Feb. 3rd, 2017

tealin: (writing)
Some fandoms are pretty universally popular, and some are so niche they barely qualify as fandoms at all. Snicket fandom falls somewhere in between. Some people are passionate fans, but quite a few dislike the books or 'don't get' them; it's interesting to figure out what it is in a person that clicks with A Series of Unfortunate Events; who ends up liking them and who not.

After much mental chewing on my own small sample group, the best conclusion I've reached on the subject is this: You are more likely to enjoy Lemony Snicket if you are aware of the darker side of life – not necessarily accepting of the darkness, but accepting the awareness of it. If you haven't suffered loss, or been uprooted, or been disappointed in someone you were counting on, or simply prefer not to think about depressing things like these, you are more likely not to 'get' these books and wonder why anyone does. But if you know that, at any moment, your life might be turned upside down and everything you take for granted – even abstract things like kindness, truth, and justice – cast into doubt, you are more likely to look at these maudlin tales of misfortune and have something in you say 'yes, that's how it is.' Overblown and dressed up in a silly costume, yes, but with a kernel of truth, around which the absurdity and poignancy and tongue-in-cheek narration are built up like layers on a gobstopper.

What We 'Get' About Them )

Now we find ourselves in a world where, on an abstract level, these ridiculous tales are suddenly not so far off the mark. This series was written mainly during the G.W. Bush administration, when the culture wars were already well underway, and the idea of educated, cultured urban sophisticates being locked in life-or-death conflict with ignorant and crude but more ruthless people was an entertaining hyperbole of the contemporary climate. Now we've had a US election where those wishing to stick it to 'the elites' have won, and similar forces are in the ascendency across the Eurocentric world. Last week I flicked between the Netflix series and Twitter, with its steady stream of outrage at the smash-and-grab first week of the Trump administration, contingency plans to save libraries, and this classic: “America is a tire fire. The resistance is led by Teen Vogue, Badlands National Park, and the Merriam-Webster dictionary.” ... and I thought, good grief, the ridiculous is now.

We Are All The Baudelaires )

It's not too hard to find a modern parallel for Count Olaf, the egotistical entertainer who will get what he wants by any means necessary, or for those who hitch a ride on his ambition. But is that where we should be looking? )



CODA

This popped up from my favourite singer/songwriter today, which seemed relevant:

There is a kind of elegant, uncomfortable wisdom to these times too, no? We are shocked and horrified by the uncovering of hidden hatred, but dormant love and generosity and courage are also coming out of hiding. I think we are all in some version of “hiding", more or less, and in this world it’s becoming harder and harder to hide. Maybe that’s a good thing?

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