Don’t Believe Everything You Hear

Without reliable authoritative information and accurate narratives, we are inclined to construct our own.  These false narratives are often misleading or needlessly inflame.  Presenting a few case studies for your consideration.


Warner Brothers nearly cut the “No Man’s Land” scene from Wonder Woman

In a Fandango interview, May 2017, Director Patty Jenkins is quoted regarding the No Man’s Land scene:

“It’s my favorite scene in the movie and it’s the most important scene in the movie.  It’s also the scene that made the least sense to other people going in … When I started to really hunker in on the significance of No Man’s Land, there were a couple people who were deeply confused, wondering, like, ‘well, what is she going to do?  How many bullets can she fight?’ and I kept saying, ‘It’s not about that.  This is a different scene than that.  This is a scene about her becoming Wonder Woman.'”

Clear and direct right?  This is the director herself, quoted on the record.  However countless outlets ran this story after injecting an additional false narrative.  A few are listed purely to corroborate the point with evidence.  No other commentary is being made about these publications or the authors.  In each case, they add a narrative of Jenkins against short-sighted studio executives unable to understand a creative vision:

  • Slashfilm  – “when she laid out the scene to people at the studio before filming” / “in order to convince the higher-ups that it was necessary”
  • Business Insider  – “Jenkins said to convince others at Warner Bros. this would work”
  • CBR  – “the sequence was harder to sell to studio execs than one might imagine”
  • io9  – “someone at Warner Bros. thought at one point it wasn’t worth being part of Wonder Woman’s runtime” / “the scene did not go down well at all with her colleagues at Warner Bros.”
  • Vox – “But it’s also easy to see why a studio might suggest cutting the sequence.” / “What’s interesting about this isn’t that Jenkins had to talk some of her bosses into signing off on the No Man’s Land sequence.”
  • The Mary Sue  – “For some reason, none of this registered with the higher-ups at Warner Bros, who apparently saw this entire sequence as a waste of time”

However, Jenkins had said nothing about the studio, executives, higher-ups, or Warner Brothers.  A director quote is an impeccable source, but still vulnerable to the imposition of false narratives.  At a June 11th DGA event in Los Angeles, Jenkins sat down with Richard Donner for a brief Q&A where she corrected the narrative.

Warner Brothers had not opposed the scene:

“It’s funny, I feel badly about this cause it’s been reported that Warner Bros. was against it, which it was not Warner Bros., it was my own people in England. It was our own crew at points, who were like, ‘Why are you doing this scene? She’s not even fighting anything,’ So Warner Bros. was not unsupportive of the No Man’s Land scene. It was much more in-process that everybody was like, ‘What’s this scene for? There’s no one to fight. We’ve already seen her block a bullet in the alley and then she’s going to go in and save this church tower, why do you need this other scene?'” (transcription via CinemaBlend)

The video of the event is currently down, but audio is available here in the DGA’s podcast, episode 77 at 18m22s.

In other words, Patty was not battling with studio executives but her own creative team.  The fight was not about the soul of the film versus corporate interests, but between like-minded, supportive, creative individuals attempting to collaborate towards the best film.

The objections to the No Man’s Land scene were based in story-beats, presenting novel challenges, and characterization (not logistical, as I claimed in error in my own Wonder Woman episode).

The concern was that Diana had already faced gunfire on the beach, the alley way, and would do so again against the village sniper; How many of their marquee moments did they want to spend on Diana and bullets yet again?  Moreover the enemy is abstract and impersonal: Wonder Woman against machine guns.  Finally, given that they would immediately start the Veld action sequence, was this scene necessary?

These are good questions and good notes, creatively, character, and story driven.  Thankfully, Jenkins had her own creative instincts to insist upon the scene.  But look how different the narrative!  Instead of a David and Goliath struggle between art and suits, this is a collaborative push-and-pull to polish a picture.  Resistance is not the enemy but the assurance that something deserves to be in the film.

Considerably fewer outlets published this correction of the narrative.

Imagine if you only knew and believed the injected false narrative. What kinds of unnecessary anger and judgment you’d bear against the studio who were, in fact, innocent of your accusation?

Fortunately, Jenkins quickly clarified and does so again in our second case. read more

Don’t Be As Gullible As Kevin Smith

Kevin Smith Can Be Quite Lovable

It is for that reason he was the co-host for the Dawn of the Justice League, network television event advertising DC’s coming slate and included on every BvS disc.  He hosted the Yahoo! Movies release of Man of Steel.  I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve referenced him on my show either for his Jon Peters story or Suicide Squad or more!  He is a comic book store owner, host of Fat Man on Batman, and his transparent Everyman quality gives him substantial geek cred.

As an Everyman he’s as susceptible to falsehoods and clickbait as everyone.

On November 29th, Kevin Smith published the following Fat Man on Batman episode (skip to 1h56m):

Upset at the alterations to Justice League, Kevin pulls up a website and shares 22 alleged alterations to Zack’s original vision.

The only problem?  They’re not real.  Not exactly.

Kevin is not affirming any of this to be true.  He doesn’t know.  He just bookmarked a wordpress post that merely parrots (with minor alterations, editorial, and without attribution) a /r/DCEULeaks post published November 18, which was promptly discredited and deleted.  Unfortunately, not before obtaining traction online being republished on other clickbait outlets like Nerdist, etc. (com’on guys, do better!)

History Lesson

The redditor’s post history is telling.  It’s filled with inaccuracies, inconsistencies, and the same kind of vague attempts at teasing and disclosures which get used in cold readings for fraud psychics and spiritualists who prey on the hopes and pain of others… only a lot less deftly and readily apparent.  Nonetheless, the timing is telling, let’s break it down:

  • October 19, 2017 – ViewerAnon’s 54-point plot breakdown.
  • November 13, 2017 – US Fan Screenings of Justice League.
  • November 17, 2017 – US Justice League release date.
  • November 17, 2017 – Ultracal31’s 2,138-word leak (“changed, deleted and Snyder vs Whedon”).
  • November 17, 2017 – Ultracal31’s leak is corroborated by ViewerAnon.
  • November 18, 2017 – Original 21-point “Differences” and immediately debunked.
  • November 18, 2017 – Ultracal31 debunks “Differences”.
  • November 19, 2017 – TheAscendedAncient leaks footage debunking “Differences”.
  • November 19, 2017 – The wordpress site that Kevin reads posts “Differences”.
  • November 22, 2017 – The Nerdist publishes a video based on “Differences”.
  • November 24, 2017 – LDN_Film is moderator verified and does an AMA debunking “Differences”.
  • November 24, 2017 – The wordpress site edits “Differences” to remove debunked parts and add LDN_Film points.
  • November 29, 2017 – Kevin reads wordpress version of “Differences” on Fat Man on Batman.

What am I getting at?  “Differences” is illegitimate.  It comes after theatrical release and is based entirely on information already known or fabricated guesses.  It sources ViewerAnon’s breakdown, Ultracal31’s two-thousand-word leak, the litany of pre-release press and promo materials, and general (largely wrong) assumptions about Zack Snyder’s inclinations, intentions, proclivities, and style (with a sprinkling of studio or fan mandated “fixes”).  Except to the extent it draws from accurate sources, none of the original material is real, true, or truthful.  It is a guess.

Outside of its elaboration on information we already knew before November 18, it provides no insight, nothing verified, nothing corroborated, and is- frankly- a lie.

Confirmation

This shouldn’t have to be said, but just because a celebrity reads a website aloud doesn’t “confirm”, verify, substantiate, or corroborate the content.  Kevin didn’t fact check.  He has no source.  He doesn’t know.  He just took a wordpress post to be true and gave it 60,000+ more eyes than the 80,000 views Nerdist gave it one week earlier.

Alleged Audience Confirmation

What about the audience member allegedly breaking NDA to affirm what Kevin was reading off?  To us, she is faceless, nameless, and impossible to verify or authenticate in any meaningful way.  If you have an ounce of skepticism you have cause to doubt some random person alleging inside knowledge.  Nonetheless, even taking her at face value, what did she really say?

  • 2h5m31s – “I promised them I wouldn’t talk today, but um, yeah.  Most of that stuff was in there.”
  • 2h5m37s – “That’s the version that you saw?” / “I saw that and I saw the other version too.”
  • 2h5m45s – “In terms of seeing them both, what did you think?” / “Um, I like the first one better.”
  • 2h6m21s – “You saw Darkseid?” / “Yes, there was a Darkseid in there.  Kind of like the finished, but not really.”
  • 2h6m28s – “Not fully finished?” / “No, dressed in a suit kinda.”
  • 2h6m35s – “Steppenwolf is killed by Darkseid on Apokolips.” / “That, I did not see.”
  • 2h7m15s – “Did Cyborg die in your version?” / “No.”

Reasonable Skepticism

I have to say, I don’t find this audience member credible.  It’s an old cross-examination standby but we use it because it works: “Ma’am, were you being truthful and honest when you signed your NDA?  Were you being truthful and honest when you promised you wouldn’t talk last week?  So now that you’re talking we see that your word, integrity, and honesty mean nothing.  So all you need is attention to break a contract, to break your word, to break a promise… so how much attention do you need to bend the truth if not outright lie?”  She lacks the integrity to keep a contract and is willing to break it for attention… who is to say she’s not willing to lie for attention too?

The real sticking point is the Darkseid stuff where she says, “a Darkseid”, “kind of like the finished”, and “dressed in a suit.”  There aren’t multiple Darkseids so it would never be “a Darkseid”, there isn’t a finished or final Darkseid in the theatrical cut so how could she compare her alleged version to the non-existent “kind of like the finished” version?  And I’m not going to elaborate on how Darkseid would be represented in unfinished VFX but it would be… unusual… to describe it as “dressed in a suit” whilst knowing it was “a” Darkseid.  She was rather unconvincing.

Remember, this is November 29th.  “Differences” has been disseminated since November 18th and what if the audience member was one of the 80,000 people who watched it on Nerdist or other outlets already, believed it to be legitimate, and simply parroted it here pretending to be an authentic insider?  In theory, nothing she says proves she is someone who saw a screening (that even the author of “Differences” claims was WB Executive exclusive contradicting her!) versus an attention-desperate person who read a rumor they believed and claimed as their own inside knowledge.  It is impossible to tell if she is repeating an earlier rumor or her own actual experience from what little she shared.  Nothing new, original, specific, or testable.

Even If True She Debunks “Differences”

All that said, pretend she’s absolutely 100% honest to the best of her ability.  She’s confirmed nothing from “Differences”, not a single specific point or element or enumerated thing is corroborated by her answers.  Only vague, broad, sweeping incomplete generalizations!  “Most of that stuff was in there” not “Everything you said is exactly how it was.”  That makes it impossible to verify any individual list item because we don’t know if it is included in “most of that stuff” or not, rending the list worthless.

If she’s being truthful and if “Differences” is based off of legitimate leaks prior to November 18th, I should hope that some of the stuff was in there!  We should expect it!  That doesn’t legitimize or confirm Differences, only the reliable sources it drew upon, it doesn’t make the list itself reliable.

Instead, when confronted with specific, enumerated, explicitly listed items from “Differences”, she denies seeing them!  If she’s reliable and truthful, she says Steppenwolf isn’t killed on Apokolips and Cyborg didn’t die, in direct contradiction to “Differences”.  How desperate do you have to be to start pushing “Differences” as Zack’s vision given it is completely uncorroborated and the sole source of authority explicitly debunks the only two explicitly unique points related to it?  Why would you push “Differences” when it has been contradicted and debunked by verified insiders, our own eyes, the author’s lack of credibility, etc. when we have a wealth of legitimate information to draw from?

What’s the Harm?

Well, even if it isn’t true what’s the harm in promoting it, sharing it, and insisting upon it?  So what if an unsubstantiated rumor gets passed around?  Why can’t we have our fantasy or ignite outrage and action over a fantasy?

Integrity and Values

If you’re asking these questions, we part ways on a fundamental level in terms of values.  Yes, in some sense fantasy is harmless.  However, irresponsible dissemination of misinformation, the failure to fact-check, the valuing of sensation over integrity, honesty, and truth… getting in the habit of this over leisure leaks into how you live your real life.   One of the reason we love comics, mythology, and stories is because they provide the narratives we use to frame and order our lives.  But if we don’t value truth, journalistic integrity, honesty, critical thinking, and empathy, we will fail to recognize falsehoods and get swept up in illegitimate narratives all too easily.

What If It’s False?

But setting aside your own integrity and character, let’s do a balancing test or Pascal’s Wager.  Let’s imagine that I’m right and “Differences” does not accurately reflect Zack Snyder’s version of the film.  If you respond to, fight for, promote, insist upon, and get outraged over “Differences” and it isn’t Zack’s film then what are you fighting for, getting upset over, and what message are you sending?

The people who know- I mean really, actually, truly know what Zack’s film would have been compared to “Differences”- now know you don’t actually care about Zack’s film which is something else entirely.  They have no reason to admit, disclose, or release something that doesn’t match what the ill-informed are clamoring for.  It ends up being an insult to the people who worked on the earlier vision because people keep saying “Man, we should have got Differences!” while the filmmakers hang their heads and think, “But our film wasn’t that Differences nonsense!”  It’s an open declaration there’s no market for the actual and authentic thing.  People would rather have the fantasy they’ve conjured.

What If It’s True?

Conversely, let’s say I’m wrong.  What is so different about Differences that you can’t simply promote all the authenticated, established, verified, corroborated, proven, known, and seen differences between the advertising, promotional, leaked, mentioned in print / press / interviews / junkets, social media hints, etc. omissions and changes that we know and can prove that it’s indispensable?

Is it Cyborg’s death debunked by Kevin’s audience member?  Is it Darkseid debunked by LDN_Film?  Is it Perry debunked by Laurence Fishburne?  Is it because the author of Differences lacks the imagination to make the first scene of the film anything but the first scene in the trailers?  Are we really losing anything discarding the discredited Differences and instead relying upon all the other authenticated information even if Differences magically turns out to be true?  No.  Seeking to rely on more credible facts because you value truth, honesty, and integrity is never a mistake.

Think critically.

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57 – Justice League Heroes Trailer

coverblackRecorded October 8th. “Ride ain’t over yet.”  Reaction to the Justice League Heroes Trailer.

Answers, insights, and commentary on:

  • I. Justice League Heroes Trailer (4:23 – 22min)
    • First, a world without Superman
    • Second, rising threat
    • Third, heroes apart
    • Fourth, failing alone
    • Fifth, becoming heroes
    • Sixth, together
    • Seventh, celebration
  • II. Footnotes Pt. 1 (26:45 – 25min)
    • Change My View
    • Superman and the League
      • Cornerstone – Founder
      • Capstone – Final
    • Opposite Idioms
      • Love of Wisdom
      • Philosophers Fight
    • “God is Dead” applied to Superman
    • Quartet of the Vulnerable
    • Zechariah 7:9-10 (Superman)
      • Widow
      • Fatherless
      • Foreigner
      • Poor
    • Micah 6:8 (Wonder Woman)
      • Do Justice
      • Love Mercy
      • Walk Humbly
    • Mercy Is Not Condoning Evil
    • Nothing was ever simple
  • III. Footnotes Pt. 2 (52:02 – 18min)
    • Sexism in Superman ’78
    • Stopping Sexual Harassment in Man of Steel
    • Reality is Complex
    • Expectations
      • Engagement Ring is a milestone not culmination of a relationship
      • Justice League is a milestone not end all, be all superhero experience
      • All in for a multiverse of infinite stories
    • Hero’s Journey is a Cycle, Bringing Superman Full Circle
    • Be the Hero of Your Own Life’s Journey
    • We Can Be Heroes

To learn more:
Justice League – Official Heroes Trailer | Warner Bros. Pictures
Justice: What’s the Right Thing To Do? | Michael Sandel
Justice Course | Harvard Justice
Justice: Rights and Wrongs | Nicholas Wolterstorff
Out of the Darkness Walks | American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

End notes recorded October 13th and 21st
Winning Arguments | Chenhao Tan
Superman: The Movie (1978) | Richard Donner
Heroes (cover, 2003) | Bon Jovi

Web: ManOfSteelAnswers.com
Twitter: @mosanswers
Subscribe: Apple Podcasts / RSS / Stitcher / YouTube http://feeds.feedburner.com/ManOfSteelAnswers

#JusticeLeague

56 – Espionage

coverblackRecorded September 16th. “I’m a spy.”  Examining espionage and intelligence topics in these films for insights into raising Clark undercover.

Answers, insights, and commentary on:

  • I. Wonder Woman (3:36 – 22min)
    • Strategy, Operations, Tactics
    • Scout and Spy Differences
    • Psychopathic Spies
    • Pragmatism vs. Idealism
    • Adapting and Flexibility
    • Alleyway Ambush
    • Etta’s Mission & Cold War
  • II. Batman v. Superman (25:55 – 26min)
    • Weaponize Intelligence Tools
    • Invisibility Corrupts
    • CIA prohibitions on cover identities
    • Drones
    • Government Track Record with Lois
  • III. Suicide Squad (52:45 – 9min)
    • Black Sites
    • MICE
  • IV. Man of Steel (1:01:01 – 32min)
    • Doing Something
    • Deliberate Wise Inaction
    • DADA / OODA Loop
    • Inaction Demonstrating Trust
    • Ring of Gyges
    • Incorruptible Undercover
    • Overview Effect
  • V. Footnotes (1:33:36 – 23min)
    • Watchmen
    • Melian Dialogue by Thucydides
    • Church Steeple Trenchline
    • Agent Talon Tries To Bait Amajagh
    • G-LOC
    • Lois Shows Trust
    • Meaning over Happiness

To learn more (Abridged, will update):
SpyCast | International Spy Museum
Way of the Knife | Mark Mazzetti
Sudden Justice | Chris Woods
The Ostrich Effect | Hidden Brain
The Science of Invisibility | Part Time Genius

End notes recorded September 30th
Thucydides: Melian Dialogue | Rugged Pyrrhus
Secret Agent Man | Johnny Rivers cover

Web: ManOfSteelAnswers.com
Twitter: @mosanswers
Subscribe: iTunes / RSS / Stitcher / YouTube http://feeds.feedburner.com/ManOfSteelAnswers

#NYCC #JusticeLeague

Randomly Related Slightly Salient Stuff 18

The audio is recorded but I’m still trying to “find the episode” in it.  I’ve tried 3 different assembly cuts which are different degrees of disappointing.  It’s only after I get an arrangement I like do I do the detailed edits, add in clips, and prepare notes for my endnotes recording session (where I record the intro, transitions, and endnotes).  I tried to get the episode out in September (and beat the next trailer) but I’m not going to make it.  We’re attending a birthday and a wedding this weekend and Comic Con next weekend, so I’m not sure when this is going to get done.

No time to editorialize or explain the following links, I promise they’re all slightly salient somewhere in the recesses of my mind.

Episode 56: Espionage.  Steve Trevor the spy, Amanda Waller the intelligence officer, Anatoli Knayzev the KGBeast in a CIA op gone wrong, and Clark Kent raised undercover.

55 – Magician

coverblackRecorded August 3rd. “The magical thinking of orphan boys.”  Batman the magician.

[I finally get to do an episode about Batman, so it’s long.]

Answers, insights, and commentary on:

  • I. Magic and Batman Tradition (25min)
    • Houdini the superman
    • Zatara in Acton Comics No. 1
    • Stage Act similarity
    • Perfection of Self
    • Working Definition of Magic
      • Artful Performance
      • Of the Impossible
    • Trained by Giovanni Zatara
    • Batman’s performance
  • II. Magic of Movie Making (8min)
    • Georges Méliès
    • Robert Houdan
    • Larry Fong on the illusion of movies
    • Terrio, Nolan, Fong
    • Fong Super 8 Featurette
    • The Wizard
  • III. This Batman is a Magician (12min)
    • Beautiful Lie
    • Mozart of Deception
    • Lies and Child Development
    • Theory of Mind and Self Control
    • Orphan Boys and Magical Thinking
    • Many Magic Tricks of This Batman
    • Impossibility of Magic and Logic
    • It was always a trick
    • Disappearing in Belle Reeve
    • First and Last Batman scenes
    • Lex’s Magical Props
  • IV. Spellbound (40min)
    • Mind the Gap
    • Load Up
    • Write the Script
    • Control the Frame
    • Design Free Choice
    • Employ the Familiar
    • Conjure an Out
  • V. Force (20min)
    • Magic Words: Luck, Fake, Watching, Force
    • Two Meanings of Force
    • Hope for the Best, Prepare for the Worst
    • Accept the World or Force It… Recognize or Save It
    • Free Will and Force, Martha
    • Batman Transformed and Self-Deprecating
    • The Silent Accusation
    • Superman returns
  • VI. End Notes (15min)
    • Miscellaneous

To learn more:
Beyond Magic | David Blaine
It’s A Trap! | Justice League Action
Houdini, Tarzan, and the Perfect Man | John Kasson
Secret Life of Houdini | Kalush & Sloman
What is the Art of Magic? | Lawrence Hass
Blaine: How I Held My Breath for 17 Minutes | TED
Super 8: Abrams on Big Lessons of Small Budgets | Hero Complex
Spellbound | David Kwong
The Carbonaro Effect | Michael Carbonaro
AOM #306: Magic Teaches Success | David Kwong
Blaine Shocks Jimmy & The Roots | Tonight Show
Mentalist Lior Suchard Bends Alice Eve’s Mind | Late Late Show
The Grift | Maria Konnikova
Ep. 65 – David Berglas | The Magicians’ Podcast
Petter Johansson – Decision and Choice Making | Media Evo
Math Magic | VSauce
Mind-Boggling Card Trick | standupmaths
Oil and Water | STEMMathsMagic
Black Box | RadioLab
TED Talks on Magic | TED

End notes recorded August 8th
Beyond Magic with DMC | NatGeoUK
Death Trap | Harris & DeLisle
Who’s The (Bat)Man | Patrick Stump

Web: ManOfSteelAnswers.com
Twitter: @mosanswers
Subscribe: iTunes / RSS / Stitcher / YouTube http://feeds.feedburner.com/ManOfSteelAnswers

Less than 100 days ’til #JusticeLeague

54 – Justice League SDCC 2017 Trailer

coverblackRecorded July 22nd. “We don’t have anymore time.”  Really rushed reactions on the 4-minutes of Justice League footage from San Diego Comic-Con 2017 Exclusive Trailer / Sneak Peek.

To learn more:
Old Bailey
The Shard
Tower Bridge
Greco-Roman Polychromatic Art
Chernobyl
Gal Gadot on Superman in Justice League
Geoff Johns on DC Films slate
Jurassic Park Iconic Water Effect

Web: ManOfSteelAnswers.com
Twitter: @mosanswers
Subscribe: iTunes / RSS / Stitcher / YouTube http://feeds.feedburner.com/ManOfSteelAnswers

#allin #justiceleague #WBSDCC #SDCC2017 #I❤️ZS

Randomly Related Slightly Salient Stuff 17

You know the drill by now.  This is where I tell you that there’s no new episode yet because of everything else going on.  [We have a girl! 7lbs 11.6oz!]

Here and there, I have been chipping away at an episode recorded before Wonder Woman.  The original theme was “decision making” on who Clark consults in Man of Steel (and who he doesn’t) and BvS… then loosely tied that to the lack of communication in the Trinity fight.  I made the decision to split out the Doomsday fight and both parts became thematically stronger.  One episode on seeking counsel and a Doomsday fight analysis.  The latter made more martial, I started to weave in some insights from martial history and philosophy which made it balloon again!  The whole point was to cut down the episode to reduce production… not to double the ideas and effort!

Unfortunately, looking at my next few weeks, I literally don’t know when I’ll have time to work on any of this to a publishable state.  That said, I’d like to get in an informal SDCC reaction if possible, maybe padding it out with unanswered listener questions still sitting in my notes.  So hopefully see you in about a week!

Some RRSSS for your consideration:

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