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Dance of the Puppets

Like a bat on a hot tin roof since August 2005

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Post Postmodernism

I used to enjoy all the little pop culture injokes and references in the stories I read or watched, but these days it's feeling a bit done to death. I think a lot of it maybe has to do with the way so many movies now are retreads of what's gone before, either sequels or remakes, while comics are lost in finding 'iconic' versions of themselves, which translates loosely as two parts silver age, three parts 90's extreeeeme in the case of DC, but again results in the rehashing of old stuff. And instead of building on their rich heritage to tell new stories in a well defined universe with a strong history, they relaunch a messy do-over, where some titles follow established continuity while others have restarted from scratch, and no one seems to have any clear overview of how it all fits together. And that's when they're not pilfering Watchmen to create all sorts of new material that are supremely irrelevant to the work they are based on, because the original was complete in itself.

And then you get fan stuff, which takes the concept of a throwaway pop culture reference and expands it beyond all sense of restraint to stealing entire scenes from movies and repeating the script word for word, as the Nostalgia Critic has been doing lately. Lifting five minutes of dialogue from The Search for Spock without adding anything original (beyond the production values of a school pantomime) IS NOT FUNNY. The sequence itself is boring because you know exactly what is going to happen, so then pointing out that it's a reference, when we'd worked that out ourselves five minutes earlier because it's one of the most iconic moments in the history of SF movies you are making a shabby copy of is also NOT FUNNY.

It doesn't help that the majority of these in jokes are referencing the same old classics that everyone else references. Entire generations have grown up knowing the original Star Wars movies, not from watching the films, but from seeing choice bits of the script endlessly recycled in everything from kids' cartoons to political satire.

It reminds me of the story about Jack Kirby, who read an interview with some new guy on the CAPTAIN AMERICA comic. The new guy said he wanted to produce CAPTAIN AMERICA "in the Kirby tradition."

Kirby grunted and said, "This kid doesn't get it. The Kirby tradition is to go create a new comic."

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