Why I Don’t Think I’ll Ever Be A ‘Proper Journalist’

I like to think that I’m fairly competent at what I do with this blog. This was only ever meant to be a bit of fun for me, a way to share my passion and opinions of games and films… Sometimes TV and other subjects too. When I started Little Bits of Gaming, I only ever wanted to do small, easy to read posts. But I began to get into larger retrospectives, histories, editorials, etc and the smaller articles just stopped as the more in-depth ones took over. My skill and confidence as a writer grew and I began writing bigger and richer articles, I moved onto writing books and much more. It even got to a point where I even considered getting into ‘proper journalism’.

I spend several months last year looking into and applying for real writing jobs for various big-name sites that cover similar subjects that I do here and a few random and general writing jobs too. I’m not going to name those sites, but if you’re into gaming and film news, then you’d be more than familiar with several of the sites I looked into and even applied for jobs with a few places. I just really wanted to get into writing on a professional level In fact, several years back now, I used to write ‘professionally’ for Movie Pilot and their sister site, Now Loading as one of their paid creators. I had to go through a whole host of ‘lessons’ to pass thier writing academy and become one of their verified creators (as they called us) and bring in some side cash as well as learn a lot more about writing on a professional level.

Anyway, I’ve always believed that outside of this blog that I could easily do this writing thing for real and be a ‘proper journalist’. I genuinely enjoy writing, I like to think I’m pretty decent at it too. So, that’s why I spent a chunck of last year trying to get into this writing thing proper. It was the midst of the first covid lockdown here in England over last summer. I wasn’t doing my day job as my workplace had to close in accordance to the covid restrictions at the time. I had been dealing with anxiety and depression for a while at the time too, even before the lockdown. It was all work-related and being in that first lockdown really made me realise how much my day job was affecting my mental health. Long story short, I ended up quitting my job in the midst of mass unemployment due to the whole coronavirus thing, with many businesses closing for good.

After I quit my job, I began to feel better about myself. The anxiety and depression are both still there, but just nowhere near as badly as before and I’m managing my mental health far better than ever. As I write this now, I still don’t have a job, I’m unemployed I guess. But, my partner returned to work at the start of this year after being off for a year following the birth of our son at the end of 2019. With my better half in employment and earning well, we made the decision that I’d be a stay at home father for a while, instead of going back to work, as it saves us a fortune in childcare. Plus, I get plenty of time to do a spot of writing too. Oh, and spend a lot of time with my two kids.

Two days a week and my little monsters are in nursery. That’s two days that I have to myself and can write. I’ve never had that much free time to write before and I’m loving it. Before, when I was working full-time, I could only write after work. And my job had me working unsociable hours too. Late finishes, working weekends and holidays, etc. On top of having one, then two small children to care for too. As a result, I could only write for around four to six hours a week, if I was lucky. So, with all this newly found spare time as a stay at home father, I thought I’d explore writing as a job. As I said, I did look into and apply to a few notable sites… And it seriously began to depress me. I wish I had screen-grabbed some images of the expectations from some of these sites. I mean eight to ten articles a day… A DAY! That’s what one of the sites I looked into were expecting from a content writer.

I tend to do around three to four articles a month on this blog on average, and I feel that’s plenty of content. I actually spend time on my articles though. I research and fact-check as best as I can. Something that a lot of modern journalists just don’t seem to do anymore. For most, if not all, of these entertainment websites, it’s all about quantity over quality. Often I find myself reading badly researched and written content from (what are supposed to be) respected sites written by ‘professional journalists’, that are really generally just lazy copy & paste jobs. Big named websites churning out shit as fast as they can and screw the quality of the content itself, as long as there’s lots of it. I know I can produce far superior content for most of these sites, but they’re just not interested. It’s all about suffocating people with as much crap as possible, while the quality of the content takes a back seat. I just can’t write like that, I can’t fart out endless dreck just to meet an unrealistic quota.

I know why big-name sites do this, it’s all about the clicks and ad revenue. These sites are a business and a business needs money to survive, it’s just a shame it’s that quantity over quality aspect of the business that brings in the most money.

Then there are the editors. From my last experiences writing for Movie Pilot and Now Loading, I learned to loath editors. See, whenever I published something for Movie Pilot, especially if it was a major article that got main coverage (I had several articles published as lead articles when I wrote for them), they would have to pass through an editor before publishing. Most of the time, the editors would completely mess up my work to the point where I asked for my name to be removed. Look, editors are needed, I get that. But the ones I had to work with were clueless imbeciles. I recall one article I wrote where I set up a joke and used a picture as the punchline. I send it off to the editor, a few hours later and it was published. I clicked on the link to read my published work and the editor had moved my picture punchline. The lead in joke was still there, but the punchline was gone. Now, it wasn’t an issue with the picture itself, because it was still used in the article, the editor had just moved it elsewhere and further down. I remember emailing the editor to explain the situation and all I got back was a snippy reply telling me how the image worked better in its new place. Despite the fact it ruined the joke and now made no sense… apparently, it was in a better place… How?

Then there was the time I wrote an article on why Metal Gear Solid V took me over a year to finish. Honestly, the game really kind of bored me and I found it utterly repetitive with having to do the same handful of missions over and over in the same handful of locations. Now, I was very respectful in my (long) article. I admitted to not being a huge MGS fan, but I still respect the franchise for what it is. I made that point very clear in my writing too. Again, I sent the article off to the editor for publication and yes, it made the grade, got published and even given credit as a lead article too, proudly displayed front and centre of the main site. Probably no more than an hour after my MSG V article had been published, my inbox was inundated with alerts to comments made about the article. Honestly, I was getting dozens of them, the biggest response to an article I had ever written for them. So of course, I was curious as to why I was getting such a huge response. I clicked on my article and went straight to the comments section, where I found nothing but personal attacks aimed at me, not my article, me directly. Swearing, threats, insults, you name it and there was a derogatory and personal slur there in the comment section. Now, I’m very thick-skinned and I don’t get offended easily. Call me whatever you want, I’m a grown man, I won’t cry about it. But I began to grow very curious as to just why my perfectly harmless article, where I respectfully explained why it took me over a year to finish MGS V, was attracting people to personally attack me. So I scrolled up from the comments and read my article after going through an editor.

It had been altered to the point where I honestly hardly recognised my own work. Now, the main gist was still there as I explained why the game just never gelled with me, but that respectful nature and tone of my writing was gone. I began to see vitriolic words such as ‘abhor’, ‘detest’ and ‘hate’ in the article, words I never wrote myself. See, I personally think words like ‘hate’ are often over and misused. It’s a strong word that I only use for particularly strong circumstances. Yet, here was my article littered with trigger words put there just to clearly get a certain response. In fact, the article ended with the line (and I quote) ‘If you hate Metal Gear Solid V as much as I do, let me know in the comments below’. A line I never wrote, a line that was clearly saying I hated the game. It had been put there by the editor as a final twist of the knife. Anyway, as I read my now edited article, I began to understand why I was getting such abuse in the comments section. Because the article was altered to be nothing more than a very bitter rant that came across as a mass insult to MGS fans and even Hideo Kojima himself. Which certainly was not the intention of my original scrawling. 

I was fuming, I emailed my editor and demanded the article be reinstated to how I originally wrote it. I was told the editor’s decision is final and it would not be changed. I pointed out the comments section and all the abuse being aimed at me due to how the article came across. They loved it, to them, it was traffic to the site, which meant more clicks, more ad revenue, more money. I was told to just take it on the chin, that sometimes I’d get comments I don’t like, that I should just ignore them. Fuck that, I was getting abuse over an article that had my name on it as I had written it… but one that had been edited to remove my respectful nature and replace it with hate and vitriol. Again, I didn’t care so much about the comments themselves, I could handle them. I was angry, not because I was getting abusive comments, but because my article had been purposely edited to incite those type of comments. My name was attached to a piece of work I didn’t agree with. 

Now, I don’t have anything against editing, it’s a necessity in this writing thing I do. But there are ways and means of doing editing well. I don’t mean to blow my own trumpet, not long back and a fellow blogger and friend, Lord Badger Nimahson from Stoffel Presents did a review of Zack Snyder’s Justice League for this blog. I was emailed the review and spotted a few minor gaffs, so I edited it, I also did a little polishing of some of the formatting and overall review. However, the end result was still 99% of Badger’s work and 1% of my editing. I didn’t change the tone or voice of the review, I didn’t add any vitriolic wording just to get a response.

Anyway, back to my Movie Pilot/Now Loading story. I refused to write for them any more. In fact, I asked for my account with them to be deleted and all of my content removed. They said they couldn’t do that, some bollocks about it going against their policy, that they can’t remove content from their paid creators. Of course, the real reason was that they were still making money off my articles every time someone clicked on them and they didn’t want to lose out on any revenue. So, as I still had access to my account with them, I spent two days just uploading articles with nothing but hardcore porn. Porn films, pictures and so on. Bombarded them with so much salacious, very adult content that they were forced to shut my account down. Then about three weeks later Movie Pilot/Now Loading shut down the entire writing department to concentrate on video content. There was a rather in-depth article that uncovered some rather questionable management practices, including accusations of sexual harassment and more at the company. I couldn’t find that article when I looked, but I did find this one about the selling off of the brand and there are a few mentions of mismanagement and the like. So it seems that I was not alone in my distrust of the company.

It’s shit like this that really put me off exploring writing professionally. What’s the point if I have to write ( copy & paste) asinine crap and lots of it, to meet a pathetic quota just to get more clicks? Why should I spend time and effort researching and writing content, just for some wanker of an editor to completely fuck up my work because they only care about getting comments and traffic to the site? That’s not what being a journalist is about. After looking into getting into ‘proper journalism’ last year, I learned that I’m a rather large square peg trying to force my way into a tiny and uncomfortable round hole. It’s just not worth it. My love, respect and passion for writing, my integrity and my moral compass just won’t allow me to go down that route.

I mean, here’s a typical piece of what passes for modern gaming ‘journalism’. An article that looks at a game character’s shoe size. This actually exists as ‘proper journalism’ from a reputable site, this is how low this shit has sunk. Even more so, the article ends with:

“What do you think of Lady Dimitrescu’s shoe size? Are you surprised by all the interest surrounding the tcharacter? Let us know in the comments or share your thoughts directly on Twitter.”

How about no, fuck off?

This is it folks, this is what passes as journalism these days. This is the kind of very low quality dreck that gets published on well known sites. This is what you get when you hire cluless writers with zero passion for writing and force them to churn out ten articles a day.

I have this very minuscule piece of real estate of a blog, lost on the gargantuan plot of land that is the internet… And I’m happy about that. I can post what I like, when I like, how I like. I mean, do you think some big-name and ‘reputable’ media site would allow me to write a lengthy rant about how shit modern journalism is now?

Face/Off: The Plot Hole

I love the 1997 John Woo action flick Face/Off. In it FBI Agent Sean Archer (John Travolta) undergoes top secret surgery to swap faces with his son’s killer and general dickish bad guy Castor Troy (Nicolas Cage), in order to work deep undercover to infiltrate Troy’s gang and learn the location of a bomb. Long story short, things go wrong and Castor Troy ends up swapping faces with Sean Archer, leaving Archer stranded in the face of the man he hates most, while Troy enjoys life as an all star FBI Agent… along with the added bonus of porking his nemesis’ wife.

I guess, the basic plot of Face/Off is nothing more than a take on the classic and often used The Prince and the Pauper story, but given a modern and more violent John Woo twist. Anyway, the reason I’m addressing a plot hole in this flick is because Face/Off has been popping up in my newsfeed a lot over the last few days. See, a sequel is currently being developed. To be directed by Adam Wingard, the man behind the very recent Godzilla vs. Kong flick. The sequel is set to reunite John Travolta’s Sean Archer and Nicolas Cage’s Castor Troy once more, though details on the plot are very sparse right now and just how involved in the sequel the original stars will be is up for speculation. Will they be the main characters, or perhaps more of a secondary/cameo thing? Anyway, none of that is important to this article. What is important is the plot hole I need to address.

See, along with news of a Face/Off 2 comes several reports on how the sequel will address and correct a plot hole from the original. Quite a few notable sites have already been talking about this plot hole fixing. Notable sites such as Digital Spy, We Got This Covered, ScreenRant and other entertainment news sites are commenting on the ‘big plot hole’ of the original film. That got me thinking… What plot hole?

FACEOFF SURGERY

Apparently, these sites are saying that the original flick has a major plot hole in that, while Sean Archer and Castor Troy only swap faces, their bodies magically change too. If you read these plot hole articles, then you’ll see things like ‘in the first movie, the bodies of the lead actors change, despite the characters only undergoing face-swap surgery‘ being claimed. Yeah, you can definitely see a big difference between the body types of John Travolta and Nicolas Cage. And yes, one would have to question why when they have the face surgery that for some reason, the bodies also change. Even I can’t deny that’s a plot hole, or it would be if you don’t pay attention to the film.

Still, what I like doing is looking at film plot holes and trying to cover them. When I do this plot hole covering thing, I set myself a few rules. I can only use in-movie universe logic, I can’t just make shit up to suit my own agenda. I can’t use explanations in novelizations, comic books , etc and only what’s in the film(s). Deleted scenes are a bit of a wildcard, depending on why they were deleted. Example, if a scene was removed against the director’s better judgement, because the suits forced it be cut, then I can think about using it. But if a director cut a scene over something like time constrains, then that’s a bit more questionable as, if the director didn’t think the scene was worth fighting for, then why should I?

Anyway, you can check out the other plot holes I’ve covered with the likes of Die Hard and the Back to the Future trilogy to better understand my thinking. So with that out of the way, on to this major plot hole in Face/Off.

As covered, this plot hole surrounds the difference in body types between Sean Archer and Castor Troy. You can clearly see in the film that Travolta has a (I’ll declare delicately) ‘chunkier’ body type than Cage, whose body is certainly leaner. So when the two swap faces, those differing body types really would and should stand out to the other characters in the film, but after the face surgery… they have also swapped bodies. However, this isn’t a plot hole as it’s being declared by certain sites, nor does it need addressing and fixing in the sequel either. Because, the original film already covered this in its plot. As proof, I need to jump to the part where John Travolta’s Sean Archer finally agrees to the surgery and has it all explained to him. This occurs at around twenty-five minutes into the flick. The doctor in charge of the super secret face-swapping procedure talks Archer through what will happen and I take the following quote directly from the film. This is not a deleted scene, not a part of the script that didn’t make the final cut. This scene and quote is right there in the film for all to see and hear.

“Hight difference is negligible. Skin pigment, eye pigment, both almost identical. We’ll use laser sheers for the hairline, micro-plugs for body hair. We’ll do an abdominoplasty to take care of those love handles.”

There’s more to that speech of what the surgery entails, but that’s the basic gist. So to summarise. The surgery to swap the face wasn’t just to swap the face as these sites are claiming. Other aspects of the surgery are mentioned in the film, including altering the body via an abdominoplasty and more. Now, one can argue just how ‘realistic’ it is to change someone’s body type so much or so drastically. But hey, you’re watching a film about an FBI agent that swaps faces and then lives his life as his son’s killer and general terrorist-type bad guy (and visa versa), so I think you can apply some of that suspension of disbelief to the body surgery too, if you’re willing to accept the whole face-swapping thing in the first place, right?

FACEOFF CAGE

Point is, that it’s not a plot hole because the plot of the film addresses the difference in body types and does change them via the surgery. No plot hole and those sites reporting on the plot hole are wrong… as is director of the sequel, Adam Wingard, who is the one saying he’s going to address the non-existent plot hole in the sequel.

 

(Guest) Movie Review: Zack Snyder’s Justice League

I have something a little bit different today. A movie review… but not by me. Instead, I have fellow beardy-blogger and friend, Lord Badger Nimahson from Stoffel Presents doing this one. My first-ever guest reviewer taking a look at one of the biggest films of 2021, Zack Snyder’s Justice League. Let’s find out what he thought. I’ll just pop up a quick SPOILER warning.


The internet has been abuzz for months now with the anticipation of Zack Snyder’s Justice League. This release is 100% due to fan pressure online and I can’t help but wonder is it a case of being careful of what you wish for?

For those not aware, Zack Snyder was the original director responsible for the vision of the DC Expanded Universe (DCEU), this started with Man of Steel, moved onto Batman v Superman and was due to culminate in The Justice League. The devastating tragedy of his daughter’s suicide meant that Zack Snyder pulled out of directing The Justice League a fair way into the project and Warner Bros. handed the reins over to The Avengers director Joss Whedon.

Whedon’s time in charge of The Justice League was plagued with several issues. From accusations of “gross, abusive, unprofessional, and completely unacceptable behaviour” to THAT hilarious, utterly atrocious and frankly horrific looking CGI removal of Henry Cavill’s moustache (the reshoots clashed with Cavill filming Mission: Impossible – Fallout and he was contracted to keep his moustache).

CAVILL CGI MOUTH 2

Whedon implemented quite a few reshoots in order to finish The Justice League. Finally, the film was released in cinemas and whilst earning around $638m at the box office ($230m of that in the USA alone), it was considered to be both a commercial and critical flop.

Hence, fans on the internet bombarding Warner Bros. with demands for them to release the ‘Snyder cut’. At first, Warner Bros. denied any such cut of the film even existed. Then they said it would never be released, before finally announcing they had given Zack Snyder a budget of $70m to finish the Snyder cut and that it would be released exclusively on their own streaming service HBO Max. And so, on the 18th March 2021, Zack Snyder’s Justice League was finally released to the world… All four hours and two minutes of it!

It’s certainly a marathon that many people have failed to sit through. But thanks to a recent injury, I have had the time to watch the film in its entirety… Twice! So, here I am taking up this tiny little corner of Steve Perrin’s wonderful blog to give you my thoughts and feelings on Zack Snyder’s Justice League.

Cinematography

My overriding thought of Zack Snyder’s Justice League is just how unbelievably stunning the visuals are. Every fight jumps out of the screen at you. Every inch of this movie is quite simply beautiful. The use of colour in the darkness is sublime. Releasing the Snyder Cut on HBO Max will no doubt be a massive boost to subscriptions for the streaming service but I can’t help but feel this is a film that needs to be experienced on the big screen. That been said, the cinematography isn’t without criticism. For example, Snyder chose to release this film in a 4:3 aspect ratio, which has upset and confused quite a few people online. The best place to find out what the film is in this ratio is from the man himself:

“My intent was to have the movie, the entire film, play in a gigantic 4:3 aspect ratio on a giant IMAX screen. Superheroes tend to be, as figures, they tend to be less horizontal. Maybe Superman when he’s flying, but when he’s standing, he’s more of a vertical. Everything is composed and shot that way, and a lot of the restoration is sort of trying to put that back. Put these big squares back… it’s a completely different aesthetic. It’s just got a different quality and one that is unusual. No one’s doing that.”

SNYDERS JUSTICE LEAGUE TEAM

Personally, my biggest problem with the cinematics of this release is that slow-motion effects are massively overused. At first, it looks impressive, but by hour two of the film, it just becomes annoying. I get that they are predominantly used to highlight moments when Snyder has taken a splash page from a comic book and wonderfully recreated it on screen but it does just feel overused and slows the film down even more than it already is. To be fair this may be an issue with the length of the film rather than the overuse of slow motion. So that being said…

Pacing

Any film with a length of just over four hours is more than likely gonna struggle with pacing but by Nimah, Zack Snyder’s Justice League seems to crawl to a halt sometimes. I am not being hyperbolic, but it is actually around thirty-minutes into the film before we actually see any of the superheroes involved in this film. Now yes, you have to set the scene and convey the state of the world that this story takes place in, but it really doesn’t need to take this long! The action is spread evenly throughout the film and is genuinely impressive, but the times between the action seems to just sludge along at a snail’s pace. I understand that this is Zack Snyder’s epic but there is so much that could have, and indeed, should have been left on the cutting room floor.

SNYDERS JUSTICE LEAGUE TEAM 2

The length of the film and the pacing of it is what kills Zack Snyder’s Justice League more than anything. The run-time is simply too long for most people to sit down and watch in one sitting (which ruins the flow of the story) and those who do find the time, will honestly, find their attention waning. I watched this film twice and both times found my attention drifting to my phone to check updates while watching. As I mentioned earlier, Zack Snyder’s Justice League feels like it should be experienced in a cinema and whilst four hours is a hell of a long time to be sat in an uncomfortable seat, I wouldn’t have my phone switched on and would pay more attention to the film regardless of its extremely slow pacing.

Story

It is probably unsurprising to discover that the story is essentially the same in both the Whedon and Snyder versions of the film, but the latter does have more depth and progression to it. The biggest difference is that Cyborg has an actual story arc. I know I know, shocking in this day and age for a character to have an actual story where we see their flaws, their struggles and ultimately their redemption. But that is exactly what we get in the Snyder cut and honestly, it is wonderful to see Cyborg explored in more depth and is a great performance from Ray Fisher.

SNYDERS JUSTICE LEAGUE CYBORG

One of the major difference from the Whedon cut is the inclusion of Darkseid. Whilst Darkseid isn’t in the film for that much, his sheer presence adds a completely different aspect to Steppenwolf’s story and character arc. Instead of being the big bad of the film, we now see him as a fallen favourite of Darkseid who is trying to reclaim the good graces of his master, after failing him in such a massive way. The fleshing out of Steppenwolf and Cyborg are probably the two biggest changes that impact the Snyder cut and make it infinitely better than Whedon’s version. Whilst I truly enjoyed these additions to the film, unfortunately, there were a few things I just couldn’t get over.

Plot Holes

There are a whole host of plot holes that, not only leave you scratching your head but sometimes they can jarringly snap you out of the film itself as you question why? I’m gonna attempt to cover these as briefly as I can:

  • Superman screams awaken the mother boxes.
    Why? As far as I am aware Superman has nothing to do with the mother boxes, isn’t connected to them in any way yet is dying screams (which take forever) awaken them.
  • Steppenwolf declares the planet will be easy to conquer as there are “No Kryptonians here”.
    How has Steppenwolf met Kryptonians before if A) Krypton is destroyed and B) every planet he visits he burns? We know Steppenwolf didn’t destroy Krypton and also why would he be scared of Kryptonians? They are only powerful on Earth due to our yellow sun. If he had visited Krypton he would have destroyed it.
  • Darkseid just lost an entire planet.
    We are shown earlier in the film that ‘The Darkness’ came to Earth and the heroes of Earth united and defeated it (Steppenwolf in the Whedon cut, Darkseid in the Snyder cut) and the mother boxes were left here and went to sleep. We are then expected to believe that Darkseid, the conqueror of over 100,000 planets according to his own boasts just forgot where Earth was! We see his ships fly away. Did they not record the path they took to fly home?
  • How did Darkseid conquer 100,000 other planets?
    When we see Darkseid defeated early in the film we are told that the three mother boxes unite into a unity and burn the planet. Darkseid lost the boxes on Earth but claims to have destroyed 100,000 planets in his search for them. How did he destroy the other planets and why couldn’t he just use that method of attack on Earth?
  • Flash gets shot.
    During the finale we see The Flash move so fast that the shockwave from an explosion passes him by. He just phase-shifts right through it. Yet when he is running at almost the speed of light a Parademon gets a lucky shot and shoots him!?
  • Wonder Woman knows Steppenwolf.
    Earlier in the film, we see Diana descend into the underground temple and learn all about the last time Earth’s heroes banded together and saved the planet from Darkseid. She even sees a picture of Darkseid. Yet when the reach Stryker’s Island and meet Steppenwolf for the first time Diana calls him by name!

Now, those points may seem petty upon reading, but these plot holes genuinely had a negative impact on the film for me. This is a shame because I enjoyed it for the most part. 

Final Thoughts 

There is no denying that Zack Snyder’s Justice League is an epic masterpiece. This film will be dissected and discussed in film schools across the world for decades. For the wonderful and interesting debates about composition and lighting, framing and delivering and artistic vision to the screen. As well as used as warnings for cutting unnecessary and unneeded footage to keep your runtime tight, the overuse of slow-motion special effects and the importance of pacing. Zack Snyder’s Justice League is in no way a perfect movie but it is a fantastic example of the wondrous results when a studio allows a director to make a masterpiece unfettered. I came away from watching the Snyder cut feeling that this is a Lord of the Rings moment for the current generation.

SNYDERS JUSTICE LEAGUE TEAM 3

A film longer than any of conventional release, an epic trilogy that conveys the director’s vision and about a million and one bloody endings! Seriously why so many endings? The film finished an hour ago why are you showing me Martian Manhunter when it could have easily gone into the next film? Why are you showing me a nightmare sequence for a film that is never going to be made?

Zack Snyder’s Justice League should be applauded for so many wonderful things. It should also be criticised for an equal amount of errors.

Is it epic?… Yes.

Is it Zack Snyder’s masterpiece… Probably.

Will it save the DCEU?…. No way.


Big thanks to Lord Badger for doing this review. I did watch the first two hours of the flick myself, before boredom set in. I will try to watch the rest of the film and maybe give my own view in the future, but it’s just not very high on my list of things to do right now.

My Coming To America Sequel Pitch

After watching, being disappointed by and writing a review for the Coming to America sequel. I thought I’d have a go at pitching a sequel idea myself. As with my Terminator sequel pitch from a while back, this is purely for fun and an experiment by me just to so see if I can come up with a better story premise in a few minutes than highly-paid Hollywood writers who do so over several months.

First order of business, the title. The actual sequel title of Coming 2 America is really fucking stupid. As I mentioned in my review, a far better title would’ve been Coming to Zamunda. But, as my sequel idea doesn’t involve anyone coming to Zamunda, that’s not going to work. Instead, I’ve gone for the much more simple and far more sensible Coming to America II. Also, obviously we’re going to have to keep the whole thirty years later thing.

So, my idea has Akeem and Lisa already established as King and Queen of Zamunda. They’ve been in rule for many years as King Jaffe Joffer and Queen Aoleon had died several years previously. They’ve been doing a cracking job too and the people of Zamunda love and respect their King and Queen. They have a nice little family,  being taught the royal ways to readying them to be the next rulers, male or female, let’s not get all ‘woke’ here and try to force an agenda.

AKEEM AND LISA

Everything is peachy… Until Lisa gets word that her father, Cleo McDowell is gravely ill back in America. Concerned, Lisa heads back home for the first time in three decades. Going along for support is Akeem and Semmi, while Zamunda is overseen by Akeem and Lisa’s eldest child in their absence. It’s while traveling to the US when Cleo passes away before Lisa can touch down to say her goodbyes. If you think starting a film’s plot with the death of an established character is a bad idea, just watch Coming 2 America. Anyway, Lisa’s family are as angry with her as she is with herself as her time in Zamunda has made her forget about her all about her roots. Now back in America both Lisa and Akeem struggle with not only both being fish-out-of-water types, they’re also shocked at how much Queens as changed over the last thirty years. They’re even more removed from reality than they first thought.

The whole McDowell’s restaurant thing has been going under, due to legal action from McDonald’s and the McDowell family are in dire straits as they’ve spent the family fortune in defending themselves against McDonald’s. Having to sell that big house from the first film to keep their heads above water and not wanting charity, they never contacted Lisa in Zamunda and she in turn, got lost in all the pomp and ceremony of being a Queen to keep in contact with them. The whole relationship between the McDowell family and Lisa is at breaking point.

MCDOWELLS

Usual high-jinks ensue as Akeem and Lisa try to get on with living in the US while Cleo’s funeral is arranged and the whole legalities thing with McDonald’s is worked out. Now, you need a bit on an emotional impact, which comes in the form of Lisa actually realising how much she missed being home. She decides to quit being Queen of Zamunda to stay with her family. Obviously, Akeem isn’t too pleased about the idea and their relationship begins to fray. Long story short, there are several arguments between the couple, Semmi acts like a horny teenager by soaking up seedy side of Queens, New York, the fish-out-of-water angle is played up for laughs through the film. Akeem eventually comes to his senses and renounces the throne (as he suggested he would at the end of the first film) to be with Lisa and they both stay in America to live happily ever after, rebuilding the McDowell’s empire after standing up to McDonald’s and winning.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. What about Zamunda, what’s going on there? Who gives a fuck? The film is called Coming to America II, it’s sequel to the first film. And when watching the first film, did you care about what was going on in Zamunda? No, cos it’s got nothing to do with the story being told. Akeem and Lisa’s kid(s) are running the show and doing a good job too, that’s all you need to know.

MANSION

Obviously, this is a rough idea that’ll need working on… It’s also an idea that’ll never happen. Anyway, make it adult rated with the barbershop guys arguing and swearing like sailors… Like the first film. Make Lisa one of the main characters, seeing as she is one of the main characters and don’t push her to the background like the actual sequel. Amp up the fraying relationship between Akeem and Lisa, tug the heart-strings and make out they’re going to split up. For Akeem to quit as King just to be with love of his life, as he was prepared to do in the first film. Then you’ve got yourself a proper sequel.

Also note in my pitch, there’s no drugging and raping of Akeem, no charmless bastard son,  no annoying and unfunny Leslie Jones… And the majority of the film takes place in America. Oh yeah, there’s also no retconning events from the first film that provides a gargantuan plot hole meaning Akeem and Lisa never met either. But of course, I’m not a highly-paid Hollywood writer, so I’m obviously not good enough to come up with massive, unnecessary plot holes.

I Don’t Like ‘Black Cinema’

Okay, maybe I should rephrase the headline there. I don’t like the term ‘black cinema’. I really need to elaborate here, don’t I?

Recently, there’s been a massive emphasis on pushing the spotlight on black artists, whether they be directors, actors, writers, musicians and so on. Let’s be brutally honest here, this whole emphasis on black performers has stemmed from the abhorrent George Floyd death from last year. Yeah, I know shit goes back a lot further than that, but Floyd’s death really kick-started a movement. Since then, big-name companies have been pushing the whole black angle like crazy. It’s almost bandwagon jumping-like. Disney+ have an entire ‘ black stories’ collection on their streaming service. Microsoft has been running a spotlight on ‘black creators’ recently. And there are other big-name companies running similar campaigns. Black this, black that. Not pushing Asian, Hispanic or even white artists, just black.

BLACK ACTORS

Just how did I get onto this rant? Recently, I watched and reviewed Coming 2 America. After which, I looked around at other reviews just to see what the general consensus was about the film. Pretty much all of them commented on Coming 2 America being a ‘black film’ or a ‘black comedy’ or mentioned its ‘black cast’. Just go and read my review and make note of how many times I bring up anything black. I’ll save you some time, not once. Why? Because race has nothing to do with the film or its quality.

When I was a kid, Nan and Granddad would come round every Sunday for lunch. Every Sunday, Mom would have me and my brothers help to do jobs around the house, cleaning and the like, for when the grandparents would arrive. Mom would put some music on and more often than not, it would be sixties and seventies music. We’d listen to the likes of Sam Cooke, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, Jimi Hendrix and more. Yet, I was never told that ‘this is black music’, it was just music. Just going back to Coming to America for a second. I watched the original flick when I was about 14 or so. It was never a ‘black film’ or a ‘black comedy’, it was just a film. I was never taught to segregate people into groups based on the colour of their skin. Yet, that’s exactly what’s happening now.

It’s kind of ironic how, in order to teach how to be more inclusive, companies are segregating by race. It makes no sense. Let me put it this way. Let’s say you’re an unashamed, unapologetic racist, you’re flicking through Disney+ and find their ‘black stories’ section. You think you’ll change your ways just because there’s a specific section that highlights the black race… Or are you more likely to get pissed off because there’s a specific section that highlights the black race? Let me bring up another factor, black history month. Why does that even exist? Just going back to my childhood a second. I learned about people like Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks and such. I was taught about important black people through history. Only, it wasn’t called black history. It was just called history. Just as I was brought up on great music from artists who just so happened to be black. I was taught about important black people in history, not black history, just history.

You can’t claim to be aiming for inclusion while pushing the spotlight on people because of the colour of their skin at the same time, that’s a massive oxymoron. Look, I’m not saying black artists shouldn’t be celebrated, of course they should. But just as it’s possible to have a Quentin Tarantino celebration due to his work and not his skin. You can have a Spike Lee celebration too. Lee isn’t a great ‘black director’ for the same reason Tarantino isn’t a great ‘white director’, they are both just movie directors. There shouldn’t be a celebration of black actors, directors, writers or whatever, there should just be a celebration of their work, skin colour shouldn’t even be a part of it. We shouldn’t be putting black people into specific groups because they’re black, we should be united because we’re all human. I’m also a bit of a gamer (as regular readers will know), do we have such a thing as ‘black video games’? 

That’s how you fight racism, by not giving people special treatment due to the fact their skin is a different colour, whatever colour that may be. I was raised on music, films and the like, with it just being music and films, not it being ‘black’ music and films. I was never taught ‘black history’ in school, I was taught history regardless of race. I wasn’t encouraged to shop at ‘black-owned’ businesses either. Because I was raised to treat people as people and not as a race. And due to all of that, I couldn’t give a fuck about the colour of a person’s skin. So why do we have this whole ‘black thing’ being pushed so hard by so many now?

The truth is, I don’t like any term that highlights any race over another (or one sex over another either). Artists should be celebrated for their work, not the colour of their skin. History should be taught inclusively and not divided by race. And no, we shouldn’t shop in black-owned businesses either, we should shop at the places that suit our needs, not based on skin colour. You teach people to not judge based on skin colour and not by what is going on now with this separation and emphasis on people who are black.

The funny thing is that I’ve brought this point up on social media and I’ve been called ‘racist’ for doing so. Me, the person who strongly believes that people should be treated equally, not praised or damned based on the colour of their skin, the person who thinks you don’t teach equality by singling out any race over another. Me, I’m apparently ‘racist’ because I think we should all be treated the same. That’s the kind of society we live in today, not being racist is now racist. And yes, I put the blame on all this emphasis on ‘black’ anything from major companies forcibly pushing an agenda. Look, all I’m trying to say is that I’m in 100% agreement with Morgan Freeman:

Morgan Freeman, one of the finest actors of our generation… not finest black actors, just a damn fine actor talking complete sense. So please, can we stop with all this ‘black’ shit that’s being ham-fistedly forced and just teach people that skin colour doesn’t matter, just how I was raised?