An Open Letter to Ving Rhames

Dear Ving Rhames,

It was sometime in the late nineties when I read your interview in Empire or Total Film or whatever it was (you were already too mainstream for the good film rags of the time like Neon). You were promoting a film called Rosewood. I remember the interview vividly because not only did the questions deviate away from Rosewood, but you answered these pressing questions with a perspicacity that was inspiring. Until it was discussed, I had never considered that the plaster on the back of Marcellus Wallace’s head had any kind of significance. You made me think about some of the subtleties that I might have failed to absorb in films and opened my mind. After that interview I resolved to watch Rosewood at some point in the near future.

That was over ten years ago. Today I am standing in front of some guy with a worn woolie cardigan. His pregnant girlfriend is sat smoking a cigarette in the chair behind him, and I am listening to him extol the virtues of modern dance music while he grins away, high as a kite on MDMA.

True story: this could be me, only black

It was those frayed elbows that destroyed a small part of me, as it reminded me of how, when I was a teenager,  I would just wear the knees of my jeans away with scant regard for how it looked. Some I knew used scissors to achieve the same effect. The holes in our knees were meant as some kind of symbolism for being down with the working class, or being poor, or… something. The hilarious thing is all of my friends who were much poorer than me all dressed immaculately, embarrassed of their upbringing or too proud to want to look like “a fucking homeless person”.

At the same time we were all playing Mortal Kombat as though it was awesome or something just because it had blood in it and violence was cool. Before I even knew what irony was I was playing Greendog: The Beached Surfer Dude. I didn’t know any better at the time, but that doesn’t quash the guilt I feel for knowing I have finished that game seven times.

Let me try to get back to the present day Mr. Rhames. This kiddy, because that is all he could have been, insisted on playing me some Girl Talk that started with Iron Man by Black Sabbath. He mistakenly told me it was by Iron Maiden.

In my drunkenness I despaired that this know-nothing fuckface was now playing me Kula Shaker’s cover of ‘Hush’ without a clue of how terrible it was. Then he slammed on ‘Brimful of Asha’, by one-hit wonders Cornershop. His girlfriend perked up at this point:

“I haven’t heard this in ages!” she said, as though there was any kind of need for a revival of shitty 90s indie tosh.

“There is a reason for that,” I replied. She laughed and then realised I was serious.

It was depressing seeing life through the eyes of someone younger and, in so doing, making your own youth look equally as embarrassing with hindsight and misgivings.

You try and fool yourself that the thirty hours you put into Spawn: The Video Game on the Dreamcast was in some way meaningful. I imagine, Ving, that when you took on the role in the Dawn of the Dead remake you felt much the same way. It was a way to boost your visibility. Really, though, you are just back pedalling on previous statements you have made – hoisted by your own petard, if you will.

We would all like to think that we stand here with some kind of integrity, only to realise that for every heartfelt statement meant in all earnestness about thinking that JRPGs suck (this sentiment might just be my own; I’m not saying that you hate Final Fantasy), you can find yourself dropping over 60 hours on Tales of Vesperia and not hating all of it as you once would have tried to.

Man, me 5 years ago would have kicked my present-day arse.

We might rail on about better music, better films, better games but most of the time all we really want is a better, easier life. Hours of Jersey Shore, Final Fantasy (again, the views expressed by the author in no way reflect yours, Mr. Rhames) and Arcade Fire albums makes it easy for a good man to crack and decide “fuck it, everyone else is doing it so why shouldn’t I?”

I reckon I watched that resolve break in you while you co-starred in Piranha 3-D. Did you really need the cash? Surely Michael Clarke Duncan could’ve picked up that one. Even ‘Tiny’ Lister needs the occasional piece of work. But Piranha 3-D was like a festering stomach ulcer: poisonous, painful, and sickening. Whatever you did to justify it to yourself, I hope it doesn’t keep you up at night.

I understand if you have elected to stop reading after I slagged off Piranha 3-D, Ving. You have to understand that I know where you are coming from.

You see, I just played Bulletstorm, and I watched People Can Fly sell the fuck out. The opening sequence was as linear and as handholding as you could possibly get. But Ving, you know what? I think I liked it.

I know, it’s terrible: I’m starting to go soft in my old age. I would suggest that I start wearing slippers and watching safe sitcoms like King of Queens but the problem is I already do (well, I do wear slippers so it makes me feel like I should watch bad sitcoms). I can’t help it, my feet get cold on the tiled floor while I’m forced to listen to those damn kids playing hop-hip [Ed: note that AJ insisted that this was not a typo no matter how much I insisted it was] music upstairs and crashing round like the inebriated fornicators they are. I have to snuggle up in my electric blanket and comfort myself that the game Nier isn’t that bad because the music direction is pretty good. What kind of pretentious nonsense is that?

Any excuse to use an image from Gentlemen Broncos.

Who knows Mr. Rhames, perhaps the next thing I’ll be doing is dropping time on Dragon Quest like the old-man bore that I am.

Well, there’s me waffling on about myself again. I am generally fine and may have exaggerated certain events for comedic purposes. Also my argument is starting to fizzle out (dare I say it: much like your career) as I lose sight of the argument. Seriously, though, I am getting worried that the best has been and gone and I am not going to experience another moment like that interview you gave where I felt like things could be more than they seemed… although that, of course, is (probably) a load of old rubbish.

Maybe I’ll wrap up now and get on with playing some Knights Contract. You must be a busy man and everything.

Best Wishes,

AJ aka The Badger Commander

P.S: I watched Rosewood two days ago. It was pretty racist in its treatment of both whites and blacks throughout. Not to mention the story seemed to be mostly sensationalist bullshit. Shame it took me this long to watch it.