The Good, The Bad, and The Bubbly
November 30, 2017
The movie spectaculars of X-Men, and The Watchman, and Dredd - the list goes on…..whose provenance is the US Superhero Comic Book (Marvel; DC; and such) are the offspring of ancient mythologies of Germanic and Indo-European extraction. This is saying nothing new.
They tend to reflect the amorality of these mythologies; the whims and petulancies of Thor, Odin, Zeus, Hera and their crew are translated wholesale into the ethos of these modern moving-picture takes on ancient storytelling.
The delight is in the journey rather than at the destination; for the destination of these tales and movies, to the taste of anyone seeking in a dénouement of the kind that within my lifetime has become an old–fashion resolution, wherein good right and justice are vindicated, will never be satisfactory.
There are no metaphysical lessons to be had from these guys in the skies.
There are of course the kiddies’ types: Batman; Superman; Wonderwoman; who are caped crusader-saviours of Gotham etc, and who satisfy a childish appetite for justice, right, truth.
But we adults have put away such things and swapped them for spectacle and thrill, vendetta and below-the-belt anything goes in love and war philosophies of action and self-assertion.
The old stuffy stuff seems to us nowadays (does anyone other than me use the word ‘nowadays’ nowadays?) like Robert Burns describes his Jolly Beggars, how they view Law Courts and Churches:
‘Courts for cowards were erected
Churches built to please the priest
A fig for those by law protected
Liberty’s a glorious feast’
Of course the vitality and vitalism of Burns’ Jolly Beggars are admirable and luscious; they were the Johnny Rottens and Holy Johnsons of their day; although not quite so well-appointed as these folk heroes. There has however always been a place for ‘Anarchy in the UK’ and in the US of A ‘Dancing in the Street’; such abandon has been embraced and embedded as required tradition, less honoured in the breach than the observance, by student bodies across the developed world.
But we are adults; and are not coming of age but have come of age. And are we yet still happy to take our stories like warm milk and as if we were infants; and so remain reluctant to move on to taking solid food and a more nutritious harder to digest red meat? Do we as an adult community really want and demand only to have for our recreation and relaxation the entertainment of adolescents and of a hard-working, hard-playing youth community passing through its education?
There appears to be an identification of a polarisation of tastes emerging out of this discussion here? On the one side there is energy, liberty, vitality, action and zest; on the other looms some type of repressive and spoon-fed-to-children, authoritarian insistence on stories being those which force feed with great humility and sonority that ‘crime never pays’; ‘honesty is the best policy’ and recommended by society’s dominators who insist that ‘God is watching you!’
But again, one must ever be cautious about these debaters who thrust at you the either/or argument and load upon you the restricted and restrictive either/or choice. These are the writers about crisis and inevitability and necessity. And there are usually more than two ways to skin a cat.
Further, isn’t this odd, that these stuffy tastes like stuffy parents who load ‘righteousness’ upon their children (often themselves being willing to diverge into forbidden fruits) are also called in this article ‘strong meats’ and ‘adult food’? Can it be so? Can the tastes which our more totalitarian Founding Fathers burden their children with as being suitable reading and viewing material, can these be at the same time really and truly also the ‘strong meats’ and ‘adult foods’ of a human maturity?
Does the argument indeed run full circle as one progresses from childhood to youth and from youth to age? This is truly the hard part.
‘A fair-weather friend; a fair-weather friend
He’ll always let you down
He’s honest and faithful but come to the end
That wonderful colleague’s a fair-weather friend’ (apologies Roy Rogers)
All of us, whenever things start going against us and the world starts to become tough and inhospitable, we seek for justice and for fair play, often whether we deserve these or not, like when we have indeed made our own bed and by circumstance are being forced to lie upon it. But come adversity, when traditionally friends desert us and the debt collectors (of all types) come a-knocking, above all at this time we want an even break, even when we have been suckers. The proverb holds good: we want it to be so that ‘what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander’; or in more up to date parlance we seek for a ‘level playing field’ or a ‘fair hearing’ for ourselves and for our troubles.
But who wants to listen to a guy or girl whose conversation is all downers; endless disconsolate melancholy?
How many songs, come out of Tin Pan Alley, have taken the world by storm with such themes as these for their lyrics? Old Man River; Buddy Can You Spare a Dime: Nobody Wants you When you’re Down and Out; I’m Busted. Half the oeuvre of the great Afro-American blues singers and players is this single theme.
The conclusion – at least psychologically, if not logically, which is able to be drawn from what we have argued is that despite the 2008 crash and the lean years of austerity following it we in the developed world on the whole are still doing pretty good, thank you. We are not, not yet maybe, in real abject adversity; and we can still sing about sunny days that I thought would never end, and enjoy entertainments made to avoid dull and stuffy ‘fair play’ and ‘comeuppance for baddies’ as their agendas; because at the moment these groceries are not high on our own wishlists.
The comeback for me in carrying such bad news will certainly be: ‘loosen up’ and ‘lighten up’ and ‘party-pooper’ – and maybe ‘come and join the dance’.
This is the good news. The dance is ever and always going on; in good times as in bad; whether we are present or not; alive or dead; happy or sad; solvent or in debt; well or unwell. The dance is a cosmic bouree or galliard; and lives in the dance of sub-atomic particles; and in the dance of light quanta, relicts of the first day yet still now emblazoning on our senses a vast magnificence and delight; the Creation.
These light quanta emblazon on us The Mother and Father of all Happy Endings; The Resting Place where the Buck Stops; the not Dark Side but The Republican in which Justice and Truth readily prevail; a place at whereabouts ‘the end of all our exploring - Will be to arrive where we started - And know the place for the first time’.
All our frustrations, and fears, anger and aggressions will no longer need to be absolved and obliterated by purgative subliminal empathic experiences to be had as anodynes and soporifics from anarchic and exhausting crash and smash movies – we shall have gotten then something far better. We are all feeble people when all is said, and we don’t really know our own best interests.