Snow Crash

Jul. 15th, 2012 11:05 am
at_sign: The hero from the Quest for Glory series of computer games. (Default)
[personal profile] at_sign
Long radio silence due to not having anything much to say ending now. *cough*

A little while back Racebending.com made a post on their Tumblr that, well, the title was "Producers of 'The Last Airbender' plan to adapt 'Snow Crash'" and I went "AAAAARGHNO" because I have been saying since I heard about The Last Failbender – before I was a fan of the show, even – that a live-action Snow Crash film would be the worst thing ever. Here's the deal with Snow Crash, see:

-One main character, Hiro Protagonist, has a mother who is "Korean by way of Nippon [= Japan]" and a father who is "African by way of Texas by way of the Army" – he's described as having "cappuccino skin" (yeah, food metaphors) and "spiky, truncated dreadlocks" as well as eyes that "look Asian". He's a computer geek who carries around a couple of katana in case he needs to fight someone, which is good when he's cornered by a gang of white supremacists (he beheads one with a single chop). When we first meet Hiro, he's delivering pizzas for the Mafia. Hiro is awesome and very, very not white. Hollywood doesn't like that. Best-case, they make him half Asian and half white instead. Worst-case, they replace him with Whitey McWhite.

-Our other hero is a fifteen-year-old girl called Y. T., who is apparently white (and therefore might make it into the film), badass (and therefore likely to be remodeled), sexual in a very in-charge way (and therefore likely to be aged up and have her agency taken down), and just generally really cool. She's a mail-delivery person; she has a magnet at the end of a super-tough cable that she attaches to cars so she can surf along behind them on her skateboard. She's covered in useful equipment, as is her skateboard, so she can get out of scrapes easily. Possibly I would not want a skateboard so much if it weren't for Y. T. and her badassness.

-Hiro's ex-girlfriend Juanita, who's not a POV character but is a main one, is Latina, a capable hacker and geekily religious, and her crowning moment of awesome is too big a plot point for me to even hint at here. She's the best hacker in existence, probably, and really really hot so maybe they'd let her stay sort of the same. Her backstory will probably not make it, which is a shame because Juanita is a prime example of a woman who male-centric geek culture dismisses who nevertheless is the alpha geek, like my mum. My computer is named Juanita because of her. Nuff said.

-The coolest villain in the story is an Aleut man named Raven, who is a fucking terrifying mutant psychopath who kills people with glass knives he makes himself and can sneak past metal detectors, etc. so multiple times in the book people make the mistake of thinking he's unarmed when he's loaded down with deadly weapons. He has [SPOILER HERE] very enthusiastically consensual sex with Y. T. [SPOILER OVER] towards the end of the book. Raven's being Aleut is hugely important to his character, and since he's a villain he might even get to keep it (though whether the actor would actually be Aleut, well...) but I don't trust this one either.

-Then there's L. Bob Rife, villain who is certainly not modeled on L. Ron Hubbard and whose made-up brainwashing-based religion is certainly not Scientology, why would you think that; there's Uncle Enzo, our Mafia-boss hero who is really badass and Y. T.'s best friend ever, there's Mr. Lee of Mr. Lee's Greater Hong Kong (it's a franchise-country-thing, a corporation-government such as litter the Snow Crash universe) who's a lesser-grade hero; there's Y. T.'s mom, who never gets a name because she's just a hacker who works for the United States government (Big Brother and the bureaucracy and something of a joke, with no real power) and besides Y. T. is lovingly scornful of her and we mostly see Y. T.'s perspective.

Snow Crash is brilliant. Among its remarkable traits are its ability to still sound like a prospective futuristic technological setting despite being twenty years old, its ability to blare disgusting bigotry in an "edgy" way without, somehow, actually sounding like it might condone any of it, its ability to be written in the present tense without driving me up the wall – hell, it's basically stream-of-consciousness, Stephenson being one of the few masters of that artform out there – and the way the universe and the characters all fit together to keep my suspension of disbelief going. It's a staple of hacker culture that other geeks can still understand.

I've made a promise that if they cast someone who's part Asian and part black as Hiro, I'll see it. Hell, if they don't age up Y. T. I'll see it multiple times. In theaters. I go to the theater maybe once a year. For a serious attempt at communicating the Snow Crash nam-shub to the moviegoing public, I will throw money at their heads and shout from the rooftops. It's an easy promise to make, since the odds of actually having to keep it are so incredibly low.

Date: 2012-07-16 03:31 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] thrush
Aaaarghno, indeed!

Thanks for the detailed critique. You raise good points and, for what it's worth, I agree with you. On the one hand there is a part of me that is happy to hear someone in Hollywood is trying something new instead of rehashing or rebooting yet another '80s film. On the other hand, the rest of me is just sad.

There was a time when Hollywood turned out genuinely good films; that was a long freaking time ago now. Even in that bygone era I don't think the studio system could do justice to this material.

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