Last night, Starz premiered its updated version of the Camelot/King Arthur story. It’s hard to mess that up, so it was still pretty entertaining, even though the people at Starz are total hacks, in our opinions. Spartacus? Bleck. Of course, the show doubles as an excuse for softcore porn, but that’s to be expected.
What was NOT expected was that they made Arthur an average, lame, sissy, spoiled-rotten, cocky, man-whore teenager. We get that he’s young. He may grow into a good man. But the first time we saw this incarnation, he was sleeping with his brother’s girlfriend, selfishly. The Arthur of legend loved passionately and was loyal. He was also pretty humble as a young man. So we were annoyed. Also, why they chose to go with that blonde guy from the Sweeney Todd movie is a mystery to us. We thought Kay looked and acted more like Arthur should. And what was with the little ‘stache? We hated that peach fuzz. Shave it off. Arthur should be hot, but there is little hope with this blonde Mr. Fish Face here.
We know that TV and movies are all about the anti-hero. The critics and elite think that a straight good guy is flat, preachy, or unrealistic. But we disagree. We think that there needs to be a good person in every show. Sandy Cohen in The O.C. and Mrs. Taylor in Friday Night Lights come to mind. They grounded their shows and gave us someone to root for. They weren’t perfect, but they were honorable. Most of the movies that people name as classics or their favorites have brave people doing the right thing. Rick’s choice at the end of Casablanca. Braveheart. The Shawshank Redemption. Forrest Gump. Saving Private Ryan. Lord of the Rings. Harry Potter. We like to watch people with honor, selflessness, and loyalty. The public enjoys the inspiration. It gets people straight in the heart.
We think that the industry has gotten cynical. They don’t think the good guy is a great character on adult TV shows, because they want to get to the bottom of real people and their struggles. We get that. We like it. Jack Bauer and Don Draper are fine characters. But why is there such a shortage of characters with honor? Who aren’t slutty? Who aren’t out for number one?
Maybe the industry doesn’t think people like that exist in real life, so it’s a simpleminded fantasy to make them up. To that, we reply with Gandhi, Sophie Scholl, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, all the good fathers in the world, this couple we read about that adopts special needs foster kids that no one else wants, that little girl in the news recently who pushed her sister out of harm’s way and lost her legs, that millionaire who gave away his fortune and went to live in a shack, couples who have been married for more than forty years, war heroes, great artists, and many more. How can you say they are not interesting? People who rise above the status quo and fight against falling into the easy current of society are the most interesting sometimes. We need the variety.
The morally bankrupt hero is overused. And if he has honor, like Russell Crowe's honest character in American Gangster, the industry decides to balance that out by making the character a sex maniac. Call us old-fashioned, but we still think sex is special and a big deal. Not that it's dirty, or bad, or shameful, but sacred. Call us grandmas. We don't care. We get that TV sometimes tries to force a more casual, animalistic view of it on the public. We think that just devalues romantic connections and human beings in general.
The legend portrays Arthur as an honorable and good king. That’s the heart of the legend. He was a king that was worth following; a king that Merlin backed because of how good of a leader he was. Merlin was talking about how the realm needed a leader like no other. Did he think he would get that in Arthur, who in the first few minutes showed himself to be arrogant, self-indulgent, and lacking self-control? He was pretty unconcerned about his brother's feelings. We expected Starz to AT LEAST let Arthur have honor. But no. Apparently that’s extinct on television these days, even when it comes to Camelot.
Disagree? Love the sexuality/nudity warming up puritanical America? Do you find a more fragile, selfish Arthur to be interesting? Let us know.