Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Grand Theft Blog. 

Lifted almost wholesale from Thought Balloons, but fuck, this is pretty neat. Newsweek reviews Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist.

The money quote from the article:

"This short comic does a better job than any manifesto could of making an argument Chabon has made time and time again: literature cannot survive if it continues to deny itself the pleasures of thrillers, ghost stories, adventure tales, detective fiction and, yes, comics. 'Escape and escapism, in art and literature, have received a bad name,' he writes in his introduction to this collection. 'It was given to them, I believe, by the very people who forged the locks and barred the doors in the first place.'"

You're DAMN RIGHT, bitches. Can you imagine what bookstores would be like if everything on the shelf was The Wings of the fucking Dove?

I especially feel this way about the horror genre, in all mediums. Every now and then a few competently-made horror films will roll down the pike and some eager, wide-eyed, completely ignorant journalist will write up a "social relevance" piece that's laughable to anyone using both both hemispheres of their brain.

Example: I read a rather cute article in the Dallas Morning News about the time 28 Days Later hit the theatres, wherein one of these aforementioned ignorant journalists fronted the idea that 28 Days Later was tapping into the SARS/Anthrax panic (and it was most certainly a panic, as opposed to an epidemic), and basically making a buck off of public fears. Nevermind that the screenplay had been written quite a bit earlier than either of these forgettable, ultimately laughable "scares."

Nevermind the long tradition of zombie movies, wherein the how's and the why's of zombie creation are not important. Night of the Living Dead is still the ultimate example of the zombie genre, and in that seminal work we get only a half-realized thought that a "satellite re-entering the atmosphere" may have caused the dead to rise. In 28 Days Later, the cause of the zombie fuss was a virus called Rage (or perhaps it was simply a distilled version of human rage, which steps into the metaphysical), but none of that really matters.

In these stories, humans are what matter. Their survival, how they interact, how the ultimate crucible can cause some to rise to their greatest potential and grants others permission to sink into their greatest depravities. At their worst, zombie movies are fun splatterfests. At their best, they are scathing societal commentaries; who can forget the shocking fate of Ben in Night? Shocking, and yet ultimately inevitable.

But no. To the literary warmongers who insist on pure (melo)drama, the ignorant toadies in entertainment journalism, horror and other genre work are deviations from the true faith. To these people, horror (and the others) are, at their most, fleeting commentaries on dated events, whose relevance slips away as the real-world subjects they allegedly ape fall off the front page. The literati do not see the greater schemes, or purposes, or underlying meaning to our most fantastic tales. Nor do they want to.

So fuck 'em. At least Newsweek's catching on.

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