Thursday, October 14, 2010

Sweetieness: Before and After Irony

What do Star Trek & the Beatles, which ran concurrently for a while, have in common?
I'd have said nothing, but I see I've connected them three times now; once through their boots, once (and again here) their dress uniforms, and once in my vid "Star Trek, My Love: In My Life." (by rabbittooth, via Tintorera)

That makes me wonder...

ST was square in the late 60s, and the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper was hip. But they and their costumes share a sweetness, a lack of irony.
The '60s were full of rage and pain, but irony?

I've started watching all of director Peter Weir's movies. Last night I watched The Plumber (1979, links to a good NYT review), a made-for-Aussie-TV film about a sunny sweetie of a guy, a working-class plumber, whose dark underside comes out in a relationship with an academic woman tenant--an anthropologist who totally can't fathom the guy tearing up her own bathroom.

Weir's films are often about the slip-slidey nature of meaning and the disconnect between "civilized" self-presentation and the "wild" subconscious.
In a special feature interview with The Plumber
--(actually, the film itself is a special feature on the DVD that features The Cars That Ate Paris, Weir's first feature film, from 1973, which was, he says, a failure, but an interesting one)--
Weir said people have very different reactions to the film, depending on how they read the characters.
The plumber was partly inspired by a taxi driver whose cab Weir rode in during the Vietnam War. The guy dressed like John Lennon, but when Weir commented on the bombing of Vietnam, expecting the driver to agree it was terrible, instead the guy said they should drop a nuclear bomb on Vietnam.
For some, Weid said, the Manson murders ended the 60s, but that was it for him. A way of dressing that had signaled a political position had become a fashion statement.

''It's what you can't see that counts in plumbing," the plumber tells the academic.

[image of Weir from "Commanding Waves: The Films of Peter Weir"
If there's a canyon, a rift, between "before and after" irony--the awareness that what you see isn't necessarily what you get--I'd put both Star Trek and [most of] the Beatles on the "before" side. (Does Let It Be cross over?)

Sweetieness survives, though, even in an ironic age. Like this one, for instance. Millions of adults--I know several of them--sincerely love Harry Potter, a most unironic tale.
I like it OK, bit find it hopelessly "before."

If I'd written the Potter tale, all would not have been well. Hermione and Ron would have died, leaving Harry a shattered shell, having saved the world at the cost of everything dear to him.

I'd end the series on the magic train platform to Hogwarts.
The parent standing there wouldnt be Harry, it would be Harry's stupid muggle cousin, Dudley... the befuddled father of a wizard child.
And thus the cycle would start up again.

There seem to be moments in history that crack the ground open.
But I'm not sure the most important cracks are those that happen in political history so much as those that crack the ground in front of our own feet.


ArtSparker said...

AAAgh! Spock is George, surely...? Oh, unless he's more core, then I guess he has to have Paul's blue coat.

Fresca said...

He seems more George in personality, but Paul in position.

Margaret said...

Someone left the cake
out in the rain;
I don't think that I can take it,
cause it took so long to bake it,
and I'll never that recipe again.

Oh no.

Jennifer said...

I'm glutting myself on an overdose of Frescaness after too long spent scrounging through student emails and sitting in deathly dull meetings in Japanese! How sweet it is!

I like putting The Good Doctor in pink. :)

And it's funny, you hit the nail on the head with the end of the Potter series. There's a lot of death, but it's all of the generation before Harry, as if Rowling is clearing out the deadwood for the kids. And I always felt the Durseleys were terribly key to the narrative and was sorry not to see more of Harry learning to forgive them and reach out to them, and them learning understanding in their own direction, perhaps. Ah well, everyone got married and had 2.5 kids, that's what matters.

Fresca said...

MRET: Right.

JENN: Glad I could help counter boring meetings!

2.5 kids. *snorts*That's it.

Yeah, the Durseleys were one of the most problematic elements in HP, for me.
Dudley DOES have a breakthrough moment of gratitude to Harry, for saving his life from the dementors.
That gave me hope that JKR was going to pull up at the last minute, but no, that story line just plowed into the ground.

I wanted an ending that was more psychologically complex. More like LOTR--Frodo, the Potter-like hero--is not, cannot be, the one who inherits the peaceful future.
But silly me--HP was never a psychologically realistic tale, it's a fairy tale. (I never cared much for fairy tales.)
Nobody gets PTSD in fairy tales.
And they always end with happily ever after.