A Parting Shot

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Fanwork
Title: A Parting Shot
Creator: Homer Sapiento
Date(s): March 1985-December 1986 (in "Rogue's Gallery") May 1987- March 1995 (in "Better Idea Zine")
Medium: print
Fandom: Harrison Ford
External Links:
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A Parting Shot was a regular column by Homer Sapiento.

The columns began in Rogue's Gallery #18 in 1985 and there were seven in that zine series until the zine ceased publication.

When Better Idea Zine began, it also published "A Parting Shot." The column ran there 1987-1995.

The style of the column in "Rogue's Gallery" was very straight forward, and while forceful, was well-written.

When the column began in "Better Idea Zine," Sapiento took on a very purposeful "aw, shucks" self-deprecating and combative style. Sapiento stated several times that he clearly meant his column to be a "breath of fresh air" as well as stir up discussion.

Some fans enjoyed Mr. Sapiento's off-hand skewers of fans, fandom, Harrison Ford, and life in general. Others took issue with Sapiento's insults, his detraction of specifically female fandom, and use of the word "kiddies" to refer to fans. Sapiento responded forcefully to his detractors, often accusing them of being too serious and not being able to take a joke.

There were many comments about the column in the letters of comment, as well as several official rebuttals.

"A Parting Shot" changed over the years, becoming shorter, and much more formally written. When "A Parting Shot" finally ceased, it did so along with general fandom comment and creative fanworks. Better Idea Zine, once a combination of Harrison Ford news, fiction, and a vigorous fan forum, became simply a conduit for clippings and official news.

Some Examples

Sapiento's reasons for his over-the-top comments and style:
Ya questioned whether my intent was to communicate or merely to insult. If insult was taken, is taken, or will be taken, there ain t much I can do about it. My goal actually has always been to liven up the place. Honest opinions have a tendency to do that, particularly when the reader "doth protest too much." ("Hamlet") If some get ticked, so be it. But if one person out there reads somethin', agreein' or not, and writes in their own quarter s worth (hey, it s an inflated world!) - fantastic! The most boring thing in the world is to have everybody agreein' on everything! [1]
From a fan's rebuttal to Sapiento's column:

Fascinating. I must admit that although I do not like Homer Sapiento's "A Parting Shot" articles, I have always felt it would be futile to respond to them and generate any more ire than is already apparent. Let me address my reasons for disliking the series of articles, then I'll try to explain why I have decided to remain silent no longer.

There are quite a few reasons I don't like the "A Parting Shot" series. Firstly, it is written with such an obvious attempt at self-deprecation, never a "g" on a verb participle. For example, "All of us ol' fossils are just sittin' back watchin' the leaves fall." Homer must believe himself to be another Mark Twain to assume such a guise. He mentions College Boards and Logic texts; certainly to have taken such tests and read such texts one might well expect him to be able to write in some form of modern English.

Secondly, I have never read so many put-downs in one article. In BIZ #2 the following people received perjorative treatment: Warren Beatty, Mel Brooks (depending on how you read "acquired taste"), "Clint Eastwood, Roger Ebert, fandom, Dustin Hoffman, Lawrence Kasden, Val Kilmer, George Lucas, the Muppets (as the Ewoks were so called), Paul Newman, River Phoenix, Robert Redford, Gene Siskel, Sylvester Stallone, and even, yes you guessed it, Harrison Ford. Never have so many been written off so off-handedly. So much anger. If all of those people are wrong, who is right? Homer Sapiento, of course. Now we see the flip side of self-deprecation with self-aggrandizement.

Fandom is discarded. As a matter of fact fandom, en masse, is responsible for poor Homer's broken arm. "I was trampled by a wild, marauding throng of eager fans rushin' to buy their very own, personal-type copy of 'The Mosquito Coast'." How important Homer Sapiento must be to be personally targeted for trampling — ah, excuse me "tramplin"' in his case. Did he have to apply for the position ("Excuse me, sir, I'm here for the tramplin' position.")" Did he win a contest ("Darlin', I won! I won! I get to be the trample-ee!")? How did he come by such a vast honor?

Look, to be frank, I'm not thrilled with fandom (got three hours and a lot of patience, I'll explain), but random, thoughtless generalizations are uncalled for. It is an obvious ploy for attention. And that leads me to my last reason for disliking the series of articles. BIZ (and formerly Rogue's Gallery) is a forum for Harrison Ford fans. No, I don't think Harrison Ford is perfect, I question motives, answers, stories, etc. which I read. But isn't the point of BIZ to support Harrison Ford? It is really necessary to rip him apart here? I didn't say his films, they are public and as such deserve criticism, good and 'bad.'? Harrison Ford himself? I'm sorry, he is a private person, and I don't think, potshots are appropriate.

Homer not only derides Harrison Ford, but most of the man's films are written off as "unworthy of discussion". As a matter of fact, it is pretty rare for Homer to stop talking about himself long enough to mention Harrison Ford or his films. His articles all appear to be a desperate attempt to garner attention. "Hey world, Robert Redford, George Lucas and Harrison Ford are imbeciles! LOOK AT ME!!!" Perhaps, mid-winter, Mr. Sapiento should try stripping and standing mid-village green. The attention should be more gratifying (and also more immediate)! The three-month wait between zines must be a killer.

[snipped]

I believe I understand where [a previous letter writer] Rebecca is coming from. She is displaying honest anger over a film's out-of-hand dismissal (a topic dealing with Harrison Ford's career). She is not phony-ing up some story of lovers, family and self-importance. (Tell me. Homer, has your life that very much to do with Harrison Ford's career? Is it that you are the master of his fate?)

That is the real gist of why I write. Rebecca put honest emotion into what she said. She honestly tried to explain a difficult film. A film which Homer has renounced because his mother has a clean floor, his father fought at Normandy, and he wants to die on the right-hand side of God. What? [2]
Sapiento had many responses. This is an excerpt from one of them:
I've pinned both ire and anger to my shoulders.

Never presume. Actually, the truth is that your not likin' me has more to do with what I say than how I say it. Or are ya equally unnerved when Attenborough and Burke use "reckon" regularly on PBS? As for the so-called Modern English? It all depends on where you're comin' from and where you're headed. I'm happy where I am, and I am positively delighted that the world is such a perfect place for ya that a dropped "g" is the only thing that ticks ya'll off!

As for your second objection: these alleged put-downs. I'm not gonna go into them, mainly 'cuz it'd be a waste of time to point out prominent fallacies. What I wrote in that issue was documented truth (I can send ya copies — I don't make it a habit of making stuff up)

[snipped]

... it isn't that ya'll don't UNDERSTAND what I said, ya just choose to IGNORE it. And, now, you chose to twist it in such a way that it comes out as if I said somethin' which I didn't; that I said something' nasty (in print yet) 'bout folks that I haven't said. That's known as misrepresentation. I don't like it. I try real hard to avoid it. That's why God made such lines like: "as if you were sayin'," "like ya mean," etc. But, fine person that you are, you took twisting to a new high — or low — ya'll went and used quotation marks and attributed to me somethin' I never said. Somethin' more negative than I ever said. Anywhere. 'Cept maybe to my lover late at night. When ya'll use someone else's words and claim them as your own, that's called plagiarism (ask Joe Biden). When ya misrepresent what one person said about a third party or attribute quotes to them which are grossly negative toward a third party, that's vergin' on libel. Angry? Me? Ha! Amused is more like it, ma'am. I can get jumped on for NOT ramblin' on philosophically on the semantics of like/good, but all rationality is lost when it comes to puttin' words in my mouth that make me sound like an idiot. Believe me, kiddo, I'm very well capable of actin' like an idiot on my own; I don t need any outside help! Sorry, that was pro'bly self-deprecatin' or ya'll figure I don't know what I just said. Well, ya know what that's called? It's called a joke!

[snipped]

Fandon? I like fandom; I respect its power. I like fans. I'm not wild about fanatics who believe they own a celebrity, who hound them day and night, who rant and rave ad naseum and who, finally, turn that love to hate just 'cuz said celebrity didn't respond when the fanatic did somethin' "Just for them."

Now ya'll said that BIZ, like The Rogue before it, is a forum for fans. Then ya asked if the point of BIZ was not to support Mr. Ford. Well, truth is, a forum is a place for open discussion of the pros and cons — which would kinds put it at odds for absolute support.

We can't criticize Mr. Ford 'cuz he's a private person? May I suggest (humbly, of course) that he gave up that when he entered the business. Oh, he can argue he is, he can demand it, he can even try to control it. As fans, SOME of ya can stomp your feet and turn blue demanding that he is —and then ya'll turn around and eat up the foreign press tidbits or anythin' else that comes down the pike.

[snipped]

Well, kiddies, I'm bein' accused here of "writing off most of the man's films as unworthy of discussion" that's pretty interestin' since I only mentioned two of them in any way, with a brief remark 'about "Return of the Jedi" and "Temple of Doom." I'd really, like to discuss the flicks: plot, dialogue, acting, etc., 'cept we always seem to start off by sayin': "Gee, he looked gorgeous!" Anybody out there wants start up an adult discussion of "Frantic?" Without mentionin' teddy bears?

[snipped]

Now, if ya'll want a male fan who is kinda like a "Wannabe" ~ remember the little girls who used to dress up like Madonna and emulate her every breath? ~ well, then you are barkin' up the wrong tree, too. I haven't wanted to be someone else since my Sky King days. It's too long a road to get to bein' your own person without fallin' back to adolscence.

I've been a fan for a long time. PS, in fact. PS? That's pre-SoIo. Ya'll remember Solo ~ he s that young middle-aged juvenile delinquent. I've watched him grow in his talent and in his proficiency. (big word, that). But, he's still only a man, not a god. As such, he makes good and bad choices. And part of bein' a fan is recognizin' the groaners and bein' able to throw in an early years video, lean back and throw popcorn at the screen! Kinda like home movies your folks drag out to torment ya. Just 'cuz they laugh at 'em doesn't mean they love ya any less. I've read reviews that rip up flicks I've liked — like "Hanover Street" (okay, so I'm a sucker for romantic sap, 'cept I woulda kept the girl) — and I've read reviews that praise flicks I hated.

Sos, what do ya wanta do? Lynch everyone that disagrees with ya? Whenever anythin's taken too seriously in life, the fun's gone.

[snipped]

... tell me, is it that Harrison Ford's career has so much to do with YOUR life? Is it that HIS fate is your master? If so, I kinda envy ya — 'cuz you've missed the pain and heartache real life tragedy brings. For me, he's kinda like the spice ya'll throw on food — not entirely necessary, the food's still edible and sustains life, but the spice adds somethin'. And, when Mr. Ford's 80 and still pluggin' away kinda like George Burns, I'll roll my wheelchair into the theatre while everyone else goes lookin' for younger flesh. '

Til then, I'll leave ya with one piece of advice that works in all situations — LIGHTEN UP! [3]

A Change in Writing Style

Sapiento's writing style changed over the course of his column. While he occasionally dropped the "g's" from some words, he took on a more formal structure.

Disillusionment

Towards the end of the column series, Sapiento wrote:
Have heard from some folks that what has bothered me for sometime is beginning to bother them. As one asked, "When is he going to play something other than himself?" I did watch some earlier work and saw again that intensity that's missing now. He once said that acting was just a job and that was how he approached it. Of that's true, it's beginning to show. The hunger is gone. Think I'll so watch "Hanover Street" again. [4]

The Last Column

Excerpts from the last column in 1995, in which Sapiento references a recent interview Ford did for Jay Leno, the movie "Sabrina, and Sapiento signs off:

When one is so overpaid as to afford a mountain (and then so "nice" as to turn some over for environmental purposes — not to mention tax breaks), someone should point out the definition of "virgin/pristine." Nowhere did I find anything about "cutting trails." And, the Great Spirit knows — more so than the purest environmentalist — that one doesn't rape virgin forest by riding motorcycles through it. Has anyone ever read the rules of camping in the wilderness? I shouldn't be surprised that not all that many readers are familiar with "Sabrina" (age is probably showing). It's a fine small flick in its original form. It's got a great cast of stars from an age when that word meant something. "Stars" today are little more than celebrities. On that note

In order to write this column, there has to be something — anything to write about. That's not the case anymore. I'm not comfortable rehashlng old complaints, etc., although I'm sure some of you think otherwise. As for commenting on and seeing movies — I'd like to see a new one. An original — not a sequel, prequel, remake or based (and rewritten) on a money-making book. That is nothing more than laziness.

When this column began, I liked Mr. Ford and enjoyed and respected his work (contrary to what some readers might believe). It's become harder to enjoy the product these days. Like I said — sequels, prequels, remakes and based-upons are a sign of laziness. Not physical laziness — I'm sure he works just as hard as in his younger days. No, not physical — mental laziness. It takes much more ingenuity to make an original flick and take that chance that it won't be a hit.

What we have now is a "star" out for a buck, which he finally has admitted in such a way as to smirk at "them who buys the ticket." I know some would argue that this is not only the American dream but the American way. To that, I say some things might be legal, but that doesn't make them ethical.

It's more than hard to respect someone who, while putting out an inferior product, rewrites his personal history. Maybe he — or his agent — figured that the big bucks lie more with youngsters who care more about "celebrity" than integrity of person. It's interesting to see that the flicks are getting bigger overseas. Jerry Lewis springs to mind.

The point of all this rambling,,is that there is so much to do in the real world. Over whelming things in some cases; necessary nonetheless. Like 1 said, it's hard to find something new to write about.

While 1 don't want to, and don't like, leaving Ms. S. In a bind to fill pages, I'm gonna have to cut back and write a "Shot" when there's something to write about.

I want to thank Ms. S. for taking me on and putting up with the grief that entailed. Also, those of you who understood what I wrote, and enjoyed. And those of you who haven't.

Especially those friends I've made along the way. 'Til next time...

References

  1. ^ from Better Idea Zine #3
  2. ^ from Better Idea Zine #3
  3. ^ from Better Idea Zine #5
  4. ^ from "Better Idea Zine" #25