Everything I come across about the inevitably worthless Stay Alive kills my interest in it even more. It is a complete sell-out of a movie and of gamers everywhere. Just take a glance at the trailer or the poster and you’ll have your verdict. But what kills me about it isn’t that I know it’s going to be bad – though I’m sure it’ll turn a profit regardless – but that it makes me long for The LAN:
If you don’t happen to know, The LAN was a film I wrote over two years ago – and attempted to direct at the end of last summer – about a LAN party that turns into a bloodbath in which everyone must keep playing the game (which was filmed as Quake 3, since it went open source a few weeks before filming) or face death. The actual process of filming this incredibly idealistic first feature film may have been beyond my reach at the time (and I’ll be the first person to admit that), but as I’ve said before, I’ll be lovingly proud of that script until the day I die. It was an honest, respectful fan letter to both nerds and the horror genre. I didn’t pussyfoot around the deaths at all and ended up writing some very memorable scenes. Even if all of those ended up being lobotomized when filming actually took place.
But even if filming it was just a two week long lesson in how to not make a movie (which is a lesson I needed badly), at least I can still say that The LAN was something nerds everywhere would be proud to call their own – and if I get my way, they’ll have that chance some day. That isn’t the case with Stay Alive. Stay Alive is a bastardization of everything nerds represent. How we really are and how we really act has been swapped out for a slick, MTV-fathered image of how the media portrays us. The only suckers who are going to shell out their easily earned allowance are the kids who are still earning that allowance.
I’ll admit there is a certain level of jealousy involved here. I’m jealous of anyone who gets the resources to make and expose a movie, but that’s where the jealousy ends. Any other emotion I have for Stay Alive is either hatred or extreme dissapointment. It is such a missed opportunity. It’ll turn a quick buck at the box office and with DVD sales (oh, and let’s not forget UMD sales. Hah.), but it isn’t something we nerds will be proud of. It isn’t a movie that could play in the background at a real LAN and keep everyone laughing and smiling. The LAN had that potential. It was backed solely by people who spent the majority of weekends in high school at actual LANs. It was synonymous with real nerd culture.
Stay Alive is the pod to The LAN‘s people. It inched up when The LAN was innocently taking a nap and replicated. It took everything The LAN represented and synthesized it. But something was lost in the translation. Stay Alive may look like and act like something we all wanted, but nerds everywhere can tell the difference. We can sense it on an atmoic level. And now we’re all left running in the streets, hoping we’ll bump into something, someone, somewhere that is like the real us. The outlook is not good.
It’s not as if I’m the only person capable of writing a script for nerds, but just that no one is giving people like me that chance. More honestly, people like me haven’t given anyone a reason to ante up in the first place. It won’t happen with the way things are going. But with every foothold nerdom plants on the wall of American pop-culture, we get closer to the top. I only hope non-support and open outcry from the community to movies like Stay Alive and moronic shows like “Beauty and the Geek” can make a dent in the machine.
I’m still waiting to get the footage back from Dwight. Though we filmed over 6 months ago, I’ve yet to edit a single frame of it thanks to entirely unusable audio. I sent all of the tapes to Dwight, who was able to fix the sound eventually, but I haven’t been able to get them back yet due to various schedule conflicts. I still have hope for The LAN. It won’t be in the same way I originally envisioned it, but it will hit the net in some capacity. Too many people put too much love into it for me to not honor that.
Maybe I’ll publish the original draft of the script up here for anyone to see. It isn’t top secret, people who weren’t involved with the filming have read it, but I’ve still been relatively hush hush about the whole thing (as I am with any of my projects). Maybe I’ll change that…
There is hope for real nerd culture in the main stream media, though. Just check out the trailer for 5-25-77. Not as main stream a production as you can get, mind you, but it is a step in the right direction. The next step is to boycott crap like Stay Alive. Just don’t pay to see it. Real gamers won’t.
This isn’t just some vendetta I have against the movie because it is passingly similar to a film of my own, it is a grudge I have against this ongoing, unrealistic, public portryal of nerd culture. I’ve got nothing against Stay Alive at its core, the execution is just needlessly off target. As is always the case. I don’t even think it mocks our culture, it’s just a pod people version of what the public thinks we are. That isn’t us.