By Rob Beschizza at 7:02 pm Sun, Jul 8, 2012
Filmography: Writer (1 title)
And Ernest Borgnine, RIP
I recently watched the movie length pilot for Airwolf for the first time since I saw it in the 80s; compared to most action adventure shows since, it’s practically an art film.
I have been curious as of late, but given how much I revered the show and how terrible I’ve come to realize that The A-Team truly is (seriously, someone, anyone, hit something other than a potted plant with one of the bullets), and how mind-numbingly repetitive Robotech is, I am terrified to watch any part of this show in case it too turns out to be worse than I remember. I’d prefer to remember it how I wanted it to be.
I furrowed my brow, puzzled. Mel Gibson? I don’t see it…
William Gibson. Those are more or less the opening lines of Neuromancer.
I know. ^_^
If great artists steal, what does that make (oops) Donald Bellisario?
Such Internet snobbery to not cite the reference. I’m getting too old for this sh*t.*
* Steve McQueen says this in “The Hunter” in 1980.
But that is THE Gibson reference.
It may be *the* reference, but I tend to not reread books very often, as I’d rather go for quantity over memorization. I can talk to you about Slaughterhouse Five or The Childrens’ Crusade because the author’s introduction talks about how the book begins and ends, but I don’t see a reason to bother most of the time, and most authors don’t expect their readers to memorize three sentences that lack verbs.
I’d rather remember the point of the story, and major developments, than a few sentences. Remembering *why* the female character knew she was in trouble because of the porn website in the history on the stylish computer, or that Bigend was able to park his Landrover anywhere he wanted with a simple windshield pass, or that Blue Ant was trying to be a little different while still blending in with their choice of Phaetons over Passats. That sort of thing.
I appear to be one of those people who have a memory that absorbs those kinds of phrases. For me, a lot of my working memory of Gibson’s writing and stories are pinned to my grey matter by them in their visual glory: “It was the kind of night where you could see the flash of steel off a girl’s boot”, “falling, burned and blinded out of a Siberian sky”, “the slamhound caught up with him”; these are pieces of decorative prose that absolutely define and tie together my experience of the writing, providing a hook for my imagination.
He played in the best of films, he played in the worst of films, he played the voice of wisdom, he played the voice of foolishness, he was the player of belief, he was the player of incredulity, his films were in the season of Light, they were in the season of Darkness, they showed the spring of hope, they showed the winter of despair, he had everything before him, he had nothing before him, he was going direct to heaven, he was going direct the other way – in short, Ernest Borgnine was so far like the present period, that some of his noisiest authorities insisted on his being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
That line doesn’t hold up particularly well. My kids have never seen television static. To them, a TV tuned to a dead channel is a bright, vibrant blue.
In Neverwhere, Neil Gaiman remarked on this by using the line to describe a perfectly clear sky.
Nowadays that color would be blue or black, not gray.
I had to look it up. Didn’t take as long as I thought to get it figured out. It might be THE Gibson reference but if it’s been almost 30 years since first reading and maybe 20 since last, ouch, it’s hard to maintain it all. So I thought it was a cool reminder that it’s time for another reading. Wiki also reminded me of the wild praise and awards Neuromancer received. Love that stuff.
On this channel, I think “William,” rather than “Mel,” is a given for any Gibson reference.
Why? first two Mad Max movies are pretty awesome dystopian science fiction…
You should all be ashamed to call yourselves geeks.
Because we missed a three-fragment-sentence literary reference? Some of us geeks spend much more of our time in other pursuits than just speculative fiction by a decent but by no means genre-shattering author. That’s like getting mad because a Rocky Horror fan can’t sing along to Shock Treatment…
Getting mad? Or… bitchin’ in the kitchen and cryin’ in the bedroom all night?
Oh. You’re the other person who was in the theater when that played.
Yup. I had to make a special trip to a 2:30 AM All Saints’ Day screening during which most of the RHPS die-hards sensibly repaired to Magenta’s apartment to pass out.
Once was certainly enough.
I thought that film was underrated.
I don’t know the “gibson reference” so I Googled it. This is what I got;
I wonder if whoever first decided to make the default background blue was aware of the Gibson quote… They could just as well have made the background green, but that would have made the quote nonsensical.
airwolf rules cause:
2 ernest borgnine
3 theme song
5 helis flying through fire
6 theme song
8. the Airwolf “howl”
9. Sparks flying off of Airwolf’s bulletproof indestructochassis while dumb bad guys try to take it out with handguns.
I find the disconnect here interesting; the quote is so well-known and ingrained in geek culture (and outside it even) that lots of people who haven’t even read the book know it. People alter it to make jokes all the time (William Gibson himself sometimes retweets good ones on twitter).
To me it seems nearly at the level of an obvious Star Wars reference that everyone will get. But, I guess thinking about it now it makes sense that isn’t true.
I wonder how they’ll work that in to the film. I think it would be awesome if they kept everything faithful to the book instead of updating it to be a more realistic future (including blue or black being the color of monitors without a signal), but they probably won’t do that.
Please, Please, Please do not pick one of YOUR favorite authors and make broad statements inflating his status, as though a majority of people should catch such a reference.
This is not Dickens. Beyond knowing the name of the author and the names of one or two books he’s written, I have no knowledge of William Gibson. If not for boingboing featuring articles about the author so often in the past, I’d not have made the connection without Googling. He’s an influential author, but let’s not exaggerate.
Talk to typical people and you will see how wrong your statement that such a quote is well-known outside of geek culture. I regularly quote Nabokov, Fowles, John Gardner when I speak or write. I do not make the assumption that most others have any clue where the quotes come from (or that they’ve ever heard of these writers). It’s a reward when they do. I know that they’re more likely to catch my Simpsons, Star Wars, Archer or Rocky IV quotes, but even then, I know that most will not.
Perhaps Rob was writing from a view that he “knows” his audience, but I would be willing to bet (if I were the sort of person who gambles) that the majority of people reading this article not only had no idea that this was a reference to William Gibson, but had never heard of Willam Gibson.
Maybe I didn’t really make myself clear but I was saying pretty much what you’re saying!
Within my mind, which is embedded deep in a certain part of the internet and a certain part of geek culture, William Gibson is as broadly known as the classic authors you refer to (probably more so, actually). So it’s easy for someone like me (and Rob presumably) to make the mistake of thinking that everyone else knows it too, especially on a website with a specific audience like this (I do realize that the audience here is much broader than what we normally think of as geek culture).
There are a lot of references I miss. There have somewhat frequently been Boing Boing articles that I simply don’t get because I’m not familiar with the reference. The reason I found this one particularly interesting is that it brought out so many people who seemed angry that Rob didn’t explain the reference better, which doesn’t normally happen (I don’t think).
I know what xkcd @PaulDavisTheFirst:disqus is linking to without even needing to click on it, it’s certainly apt here :)
Speaking specifically of Neuromancer, though, being familiar with that and other cyberpunk classics I think helps put Boing Boing in context. Those books are such a huge influence on a huge percentage of stuff that Boing Boing regularly features that anyone who isn’t familiar with them is really missing out. But, of course I’m biased since it’s one of my favorite books :)
when i read rob’s posts, they often given me insight into how my wife and other friends probably feel when faced by the entirety of boingboing.
I just store things in my head and figure that the explanation will present itself eventually.
Oh how I wish I could cite (“sample”) from the wonderful books I read in college when I was an English major. That would be great. But I can’t remember any of it. I couldn’t then and I can’t now.
(A quick aside that goes against what I just said): Hamlet was fun because a large percentage of lines from the play are still in use or are cliches (Something is rotten in the state of Denmark; To be or not to be, etc. ) or sound like a bad commercial, like from MacBeth, “Out, Damned Spot. Out.” I do remember these.But you know what I really remember? – ELO’s prologue to their album Time from 1980. “Just off the border of your waking mind, there lies another time…” Actually, I like that prologue. (at least I don’t remember Xanadu as much…) – Lyrics to commercials for games and toys like: Hungry Hungry Hippos; My Puppy Puddles; and Digger the Dog. (My Puppy Puddles!?!)
– Local So Cal commercials like Control Data Institute “I can always do it tomorrow…tomorrow…tomorrow.” Or the rehab commercial with wife screaming to her drunk husband, “Don’t take the Car, You’ll KILL yourself!” or “Go see Cal” at the Worthington Ford car dealership , who “will stand upon his head ’til his ears are turning red, Go see Cal…” etc. (oh and the Pete Ellis Dodge song…oh, I absolutely loathe car dealership commercials).
What were we talking about? Oh yeah, remembering lines from books. I thought the reference to Gibson in the headline was to Mel Gibson. I really did. I’m glad Rob pointed this whole thing out that an Airwolf script has a reference to William Gibson. That’s totally cool, because I can’t remember if I read any Gibson or not. Now I’ll probably pick it up (er, download it) and read it. I will however, still avoid Airwolf. (Bellisario ruled when he did the black and white episode of Magnum PI).
Borgnine ruled as Mermaid Man on SpongeBob.
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