Scribbler’s Saga #95 – Bruce Lee V. Dracula

Posted: August 19, 2019 in Uncategorized

I’m really serious about this one already killing Dracula…

© 2019 G.N. Jacobs

Deceased martial arts legend Bruce Lee was recently rudely invited to two separate Geek Rumbles, one of many similar nerdy discussions undertaken online or in a favorite spot, my comic book store. The prototypical Geek Rumble follows this format – “X fights Y, who wins?” There are, of course, other questions and discussion topics that qualify as Geek Rumble, as fans of the form will discuss/argue about all kinds of things. And it seems to me this recent kerfuffle about Bruce Lee presents a good moment to talk about the Geek Rumble as a writing tool.

But first, the Geek Rumbles to which Bruce Lee got his rude invite. An ugly one (click here) and a one that is less ugly, if the reader/writer/fan waits to take their dive a few weeks later when the smoke clears. Luckily, very little about the ugly Bruce Lee Geek Rumble does anything for this blog that helps writers to the exclusion of most other considerations. The second one, ooh, this is too good…Bruce Lee V. Dracula.

Earlier drafts of this post spent a lot of time trying to present to you actual rules for the various Geek Rumbles some of which may serve to backhandedly comment on this recent Bruce Lee Affair without actually commenting. I love double-talk and Lawyer Speak when they serve my interests.

Anyway, the rules, well…conventions. Pretty much all of the “if you can’t be respectful in this matter, we’ll move to pull your metaphorical license to appear in public” techniques learned in Debate Class apply here. I’ll use up a lot of words to tell you to be nice. Uses up too much of the word budget for this post.

The rest of the rules and conventions in play here will vary from store to store. Pretty much the Font of Wisdom at the register will control the conversation (or not so much if they’re new). Said FOW will boot you out and that will be it until next week (or never if you’re a real problem). And they will move to cut off conversations that for a variety of reasons might blow up. Other than that each store will have an unique style and character to it as the venue lurches around in reaction to recent events.

For instance, the title Geek Rumble of Bruce Lee V. Dracula might be a tough sell in the near term. Comic book stores are especially sensitive to all things Bruce Lee, Geek Rumble and Comic Book. Quentin Tarantino has been a valued ambassador for all of that.

It could be a real trick getting this particular Geek Rumble onto the floor, because Bruce Lee V. Dracula came up in regards to that other Geek Rumble as presented in the movie. Think of it as some poor fella mistaking the salt shaker for the coffee sugar…

The store you wander into might decide to enforce a “both parties should be fictional” rule to avoid any lingering nastiness from moments like the Bruce Lee Affair. If the FOW digs in, the discussion’s over.

Comic book stores, the better managed online geek forums and the like are usually susceptible to logic and what the Great Online calls fact. And the race of who gets to Wikipedia and the rest of the Internet first also matters. If I thought there was an opening, I would argue for the inclusion of Bruce Lee V. Dracula because as a thing it predates the current mess, AKA it’s already on YouTube.

Doing my three seconds of research, I found four videos depicting someone’s interpretation of Bruce Lee fighting all kinds of things and people. I found a video (click here) from a UFC branded video game where the game owner told the game to put Bruce Lee in the octagon with Y, Count Dracula in this case, and have the computer create a randomized fight result. And the same YouTube source posted similar videos for literally everybody doing the UFC brand of mixed martial arts…plus a few movie monsters tossed in for giggles.

Skimming through the 25-minute video, Bruce Lee won with a monster kick to the Count’s head at the last moment. But, I had to ask questions like…

“So, is the game automatically biased towards Bruce Lee given the legendary rep throughout the intersecting gaming, martial arts and comic book industries?”

“Did the game writers understand proper narrative given their seeming preference for the last minute Rocky Victory that just screams a WRITER was here?”

“What is the F%#*ing point of selling the video as Bruce Lee V. Dracula, when the Count depicted on screen is just a tall Romanian gent wearing UFC fight gear and who doesn’t do vampire things?”

And the other videos (click here), (click here) and (click here) I found are much worse on the creativity or truth in advertising scales. There are undoubtedly other videos where Bruce Lee levels whole cities of movie monsters, I just didn’t have the time or oxygen to dive that deep.

The original point is that the existence of videos like this allows you to argue at the comic book store that Bruce Lee V. Dracula exists independently of and prior to that other more tragic Geek Rumble. Therefore, Bruce Lee, at least the legend also known as a minor Deity of Meme, is very nearly a fictional construct and is thus fair game. At least as far as the people who didn’t know him go.

Another way to put it is the Bruce Lee Affair is almost a perfect example of one of my favorite movie quotes concerning myth making – “when the legend becomes fact, print the legend (thank you, Mr. Peckinpah).” Bruce Lee the legend fights everything and because most of us just loved Enter the Dragon, we’ll find a way to lawyer the results in his favor. Though the Second Act of that epic struggle will put Legend Bruce in far more danger than the stupid game video, just sayin’. Hopefully, the real Bruce Lee is smiling from wherever he is amused that we think he’s that ripped to take down other mythological characters barehanded.

Anyway this a good moment to temporarily get off this particular Geek Rumble to talk about the art form in general. I use these discussions as a sounding board. If I need to figure out some pseudoscience or get a handle on a character that I haven’t read recently, but for whom I certainly have seen the movies (Batman comes to mind), I go to my store and ask the right questions.

I might be spoiled that my particular FOW really knows his shit. At various times, he’s let me know that my solution to a science fiction problem where you can’t take food through hyperspace neared plausibility. I highlighted the idea and…

“Greg, here’s your flaw, people are chemically identical to the food they eat, so people couldn’t go through hyperspace either…”

I take about a week to think it out. I come back.

“I’ve got it!” I say. “I’m sure it’s six different kinds of pseudoscience, but you have to spray freshly harvested mitochondrial juice on your food to keep it fresh. And for the rest I’m going to just play the Because Plot card.”

“Yeah, it is pseudoscience, but it’s plausible pseudoscience.”

Success.

The other FOW in the store also has her nuggets; telling me that the reason ninjas wear black is that there is a famous kabuki or noh play where a stagehand wearing black kills a character on stage. After a moment that might’ve been interpreted as a challenge, I agreed with her and went onto to add that based on the war documentaries I sometimes watch, black even under ideal circumstances can be ridiculous nighttime camouflage. Too black being the usual complaint. On its best days the Geek Rumble is a conversation.

I then looked up ninjas on Wikipedia. They didn’t have the exact story, but something close about Japanese puppet shows where they wear black as stagecraft to simulate certain kinds of invisibility. So close counting in hand grenades, horseshoes and bocce ball, I’ll go with her version because it’s a better story that I will save for my own writing.

With conversations like this I’ve kept up on my Batman knowledge, dropped in my usual Imperial Stormtrooper barbs and so on. Naturally, I think something similar should work for you. No matter what kind of writing you do, hook up with someone you trust and talk things out.

Crime writer? Once you’ve learned the boring book stuff about poisons, find a friend that does similar types of books and git talkin’. You’ll get into a one-upmanship thing that will squeeze a few more decades out of arsenic as a murder weapon.

Back to Bruce Lee V. Dracula; I told you its too good a thing (at least when the smoke clears) to let go. When we left the discussion, the topic was just getting cleared by the FOW after successfully arguing that Bruce Lee is just legendary enough to proceed. And then it’s on…

My opening salvo is almost always, “is Dracula even still alive in the Kung Fu-Verse? Meme Chuck Norris supposedly kills all kinds of bad things just looking at them funny. And the real Chuck Norris actually said he thought the memes were funny.”

The FOW and other participants might nod. It’s a good question. And perfectly acceptable to include a third semi-fictional character who might’ve already taken down Dracula. And then the FOW makes up a rule to get things arbitrarily back to how Bruce Lee wipes out Vlad Tepes. Tangents are only briefly tolerated.

I probably double down with, “okay, but since every version of Dracula seems like he’s a skirt chaser, shouldn’t we send a woman like The Bride? You know, acknowledge we should send the right decoy with teeth?”

Again everybody nods or adds a rebuttal. At which point, the FOW steers things back to Bruce Lee killing Dracula. After which the mostly Socratic method of asking the right questions and thinking on your feet drills it down to Bruce Lee pounding Dracula with nunchucks, say maybe over in 20 minutes with open gashes bloodying up Bruce Lee’s yellow track suit?

A hypothetical Geek Rumble. One of many…

As live entertainments go, the Geek Rumble isn’t for the rookie. Whether you get your similar nerd on through the book club, online forum, writing group or the high order professionalism at the comic book store, listen to a few before leaping in. My FOW might help a rookie keep up, others might not as stereotypes like the Comic Book Store Guy on The Simpsons just don’t appear out of thin air. And you read the part about looking things up, right?

And you also really should avoid some topics like say, the Crimson Tide fight. Two sailors throwing down over the best version of the Silver Surfer, Jack Kirby or Moebius.

The verdict, at least in my store – “It’s a real thing. I break it up at least twice a year and besides the sailor taking the Jack Kirby position has it right. At this point, it’s a boring repetitive thing. Ugh!”

There you have it, a few observations about the Geek Rumble or Nerd Fight. A little about basic etiquette. Why they happen. And why I think they’re a valuable tool for refining thought. And you’d think I’d end this post…

With each passing day, the Bruce Lee Affair becomes more annoying to me. Especially since Quentin Tarantino’s work sort of defines this post.

I mentioned The Bride as being a worthy stand in for Bruce Lee fighting Dracula. We saw her wearing the yellow track suit in Kill Bill. I also mentioned the Crimson Tide fight, a scene written by Mr. Tarantino during his script doctor days.

My opinions about the larger Bruce Lee Affair are still unformed and all over the map as I haven’t yet seen the movie. I have an automatic Support the Artist response tempered by the fact that I really don’t know what Bruce Lee was like beyond his Wikipedia page. But, you know what tiny thing pisses me off most in this story?

Quentin Tarantino used the pleasant, amusing and preposterous Geek Rumble Bruce Lee V. Dracula, that he didn’t invent, to deflect from the angry making (to others) Geek Rumble of Bruce Lee V. Stuntman Cliff. Even if I later see the movie and decide the scene works in context of a good or possibly great movie, I’m always going to equate the moment in part with a nasty rhetorical trick – Whataboutism. Not cool. Ever.

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