Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Ray Bradbury vs. Michael Moore

So Ray Bradbury is pissed off that Michael Moore named his latest film "Fahrenheit 9/11" .
"It's not a nice thing he has done," Bradbury said in an interview with
AFP. "My book is known all over the world and that title is my title. He just
took it without my permission and changed the number."
"I'd like him to give my title back, just hand it back to me and apologise.
The film should be called Michael Moore 9/11 -- it's his film not mine," he said.

As if you'd never heard of him, Ray Bradbury is a guy who wrote some memorable fiction in
his day, including "Fahrenheit 451", "The Martian Chronicles", "The Illustrated Man", and "Something Wicked This Way Comes".
That last title is a direct quote from Shakespeare, by the way:

"By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes."
--From Macbeth (IV, i, 44-45)

Bradbury is now 83 years old and a little shaky since suffering a stroke in 1999, but he's still quite capable of chewing up the scenery and thrashing all comers as a guest speaker/lecturer.

I saw him at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference in 1999 and again in 2001. He has been the keynote speaker for the conference since it was founded 30 odd years ago. The 2004 SBWC is actually going on now, as I post this; it's always held during the last week in June.

Many SBWC students are repeat attendees; some have been going to the SBWC every year for 15, 20 years or more, and a lot of people in the audience for Bradbury's keynote address the years I was there had heard this same speech so often, they knew large chunks of it by heart. At times Bradbury would lose his place in his notes, and ask the audience what came next.
People shouted out:

"The living-your-dreams stuff!" or "Now comes the part about never taking crap from editors!"

Bursts of affectionate laughter filled the room. Bradbury truly relishes his current role as Living Legend and Elder Crankpot, and he plays it to the hilt 24/7. And good for him, I say.

The joys of being curmudgeonly aside, why is he so angry about Michael Moore naming his film "Fahrenheit 9/11"? Apparently it's not about Moore's
political stance. Rather, it's that Bradbury believes he owns the arrangement of the name "Fahrenheit" followed by three numbers, and because he owns it, everyone else needs to ask his permission to use it. Opinions, please?
Some say Bradbury's got a weak argument.

Others say pretty much the same thing.
Still others, this time from amongst the fen ranks [of whom you'd expect hardcore sycophancy] are saying that Ray is just being an old fart about this.

In fact, I'm not finding any sources anywhere that are taking Bradbury's side, except for those who feel outraged by a perceived slight to their object of worship, the Divine Ray. These are the commenters that usually start out:
Why, that lousy stinking 400 lb. pile of steaming poop! He isn't worthy to kiss even the hangnail on Bradbury's littlest toe!. Blah blah rant rage apoplectic fit.

Now, really. Should author Bill Flanagan have begged permission from James Fenimore Cooper before he titled his most excellent book about the Three Stooges Last Of The Moe Haircuts?

No! Of course not. Not even if Cooper hasn't been dead for the past 150 years.

Finally, isn't it convenient that a new edition of "Fahrenheit 451" comes out in a few short weeks?

Bradbury's book was made into a 1966 movie directed by Francois Truffaut. A new edition of the book is scheduled for release in eight weeks, Bradbury said, and plans are in the works for a new film version, to be directed by Frank Darabont.


The most palpable outcome of this little snit fit is bound to be renewed interest in Bradbury's classic novel, and that's bound to make the old fart happy.

Rave on, Ray. Long may you rant. Now tell us the living-your-dreams part again!

Cross posted at Tild~

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