Friday, April 7, 2017

Goodman's Dilemma

Hi! I’m Guy Goodman! Don’t you recognize me? Okay, well…I’m sure you’ve seen my partner before. There’s a popular television program named after him. 

Truck? From the show, Truck, P.I.?

Yeah, I thought that might ring a bell. There you go. Nobody’s heard of Guy Goodman, but mention Truck’s name and people light up. It’s discouraging. Truck is an idiot.

He sounds as good as he does because of the dialogue the writers give him. Take that away, and what's left? He can hardly string together a coherent statement, let alone discuss anything except sex, working out, and tattoos. 

Even then, his comments are monosyllabic, barely audible, and he just ends up agreeing with the most opinionated person in the room. 

Now you’re wondering, if you think so much of this guy, why are you his partner? Why don’t you just get another gig?

Well, it’s like this: the show is called Truck, P.I., and even with everything I said, about how Truck’s an idiot, being his partner is still the best job I ever had.

Well, except when people try to kill him. That’s definitely not the best.

You see, if Truck dies, the series gets cancelled. I mean, they can’t very well carry on with ‘Guy Goodman, P.I.’, can they? The audience likes me, sure, but I’ve got no charisma onscreen. 

Without Truck around to flex, fall in love, and catch the bad guy, there’s just no show. 

I mean, look at me, look at my skin, for Christ’s sake! I don’t shine. Not like Truck does, anyways. And if he dies, it’s goodnight Goodman. You feel me? 

It doesn’t even matter if the actor playing Truck dies, as long as the character – the name – of Truck lives on, with new scripts written by the next generation of pen monkeys. 

Don’t get me wrong: I’d love to have my own series. That’s the dream, right? But I’d have to be a lot more appealing to the audience, a lot more real to them if I was ever to step out on my own. 

I just don’t see that happening. 

I’m a sideman, and my existence depends on preserving the life of the person – the franchise – that's my bread-and-butter. The suits have tested it, and audiences like me with Truck. Without him, it’s back to oblivion, with all the other forgotten names. 

Up ‘til now, I think there have been over a dozen actors play Truck, but nobody remembers the third, fourth, or seventh guy to play him, because – in the end – the only name they’re supposed to remember is Truck’s. And, hopefully, my name, too… 

I was thinking about one of the actors who played Truck. This guy was a total loser. Started proceedings to have his name legally changed to ‘Truck’, leaked spoilers to the press, showed up loaded to publicity events, the whole enchilada. 

Guy got greased for screwing the showrunner’s wife, and you know what the studio did? 

First of all, they covered up the murder. Then they dropped a body-double in for the remainder of the shoots, and used CGI to make the double look like the dead actor, so they could complete the season’s arc. Messed-up, right? 

Not as messed-up as when the studio presented the actor’s family with the preserved corpse of their dearly departed along with a few million in hush money. But, hey, that’s the biz! 

A few weeks later, the studio announced a new actor would be portraying Truck for the upcoming season.

I mean, if you think the suits were just going to let that dick ruin what they have going on with Truck, guess again. Those guys have made billions – billions – off Truck, and they aren’t going to let any actor, showrunner, or director blow the deal. 

The actor playing Truck can be famous, or not, white, black, Asian; those things don’t matter. Only thing that matters is that the script is followed. The words make Truck who he is, his name makes him who he is, not the color of his skin, his nationality or culture.  

Hell, there’s even talk of replacing the human actor playing Truck with a hologram. But that’s so far out I’m not worried about it. If they replace actor Truck with a hologram Truck, then they’ll probably replace me, too… 

That’d be great in one way, because I wouldn’t have a weird identity crisis every few years when casting brings in a new actor to play Guy Goodman. But my name, associated with a light dummy, instead of a flesh-and-blood actor? I don’t know.

I want to exist (which is better than not existing), and I guess if that means being rendered as a hologram, I’ll deal with the consequences. After all, I’ve found a way to endure Truck’s imbecility, haven’t I? Once I thought that would be insurmountable.

I remember meeting Truck for the first time. He said, “Hey! I’m Truck, P.I.! Good ta meet’cha, brah!”

“What the fuck?” I replied. “Were your parents retarded?” 

If you haven’t seen that bit, you really should. When that episode got broadcast, the scene went viral on social media because, supposedly, what I said was “insensitive” and “politically incorrect”. Show apologists countered it was comedy, that I was only a fictional character (which I found offensive) and that I had only meant the term informally, and not as slur.    

But I admit it: I haven’t really gotten past my first impression of Truck. And he hasn’t done anything to suggest he has an IQ in the double digits. So here we are.

We’re stuck together. Well, more than stuck together. I’ve saved Truck’s life more times than I can count. All the normal stuff, of course – pulling his unconscious body from car wreaks, knocking drinks and food laced with poison out of his hands before he can consume them, fishing him out of various bodies of water, intercepting and distracting femme fatales, outwitting tactically superior belligerents. 

Truck would be dead a thousand times over, if it wasn’t for me. He says I put the ‘good man’ in Goodman. He’s such a cock.  

The real threat to Truck is the writers; the creatives. They’ve been going back to the well for years, that ‘Hero’s Journey’ thing. But if any one of them decided – I mean, really decided - to make something new, and shelve Truck? 

I don’t even like to think about it. They could kill all of us with a few taps of a keyboard or the stroke of the pen.       

Well, ‘kill’ might be a little strong. Once the idea of Truck got loose in the world, the writers lost control of him. Sure, they still control the official scripts, but now we have fans who invent their own adventures about us. 

And just for the record, I don’t like how my character gets the shaft – and I mean that literally - in the homo-erotic fan fiction that’s cropped up in recent years.
Still, getting killed on the show – officially - before Truck’s fan community really has time to grow beyond the confines of its own time and space? That’s what I’m trying to avoid; at least, until Truck is alive for a few more generations. Once that happens? The writers can kill Truck as many times as they want, but he won’t die. And neither will I. 

There’ll be wikis, and fan pages, cons and cosplay, issuances of the program for streaming and on disc, and then reissuances, and then remastered reissuances, and then re-released remastered reissuances, and so on. 

In short, people will believe in Truck – enough to give him existence outside of the show. He’ll have a place in their lives. 

And whatever happens to Truck is sure to happen to yours truly.  

You see, what nobody watching the show really understands is that, given enough time, energy and luck, Truck will become more real, more alive, than any of them could ever hope to be. Most people live and die. They’re missed by family and friends for, maybe, a few decades. Then they're forgotten. 

But not Truck. If I can keep him alive for a couple more generations, he’s virtually assured the kind of immortality reserved for the most exclusive cultural heroes. I won’t even tell you who these folks are, but I will say that – like Truck – most people in the world only know them by one name.  

So, in summary, to keep the very idea of Goodman alive, I have to keep Truck alive. That’s the dilemma. And the only question I have left is the same question I’ve been asking myself all along.

How am I going to keep from killing Truck myself?