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Jimmy_Q writes...

Now there's a HUGE difference between 994 Scotland and 1994 U.S. Wouldn't the differences in vocabulary, word usage, etc. between these times and places reflect that? If Goliath learned to read and write in 994 Scotland then how was it that he awoke in Manhattan seemingly capable of reading and comprehending modern day American literature? Did he somehow work on his literacy skills outside the series or what? I figured that, as the ultimate all-knowing diety of the gargoyle universe, you would know this.

Greg responds...

I do know this. You would too if you checked the archives.

Response recorded on July 02, 2001

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Jessica Cotten writes...

Hey Greg,

Well, either I can't find my answered questions(there are a lot)or I just asked them in a way that wasn't appropriate. Oh well. Anyway, if you ever get to do gargoyles again would you use Timedancer or would you maybe use a different idea if a better one surfaced? Timedancer is good, but I wouldn't put Brooklyn with someone so different. Maybe, but then again; you are the one writing the shows not me.

Since I can't find my questions. Could you e-mail me at Alexlyons3@hotmail.com

Greg responds...

I'm sorry, I don't respond with personal e-mails. Defeats the purpose of this forum.

I'm always open to using the best possible idea at my disposal at a given time. But I'm pretty sure that would include TimeDancer. I'm not sure what you mean by 'putting Brooklyn with someone so different'. You don't know enough about Katana to know how different or not she is.

Response recorded on July 02, 2001

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Punchinello writes...

Hello Mr. Weisman.

I don't come here often, but occasionally I'm struck by the urge to quiz you on something. I was browsing the questions you're fielding, and I was struck again by something I notice every time I visit this page. There seems to be some preoccupation here with "the mind of the other." I noticed another poster make reference to your interest in it (although I cannot find any record of your having initiated the discussion).

While the series was still active I saw you invoke this theme frequently whenever you emphasized the cultural shock that the gargoyles experienced in modern America, and I appreciated the fact that you treated our linguistic tendencies to "name everything" as a curious human social construction. It helped to push the idea that these creatures were _not_ human and that we could not understand their natures or their motivations from within the context of human sensibilities. I see there is some similar talk here of the fay, and the notion that their essential nature might be something that is sufficiently far removed from humans so as to be outside our understanding. All of this puts me in mind of the anthropomorphic problem that the SETI administration outlined for dealing with the idea of extraterrestrial intelligence's. Human beings have a tendency to ascribe human values to non human species, and beyond that have considerable difficulty in contextualizing "the mind of the other" without unconsciously resorting to the context of human sensibilities.

Which brings me to the reason for this post; because being a student of the sciences (and probably less attached to my humanity than most people), I have found reason to be extremely critical of some of the aspects of the way the anthropomorphic problem is treated within the natural sciences as it applies to non-human animals. Generally speaking, my problem is that some of the more archaic ethical distinctions that are made between humans and other animals have their foundation in the premise that the ascription of certain mental capacities ( reflection, emotion, etc.) are the ascription of _uniquely human_ qualities. The fact that this premise, itself, is socially constructed rather than informed by data, seems to be lost on at least most _social_ scientists. What is troubling me is that I have begun to observe this kind of thinking migrate into the popular domain through science fiction. I don't really follow sci fi, but I've seen star trek, and I have had occasion to see the half-dozen or so other popular sci fi programs that one can find on television. I see a trend wherein the heroes casual disintegration of a planet is commonly justified with the hazily defined and indistinct ethics of "It did not harbor any sentient life."

This trend is scaring the hell out of me; because the expression "sentient" is not really used within the scientific community, so it does not have any agreed upon definition attached to it and there is no objective data informing the idea of it. The word seems to have infiltrated popular culture, however, where it finds frequent expression. That's what's bothering me. I see a lot of the same hazy ethical reasoning on this board. A number of messages expressing the confusion that humans in your story were subject to when they "mistook the gargoyles for animals rather than sentient beings" and in doing so, justified a campaign to exterminate them.

I would hope that a reasonable group of people would be given pause by the almost casual disregard for life that is being demonstrated with the prioritization of one life over another based upon the presence or non-presence of this seemingly magical endowment. Because if I am reading the intentions of the contributors to this board accurately, then it would appear their position is that if the occupants of that clock tower had been a group of stray dogs or a family of polar bears, then annihilating them with a wire guided missile would have been perfectly reasonable. "It's all right. It didn't harbor any sentient life." I would encourage the fans that come to this site to give some thought to what it is they mean by "sentience." What is the content of this sentience? If it entails that a creature can react to it's environment, anticipate, reflect and emote, then it should be pointed out that what available data exists indicates that this capacity is only about as exclusive a domain as most land based vertebrates.

I guess they shouldn't have disintegrated that planet after all. I hope to encourage others to give this issue the thought that it requires. I am also hoping to elicit some commentary from you, on the matter of how you perceive "the mind of the other." What mental distinctions do you draw between humans and gargates or faeries. I would be interested in hearing you address the notion.

Punchinello

Greg responds...

Thank you for writing. It certainly gets me thinking.

I'm probably as guilty as anyone of overusing, or rather overbilling the issue of "sentience". I think the concept has its uses. But it's probably used as a crutch too often.

Certainly, I don't want to see a family of polar bears, anthropomorphic or otherwise, blown up by a guided missile.

I don't much like the idea of destroying planets. In science fiction or otherwise.

As to this "mind of the other" concept...

Well for starters, I don't believe I did initiate the discussion of it -- unless you're including my constant admonishments to posters here that they are thinking like a human.

The previous post by Demoness and my response are a perfect example. She thinks Oberon is out of line. But she's thinking like a human, and a biased one at that. (I don't mean to pick on you, Demoness.) Oberon has a valid point of view. We may not like it, but it seems justifiable to me.

But the question of the mind of the other, was posted here initially by someone else. ( I can't remember who it was at this moment. ) I only just answered it in the last few days. Since you posted YOUR question, hopefully you've seen my response to that one.

And to reiterate, my response was that I'm still (in our universe) interested in the mind of US. Not the OTHER. But one way to explore that is to put ourselves in the shoes of the OTHER. Finding and describing and bringing the OTHER to life, whether as a Gargoyle or as a Child of Oberon, is for me an exercise in EXTRAPOLATION.

For example: If I was me, BUT I turned to stone every day AND I aged at half the rate I currently do PLUS most of my species had been exterminated 1000 years ago, ETC. -- then WHAT WOULD I BE LIKE?

For me, it's less about investing in species then in individual characters. Each with his or her own UNIQUE LIST of "extrapalatory parameters" (I just made that phrase up.)

It's really no different with a character like Elisa. After all, I'm a white Jewish male from California who has spent his entire adult life working in fiction. Elisa is an African-American/Native-American female from New York who's spent her adult life fighting crime. To understand her, I need to extrapolate.

However, in order to understand individuals of another species, I need to know more about that species. I need to envision the parameters that I will use to fully create their characters. So I've done that. In many ways, to me, gargoyle culture represent a kind of ideal. Not perfection, which doesn't personally interest me. But an ideal. Purpose. Loyalty. Oneness with the world they live in. Etc. I've borrowed things that I admired from multiple cultures and from my imagination, and I've tried to weave it into a coherent whole that fits the biology that I assigned them. These biological limits also create parameters for extrapolating character. Yes, the turning to stone thing. But also the group egg laying on a twenty year cycle. This naturally leads into the group child rearing thing. One is biological. One is cultural. But they are linked by extrapolation.

[Or... and I know this sounds silly but... perhaps they are linked by truth. By the fact that they exist in the Gargoyle Universe. As I've said many times before, sometimes this show flowed so well and easily, that it just seemed like I was tapping into something that existed. (But that's got nothing to do with this discussion, so let's ignore it.)]

And yet, from my point of view, all this is used to further illustrate the human condition. I don't think Oberon does or should think like us. But don't we all know a couple people with a little Oberon in them.

Keith David has said, as recently as seven days ago, that when he grows up he hopes to be like Goliath. And I personally think, that flawed as he is, Goliath is a wonderful role model. So we, as humans, can learn from Gargoyles. And we, as humans, can learn from Margot Yale as well. Maybe as a negative example. Maybe as something more down the road.

Ending Hunter's Moon with Jon Canmore becoming the human equivalent of Demona, was not an accident. They arrived at that point in two very different ways -- each, I hope, well informed by his or her species. (Or well extrapolated.) Nevertheless, the similarities between them are obvious and represent a "lesson" for us all.

All that stuff interests me MUCH, MUCH more than the exercise of creating something fully OTHER, just for the sake of achieving that.

Someday that may not be true. Aliens could land in Washington D.C. tomorrow and then comprehending the OTHER for the sake of understanding the OTHER will become a BIG priority fast. But for the time being, the human race is effectively alone in the universe. And before the aliens land, I'd like us all to get to know ourselves MUCH, MUCH better. In that sense, an Oberon, a Goliath, a Nokkar, are all just tools to that end.

The concept of sentience, comes in again, as I said, as a crutch. A convenient distinction between Bronx and Goliath, for example. Let's say you're from Russia. You don't speak English, and Goliath doesn't speak Russian. Still you have a hope that one or both of you may learn to speak the other's language. Dialogue is possible.

Bronx isn't ever going to speak Russian or English. That's the distinction. For what it's worth. In a moral sense, I'd say it's not worth MUCH at all. In a PRAGMATIC sense, we're not being honest if we don't admit it MEANS a lot.

Now. I don't think sentience is a WALL. Koko the gorilla can communicate in sign language. And I've got to say, I'm not sure that whales and dolphins aren't squealing complex philosophical discussions every day of the week. (Which is confusing because Dolphins have an eight day week, and whales have a thirty-seven day week. But what are you going to do?)

But even including a Bronx or a Cagney has value in the show. How do we respond to them. How do they respond to us? It's fun to do "The Hound of Ulster" and try to understand how an "animal" responds to various stimuli. It's still extrapolation. Now, with Bronx, I can cheat. I can keep him a beast and anthropomorphize him to my heart's content, because that species doesn't truly exist. I can make him as intelligent as I want. My goal there is to simply be consistent. Bronx can't start responding like Scooby Doo one day. You get the idea.

It's still about us understanding us and our place in the world. If in my own small way, I'm helping to open minds, helping to pave a bit of a way for when the aliens DO LAND, then great. But first and foremost, I'm asking us to KNOW OURSELVES.

Anyway, I feel like I'm starting to get repetitive. But this whole thread intrigues me. Feel free to post again with a follow-up. And everyone's welcome to join in.

Response recorded on July 02, 2001

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Jim R. writes...

This is something I've been wanting to ask for a while.

A lot of information on the net in relation to Gargoyles is the criticism reports I read. Critics who evaluated Gargoyles say that as for children, it's a good show to teach morals, right-and-wrong differences, and social problems. They especially mention the episode "Deadly Force" in particular as a lesson learning experience about the dangers of weapons.

But, as for those of us adults, we believe Gargoyles was Disney's way of appealing to a more mature audience. Most of us would say its attractive because of the story, characters, episodes, Shakespearian underlyings, or the overall fictional universe idea makes it interesting. These things, I think, are what make adults come to Gatherings or purchuse merchandise, etc.

So, my question is: Who would you agree with more? The people like us fans, who ask you questions, still watch the series on our VCRs, and adore the story. Or, the critics who would say that Gargoyles is a good children's cartoon, suitable for teaching them lessons of behavior, ethics, etc.

Greg responds...

I view my audience like a target. There's a bull's eye in the middle, and concentric circles surrounding it.

Put another way, I try to write on multiple levels. Eye candy and clear lessons for younger kids. Shades of grey and other more sophisticated material for older audiences. Hopefully, I'm reaching the widest possible audience. That's the goal.

Mostly, however, I write to please myself. The more I do that, the less likely it is that I become a hack.

Response recorded on June 30, 2001

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Todd Jensen writes...

You mentioned once that you somewhat regretted calling the fay in "Gargoyles" "Oberon's Children", because that led some of the audience to get the wrong impression, and believe that the fay were Oberon's biological offspring. Actually, I was recently watching my tape of "Heritage", and noted a strong piece of evidence for Oberon not being the biological father of them (or at least not all of them). In the episode, Raven describes Grandmother as his cousin. That would certainly indicate that they are not biological siblings and therefore do not share a common father in that sense. So the series does have something to make it clear (for the observant) that the faeries aren't Oberon's children in that sense. I just thought that you'd like to know.

Greg responds...

Yeah, thanks. I'm aware of it.

But it still doesn't change the fact that when you first hear the phrase, it's a touch misleading.

But so is fae or fay. It doesn't adequately cover the concept as far as I'm concerned.

Response recorded on June 30, 2001

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Sloth writes...

Ok, I think i'm outa worthwhile questions for the moment so i'll just make a comment about the show. One thing I really like about gargoyles (besides the great music, animation, story and characters) is it's hudge vocabulary. I remember when I was younger, the show taught me to use some cool words such as: subterfuge, cataclisim, clishe, abomination and many others that I can't think of right now. Just thought I'd mention someting that i thinks gone unmentioned.
Great work yall!

Greg responds...

Thanks. That's very gratifying to the eyes of this old English Teacher.

(Now if I could just get you all to proofread.)

Response recorded on June 29, 2001

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Ricky writes...

Greg,
Thanks for responding to my questions. I've written about four novels, but none of them have been accepted. Maybe it's my style of writting I don't know...but perhaps we can help each other in this matter. Would it be all right if I sent you a story on this web page despite it being against your guidelines...I'd like someone to read it, and since it's about Max Steel I thought you would be the more appropiate person to send it to. Just take a look and if you like it then perhaps we can colabrate on something.
Thanx

Greg responds...

Ricky,

I appreciate the sincerity of the offer. But I'm afraid I'm not interested for a score of reasons. Here are the main ones:

1. Max Steel generally is a painful topic for me. I'm quite less than anxious to see anyone else's version of that character.

2. I don't know you. You may be a great guy. Or you may be law suit happy. Even if you are the former, if I break my rule for you, than someone else who is law suit happy can claim that sometimes I break my rules and that I must have broken it for him or her.

3. I'm sorry, but I'm not looking for a new collaborator. My brother and I are collaborating on a screenplay. But working with him is like working with my second self. Otherwise, generally, I prefer to gut it out on my own.

Having said all that, I wish you all the best with your work. If writing is your passion, then stick with it.

Response recorded on June 29, 2001

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Todd Jensen writes...

This is something that I should be posting later, ideally, since you haven't yet gotten to the Avalon World Tour episodes in your ramblings, but I finally decided that I needed to let this out of me soon, so I'm doing so now.

I've noticed, over the years since I discovered "Gargoyles" fandom on the Internet, that many people didn't like the Avalon World Tour for various reasons (the length of time, the absence of Hudson and the trio, the focus on myth and fantasy aspects rather than more "mundane" elements like crime-fighting, etc.). On the other hand (while I may have had my moments of wondering when Goliath, Elisa, Angela and Bronx were going to get back to New York), I quite liked the World Tour. To a certain extent, I'll admit that I'm biased - my tastes naturally run towards fantasy/myth elements. But after doing a little thinking on this one, it increasngly struck me that, aside from all that, something of the nature of the Avalon World Tour was a must for "Gargoyles" at some point.

The reason for this is that the World Tour served a very crucial purpose (besides the general one that you mentioned of expanding the "Gargoyles Universe"). It made it clear that Goliath, his clan, and Demona weren't the only gargoyles left. And that was a crucial step. Because if they really had been, the gargoyle species would have been almost irrevocably doomed to extinction, with only seven members left, only one of those seven a female, and that one estranged from all the rest and very unlikely to reconcile with them. Goliath and the others would have been the "last gargoyles", not only in the sense of being the only ones left, but also in the sense that no new gargoyles would come along after them.

If that had been the case, it would have obviously made a rather depressing series. Admittedly, having the main character be the "very last of his kind" wouldn't necessarily be utterly melancholy - Superman is the very last Kryptonian, and his story's an upbeat one, on the whole. But the situation there's different; Superman's alien origin is treated more as a plot device to explain his abilities, so his being "the last of his kind" doesn't appear quite so melancholy. Goliath and his clan's "gargoyleness", however, was treated in the series from the start as a crucial part of them and their very nature, rather than a similar handy plot device to allow them to serve as effective protectors of New York. And also, it was clear enough from the start that an important part of the series would be the gargoyles seeking to make peace with humanity, to overcome the fear that so many humans view them with. Such a quest would have been futile (in a sense) if they were the last of their kind - the understanding on humanity's part of the true nature of gargoyles would come too late to avert the race's extinction - the best that the gargs would be able to hope for in such a situation was that they might be able to live out their last years without the general human population hunting them down, but still aware that there would be no new gargoyles after them. Not very happy.

So there'd obviously have to be gargoyles living in other parts of the world to ensure a future for the species. And Goliath and his clan would have to come into contact with those other gargoyles for the audience to see that they weren't the last. But the clan's situation would make that tricky. For one thing, there'd be the obvious transportation problems - they can't simply hop aboard the next plane bound for London or Japan. And given how secretive gargoyle clans would obviously have to be in modern times, even if Goliath and Co. had a mundane means of transportation to wherever it was that one of these clans was living, they would certainly not be likely to find out about these other clans easily. The only solution to both questions that wouldn't feel contrived was magic - as in the magic of Avalon that sends you where you need to be. That way, Goliath could be brought to the locations of the clans in London, Guatemala, and Ishimura in a convincing fashion.

So I think that the Avalon World Tour was indeed a practical must for the series, to allow the crucial moment when the clan can learn, as Hudson put it in "The Gathering", "We're not alone. We're not the last."

Greg responds...

Hey, pal, I'm with you.

From moment one, we wanted to present an OPTIMISTiC world view, that mirrored Goliath's own. (Not that he hasn't had a bad moment or mood or two.)

The World Tour was a necessity from that stand point for all the reasons you stated.

Plus it was a necessity given some of my future plans. 2198 immediately comes to mind. But there was other stuff too.

Response recorded on June 29, 2001

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Jonny writes...

Greg, I was reading you're welcome letter and I noticed a mistake in it...you said you were the creator and producer Gargoyles, but you misspelled producer, you have "produser". Just thought you should know.

Greg responds...

Thanks. I noticed that long ago -- but I don't know how to fix it. I also don't think I mispelled it (though it's certainly possible). Gore, was that me or you?

Response recorded on June 27, 2001

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Anonymous writes...

Are the fiction serieses on the http://tgs.gargoyles-fans.org/ website cannon to Gargoyles? If so, I have some more questions.

Greg responds...

No. I've never read any of it.

Response recorded on June 27, 2001


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