Apr. 22nd, 2012

mary: A picture of a woman sitting in front of a stained glass window, from Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds (Default)
Right okay so I watched the seventies Lorax cartoon and the recent movie last night and obviously the recent movie is dumb and whatever but here’s what I keep thinking about:

the two films have a fundamentally different position on thneeds and therefore on what the whole story is actually about.

in the old cartoon, the fact that a thneed apparently does everything possible for a thing to do is a clear signal that it’s a macguffin — the actual object itself doesn’t matter. The Once-ler could literally be selling ANYTHING; the whole point is that he knows how to SELL. He deliberately creates and manipulates desire for this weird shitty scarf-thing he’s made. That the thneed is what it is becomes totally incidental, the point is that he creates demand in order to then provide the supply.

whereas in the new movie, Once-ler genuinely BELIEVES in the transformative awesomeness of the thneed. He’s going to CHANGE THE WORLD. He’s gonna make his family PROUD OF HIM. The townspeople take more convincing to believe that thneeds are good THAN THEY DO TO AGREE TO CHANGE THEIR ENTIRE CONSUMPTIVE LIFESTYLE TO A MORE SUSTAINABLE MODEL AT THE END. Like, for real, WHAT?

Thneeds aren’t meant to be a thing with intrinsic worth! They’re not something people suddenly through their own observations realise are great! They’re a weird shitty nonsensical thing without a point. Because if you make them a genuine thing that a well-intentioned kid is working hard to bring to the world in order to make life better for people, then the Lorax actually does come off like a mean bossy jerk who’s standing in the way of genuine compromise. He tries to DROWN THE KID IN HIS SLEEP for fuck’s sake.

So, like, of COURSE people end up loving Greed-ler or whatever you want to call the ‘How bad can I be?’ Once-ler. Because yes he’s an asshole, but EVERYONE ELSE IS ALSO A SELF-RIGHTEOUS ASSHOLE in the movie. And at least Greed-ler does it with some fucking panache.

Like, okay, to use a GoT analogy: if you put a single toe out of line of What’s Best For Everyone, Ned is not actually any less fucking likely to chop your damn head off than any of those blonde assholes, he’s just going to be self-righteous about it while he does it instead of saying yeah okay whatever I don’t care if what I’m doing is totally awful and greedy and shitty, because everyone’s screwed either way and at least I look fabulous while I cause havoc.

I’m not being a Once-ler apologist here, I’m just saying that this is not a fable that benefits from the introduction of moral ambiguity, because it goes from ‘big business devours the delicate beauty of the natural world for no good reason because seriously you don’t need a shitty thneed what the fuck’ to ‘don’t have any kind of dream or innovation kids because your family is never going to be proud of you either way and also the penguin from batman returns is going to try to drown you in your sleep’.

A MORAL LESSON FOR EVERYONE AMIRITE?
mary: A picture of a woman sitting in front of a stained glass window, from Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds (Default)
So I go to the US in a few days, and it was last April at about one in the morning in a hotel room in Denver that I had the first glimmer of the idea which eventually became Candy Butchers.

And like, the year since then has been a really really damn rough year for me. One of the hardest so far.

But I finished Mixtape and got it published and it meant a lot to some of the people who read it, and some people whose imaginations I love were impressed by it, and those are pretty great things to have happened.

And I started and slogged through and finished Candy Butchers, and maybe in a few more months I can look at it and be proud of it to, instead of dissatisfied in the way I always am when a project is completed. Maybe I'll find a publisher. Maybe it will mean a lot to people too.

It's the third in what I think of as my 'Lennon Lyrics Trilogy' (yes I know Wolf House was five books shh shh) -- Wolf House, Devil's Mixtape and Candy Butchers all feature characters who have the lyrics to songs written by John Lennon on their wrists.

There are other recurring themes and 'spiritual sequel' connections between the three; that's just the most obvious of them. I'm sure that my future work will also fit along similar lines, but I also feel like these stories, these things which I wrote in the second half of my twenties (beginning at 25, finishing just a couple of months after turning 30) fit into a particular capsule of their own.

I guess I'm proud of having made something like that. Sometimes. I think I did a lot more things wrong than I did things right, but I also think I did close to the best that I could at the time. Is that enough, though? I don't know, but I hope so, because I don't know if I'll ever be able to do anything better, accomplish anything greater than these. If this is the upper limit of what I'm capable of, is that enough? Should I be proud of it?

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mary: A picture of a woman sitting in front of a stained glass window, from Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds (Default)
Isn't moral anarchy kind of the point?

December 2013

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