RE: RARA-AVIS: Re: Slapstick-Silly Noir

From: Mark Sullivan (
Date: 19 Jun 2009

  • Next message: jacquesdebierue: "RARA-AVIS: On noir and humor"

    Dave wrote:
    "Al, no question Pop. 1280 is bitingly satirical, but seems much more than a farce to me, and instead a deeply philosophical book about a godless nihilistic world filled with an endless supply of suffering." Agreed. In my mind, though, satire and farce are two very different things (though they can overlap or coexist). This reminds me of what John Grisham wrote about Natural Born Killers (not at all implying you would agree with him, Dave, I'm pretty sure you would very much disagree with him):
    "Oliver Stone has said that Natural Born Killers was meant to be a satire on our culture’s appetite for violence and the media’s craving for it. But Oliver Stone always rakes the high ground in defending his dreadful movies. A satire is supposed to make fun of whatever it is attacking. But there is no humor in Natural Born Killers. It is a relentlessly bloody story designed to shock us and to further numb us to the senselessness of reckless murder. The film wasn’t made with the intent of stimulating morally depraved young people to commit similar crimes, but such a result can hardly be a surprise. Oliver Stone is saying that murder is cool and fun, murder is a high, a rush, murder is a drug to be used at will. The more you kill, the cooler you are. You can be famous and become a media darling with your face on magazine covers. You can get by with it. You will not be punished."

    (full article at:

    Grisham is being disingenuous, at best. By using the phrase "make fun," he clearly implies any satire is supposed to be laugh out loud funny, to entertain. That is not at all the definition of literary satire. By that standard, Swift's "A Modest Proposal" ( one of the renowned classics of satire, would not qualify. In fact, the rest of the paragraph could be used to describe "A Modest Proposal." Like Swift, Stone and Tarantino (whose original screenplay was much changed) are pushing things to an extreme to expose ridiculous trends in society. Now whether or not it was done well is an entirely separate question. In fact, I don't think Stone or Tarantino did it particularly well, but how could anyone view the "I Love Mallory" scene (the one part of the film i think is brilliant, not written by Tarantino) and not see it was clearly satire? Personally, I think Man Bites Dog accomplished NBK's goals much better (and Tarantino agrees).

    My point? I think we need to be very careful to distinguish between rejecting an approach and the execution of the approach, be clear whether we like and/or dislike a book or the trend/movement the book may or may not fit within.


    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]


    RARA-AVIS home page: Yahoo! Groups Links

    <*> To visit your group on the web, go to:

    <*> Your email settings:
        Individual Email | Traditional

    <*> To change settings online go to:
        (Yahoo! ID required)

    <*> To change settings via email:

    <*> To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:

    <*> Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to:

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 19 Jun 2009 EDT