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Judging people by the art they (mostly) consume

Discussion in 'Movies, Music & Television' started by Trophonius, Aug 16, 2020.

  1. kettenkrad

    kettenkrad Member

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    I'm not an Evangelion fan, but I think it's too complex to be reduced to a single message. (Other than "Help! I need anti-depressants!" Which were very hard to get in Japan at the time the show was made.) And let's remember that without Evangelion's budget overrun, we wouldn't have got one of the cruelest jokes in Panty And Stocking...

     
  2. NothingToSeeHere

    NothingToSeeHere Asexuowl V.I.P Member

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    Absolutely true.
    I don't think that's true. To take Potter as an example again (the books were a special interest of mine so I know them backwards and forwards) there are actually a great many different messages to be found if you actually think about the stories. There is the basic "bad vs good", but there is also the presentation of "good" people who take deeply morally ambiguous actions (Dumbledore, who from some perspectives could be considered the true villain of the story), messages around how basically good people can be flawed, and seemingly bad people can be forces for good and have complex motivations, and of course the themes around death, grief, PTSD, betrayal, forgiveness, prejudice and racism etc. Because it's presented through the eyes of a traumatised teenaged boy the depth can be easily overlooked.

    This is why I don't think any books should be casually dismissed as shallow or just for children, because different people get entirely different things out of stories. My perspective on Twilight was that is was a terribly written and boring story about shallow characters in a deeply unhealthy relationship... but I have no idea what messages, inspiration, or emotional catharsis others might get from it. It will never be important literature but it has it's own value.

    Yes I got that :blush: It's a sad fact that basic reading ability is extremely low in large parts of the population. Which is why easy to read books are all the more important.
     
  3. Trophonius

    Trophonius Well-Known Member

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    It's important to focus on the facts and what can reasonably be read, rather than whatever a person in particular can think as a follow-up of something that happens in the book. Say for example, Crime and Punishment is a great book to think from a moral perspective, because the moral elements are all throughout the book and can be discussed with precise references.

    A simple book can have many moments where moral questions are posited (and I think this is natural, it's hard to detach morality from any kind of human activity), but the discussion cannot, in "shallow" books, be developed further within the book. If H&P promotes your interesting in morality, I think that's great, but it's definitely not the intention or the book to explore morality and cannot be used to reasonably (within the book) follow up with a discussion on the nature of morality — while some characters may be morally ambiguous, the general nature of H&P is Good vs Evil.

    None of these writers wrote anything as complex as Joyce's Ulysses, although they did so in their time and without them there would be no Joyce.

    It depends, good for what? For purely entertainment, often this isn't true. For academic discussions, exploring and pushing the limits of conventional narrative, and to readings beyond the purely entertaining, it is often the case.

    There are of course exceptions to both, and a grey area with books that fit both purposes.
     
  4. kettenkrad

    kettenkrad Member

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    The Dumbledore point is definitely interesting. But I'd like to explain why HP seems shallow to me, unlike the Moomins and, say, Adventure Time.

    I'd honestly take this as a given in modern fiction, even that for children. I mean, look at Teen Titans Go. It's a comedy for seven year olds and its about a group of superheroes whose real motivations are their horrible personality flaws. (With the possible exception of Starfire.) Even Robin, seemingly the most awful and the leader, is eventually revealed as the others's victim - his most awful tendencies are the result of the others's needs.

    There are deaths in the book, yes. But is it a theme handled on a deep level? I don't see any evidence of this.

    Again, "racism is obviously bad" doesn't seem deep to me - it's not surprising and interesting the way eg Treasure Island's "You sometimes have to love and distrust" at the same time is. Or the episode of TTGo where the duck and swan story is revealed as being utterly morally bankrupt, with the implied message that a lot of social canons may be too.

    As for the PTSD, it's at the level of "Bad things happen to people and they get upset." Again, not really useful or interesting. Which children's fiction can be even on a subject like PTSD - for example the character of Pearl in Steven Universe. Or for another mental health issue, the way Alzhiemer's is dealt with in Adventure Time, when a comedy villain is suddenly revealed as the tragic remnant of a heroic, intelligent, and generous human being.

    Ultimately, I think I perceive HP as shallow because it is never willing to truly shock or confuse.

    (Nerd note about SU and AT: they're both influenced heavily by Gurren Lagann and Sondhiem!)
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2020