Friday, March 2, 2012

From days of long ago

My posting has been light lately.  Most of my regular readers are used to these stretches as part of a blog written by a housewife.  Not this time.  Yes, there has been plenty of life and family activity requiring my attention, but for the last week, no almost 2 weeks, I have fallen down a pop culture rabbit hole.  Actually, I've not so much fallen as dived, but I rather like the rabbit hole.  My wanderings in the burrow have become less frequent than in my teen years when I all but took up residence there, but still I sometimes wander.  With age, I now often ask myself, as I dive in head first, "What am I thinking?  I have better things to do than this, no?"

But a reason always reveals itself.

Not too long ago I wrote about why I like modern myths.  I focused upon modern myths' talent for restoring the awe of sacrifice or the inequity of some event or the silliness of some idea. (Heh. h/t Instapundit)  But  modern myth or pop songs or love letters or any number of artistic expression also say much about the writers and their fans.   Now, after reading a substantial volume of fan fiction, I cry over starved souls.  

Through the characters they create and champion, I can see that many are looking everywhere and anywhere for purpose.  Nietzsche pronounced God dead, and they believed him. 

The not-complete but relative lack of 'it is our choices that make us what we are' themes surprised me.  Characters were often cast at the mercy of fate or society or, as increasingly common within many attempts at modern myths, were looking for power somewhere outside of themselves.  As a Christian I find this last particularly painful since redemption can be gained merely by calling upon what is already in all of us.  I fear we Christians are failing them.  

The hunger for meaning was not confined to the big question of purpose.  My heart aches too for some of the understandings of friendship, love, passion, marriage, and loyalty, although I should not have been surprised to see the consistency.  The relationship between friends, parent and child, husband and wife, people and government, Church and the body of Christ, these are reflections of the relationship between God and Man.  If you get that one wrong, the others become difficult.  (True, getting any one of these relationships right can guide you in the others, but the God and Man route has the best track record.  But I digress, as usual.)   

Note, not all of the fan fiction was bad.  Hardly.  I liked a fair few. I could not have spent 10 days getting double vision from an iPad if otherwise.  But of late I've been thinking about archetypes and timeless tales.  Therefore, during this romp in the rabbit hole, I paid attention to the mechanics of the stories.  

Fanfiction.net is littered with promising nuggets that crack when the author tries to dictate the tale.  I would read with rapt attention, then in the passage of a paragraph, the story would fall because the author obviously intended to make a specific point, often by attempting relevance for a modern audience (a problem particularly acute in the Star Wars extended universe.)  For instance, instead of an epic tale of heroism and triumph in which Lotor rapes Allura (yes, I was reading Voltron fan fiction), the author wrote a story on how a modern woman copes with rape.  That's not nothing, but it is not epic.  And it wasn't consistent with the character, either.  The Princess Alluras and Princess Leias are not modern American women transplanted into other worlds from a long time ago.  But again, I digress.

Credit to the fan authors, however, who have done far more justice to the five lion Defender of the Universe than the current crap WEP actually paid for. (You need to be a Voltron fan to understand that link.) That's what sent me down the rabbit hole.  I came across the new Voltron cartoon.  In possession of a timeless tale of good vs. evil, loyalty, hardship, possession, and passion (yes, I'm talking about a cartoon), WEP serves up a music concert for the environment and peace.  This is the latest, and worst, attempt to tap into the original appeal of the cartoon.  They obviously have no clue about what made the original cartoon successful, much less why it still has fans 20 years later.

Fan fiction merely illustrates our overall problem: arrogant attempts at morality tales plague modern storytelling.  This is in part due to the nihilism of the modern age.  (Take it, Dr. Hibbs.) It is difficult to write what one does not understand, although God is a master at brilliant use of broken vessels. But that can only happen when the authors don't get clever and impose what they think they understand.  (Res Ispa Loquitor: George Lucas.)  

One final note, I'm adopted and always vaguely aware that I might have genetic siblings out in the world.   So for Dark Empyrean, who wrote an impressive Arusian cover of Arthurian legend while listening to Robert Earl Keene, e-mail me, please.  We might have been separated at birth.    


4 comments:

Awindram said...

Goodness, I'll confess to being a rather large Dr Who nerd but even I've found fan fiction a step too far.

AHLondon said...

I am a longtime geek of many colors, but this was my first foray into fan fiction. It started when I went online to find out who was responsible for the horrible cartoon only to end up on a shipper forum where the FB relationship status of Keith and Allura was up for debate. At that point, fan fiction became a step up. Shipper forums are scary places.

Megs said...

Who could ever resist a review of stories that includes an allusion to Plato's forms? :)

AHLondon said...

I'm your girl for that.