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David Poland

By David Poland

Ideas First

Roger Ebert wrote a piece called Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, about the right to die, Jack Kevorkian, and the HBO movie, “You Don’t Know Jack.” Steven Drake attacked Roger for making assumptions in the piece.

Thing is, as a very focused, long-involved activist on this issue, Drake has more facts in his head about it than Ebert. And Roger may have overreached or been sloppy on a couple of things. Conversely, Drake’s facts may lean to spin at times.

But what both men have, which cannot be fact-checked away, is a strong opinion.

Ebert could acknowledge, if it’s true, that every fact Drake claims he had wrong was wrong… and yet, I don’t imagine that Roger would find the arguments of detail ones that would change his feeling about people being free to control their own physical destinies over the state or doctors or any outside force (assuming faith if an inside source).

Likewise, I don’t imagine that a perfectly fact-checked article from Ebert on his position would ever elicit agreement from Drake, whose mind seems clearly made up.

Of course, Drake is a bit abusive about all this and Roger was simply expressing his own opinion and experience. But let that pass…

Don’t we have to find a way to talk about the real ideas that separate us and not just the typos or real, but irrelevant, factual errors, if we want to progress as a civilization?

It’s much harder, but so much more fulfilling.

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One Response to “Ideas First”

  1. Hallick says:

    “Don’t we have to find a way to talk about the real ideas that separate us and not just the typos or real, but irrelevant, factual errors, if we want to progress as a civilization?”

    Think about any courtroom drama where the prosecution or the defense sets out to discredit the witness instead of their actual testimony, and that’s just about where the world’s at on this point.

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon