An Exploration into Mayhem

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When an action/horror flick comes out called Mayhem, starring a male Asian lead from an incredibly popular zombie series, I have no choice but to watch it. Steven Yeun stars in Joe Lynch's movie about a virus gone wild in a law firm's towering skyscraper. The entire building gets quarantined until the virus runs its course, 24 hours. Although the virus, unlike on the Walking Dead, doesn't change their human hosts permanently, it does remove inhibition, leading to unhinged acts of violence, lust, and more violence. Yeun's character, Derek, is trapped in this building, an exec in said firm. And to make it interesting Derek is involuntarily chosen to be the fall guy for a costly mistake the law firm made. He decides he needs a face-to-face with the sadistic CEO, no virus required, to resolve this issue. So he has to reach the top floor, negotiating–fighting really–the corporate lackeys who are overworked, under appreciated, and fucking pissed off. Good times.

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I enjoyed the movie. I can relate. Not because Yeun is Asian, but because the character has to reconcile his choice of living the corporate life instead of delving into his life's passion in the arts.

I work a day job in the cold, ugly corporate world, which is soul-sucking. I'm a bit fortunate because I get to work from home. But I still have to act within the confines of political correctness, which I absolutely despise. At night I ride my mechanical steed to a Starbucks, sit down in my spot, and dive into my world of fantasy. Freedom!

The film Mayhem seems to pit corporate life and passion in a fight to either drain Derek's soul or save it. So what does one do? Work a black hole of a day job to pay the bills? Or be a starving artist and try to live life to the fullest? Derek's trek up the building seems to symbolize this internal conflict. Kind of an homage to Bruce Lee's Game of Death, the actual version, not the one that was released by Columbia Pictures. So what would you choose? Soul-sucking job? Or starving artist?

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One of my favorite stories is Michelangelo's day job. They had day jobs back in the fifteenth century? I know, right? Looking at his paintings and sculptures, it's almost impossible to see that his true passion laid in sculpting. To say he was a master at it is insulting. Many argue he was the GOAT. No, not a four-legged sheep with horns. Greatest of all time. So what was his day job? Barista at an Italian bakery? No. His regular day job was a painter. And not the kind that painted your house. Well...unless it was the ceiling and walls of the Sistine Chapel. And from what little I know, when the Pope commissioned him to do this, he had to finagle the deal to ensure that Michelangelo would finish painting the Chapel.

Now Lynch wasn't clear in his film that quitting your day job was a requirement to follow your passions. That would be a ridiculous notion. And parables such as this doesn't paint a clear map of how to negotiate life. That's our job as individuals. But the film does illustrate something that I've always prescribed to. And that is to follow your dreams. The opposition always states that the chances of making it is really, really, really low. Three really's indicate how low the chances are of being successful, according to pundits and pessimists. However...

"Success is not a place at which one arrives but rather the spirit with which one undertakes and continues the journey.” –Alex Noble, author.

In other words, the journey is the reward.

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Hell naw. I want riches. Fame. Glory!

As a not-starving writer, I totally get wanting people to read and love and know my work. I crave it. It's probably why I love my writing group. They're the few people who've read my stuff, and I get to hear how awesome...or bad my work is. (Listen to a podcast where we talked about the writing process, our group dynamics, and how masturbation is very similar to writing–for me anyway.)

The fact of life is that not everybody gets to make it big. But most people don’t even try. And to make it big the work has to be done. So why not enjoy the work–the journey–as we stroll toward whatever life may present?

It's a lot like sex. The goal of sex is rarely to make a child. Hence condoms and birth control. Though, sex is the only way to make a child. That's the reason why it feels so good. It pulls the curtain to the Hell that will come when the parents have to raise the child. Sorta like having dessert before dinner. Joking. Eh. Kinda. But sex feels good because we're connecting with our partners, exploring in adult play, trying to get each other off. Again the reward is in the journey.

The Killing Mood

Oh shiet!

Oh shiet!

Lately, I’ve been a bit obsessed with zombies: Walking Dead TV show and comics, Warm Bodies, the CDC’s warnings of a zombie break out, Zombieland, World War Z book and movie, on and on. This is partly because I had gone to school for kinesiology and know that the exact definition of a zombie can never be. That doesn’t mean that what zombies symbolize don’t exist. They do. Everywhere.

I’d bought the Max Brooks’ book before seeing WWZ and found it fascinating. I didn’t know why until I read a critique of the movie of the same name. The book is a collection of first hand accounts of the zombie take over and the fall of the world. Each chapter represented an intimate look at how certain emergency initiatives, government agencies, armed forces and advanced weaponry failed, from every corner of the globe. It was all incredibly convincing, and I began to contemplate the very real possibility of The End. The movie, on the other hand, didn’t do a good job of that.

Gawd, I'm prettie

Gawd, I'm prettie

An article in Vanity Fair suggested that fifty or so first hand accounts does not a good movie make. From a moviegoers’ perspective, Hollywood thinks that we need a main character to root for. In a way, they’re kinda correct. But the movie makes a fundamental mistake: it wasn’t intimate. Part of the reason we need a main character is because once we’re rooted emotionally to him, Brad Pitt in this case, we’re then drawn in. However, nothing about most of the movie is intimate because he deals with massive zombie attacks over large groups of people. The only real intimacy we get is his love for his wife and children…and then at the end when he has to travel through a maze of offices—alone—to find a potential solution. With each turn of a hallway, entrance to a new room, opening of a new door brought the real possibility of confronting a fast running zombie, the most intense part of the whole film. And I think the fast running zombies, not written in the book, but chided by some hardcore zombie traditionalists, was a great choice. It broke convention of the slow lumbering dead.

You
You

Lumbering through the above three paragraphs brings me to the one show that has taught me something about storytelling: The Killing.

The AMC show is currently in its third season, and I’m still hooked. But it was the first two seasons, the Rosie Larsen murder, that hooked me in. Out of all the procedural shows—all the CSI’s, Bones, Law and Order, etc—Killing brings to the forefront the epic hole that is left in the surviving family and friends. To say the show was heavy is an understatement. I’m sure less than a quarter of the show was dedicated to the mother and father and two brothers whom had to deal with the very tragic and mysterious death of Rosie. Each character showed through conflict or flash backs their pain, memories, guilt, and regrets. Here, the writers took their time, using the smallest detail and stretching it over a whole scene that laid a feeling thick with anguish and sadness.

Scene
Scene

For me, there was a sense of real loss, a real feeling of death, and the scent that only a murder could bring. Not that I smelled anything, but somehow the smell of rot entered my mind. And you would imagine that the murder scene was gruesome, especially if you’re used to shows like Dexter, which I’m a fan of. In terms of visual intensity, Killing was very tame but creepy (See above: Rosie found in a trunk of a car). But the experience of watching the show was weird, and the only way I can explain it was the intimacy each character brought. From that perspective, the writers of the show did a wonderfully morbid job.

Intimacy. That was the key.

Intimacy. The most intense scene of WWZ was the climax, where Pitt’s character had to confront zombies face to face, literally.

Intimacy. Romance novels are king in this area, so of course makes up at least 50% of the fiction sales.

Intimacy. The one thing that people want in their relationships, whether they know it or not.