Right, so I've never "'shipped" anything in my life, really. I have pairings that I like, romances between fictional characters that I enjoy. And while, back in the day I wrote my share of fanfic, I never really thought "OMG OTP" ("one true pairing") about any two characters. That kind of thing can be fun, but is way not SRS BZNS and in fact is still not.
This is fun. Inception's list on TVTropes
, which is an amazing and inclusive list, spoiler-free because you'd have to highlight to read the spoilers. :D
Remember when I first reviewed Inception
and I thought, "Well, that was nifty, but I don't see why everyone is freaking out over it." Well, I still kind of think that. In fact you could say that my reaction to the movie was pretty similar to ( this comic )
I don't know who did that; wish I could give credit. It's so true, though. My thoughts exactly.
As I also said back then, what really appealed to me about Inception wasn't that it was "mindblowing" or anything; it wasn't. What I liked was the characters, and the fact that there was really no bad guy. (Aside from the mostly faceless Cobol baddies that chase Cobb. But I mean, do we really even care about them?)
I've read some complaints that the characters weren't really fleshed out, that they were kind of left open in favor of the big huge fight scenes and effects. Maybe, maybe not. It's true that the script leaves some serious gaps that the actors had to fill in just by being sympathetic or funny. I do agree with some of the criticism leveled at the movie; I think it's fair. And I see the actors struggling (and succeeding) to breathe life and fun and motivation into their characters, often with intriguing success. That's why I'm babbling about Arthur and Eames today. To me, they were the most fun.
However, the fandom
, that's a whole 'nother story for me. I find it massively entertaining, amusing, hilarious, fun, and hot. It was Joseph Gordon-Levitt and and Tom Hardy that really made me prick my ears up during the film, and it was the two of them that the fandom predictably ran off with. It's easy to see why, and no, it's not because they're hot. Although I guess that does help. ;D ( Bicycle!
Arthur, (everyone gets a ride,) the movie's Little Black Dress, (looks good on everyone,) the Launcher Of A Thousand Ships.
And burningly hot Eames who plays it Ambiguously Gay
or straight gay
. Okay, so yeah, hotness matters. Sorry.)
To me, they were the most easily relatable. I realize that the most sympathetic storyline was between Dom and Mal Cob, and really between Dom and his kids, but there was something about the whole "I'm using everyone in order to get home, also my dead wife isn't really a bitch; that's me
attacking you all" angle sort of made me feel more for the other characters than for Cobb.
We get that Dom misses his wife and kids, and he does his share of angsting. In fact, he does it through the whole film, to great effect. But it's Arthur's perspective of Mal Cobb that really stood out for me, with just that one line: "She was lovely." We get that Cobb loved his wife. Why did Arthur? There's some history there that we're left to wonder at. Arthur was sympathetic to the whole family.
Otherwise, it was hard to understand some of the motivations sometimes. Dom wanted his kids back. Ariadne risked her job, her future, and her life because she was at first curious, and later on concerned (for this man she only just met.) I almost didn't buy her "I'm coming with you to protect everyone" thing. In my mind, she wanted in because it was cool and dangerous. And she didn't know the risk. (I also need to point out that I felt a little tug between Ariadne and Cobb, maybe more on her side than his. It's something about the way she looks when Arthur tells her, "No, they're not divorced" and "she's dead." And the way she looks when she asks Arthur, "What was she really like?" Well, why do you care what she was really like, Ariadne? OTOH she also looked really flattered when Arthur kissed her. I thought that was cute of her.)
Saito was on board because he wanted to protect his investment – and he didn't know the risk (and suffers the most because of it.)
Yusuf the chemist was in because he wanted the money; and it must have been a lot for him to risk his life when he was the only one aside from Cobb who truly did know the risks.
Cobb lied to everyone else, or at least lied by omission. And the only two characters who call him out on his lie are Eames first, then Arthur.
Why are they on board?
Arthur, I guess, because he's Cobb's partner. Yet, Arthur could
have said no. Even if he didn't know what sort of danger they'd be going into, he disapproves of the whole scheme from the start. So why does he stay? Fandom sometimes paints Arthur as Cobb's lapdog, but I don't see any evidence of that in the movie. He is the only one who seems to put Cobb in his place most of the time.
So why does he follow Cobb into this project that he doesn't believe in?
Hmm. Maybe because he liked Mal – he states this in the movie. Maybe he likes Cobb's kids, or maybe he realizes it's unjust for Cobb to be separated from them and he wants to do the right thing, even if he doesn't agree with the method. JGL said in an interview that his interpretation of Arthur is that he loves the work. Maybe he does it just to see if he can.
Ahh, Mr. Eames. The one character who laughs, reasons, jokes, fights, and shows any sympathy at all to both Saito when he's dying, and to Fischer when he's suffering. Eames gets
people; in his line of work, maybe he's got to understand them. Maybe his empathy is what makes him the best forger. Saito is dying in the dream; while everyone else is all up in arms, Eames is the only one who thinks to help him. ("He's in agony; I'm waking him up.") And he carefully defuses Cobb when Cobb freaks out on him and starts throwing him around. He is clearly no dummy; maybe the smartest guy in the movie, the way he handles situations and easily deals with people's emotions. He's a Guile Hero
but is still the most empathetic one.
So, why is Eames on board? One has to figure that Mr. Eames does things because he wants to, and never for any other reason. The script has Cobb "selling" the job to him; the movie makes no such offer. The movie dialogue deviates from the script (which I downloaded,) sometimes drastically. In the shooting script, Eames mentions that the price on Cobb's head is pretty high, and that he'd sell him out – although he's clearly bluffing, because he hasn't. Why not? If Eames does things for the money, he could have sold Cobb out when Cobol came for him. Instead, he helps him escape. So, what are Eames's loyalties, and why are they currently to Cobb?
Eames never gives a reason why he joins the team; he's just automatically signed up once Cobb approaches him.
I am so not setting up to say that Arthur and Eames decided to do the job because of each other. Well, not Arthur, maybe. ;)
In the movie, Cobb tells Arthur he's going to talk to Eames, and Arthur's reaction is automatic:COBB
I’ve got to talk to Eames.
Eames? But he’s in Mombasa. Cobol’s
There's plenty of good thieves.
We don’t just need a thief. We need
Blah blah blah setting up who's who and why they're necessary. My question—and indeed fandom's question—is why Arthur immediately knows where his least-favorite thief is. Bang, off the top of his head: Eames is in Mombasa; Arthur keeps tabs.
Well, it's his job to keep tabs, I guess. And perhaps he especially keeps tabs on what's going on in Mombasa, which is, as he states, Cobol's back yard. So he needs to know who from the dreaming world is hanging out there, ready and willing to sell out his boss. Why does he jump to "thief" for Eames, when Eames is clearly a forger first and foremost? (What did Eames steal, that he knows of?) Why is he so eager to use someone else? Why is his reaction so immediate?
Eames reaction to being told he's working with Arthur is similar in the script, but Tom Hardy decided to add his own flavor to it – as he did throughout the movie, as I understand. However it is still an instant, "Oh, him.
From the movie, not the shooting script:COBB
Inception. Now before you tell me it's impossible...
No, it’s perfectly possible. Just
Interesting. Because Arthur keeps telling me...
*Filthy laugh* Arthur. You’re still working with
He’s good at what he does.
Ahh, he's the best. But he has no
Not like you?
If you’re going to
perform inception, you need
It took me two viewings before I noticed that filthy evil chuckle he decided to throw in, before he says, "Arthur
" in the same way that I say "ice cream.
" Once you hear it, you can't unhear it.
But then, why does Eames insist that Arthur has no imagination? Especially when Arthur later proves to the audience that he has more than anyone in the entire film, when he handily saves everyone's ass by creating gravity out of zero gravity? Is this some kind of oversight in the script? In a novel, the exchange between Cobb and Eames about Arthur and his lack of imagination would have to be explored; otherwise it would look like a huge plot hole. Eames is clearly wrong about Arthur. So, what is it that Arthur did, or didn't do, to make Eames think that?
Arthur also does not come across as a stick in the mud: he's actually one of the more fun, daring, and humorous characters. In fact, Eames, Arthur, and Yusuf are the only ones who seem to have any kind of fun at all in the otherwise serious mind-heist. Among the three of them, they provide the only humorous lines and gestures in the entire film.
Arthur does come across as buckling down to business when it gets hairy, but he also steals a kiss from Ariadne, keeps this semi-wicked, knowing smirk on his face for most of the movie (he's more or less an elite spy; he knows everyone's secrets,) and puts up with Eames pulling his pigtails throughout the film with relatively good grace.
Clearly, though, in their past together, Arthur gave Eames the impression that he wasn't any fun, and was lacking in imagination. So, what's the history there?
Why is Arthur's totem a loaded die, and Eames's totem a forged poker chip? Are / were they both gamblers? Did something happen in Vegas and stay in Vegas? Or did it not happen?
And Eames does spend a goodly amount of time pulling Arthur's pigtails, clearly trying to get him to react. This is something the entire fandom picked up on. Every time they're in the room together he's "I'm not touching you, does this bug you?" and Arthur is, "COBB, get him to stop, he's on my side of the seat!" Ridiculously, the most famous scenes in the movie aren't the crumbling buildings, the explosions, or the city block folding like a taco: the ones that fandom ran with were the pigtail-pulling scenes between the two of them: Eames kicking Arthur's chair, Eames giggling whenever Arthur gets pushed over, and of course the famous "dream bigger, darling." More on that later, too.
I read somewhere that "Word Of God" (meaning Nolan) said that Arthur and Eames were past rivals. I have no idea where this interview is or where I could find it; wish I did. But I have to wonder, rivals for what
? They work in the same business, sure; but their job descriptions are vastly different. Arthur is a point man (if you don't know what that is, here is a good description of Arthur's job.
) And Eames is a forger; he creates other identities to infiltrate dreams, which Arthur never does. And we're led to believe that it's A) either a rare position or B) Eames is the best at it, since Cobb goes all the way to Mombasa to collect him, when Mombasa is the worst place for him to be. The two are completely different. I'd love to know what their rivalry was.
Okay, I'm getting too meta here and getting away from my point: I am not certain why Eames joined the team, not certain why Arthur and Eames were rivals, not sure why their reactions to each other were so immediate. These are things that fandom can only speculate at (and write fic about. It's fun when it's fun.)
So I've established why I think that Eames was the most sympathetic and fun, why Arthur was the most interesting and imaginative (to me, anyway,) but haven't really touched upon why I think it's so easy to ship them and why it seems so natural.
At least a bit of credit for this, I think, must go to Tom Hardy, for changing the script. Or actually, he changed it once, and I think Nolan changed it the second time.
Obviously, what is the most famous line in Arthur/Eames fandom:
"You mustn't be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling."
It's worth noting that A) Tom Hardy changed this line, as originally it just said "Arthur" and not "darling," and B) Eames saved Arthur's ass in this scene. Maybe this
is why he thinks Arthur lacks imagination. Maybe Arthur doesn't dream big enough, and makes things tougher for himself. However, Arthur does, later, easily navigate the dreamscape; in fact he makes it his bitch
with his Penrose steps and gravity/zero gravity. So, again, what did Arthur not do at some point, to give Eames this impression?
This is where fandom loves to fill in the gaps.
And the second scene so beloved by the A/E fandom was another one not originally in the script. The script had this:Arthur hits buttons on the mechanism. The team goes out one
by one. Cobb is last.
Fischer’s subconscious is going to
run you down hard.
I’ll lead them on a merry chase.
Be back in time for the kick.
I’m on it.
It is completely noteworthy that it is now Eames who's the last one awake with Arthur, Eames giving Arthur this warning. And while the dialogue has changed in subtle ways, and even more worth noting how the two actors play this scene: Arthur hooking Eames up to the PASIV device, confident; Eames seeming suddenly very trusting of his "rival." Everyone else is already out; it's just the two of them. There's no pigtail-pulling here, when they're alone.
Why the hell is Arthur hooking him up? I find it hard to believe that Eames can't do it himself. Ariadne, who is totally new to this, Saito, who's been shot, they would probably need help hooking themselves up, if anyone. But he's only shown helping Eames, who's been in the business since forever.
And what became of "I'm on it?" I mean, yeah, as dialogue goes that's kind of flat, and changing it to something with a little more voice was obviously a great idea. Of course, "Go to sleep, Mr. Eames" seems to be enough for fandom to throw them into bed together. It alone is not enough for me to buy it, though.
make me buy it comes later, when it gets really rough and it's starting to look pretty bad, like maybe everyone will end up in limbo with their brains fried, because time is running out before the last kick. Eames, down in the third level of the dream (Arthur still in the second,) warns Ariadne and Cobb that if the kick comes, it sucks to be them; he's leaving (waking up) without them. He's a little harsh about it, too. He's clearly somewhat pissed about the turn of events. Yet it's Arthur
he warns: "Just be back before the kick." None of this "I will so totally leave you behind to slowly go insane."
However, Eames ends up doing no such thing, and while Cobb, Ariadne, and Fischer are working through their various demons and issues, Arthur is kicking ass in zero gravity in the second level and Eames is playing one-man-army in the third. Eames isn't the one with anything at stake, here.
Also note that in the first dream level, after the mad cab-ride shoot out is more or less over, Arthur leans over the seat and asks Eames, "Are you okay?" Are you
okay. Not is Fischer okay, on whom the mission depends. Not is Saito okay, on whom Cobb's happiness depends. You, Eames.
Yes, yes, I highly doubt that too much thought went into who he was talking to when the script was written. BUT. This is what fandom is for. Overthinking these things and enjoying the hell out of the process.
You can also pin at least some of this shippiness on Tom Hardy, I think, for making stuff up during the filming, for being fun and laughy and snarky and hot in an otherwise effects-driven drama, and for later saying that he felt that Eames was supposed to be similar to the sympathetic and fun gay character Handsome Bob in RockNRolla ("[Nolan] liked what I did in “RocknRolla” and wanted to keep it as close to me as possible in many ways...
) and "a little bit of Farley Granger." Thanks T-Hard, you likened Eames to two gay men. Well played, cagey boy. Just how much does he really know about fandom? Judging by his occasionally overbearing/camwhoring internet presence, I've got to guess "quite a bit." ^_^
Also, T-Hard, for coming forward to say, in essence, "Yeah, I've done guys too, so what? It was cool." Especially in the current climate with the LGBT community struggling lately, and with all the hateful things being said about them, that never seem to go away. Tangentially, it killed
me how headlines insisted that Tom Hardy had "admitted" to homosexual experiences, as "admitted" implies that the LGBT people are doing something wrong, which bears confession – and they're so not.
Tangentially too, I want to add that Joseph Gordon-Levitt has also come forward to stand up for LGBT rights on quite a few occasions, and bravely portrayed an abused homosexual boy in a movie that very few people would even think of touching.
NONE OF WHICH HAS ANYTHING TO DO WITH FANDOM. I want to be clear on this. I do not fangirl or fetishize homosexuality in and of itself. If I find anything wrong with fandom at all, it's that occasionally it does fall into this trap, of turning gay men into objects, fetishizing them. There are two sides to this slashy blade, you see. One side is acceptance and normalcy, and the other is objectification, and that's a line that I think you can't even straddle in good taste.
What I love about it, though, is its ability to explore characters who might be gay, which is only ever interesting to me if the characters are fascinating to begin with, or faceted. "Gay" alone does not a story make. "Gay" alone does not hotness make. Good characters, good stories, good taste, and being aware of what real
LGBT people go through, as opposed to fictional ones: this is important.
Take your two shippy characters and write about who they are and what they do together: gay, straight, both, neither, and have a blast, I think. But this is something to think about, maybe.
But with that in mind, yeah, ship 'em, I say, ship 'em hard!
Anyway. I think it's fantastic and hilarious that this movie cast freaking Leonardo DiCaprio and Cillian Murphy in the same movie, and everyone went to town on a former child actor turned indie community director and a relatively obscure but hot British guy in a patterned shirt. (Which was nice
. Eames's clothes are not hideous, okay?)
ILU, fandom. ^_^ You hinged an entire world on the word "darling." ♥EAMES! ARTHUR AND EAMES
(Warning for male nudity and other such stuff, my dears, but I know you are all adults.)
Oh, fandom. It's been a while. :D