Monday, December 10, 2007

The Best Post on Sarah Vowell, Marketing, Christmas, and The Golden Compass to be Published This Morning:

In The Partly Cloudy Patriot, Sarah Vowell taught me that the best way to sell anything is by letting people know that it is the best thing - of its kind. And the best way of doing that is to mix broad superlative claims (and never underestimate the power of the word 'best') with some very detailed couching. For example, I could say that Vowell's The Partly Cloudy Patriot is simply the best book to be penned by a New York City dwelling Okie during the early part of the 21st century! Or that Second Innocence is absolutely the best, most thought-provoking feminist blog to to be published out of of northeastern Atlanta by University of Virginia graduates!

This skill is particularly important during the holiday season, since it always feels a bit yucky to lie to your grandma. Now, though, when she give you a hideous sweater on Christmas day you can truthfully say, "Grams, this is simply the loveliest orange sweater that anyone has ever purchased from Target for me!" This superlative clause + detail clause structure is also useful in grant writing.

This new knowledge of spin craft has saved me, for I was thinking that, after months of promoting The Golden Compass, I was not going to be able to review it for SI readers. But now I can tell you that a group of us went to see it this weekend, and I am happy to inform you that it is simply the most wonderful fantasy film set in a parallel universe which stars Nicole Kidman to be released this December!

Sarah Vowell's The Partly Cloudy Patriot really should be read by everyone though, no couching required.


Agincourt said...

Okay, I just happened to have seen The Golden Compass myself this weekend...with a group of friends. In the Northeastern Georgia area...with some UVA grads.

Now, I haven't read the books yet. And to be honest I'm glad I haven't, as I was able to 'enjoy the ride' as they say. Now, I will read them, mind you. But I have to say that for the first time in a long time, I got to see a movie that, other than a few random leaks and of course the 'controversy', I had no concept of the plot. I knew there was the Little Girl, daemons, Authority Figures, and of course...and an Armoured Bear. And presumably a Golden Compass. But other than that, I got to let the story unfold without preconceived notions.

And I have to say it was delightful for me. First of all, I had movie popcorn. Always a good thing. Second of all, I got a rare inkling of that sense of Wonder. Okay, not childhood wonder really, not...ooh, how did they do that fabulous movie magic. But.. 'I wonder what is going to happen?' For once, I had absolutely no idea. I mean, being as how it is a trilogy, I assumed the heroine would not DIE, for example. But it has been awhile since I've been to the movie without having an outline in my head of what was supposed to happen. Of course, because of that, I have nothing to be disappointed about. So...lucky me?

I should mention I rarely go to movies that I think will lose something if not seen on the 'big screen'. And I did enjoy the spectacle for the most part.

After discussing with La Pobre, I can see there might have been some clarification added about a few things, but..other than that, it was kinda fun.

And good popcorn.

La Pobre Habladora said...

I'm glad you liked it! I actually had fun too, yet I did think that I could have come up with a better script that would more closely capture the spirit of the book. Hear that, Hollywood? Have your people call my people when you decide to do a remake - or for the next in the trilogy, for that matter.

Perhaps New Line was just too scared of any controversy. TGC is, at it's heart, a mystery story - and the central mystery is 'what is dust, and how does it relate to sin and free-will?,' with the secondary mystery being 'what does the prophesy about Lyra mean when it says that she will bring an end to fate, that she will be the next Eve?' All the sin and Eve stuff was pretty much cut from the film. Then, of course, a lot of the drama of the book comes from the reader trying to sort out who the 'good' characters are - in the movie they cut out all ambiguity and really delete any indication that Lord Asriel might be just as dangerous as Mrs. Coulter.

Yet, despite my criticisms, I still want people to go see the movie! It is fun, just very ... Hollywood epic adventure. I want this movie to make money so that the 'movies staring women just don't make money' myth will just die already.