Saturday, December 24, 2005

Some more serious snark for the blogroll.

I'm not sure where this site is going to go on my blogroll -- perhaps under "Bloggers Most Likely to be Nailed to a Large Piece of Lumber by Raving Fundamentalists".

I especially recommend this link to a good, meaty smackdown of Narnia.

WHY NARNIA ANNOYS THE CRAP OUT OF ME: One of my favourite authors, Harlan Ellison, once wrote about how, as a kid, he used to wait breathlessly every month for the next installment of a particular comic book he was reading involving (from dim memory so I'll just make up the names and the general storyline here) manly hero Lance Magnum and perennial victim Pauline Pureheart.

In one installment-ending cliffhanger, Lance, with a broken arm, had been thrown down a deep well full of alligators, with a crowd of angry natives gathered around the top of the well, menacingly pointing spears in Lance's direction. How, oh how, would Lance extricate himself from this dire predicament and save the annoyingly-helpless Pauline? Yes, indeed. How?

Ellison writes of dying with anticipation for the next issue and, finally, snapping it off the shelf the day it arrived at the local drugstore, running outside, plopping himself down on the curb and opening the book to find (and I'm paraphrasing), "With one mighty effort, Lance leaped out of the well, overpowered the natives and rescued his darling Pauline." Or some rubbish to that effect.

Well, fuck.

As Ellison wrote, that's just cheating and plain crappy storytelling. You can't carefully and meticulously create a suspenseful situation to draw the reader in, only to resolve said situation by just pulling rabbits out of hats. It's lazy and it's dishonest.

The same can be said of countless TV shows or movies in which one of the main characters is, say, shot several times and, shortly thereafter, manages to stagger out of the shadows just in the nick of time to save the world. That's bullshit. If every indication was that that person was fucking killed, it's rubbish to magically yank them back to life later just when things are looking grim.

In the same way, it's rubbish to describe in detail how the main character in Narnia -- Aslan -- is tortured and killed, and how everyone weeps over him, only to have him magically come back to life so the story can continue. That's dishonest, and it's about on par with wiping out numerous episodes of "Dallas" by suddenly deciding they were just a dream sequence.

That's why Narnia annoys me. It's not the religious undertones. It's just the crappy storytelling.


Somena Woman said...

Sorry CC,

I loved the Lion The Witch & The Wardrobe, and the Magigican's Nephew, and The Horse and His Boy, And the Silver Chair (Puddleglum was my fav) and the Voyage of the Dawntreader etc... when I was a child, I read these boooks (A gift from my grandfather) to tatters, and I have not stopped enjoying them while reading them again as a parent.

Call it the curse of the Anglican up bringing... or what-not... but I absolutley adored every single one of the CS Lewis books... And no amount of grown-up griping about it 20+ years later changes the hours and hours of enjoyment I got out of the enjoyment of being whisked away to the make-believe world of Narnia

Balbulican said...

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Lewis didn't bring Aslan back to life as a narrative device to rescue a cliffhanger...his resurrection is the heart of the entire story. The Christian "overtones" aren't a subtle overlay...they're the whole point. Lewis isn't trying to sneak a bit of symbolic Christianity past us...he's trying to illuminate one of the core precepts and mysteries of Christianity by telling the redemption and resurrection tale in a new context.

I'm an atheist, by the way, not a Christian: but to me the series is both wonderful storytelling and a fine illustration of all that's best about Christianity.

CC said...

All right, perhaps I'm totally out to lunch on this one. Wouldn't be the first time.

Anonymous said...

Judas Priest! Out to lunch hardly describes you location.

Man, you're conducting a lunch counter sit-in to gain equal rights for the clueless.

Lindsay Stewart said...

as a kid i spent my summers roving the stacks of the dana porter arts library (mom ran book order there). i loved science fiction, fantasy and far out fiction. i came upon the narnia stories at the same time as i discovered le guin, tolkein and all the other frazetta covered genre stuff. i read lion, witch and wardrobe and it just didn't do it for me. it was kind of prissy, perhaps twee would be a better word.

if i'd come across it a few years earlier, i might be sharing those warm, fuzzy memories.

Anonymous said...

CC sez: "No, of course I'm not an anti-Christian bigot! I really do hate the books because of the bad storytelling! Really, I do!"

Everyone else: *nodding* "Sure, CC. If you say so."