I watched a couple episodes of Futureman and based on that I think I’ll throw Eliza Coupe into the mix for casting Grace when this highly popular and very successful blog gets turned into a Netflix show. She’s a little too short though so Mackenzie Davis is still in the lead probably with Betty Gilpin around the edges.
I’ve also thought of a totes cool opening scene. We have Grace living a “normal” non indigent life with a house and things. Nothing special but not the Nomadland Grace we know and love. Then she gets a text which will mean nothing to us, the viewers, at the time. She jumps on her banking app and transfers all her money to the World Food Program or Amnesty International or whathaveyou and then she turns on the rangetop in the kitchen and tosses a couple towels on the flames. She waits until the house is good and engulfed in flames and then walks to a used car place with naught more than the clothes on her back and buys a busted ass 97 Honda Civic and takes off.
Whoa, what’s going on, people will think?
The idea will be for this show that Grace’s magic is the opposite of Plutomancy – it only works when she doesn’t have much of value. She’s been “retired” for a while from the world-saving business and the first step to taking on the big bad of the series is to toss her mildly comfortable life in the trash.
Coming up with rules for magic systems is one of my favorite brainstorming topics. Do you think she’s getting power from discomfort and misery? Is it more like asceticism? Is Grace actually an accidental modern monk, wandering the land and serving justice with wire-fu wrestling techniques and magic?
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“Is Grace actually an accidental modern monk, wandering the land and serving justice with wire-fu wrestling techniques and magic?”
That sound awesome so yes, now she is.
But also. I probably haven’t done a very good job of representing the intended backdrop of magic scarcity and the “end of days” for magicalness on account of the crush of banality and soul smothering of modernity. True mages are few and far between and at great risk from “empty” magic practitioners who want to exploit them. Blood magic/human sacrifice is one way to get around the limitations of a “low magic” world, but another is keying in on rampant consumerism.
Everyone has a little magic energy in them but for 99.99999% of people it isn’t enough to do anything with. Hence cults and rituals where a bunch of people all focus their energy for the ritual leader to be able to do something with. Essentially it’s a magic pyramid scheme.
Instead of doing that directly in a dark room with itchy robes and weird candles you can also salami slice your way across big swathes of humanity by focusing on wealth and power and fame. If you’re a rich bastard who knows about magic you can pull a tiny bit of power from all the people who make up the pyramid beneath you – basically add in one of Brad Pitt’s rants from 12 Monkeys or Fight Club about consumerism here.
Grace goes the opposite way. By getting out of being someone’s “downstream” she prevents anyone from siphoning off her power. It’s not strictly necessary, other mages don’t need to do that, but Grace does because the core of her belief system is helping the underprivileged and abused which to her includes being one of them. It’s the idea that the world has boot on your neck and you have to fight back, even if it’s not strictly true in absolute terms.
Denzel “John Q” Washington said as the titular John Q “Make all the money you can, even if you have to sell out a little, because everything is easier when you have money” and to that Amazing Grace says, fuck that, I’ll take the hard road. It’s a mildly childish mélange of Rage Against the Machine/System of a Down/Pantera, The Captured Economy by Brink Lindsey and Steven Teles, Ash Vs Evil Dead, the Whiskey Rebellion, burning a big pile of money Joker-style, Omar from the Wire, and God Bless America.
If you want to get into the headspace of Grace’s “magic tradition” imagine a movie built of the magical illumination of Tim Powers and the gritty, brutal action of James Ellroy, filmed by an alchemical blend of John Woo and Quentin Tarantino with a hard-charging Steve Earle/Nick Cave soundtrack and watch it in the rattiest, creepiest theater you can think of in the worst part of town. But somehow with the ultimate message that people are decent, hopeful, altruistic individuals at heart when not numbed by saturated fats, pharmaceuticals, and reality television.
If Grace were to articulate her approach, which she wouldn’t, it would be that the world can be anything we want it to be – and the fact that it is what it is means that people are crazy. And in the immortal worlds of Michael “Batman” Keaton as the titular Batman “You want to get nuts? Let’s get nuts!”
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Thumbs up to Mackenzie Davis. Did you watch Station Eleven on HBO?
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Not yet but it’s on the list