The Limits of the Charming Grifter


#1

On this week's Waypoints, Danielle, Patrick, Austin, and Rob have been completely taken in by the story of a charismatic grifter. Ian Parker's "A Suspense Novelist's Trail of Deceptions" unravels the long, and weird story of thriller writer Dan Mallory's history of audacious and bizarre deceit in the London and New York publishing industries, and the even stranger way that his peers and colleagues have handled that history. Later, the gang discuss Ron Howard's Solo and the "Star Wars stories" that we really want. Everybody hates robocalls.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/kzdzgy/the-limits-of-the-charming-grifter

#2

I just want y’all to know that “Jodo Kast: The Dan Mallory of bounty hunters!” is precisely the sort of niche quip I turn to Waypoint to hear.


#3

i read this headline and immediately hoped it would be a waypoints in which austin goes off about the mentalist


#4

The Mentalist is great and that’s really all I have to say about that.


#5

I really liked Solo. It felt like what the Side Story movies SHOULD be. I just… HATE the lighting in that film. I even bought it on 4K to see if it looks better on TV, and NOPE. It’s still dark as fuck in every scene!

That said, I really wanna see a Doctor Aphra movie…

If you’ve never read her before, she’s basically a Chaotic Neutral Indiana Jones in the Star Wars Universe. She worked for Darth Vader for a bit, till he tried to kill her. (Of course.) She pals around with the evil versions of R2D2 and C-3PO, and she kisses Imp ladies.

She’s great.

As far as I know, they’re the only queer characters in Star Wars, at least in the new canon. I’m sure someone knows of some others though.


#6

There is a tacit admiration of the bullshitter that is ingrained in American culture…and a cultural disdain for the “griftee”, almost like clockwork the search that follows for some kind of reason why the victims “deserved” it.
The grifter is the alpha, the success story, the proven worth, the little guy who succeeds by pulling the wool over the wealthy elites.


#7

Is it, though? Is it really?


#8

I think America is just obsessed with the anti-authority figure. It’s why we prop up criminals like Billy the Kid, Jesse James, John Dillinger, etc.


#9

I wanna be good at e.mail, can anyone give me some tips?


#10

Well the only real thing you need to be good at it is a good signature to end every email with

I end all mine with Forever Fantastically Foxy, Fredrick Fuchs

Now, it does tend to confuse people as that is not my name, and it wasn’t really a hit when I had to send out invites to my Aunt’s wake but other than that it has been great!


#11

I don’t have anything to back this up because I can’t find the original post, so don’t quote me here, but in a tumblr post years ago, someone asked Neil Gaiman how to get started in a writing job.

He said that when he just started out, he put in his resume that he had written for three publications that he hadn’t actually written for. He later made it a point to try to write something for those publications so that initial resume felt less like a lie and more like it was chronologically out of place. He then went on to say that it’s not really something you could get away with now and not something he would encourage. I don’t even remember the real advice he game. But I found it interesting at the time.


#12

the mentalist IS great!! It takes the tried-and-true format of “crime procedural but the protagonist is a consultant with a gift”, but it deviates from the cable crime show norm in a few subtle but powerful ways, and those deviations are specifically why The Mentalist is great.

First, and personally, most importantly, Patrick Jane and Theresa Lisbon have virtually no sexual tension for the vast majority of the show. They aren’t interested in each other and, more importantly, the writers aren’t interested in putting them together, which was SO refreshing. Platonic, professional relationships that, largely, remain distant through a show’s run are almost never explored on network television.

This is especially true of opposite-sex partners, who always have ‘a quiet moment’ with their peer that invariably pushes them towards something more. But Jane never wants to get close. To anyone. His family was murdered. He just wants to kill the fucker who killed his family and he literally doesn’t care what happens after that. Death, prison, whatever. The dynamic between Lisbon and Jane is consistently contentious because of Jane’s purposeful distance, keeping him in her good graces with his skill and incredible charm, and then pushing her away by repeatedly breaking her professional trust, typically in direct conflict with the criminal justice system.

(Rigsby and Pelton’s immediate “”"’'chemistry" '""" acts as a (probably unintentional) counterpoint to Lisbon and Jane. It’s boring, predictable, and unbelievable. Hell, even that was handled in a neat way early on! Their relationship puts their jobs together into question, and when it’s time to make a decision, you think “well Rigsby’s gonna do what he has to do to make this relationship work” and then BAM Pelton hits him with “my job is more important to me than our relationship” and makes his doofy ass work with her post-break-up!! Grace was always too good for that Clark Kent lookin motherfucker anyway)

Now, although Jane is a closed book, his combination of social skills and a willingness to give to others what they need puts him in some extremely personal, sometimes dark positions. He became wealthy in his previous career as a television psychic, and now feels nothing for his money or material goods. He doesn’t have a home and only seems to own a car and a teacup. He gives his money away, buys people things they need, reunites people with things or people they have lost, assists in committing acts of vengeance, and even bears witness to the suicide of a terminally ill man.

For all of his interpersonal and professional selfishness, he seems to feel that personal sacrifice matters little. He dashes himself and his heart against the strife of others because he knows that, no matter how much of himself he has left to give, he will be empty when he kills Red John. It’s a dark approach to characterization that you just don’t often see on network television, and that coupled with the light tone of the show makes it a uniquely soft space to spend time in.

Lastly, Simon Baker fucking owns this role. I can’t and don’t even want to imagine him as anyone else, and I was already familiar with him prior to getting started on this show. Baker imbues Jane’s futureless perspective with a levity that the vengeful father archetype just never has, and Baker’s effortless confidence is utterly irresistible. When he’s working a mark, he shifts from flirtatious to hard indifference as soon as he learns what he needs to know and…you buy it. I can think of a few other actors who could pull this off, and several hundred who couldn’t. Even when the show is at its weakest, Baker is on, and spending time with him and Robin Tunney as Lisbon is nice no matter how weak that episode’s supporting characters are, or how convoluted the Red John mystery gets.

It’s comfort food with some indispensable quirks that elevate it from something like NCIS to [its extremely close parallel] Monk. Through the lens of network television, The Mentalist is great, and if you are okay with debasing yourself with non-prestige television, The Mentalist is great, and also Simon Baker is great so The Mentalist is great

this is LONG!!!


#13

I just got around to finishing this episode and by golly did it hit close to home. I’m in the middle of refinancing again to get my credit cards consolidated. My agent is great. He’s done great work for me in the past and seems like a stand up guy. But I am terrified at every step that something is going to go wrong. And I’m in a place of great privilege. I mean I already bought a danged house for crying out loud. But i can’t quite shake the feeling that all of this is a week away from crumbling around me.


#14

As well as justifying female pronouns for the Millenium Falcon, L3-37 (heartwarmingly?) having her droidsoul trapped forever in a battered spaceship is also supposed to tie-in with 3P0 talking to the ship in The Empire Strikes Back. “Sir, I don’t know where your ship learned to communicate, but it has the most peculiar dialect.”

Personally I found most of the stuff around that character fairly grating. Her introduction both ridicules the idea of civil rights campaigning, and plays into a gross trope common in sci-fi and fantasy where non-white characters display or handwave bigotry against non-humans, in some numbskulled “ah, anyone can be prejudiced (not this white hero though)” makeuthink. Even the eventual full-scale revolt is engineered for the benefit of our heroes, rather than anything we’re seemingly supposed to care about.

Regarding the “Why (Marvel) superheroes and not Star Wars?” question, I think Rob is right to point at both soap opera and the fact that the Shared Universe gimmick was there from the start. I would think novelty is a factor as well - pretty much everyone has grown up with Star Wars in some capacity since 1977, and the current wave of releases is its third go-round at the cinema. The ubiquity of superheroes is relatively recent in comparison, and despite attempts elsewhere, the interconnectedness of nominally separate film series is unique to that brand. Their ability to weather an incredibly saturated market that’s had some high-profile failures is a little surprising - it will be interesting to see what happens after the movie with “End” right there in the title comes out.


#15

That was good. Very good.

However, I think they meant ‘is that REALLY all you have to say?’ Not ‘is it REALLY any good?’


#16

Today I learned that not only is the mentalist supposedly good, but apparently Monk is good as well??


#17

As a side note, I recognized the source for this post’s subheader (“Han Solo, what a man. Solo. Every princess’s dream.”) and:

  1. I am so mad right now.
  2. I am not sure whether to be madder at Rob for using that as the sub-header, or myself for recognizing it. :stuck_out_tongue:

#18

god i just realized @dogsarecool quoted the second part of austin’s sentence and not the first. nevertheless, I stand by my statement!!!

i am on the very last episode of the mentalist as i write this and have been dying to talk about the show several years too late for that conversation so honestly im not surprised i so willingly read their post that way