Monday, May 20, 2013

Wherein I Say Good Things About David Wong



“After every article like this that we publish, we're bombarded with fans screaming, "Why do you have to shit on every movie? Why can't you just sit back and enjoy it? WHY DO YOU HAVE TO OVERTHINK EVERYTHING?!?!"’

If you read these ramblings of mine, you know I tend to delve into things no one in their right mind would worry about. Just imagine what it must be like for my wife. Or my friends. Or those poor children who make the mistake of showing up at school only to find me at the front of the room.

Damn hippy. from Headhunter's Horror House
I dig deep to find beauty or intellect where it is obvious none exist (just get me started on what Jason Vorhees has in common with SwampThing, I dare you). I see terrifying implications hiding beneath simple, joyous veneers (I am still determined James and the Giant Peach is racist and nationalist in terms of characterization). I lovingly laud or vehemently victimize stuff that is supposed to be mindless fun or idiotic pap.

It isn’t just to find some justification for the insane amount of money and time on spent on a Literature degree. I promise.

It’s because I try to hold to a permutation of something Utah Phillips once said: “Anybody who told me I couldn't live in the past was trying to get me to forget something that if I remembered it, it would get them in serious trouble.” I know that all art contains meaning beyond the superficial, even meanings the artist never intended or that have changed with the times and those witnessing the art. I know that these

GAH! look away. from fanshare

meanings affect us, especially when we do not notice them worming their way into our subconscious. There is a reason that, for a period of time, people did not believe that African American actors without Hispanic names and blackface were “black enough” and that my wife calls Ron Perlman hideous when, in real life, he would rate a moderate non-attractive inconspicuous oldish guy. 

Through most of human history, all civilizations have taught as much through entertainment as through intentional “lessons”. Often more so. And it makes sense to do that. We get to see these things not as abstract concepts, but actual events with actual consequences. At the same time, the events and their consequences are not naturally occurring. They are scripted, molded in someone’s mind in the greater context of a culture that is molding that person’s mind. Then this is all processed in your mind, which has already been conditioned to expect and glean certain things based on your own experiences and culture. 

And I don’t like people mucking about in my brain. At least, not without keeping a close eye on them. I won’t give a
He's in my brain already, isn't he?
plumber free reign in my house, so I sure as hell won’t give Joss Whedon, Daniel Graves or Gary Braunbeck an unchecked opportunity to root through my neurons without asking a few questions, dammit!



Unsurprisingly, David Wong says that better than me, too:

“But ask yourself: Why is there that knee-jerk rejection of any effort to "overthink" pop culture? Why would you ever be afraid that looking too hard at something will ruin it? If the government built a huge, mysterious device in the middle of your town and immediately surrounded it with a fence that said, "NOTHING TO SEE HERE!" I'm pretty damned sure you wouldn't rest until you knew what the hell that was -- the fact that they don't want you to know means it can't be good.”

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