Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Joie de Vivre - Of Literature and Pop Culture
Fasten your seat belts. This will ramble hither and yon and to yon's suburbs, but I promise to tie it together in the end -- sort of. Now, I know that many of my readers here have commented on not being too into TV or the movies. I understand that you're into books. That's why we're here. I just ask that before shunning mass culture or my ramblings upon them, remember that Dickens among others was considered the lowest of low brow when he was pubished in weekly rags. The Victorian Lit scholar at my grad school was an avid soap fan because of their similarities. the Melville scholar preferred westerns for some reason. And recently, I found out that James Joyce liked going to the cinema. I cannot admit to that making me admired Ulysses, but I find him more of a regular Joe because of it.
I had a conversation over a lot of beer with William Goldman over whether it is better to be remembered for literature than for pop culture contributions. That argument was far safer in that bar than whether the NY Giants were better than the Eagles. I told them to leave that to the lit professors and to keep telling stories like The Princess Bride. He gave me the valuable advice that to persue writing as a career, one needed a head of cement.
So, I embrace all forms of entertainment, and if pressed I can give really educated reasons for why they're important to the creative mind. But generally, I indulge because it allows me just to enjoy something for its own sake. Writing hasn't been that for me since I stopped writing fanfic. Everything has a stake now. I still write and I really enjoy living with my characters, but there isn't the sheer joie de vivre that just watching something inconsequential brings.
And it's not just me experiencing this. Our dear friend Gabriel Koerner, the wunderkind in Trekkies and Trekkies 2 is discovering the difference between enjoying Sci-fi as a fan and working in the industry. He was called to a meeting at Universal today to sit in between a sculptor of Battlestar Galactica merchandise and one of the actors who had image approval. He was sent there to lend and air of calm to the meeting. I laughed out loud when he told me. I just couldn't help it. The uber fan was going in to keep another fan calm. The meeting went well, but he was exasperated by all those disaprate creative types trying to get their way. Another fan has seen the man behind the curtain.
But back to the joy. We watch a lot of cartoons here. I think we only watch cartoon sitcoms anymore. And we watch a whole lot of Adult Swim. It's pop cultrue gone horribly wrong. Among our favorites is The Venture Brothers, essentially Johnny Quest gone spectacularly wrong. There is a new run of it on now on Sundays, but it won't make sense without seeing earlier ones, if then. But it's danged funny and twisted. I watch while doing other things, but manage to get sucked in enough to follow.
In addition to twisted comedies, we follow some anime. For Jon and I, it's partially because we grew up in the 60s in Philly. They showed a lot of anime on a UFH station back then. I knew who Speed Racer was long before the Geico ad and even my mother recognized that the Lion King had 'borrowed' from Kimba the White Lion whole down to the hyenas see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kimba_the_White_Lion. Jon was more obsessive. He used to watch bootlegs from Japan of many thing running on cable now. That's why he reads Japanese.
One show, Ben got us into was Fullmetal Alchemist (see photo).
We followed the pathos of two cursed brothers through 53 episodes that made me laugh with delight or sob in turn. We even rented the first subtitled version of the feature that wrapped up all the considerable loose ends in the series. It was a translation of Japanese to Cantonese to English. A lot got lost in translation -- including me.
On Friday, Ben found out that the English dubbed verison of the film would have an LA theatrical run of two days, and the first day was sold out. He bought tickets online for Saturday. I can't tell you how crazy busy I am, and if I had 90 minutes to spare, I should be soaking my locked spine in the complex's hot tub or curl up in a ball away from the phones. Yet, there we were in a packed theater full of teenagers in costume. The only reason I wasn't singing the theme song with them is that I only knew 'Ready, Steady, Go', the three English words in the tune.
It was a raucous time whith the kids cheering and whistling, but they didn't drown out the dialogue. There was even a quite unexpected slashy turn in one of the relationships (thank goodness that brother was an adult at this point). Jon accuses me of seeing slash everywhere, but this caught even me by surprise. The girls in the audience loved it. And I was a happy girl for the rest of the weekend. And I didn't lose all that much time. I was up until 4am working on my presentations for dragoncon and the various minutia for the films. Ieven thought about some creative writing. None of it was what I'm supposed to be writing, but it was nice to be inspired.
We're almost ready for the trip. I'm not sure if there will be a blog next week. At least, not on Monday, but I'm sure I'll have lots of news. I'll be preaching the joys of erotica and of slash and shaking up various fandoms. Stay tuned.