RARA-AVIS: Re: The Post-Modern Parsley of Pretension

From: Kevin Burton Smith ( kvnsmith@thrillingdetective.com)
Date: 09 Feb 2007

Kerry wrote:

> Kevin, love ya man but sometimes I think you argue both ends
> against the
> middle. Aren't these sly winks and call-outs just common, everyday
> allusions that in what the academics like to describe as "great
> literature"
> referred to Greek and Roman mythology, but in pop culture usually
> refers
> back to earlier examples of the same pop culture? Either way, it's
> a little
> gimmick to help engage the knowing audience, no?

And I don't mind that, classical scholar that I am. But when it dominates the story to the point that it's all about the winks, not the story, it's not an example of the genre so much as it's simply satire or parody of it.

Which is fine. I loved the MAD take-off on CHINATOWN, but most days I'd rather watch the film again rather than re-read the parody.

The way things are going, if they remade CHINATOWN today, it would be as a parody of (Ooops! "Loving homage" to) detective films.

I can see it now. Mike Myers IS Jake Gittes!

> Or at other times a
> kind-of short-hand for bringing the audience up to speed as in
> "Okay you
> know that, right, now here's this." Granted, it should not jerk you
> out of
> the story. Is it the quantity, the lack of skill in application, or
> just
> your own over-familiarity with the genre that makes the use of this
> technique so distractingly obvious, do you think?

The quantity, definitely. I certainly can't gripe about the skill of the call-outs in BRICK or KISS KISS. But even as I was smiling and enjoying it, I occasionally felt the self-consciousness of it all oozing out of the screen. Fortunately they were both strong enough flicks to survive it.

Yes, maybe I'm too familiar. But you never complained about my familiarity on that memorable night behind the Tim Horton's in Saskatoon.

> See here you seem to argue for the old tried and true instead of
> the new
> with allusions to the old tried and true. Doesn't that simply
> amount to so
> much allusion that the new is undistinguishable from the old?

Not necessarily. Granted, I'm a sucker for the tried and true -- good story, strong characters, that unexplainable rrrraarrrooommppphhhrrr that brings it all home -- and I don't mind a reasonable amount of allusion. We can't ignore the past, obviously, but if you're always looking in the rear view you're never going to get to where you're going.

Kevin Burton Smith The Thrilling Detective Web Site http://www.thrillingdetective.com

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 09 Feb 2007 EST