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Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
"I mean, have you tried not being a slayer?"
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January 10 2008

What would a Joss Signal look like? A blogger laments the egregious biology of Bee Movie and makes a wonderful suggestion.

Sure, Bee Movie might be old news but it's always fun to come across some unexpected Joss love. How would we go about building such a thing? And would we need to provide him with a cape?

FADE IN:

INT. MARY PARENT'S OFFICE

JOSS bursts through the door, startling MARY PARENT.

JOSS
Okay, I've got it now. I've completely rewritten Goners to be performed entirely by bees. Tons and tons of biologically-correct girl bees!

MARY PARENT blinks.

JOSS (continuing)
No, really. There's a bee named Mia. And one named Violet. I've even changed the dobermans into bees!

MARY PARENT blinks. JOSS blinks.

JOSS (mumbling)
Stupid interwebs. Telling me to make a bee movie. What was I thinking?!

JOSS exits the way he came in.

FADE OUT

[ edited by theonetruebix on 2008-01-10 04:13 ]
I think a Joss signal is an absolutely excellent idea and it should be on a t-shirt and soon. Maybe you're having a party and one of the guests becomes unruly or makes a racial epithet or some other sleazy thing and short of being able to beam it up into the sky, you dash into the other room, throw on your t-shirt with the signal, and instantaneously words of wisdom vis a vis witty sarcasm immediately save this situation that's going south. Or you're proposing and you start to stutter or your mind goes blank. Same solution. It can apply to all sorts of scenarios. The Joss placebo effect.

Can the signal be like a cross between Live Long and Prosper and the Hawaiian Hang Loose Gesture? Yes, I'm being silly, but the signal idea is great.
um, DUH...

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2030/2181737581_f2da2532ec_o.jpg
Zomigosh, giant spotlight with a Balinese shadow puppet version of the mutant enemy crossing in front. And all who see it will say unto themselves, "grr... arrgh."
Other than Mutant Enemy.
They made the worker bees male? ARGH! That's so wrong even beyond denying that a bee colony is almost entirely female.

It's a tiny consolation, but what movies and tv very rarely get right, comics have done. Inaccurate biology in entertainment is an exhausting topic. Sometimes it makes it really hard to be a scifi/horror fan. I wish I could close my eyes during most insectoid-monster CGI sequences. Or teach the CGI guys basic zoology. The real deal has massive potential for monsterdom material (not to mention stories), but even in well-written shows like Buffy, it's usually a weakness.

One day I will write an absurd and lengthy treatise on the subject: "How not to design your CGI monster: some subtle hints and tricks."
Excuse me, but in the interests of context and accuracy, shouldn't the signal be Joss Signal
shouldn't the signal be...

So that's where Madonna's bullet bra went.
Um, really not following you there, B!x. But also not following the idea of a signal. Joss is supposed to do what?
It wasn't only the bees where the biology was less than entirely accurate. There are going to be a lot of little kids coming out from that movie with a very confused idea of the role of pollen.

(But there were some pretty funny lines in the movie, and to be honest that's all I think Seinfeld really wanted to do)
Great comic mention Sunfire! Both factually correct and entertaining- it doesn't get any better than that!

Unless it's written by Joss.
Kiddo: Yeah, it was a Seinfeld project from day one, and Seinfeld regards himself entirely as a gag-writer. Funny lines is what he's made of, and he knows that and he's made a good career of it.

And, to be fair, our Mr. Whedon has also repeatedly (and gloriously, beautifully, righteously and wonderfully) kicked science to the curb in favor of story, imagery, or simple creative whim.
*imagines Joss wearing a black cape and rubber mask* … *shudders*

I've yet to see Bee Movie (RL is pissy these days) but I stopped expecting accuracy from movies a long time ago. And really didn't expect it in a movie where a bee who has both parents discovers the human world and is able to talk with a human lol. I'm not worried that kids might get confused regarding how bees function in and out of the hive– I'm worried a child would approach one and try to converse with it.
"Quickly Min-Ear-Boy, to the Purple-Mobile !". Now that has legs. I smell franchise.

If you work in computing you'll have learned, for the sake of your sanity, to put realism to one side and just let them do whatever - from displays with 20 cm tall text to large, flashing "Access Denied" alerts to "crazy typing" to "This is a Unix system, I know this !", all bunk.

The "hard" sciences often do badly in TV sci-fi too, maybe this'll help biologists with their physics envy ;-).

(and as mentioned, Joss does it all the time, in his care the bees would probably spontaneously turn into grasshoppers if the story warranted it - and it'd still make perfect narrative sense. If the story and writing are good enough, I can deal with a lot of "disrespect" for reality - after all, it's still gonna be there, doing its thing, no matter what claims Big Purp or anyone else make ;)
Am I the only one who is seriously disturbed by the mating habits of bees? And I thought the male preying mantis had a rough time of it. Don't like insects. Are bees even insects? Gods, this from someone who was once married to an entomologist.
I think you know bees are insects, Shey. Coming from a place with many, many bugs, I'm just grateful that they do most of the mating stuff unseen. What's worse is the can't miss behavior, like buzzing, flailing june bugs and locusts (so called in the South, actually cicadas? Not sure) that seem to be in pain all the time. Very disturbing.
I'm not worried that kids might get confused regarding how bees function in and out of the hiveľ I'm worried a child would approach one and try to converse with it.

I accept that animated insects talk in the same way that I accept that Willow can cast spells. BtVS managed to ground completelyunrealistic events and abilities with realistic emotion. Similarly, good scifi makes up science (not a problem) but grounds it in what's feasible (the tricky part).

Farscape had that episode where a colony of insect-like aliens took over the ship to breed. So in one episode you have several new unrealistic elements in an already pretty zany show. There's an alien who can speak to Zhaan telepathically and then there's her brood, each of which looks exactly like a member of the crew. Sounds like MST3K material. Except that the writers grounded it all in real biology: social insect reproduction (a queen who needs to find a suitable habitat to lay eggs), thermoregulation and consequences of being outside your tolerable temperature range (the queen turns the heat up so her brood develops faster while Aeryn and a Peacekeeper crew suffer heat dementia), the importance of DNA (she took blood samples from the crew to make some of her brood look like the crew), and mimicry.

It's all very scifi and typically Farscape in its lunacy, but the writers grounded all their crazier ideas with some real biology. That's all I'm asking for. Not a documentary. A living spaceship I can handle, and in fact love, if the fiction works within some biological constructs. Moya and Pilot started out as a host-parasite relationship and ended up more mutualistic-- that's inherently interesting and believable even though a living ship isn't itself as believable at first. If the internal logic and implications of the crazy idea are realistic, the crazy idea becomes realistic. Touch base here and there with the real thing, and then you can make up whatever you want from there.

The "hard" sciences often do badly in TV sci-fi too, maybe this'll help biologists with their physics envy ;-).

There is no help. Biology is inherently messy. We don't have laws, just guidelines. And we perpetually bump against people's ideologies, so we get challenged a lot. Which is why I think biology is great for fiction. Watching Brood X emerge was like being in a scifi movie. And some bystanders did react as if they were. Hilarious.
Insects have six legs, exoskeletons, three body segments. Bees are insects. Spiders aren't insects.

Anyway. Yea. I always laugh at the horrible ways that computer screens are animated during movies, just as I laugh at the squishy sounds when they cut through organic stuff in Bones. No squishy sounds, sorry. Most sounds are inaccurately amplified.

And go listen to a bald eagle call some day. It sounds like a seagull. Seriously. The call they use on every show or commercial (including The Colbert Report, and I wonder if they are in on it or not) is a HAWK call. Because hawks have some awesome majestic-sounding territory calls.
True about the animal calls. People may recognize this call (mp3) from various "jungle" soundtracks. Hint: it doesn't live in a jungle.

And true about insects vs. spiders. I think what people call locusts in the southeast US are annual cicadas. When entomologists say "locust" they mean the grasshopper though.
Sunfire Ah, it is to laugh. (See what I did there?)

They used that in the first Indy movie as he's approaching the caves, before they learn the Havitos are after them.
Bats aren't rodents either.

We don't have laws, just guidelines. And we perpetually bump against people's ideologies, so we get challenged a lot. Which is why I think biology is great for fiction.

True and I agree Sunfire. Physics also bumps up against ideologies of course but (fittingly) at a more fundamental level, further removed from everyday experience, which means it's easier for people to ignore (some people actually worry about free-will in a deterministic universe for instance but most folk just think "Well, I seem to have free-will, let's proceed on that assumption").

And the very messiness that makes biology so fascinating also allows the less-clueful to argue against its most fundamental tenets in a way most people probably wouldn't feel comfortable doing with e.g. physics or chemistry (because they wouldn't feel qualified).

(I can't remember the details and it's been a long time since i've seen it - when are they gonna bring 'Farscape' out on DVD at a reasonable price ? - but didn't the "insects" survive in space ? Cos "guidelines" or not, that's surely a non-trivial feat ;)

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