest stomachs. I could watch gory films and not be phased by what I saw. Most horror films or fiction never really scared me that much since the majority if not based in reality. It usually involved a crazy person killing and chopping people up. So, saying all of that, Blood Meridian terrified me to my very core. I always heard the book was unfilmable, and after reading it for a third time, it still remains that way for me. There is no possible way that this book could be a film without ruining the book and/or being rated X for extreme content.
Premise: An epic novel of the violence and depravity that attended America’s westward expansion, Blood Meridian brilliantly subverts the conventions of the Western novel and the mythology of the “wild west.” Based on historical events that took place on the Texas-Mexico border in the 1850s, it traces the fortunes of the Kid, a fourteen-year-old Tennesseean who stumbles into the nightmarish world where Indians are being murdered and the market for their scalps is thriving.
That premise doesn’t even mention the character of Judge Holden. Holden sets himself apart from being just an insane antagonist by being a genius. He seems to be an expert in numerous fields, and if he doesn’t know something, he will strive to learn everything he can about it.
This is one interesting and powerful moment from the book: Toadvine, a fellow Glanton Gang member, asks why the judge is so interested in collecting and drawing species he wasn’t familiar with. The judge replies, in one of the most haunting quotes from the book, “Whatever in creation exists without my knowledge exists without my consent.”
I won’t spoil the rest, but the book will lead you to one of the most talked about endings in fiction. You can buy the book right now on Amazon.
4. This video answers if we should we raise the minimum wage. If the minimum wage rose with inflation as it should’ve, then the minimum wage would be substantially higher than it is now. I mean WAY higher. What really annoys me about the minimum wage is that people who went to college 3-40 years ago would brag about how they paid their way through school with a minimum wage job. They then shame us because we don’t have the working ethic that they had when they were putting them through college. The problem is that I would need a high paying job that came with a Master’s degree to pay for college now. Even with that job, it still wouldn’t be enough to put me through college because I’d have no time to go to college. It’s a catch-22.
This video shows both sides of the debate. I personally go to raising the minimum wage… but not so much for fast food workers. Those jobs are for kids in high school, but then again, jobs are hard to get in some circumstance. Some have to work more than one minimum wage job just to earn a living wage. Hence more controversy.
5. A lot of advanced technology will be available for your car by 2020. When it comes to cars, I still have a CD player as my main source of music. Yeah, I know, make fun of me, but I will soon be upgrading to something better instead of leasing a new car every 2 years like most of you. That is the car version of buying a new iPhone every 6 months — it’s the same thing, but you just want to show off something new.
This infographic shows off some of the advanced tech that we could have in and on our cars by 2020. I’m looking forward to the car that can repair itself. No more of hearing that mechanic say that I ran over a unicorn and need $2,500 of work to repair that spell it placed on my radiator before it died. They always try to get you with the magic.
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Jeff Sorensen is an author, writer and occasional comedian living in Detroit, Michigan. You can look for more of his work on The Huffington Post,UPROXX,BGR and by just looking up his name.