Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Plane speaking

I confessed a few weeks ago that I'd referred to JG Ballard's Crash in my Radiohead book, without actually having read it and, like a sinner scrabbling for redemption, I'm studiously going through all the references and noting the ones I haven't actually read, watched or heard.

In Chapter 25, I discuss the technological developments that have destroyed the notion of The Rock Album as a discrete set of songs in a non-negotiable order. I compare these changes with the experiments in reader interactivity carried out by the experimentalist writers BS Johnson and Georges Perec, and link these, via a footnote, to the web-based discussions that caused changes to the script of the 2006 film Snakes on a Plane. And, being a complete ponce, the one I hadn't actually experienced in all its glory was the schlocky movie.

So today I endeavoured to rectify this. But I only lasted 20 minutes. Bear in mind that I'd managed to plough through Perec's Life: A User's Manual (the 99 chapters of which you can read in any order, guided by a 59-page index, a chronology, a checklist of stories, a floorplan of the building in which the action takes place and a profound interest in jigsaws) and Johnson's The Unfortunates (the 27 chapters of which can be read in any order you bloody well like, although Johnson politely suggests you read the first and last in their conventional places), so a lowest-common-denominator thriller about reptiles running amok on a flight from Hawaii to Los Angeles ought to be straightforward, yeah? Sadly, not. But what stopped me wasn't the wafer-thin characterisation, the cliche-strewm script or even the remedial acting. It was the fact that the hero, the alpha-male FBI agent played by cooler-than-dry-ice Samuel L Jackson was named....


Neville.

Now, apologies to any Nevilles out there but c'mon, it's not the sort of name that seeps a cocktail of sang-froid and testosterone from every pore, is it? It's a dealbreaker as far as the audience goes, like finding out that Satan has elected to name his son...

Adrian...

12 comments:

Billy said...

"What have you done to him? What have you done to his eyes, you maniacs!"

Sorry got a bit carried away there with your last link. Plus I couldn't think of a way of mentioning Neville Neville and/or motherfuckers.

God, commenting is hard work sometimes.

dh said...

Crash. Sex and death basically. People who like having it off in car wrecks. Read Ballard's 'Kindness of Women' and you'll get a better idea of why he wrote Crash. Then read Martin Amis' reviews of same. Always happy to help. Dick.

amyonymous said...

To revert to my motherhood references (there is a period of one's life as a parent when ALL references are from cartoons or children's stories): Neville is the name of the most wimpy, wussy boy at Hogwarts. A friend of Harry Potter and a target for all bullies and mean teachers.

So yeah, I agree - bad name for a hero.

I quite like Adrian for Satan's son however.....

Pisces Iscariot said...

While on the subject of names, you probably read about the 5 year old Alex Hell who was barred entry to an Australian Catholic school Bet he's right hard - snakes on a plane pfff - he'd eat them for breakfast.
BBC link here

James said...

I must admit have had no desire to see 'Snakes On A Plane' mainly down to the title and the realisation that it literally is about snakes on a plane. But if ever I was in any doubt whether this was the correct decision the fact that the lead character is called Neville has cemented my decision for good.

The only thing I can think of here is how Gary and Phil Neville's (the footy players) dad is called Neville. So Neville Neville. I know this is the world most known useless fact but I thought someone might not know.

Betty said...

Come one, what's wrong with an alpha-male FBI agent called Neville? David Prowse became cooler than ice superhero the, er, Green Cross Code Man. He managed to overcome the obstacle of being called David AND having a Bristol accent ("oy woon't be theyrr when you craahhss the rood").

Tim Footman said...

Billy, you just are Mia Farrow. I can see you with a United Nations of orphans around you, all sticking pins in Woody Allen dolls.

But Ballard has a penis, Dick, so I don't read him any more.

Damian, maybe, Amy, but not Adrian. That's for Moles.

Maybe he should change his name to Alex Thepopesapoof, Pisces?

And the fans sing his name to the tune of 'Rebel Rebel', James.

But they wouldn't let him use his voice as Darth Vader, sadly, Betty. "Ooarr, oi be youm farrrther, Luke."

rivergirlie said...

might it not be - i suggest, merely - that the name neville has completely different connotations for our cousins over the water? after all, they appear to see nothing at all wrong with the names kevin and brian, for goodness sake!
my major objection to 'soap' - ooh! look at that for an acronym - is, where's the mystery? it's like that diet book, 'no carbs after 5pm'. we know where? and what? before we even start. simply can't be arsed with how? and why?

First Nations said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
First Nations said...

i would rather sit through six successive showings of Motherfuckin Snakes on a Motherfuckin Plane than i would put myself through one more reading of the self-impressed load of crap that is 'Crash'. you've missed NOTHING there. for god's sake at least check it out of the library or borrow it if you must; don't waste your money there.

not that i have an opinion, or anything.

*one of the top ten on my 'Smash with a bat until motionless' list of authors, is Ballard

patroclus said...

Now I really want to know who else is in FN's top 10 'smash with a bat until motionless' authors!

Tim Footman said...

That's right, rivergirlie. Just look at Neville Depp, Neville DiCaprio, Neville Cruise...

And I'm with Patroclus, FN. A Top 10 hate list. Is that a meme I hear?