Friday, February 22, 2008

They can't all be "The Bone Collector"

This is getting ridiculous.

Why doesn't anyone seem to notice what the man is doing?

It seems so obvious to me, why don't other people pick up on it?

Is everyone so blind?

I'm speaking, of course, about Denzel Washington. In the last 8 years he's acted in 11 movies, and yet has only taken on 2 roles:

1. The good guy, who's actually a bad guy, even though he's really a good guy, if you think about it.


2. The inspirational mentor who makes us all want to shape up and go to college.

To be fair, it's probably not all Denzel's fault. His natural presence is simultaneously calm and intense, which (and isn't this a weird dichotomy) makes him ideal for playing both great teachers and great pseudo-villains. It's kinda like how Chris Cooper gets all the "hard-ass" roles, and how the guy who played Carl Winslow on "Family Matters" always gets cast as a cop.*

But I notice the same thing happening with writers, who don't have typecasting as an excuse.

Issac Asimov: The main character is an academic who discovers something that is a threat to all of humanity, only no one believes him. So he studies the problem while being hindered by those who don't want to believe the truth, then solves everything in the last 10 pages.

Neil Gaiman: The main character is a regular Joe who gets pushed around by a woman he idealizes while being handed the short end of the stick in all other aspects of life. But really he has the potential to be amazing, which he comes to realize during his travels in an amazing world that's completely foreign, even though he somehow already has a place in it.

Now try to tell me which book of Asimov or Gaiman's I'm describing.

Do writers realize that they do this, or is it a weird subconscious thing? Are they intentionally executing the same premise over and over again, using it as an easy way to talk about something else? Or are books an author's waking dream, full of little patterns that give insights about his psyche?

Have I written this post before?

*I like to imagine that the cop in "Die Hard," also played by this actor, is actually Carl Winslow. He drags himself into the house after being up all night and shooting someone for the first time in his career. Thirty seconds later Steve Urkel comes flying through the front window and we hear a voice say, "Not today, jack*ss."


Anonymous said...

On the Gaiman you obviously aren't describing Coraline or Sandman or Anansi Boys. You could be describing Stardust or Neverwhere. At a painful stretch, maybe American Gods..?

Sam Cook said...

I was thinking of Neverwhere, American Gods, Anansi Boys, and Stardust. I know AG and AB don't have separate "fantasy worlds" per se, but the reality of "gods on Earth" gets revealed to the protagonist, who (spoilers below)

already has a place among them by way of his father.

Shadow's wife cheats on him, the AB character's girl falls for his brother, which covers the betrayal by an idealized female character.