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  • Writer's pictureShannon Heibler

Tron (1982)

Confession: I am terrible at video games. Especially, it seems, arcade games. But I love them. Not enough to spend much money on any more but what I wouldn't give to have an old school, nearby arcade to blow some quarters and some steam on. A regular item on the "if we won the lottery" list for Ben and I is to open an arcade and/or game store that also was a bar. And hire someone else to run it. I would love to own or at least visit Flynn's.


I don't remember when I first saw Tron. It was in my pop culture vocabulary long before I actually saw it, though. I feel like it must have been college or shortly after. A trip to the video rental place and a shrug of "I should probably see this at some point." I was underwhelmed but I didn't dislike it. I lovelovelove Tron: Legacy (to be seen later on the list). And you really cannot have Legacy without Tron.


I know I've talked about it before but watch Prop Culture on Disney+. The Tron episode is mind blowing. I think now, aside from Legacy, I love Tron so much more because I understand the craft of it. The brilliance of design and concept. The labor of love. I also have immense fondness for director Steven Lisberger, who correctly predicted the future and could create a really wild, mostly accurate allegory for technology in a time when very few people understood it, now spends his time making wooden bowls and vases on a lathe. He says, "When everyone was analog, I was digital. Now everyone is digital and I am solely analog. I guess I'm a druid at heart." LOVE. I kind of just want to talk about that episode now but you should really just go watch it. And then watch Tron. Or vice versa, I'm not picky.


Jeff Bridges was a Babe and he's a joy to watch. (I'm a Bruce Boxleitner girl at heart, though.) I always thought Legacy brought a little too much of The Dude to Flynn's character but that's already present in Tron. He finished a sentence with "man" at one point and Ben and I looked at each other with excitement. "HE SAID THE THING!" When I write the Tron musical, however, I'm eliminating Lora/Yori and Alan and Flynn will be the ones with a romantic past. So much cleaner.

I really need to start introducing myself and others with, "I'm Shannon. I fight for the users."


I'm fascinated by the religious tones throughout the movie. The reverence for The User. Poor Tron's assumption that The User must have a plan for all their suffering programs. I love, too, that the audience lens for the religion is not pity. The villains have great disdain for those who believe but even with the dramatic irony of knowing that yes users exist but no, they are not omnipotent, there's a sort of sad warmth to it. Like Steven Lisberger looking over his shoulder to say, "Programs, they're just like us, huh?" I always love that sort of tone in a movie. I feel like my aesthetic can be described, to steal a phrase, as "whimsical melancholy." And I think this is a close cousin. The acknowledgement that the particular hope or the optimism is misplaced, but having hope and choosing optimism is admirable. Cynicism is too easy. I wish more movies (and more mes) would choose this kinder outlook. After a week of working on the project and thinking about this movie, I need to add that it's one of the most earnest movies I've ever seen, and I think that it deserves more credit for that alone.


I miss the hell out of the Daft Punk score.


Mixed media (EL Wire, foamcore, plastic sheeting, various glues, paints & tapes) shadowbox. "Flynn's" 11x14"



Takeaways:

-Another rough week. Mostly because of residual feelings and, let's call it what it is, depression from last week. I also found myself deep in the talent/taste gap on this project. I'm realizing more and more that as my creativity grows, the projects require a little more focused commitment on my part and in a week of dissociating and tears, I didn't have enough time. I was frustrated enough, though, that giving myself more time wouldn't have helped. I probably would have just walked away. These are tough lessons, but I'm grateful to be shining a light on my own practices, strengths, and shortcomings.

-This was my first go with Electro Luminescent Wire (EL Wire). It doesn't require any electrical knowledge and it's super cheap. I look forward to trying more with it. However...

-The scale of this piece was really tough to work with. I'm glad I didn't go any smaller (I really struggled with the EL Wire and getting any kind of precision out of it) but everything else felt big to me. The actual building Flynn's was filmed at has an odd sort of scale anyway so it just took more time than I planned on to plan it out and that was, again, frustrating.

-This made me yearn to have time to spend on miniatures and terrain for D&D games! Smaller stuff! And I picked up some new skills.

-I feel like there was more I wanted to say. Structurally I found myself stymied over and over again about what steps needed to happen next. I'm not sure what to do about that other than patience with myself and process and an openness to learn.


Tonight, we'll be watching Perfect Movie Thor: Ragnarok. A gift to everyone and everything. I cannot tell you how excited my weary head is to make a pizza and settle in for some of the most joyful filmmaking ever done.

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