Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Fear of Not Flying

Thomas say:
What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,
And the dry stone no sound of water. Only
There is shadow under this red rock,
(Come in under the shadow of this red rock),
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.

 T.S. Eliot,
"The Wasteland: I. Burial of the Dead"

The tagline of  this blog is "Creative flux for our heap of broken images." It's called TinkerX: "X" for my lost, forgotten, grungy, slacker generation that is caught too late for Woodstock, too early for Raves... and "Tinker" for the guy who takes (supposedly) worthless junk and turns it into tools, toys and trinkets.

This passage from "The Wasteland" is, I think, the most important piece of poetry to come out of post WWI Europe. The whole poem is hugely important, yes. But this one stanza is the best short, dense, beautiful description of what it's like to live in a "mashup," "remix" culture. This is postmodernism.

This post was inspired by one at Raph's site on his having seen "Happy Feet" and remarking on its connection to "March of the Penguins."

Yes, our children know nothing but The Mash. My son, seven, has never heard a fairytale told "true." They all have Shrek-like layers of hyper-referencing built in. The genie is Robin Williams. Or vice-versa. At best, the "classics" are the Disney versions. Irony? You're soaking in it.

This is not a bad thing. But it has to be *taught to* if it is to be a truly good thing. As Raph says, seeing "March of the Penguins" really helps with a viewing of "Happy Feet." I didn't know as much about Emperor Penguins until having seen that first film, and so my enjoyment of the second was increased tremendously.

On the other hand... in a mashup/post-modern culture, you also have to live with people mashing things up in ways that are clearly, er... disagreeable to you. From MIchael Medved's remarkably... insane... review of the film:

As in so many other recent films, there’s a subtext that appears to plead for endorsement of gay identity. Mumbles (the voice of Elijah Wood) displeases his parents and the leaders of his community because he’s born different, and makes an impassioned plea that he can’t possibly change – and they should accept him as he is.

Uh... Right. Because the only possible way to be "different" in society is to be gay. Despite the fact that Mumbles spends the entire movie trying to win the love of a totally hot female penguin, and hanging out with a gang of "Amigos" penguins that are constantly on the macho prowl, almost offensively so, for chicas. In the end, we see Mumbles with Gloria, his heart's true love... and their new baby. Clearly part of the homosexual agenda.

Damn it, Medved! I was different throughout school, and it had very little to do with sexual identity! I was a game-playing, D&D-loving, musical-performing, Latin-studying, church-going techno-dweeb with few friends who got along well with his parents. That made me a total tool in the eyes of the popular crowd. I received, at the hands of many of my peers, treatment almost identical to that lavished upon Mumbles -- disapproval for not "fitting in," and having talents different to theirs. They could sing, I could dance. Not literally, as I could sing, and they could... well.. play sports. But you get the picture.

So. My son has seen "Happy Feet" three times. And I deconstruct it as a lovely, musical journey through the ideas of creativity, self-discovery and young love. Medved sees it as a gay propaganda, an anti-religious, anti-human horror, and "the darkest, most disturbing feature length animated film ever offered by a major studio."

There is, for freakin' sure, shadow under this red rock. And I will show you fear in a feature length animated film.

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