Andrew Ducker (andrewducker) wrote,
Andrew Ducker

Against making everything grown-up

Nick sent me this:

Which plays on the well-worn trope of taking a piece of culture aimed at kids and then highlighting the gross ridiculousness of it by showing an aspect of what it would be like if it was "real". In this case, a Goomba, low level bad-guy from Mario, is shown to have a family, life, and to be part of a culture brainwashed into a state of eternal war against the evils of capitalism Mario.

This has become common largely because the readers of yester-year grew up, became the writers of today, and started taking apart the stories they loved as children when they realised that the messages behind them aren't actually very palatable when you look at them closely. Which can be done well, and some of my favourite works of fiction have been based around this idea - Watchmen is basically "The kind of people who dress up in costumes to punch criminals would have to be pretty odd, wouldn't they?", Miracleman is "If Superman really existed then he wouldn't just fight crime, his mere existence would change the world." Grant Morrison's "Best Man Fall" takes a random security guard shot during an earlier issue and shows that they had as much of a life as anyone else, until a "Goody" shoots them in the face while making a silly quip.

And all of this is fine, except that it ruins me for _fun_. It's kinda hard to cheer the heroes in LOTR when you're aware that the whole background is a pseudo-fascist, racist story in which some races are intrinsically good, some are intrinsically evil, and the world is saved at least partially because of the divine right of kings. Julie turned to me about five minutes into the latest James Bond movie and whispered "It's the music from Peter fighting the chicken"* - and that was me for the remainder of that fight, because once I remember that what I'm watching is ridiculous I find it impossible to take it seriously until my hindbrain has forgotten again.**

A lot of the grim'n'gritty age of comics is based on what Alan Moore refers to as the bad mood he was in during the 80s***. But it's a direction that takes the fun and silliness of comics and then says "Look! It's so silly! In real life it would be awful!" - and that's something I find myself growing less and less fond of. When he returned to comics with the ABC line it was with Top 10, Tom Strong and Promethea, three stories that were pulpy fun, with no pretensions of realism. Even his darker work from the same time, The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen, wasn't trying to hold up a "realistic" mirror to the fantastic.

And I think that's a good thing. Sometimes it's ok for a fantasy to be just that - something fun, that taps into our childlike side. Sometimes that's all I want. I get enough of real life in the newspapers.

*Probably the most epic fight of all time.
**Which is one of the reasons I tend to like either more serious action movies, or knowingly silly action movies, but not ones that are trying for serious and failing badly.
***I think he exaggerates his importance to the genre, Frank Miller was clearly influential in the same direction, amongst others.

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