“El Laberinto Del Fauno” (Pan’s Labyrinth) and the merit of dark fairy tales.

I reviewed Undertale last week. I guess I’ll continue the “monster” theme.

And, I got to confess something here: I am a sucker for anything in Spanish. It’s probably a side effect of spending three weeks to a month in a Spanish-speaking country and that time being some of the best memories of your life.

Sorry, I’m getting distracted.

I only recently picked up a copy of the movie El Laberinto Del Fauno—or Pan’s Labyrinth, as it was released in America—to watch it. In its original Spanish with English subtitles. It’s a pretty good movie.

Except that it’s dark. Not just stylistically, but also in terms of content. Probably what I should’ve expected from an R-rated Guillermo Del Toro movie.

This made me think if there really is any merit to the “dark fairy tale.”

Well, to be fair, fairy tales have been dark for quite some time, but you probably knew that if you’ve either read the original Brothers Grimm tales or knew that one guy who was bent on ruining your childhood.

But the point of them was to carry a lesson with them. They were geared for kids. I doubt that Pan’s Labyrinth is geared for kids, though. Nevertheless, without giving too many spoilers, it does carry the same kind of moral that a fairy tale would.

I guess the darkness is to add a sense of gravity to the situation. Not to mention, the world we live in is quite dark. And despite fairies, fauns, and other mythic creatures, the movie still spends a lot of time set in Spain a few years after their Civil War.

So, is it a good movie? Again, I enjoyed it. The special effects are pretty good. I wouldn’t show it to anyone under the age of fifteen, partially because it’s subtitled and partially because of the content. Between the swearing, the torture and war scenes, and the dollop of horror that is the Pale Man, the movie does earn its R-rating.

 

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@Isaac_Trenti

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One definition of evil is acting in your own self-interest at the expense of the interests and well-being of others. The most popular villains in fandom history challenge this definition or take it to new and interesting places. I’ve discussed the Master and Lex Luthor. Today I want to talk about the Joker.

I’ll focus on Heath Ledger’s portrayal of the Joker in The Dark Knight. This version of the character is up there with Darth Vader as one of the most popular movie villains of all time. He has some great lines that explain his outlook on the world. He’s an “agent of chaos” and his whole thing is shaking up the system in Gotham City, trying to prove that the system doesn’t work.
There’s a theory on the Internet that the Joker is actually a hero in The Dark Knight because he’s “saving” the people from the corruption of Gotham. Respectfully…no. No-no-no-no-no-no-no! To be a hero he would need to care about people. He’s definitely evil because he acts for entirely selfish reasons.
In every incarnation, the Joker is a nihilist. He believes that the world is pointless, all life is meaningless, and the so-called system of order doesn’t work. He chooses to interpret it all as a joke. Most fans understand this. But here’s the other thing: the Joker just wants someone else to get the joke.
Ideally, he gets all of Gotham City to think the way he does. At the end of The Dark Knight, only Batman and Commissioner Jim Gordon understand his way of thinking. But that still counts as a victory for Joker.
The Killing Joke, that R-rated cartoon, is also about the Joker trying to make Batman and Jim Gordon see things his way. The Arkham video game series and Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker are pretty much the same thing.
Suicide Squad is – well, barely about the Joker, but it’s about Harley Quinn. The great tragedy of Harley is she’s probably the closest canon-Joker has gotten to making someone see things his way. But she’s also in love with him, which doesn’t gel with nihilism. Neither of them are going to get what they want.
Hopefully the Joker isn’t as relatable to you as Lex Luthor is to me, but they both represent interesting ideas. If evil is just selfishness, it should be clear – Christian worldview or not – that we all have the potential to be like these famous villains.

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Twitter: @noahspud and @CorrelationBlog

So…I’m alive. And I played Undertale.

Good afternoon, Noah. It is Wednesday.

So, yeah, I was going to post last week, except my professor sprung the 48-hour technology fast, which inhibited my blogging ability over last Wednesday.

But, in an ironic twist, I am going to review one of the most technology-based things I’ve come across this month: Undertale.

Undertale Logo
Photo credit: Steam

Yes, I know, it’s an older game. But you know what? I didn’t start playing it until this last month. And I have no clue how far I am into the story. I just know that I’m on a “pacifist run.”

Well, not a true pacifist run. I killed the dummy in the tutorial section because I hadn’t figured out the combat mechanics. I think it only came back to bite me…once? It’s still my first play-through, and I haven’t even finished it yet. I’m stuck on the spider-lady with the bake sale.

Even though I am struggling with little miss Muffet, I—oh my gosh. I just got that. Toby Fox, you genius.

Muffet
Picture credit: actually, this is a screencap from my play-through. Yes, I named my character Dale. Don’t judge me.

Hang on. Backspacing. Even though I am struggling with Muffet, I am still really enjoying the game. The not-killing-anyone mechanic is quite fun, and it allows for better characterization.

I mean, that’s my big problem with video game RPG’s. They don’t always have the best or most memorable non-player characters. I barely remember any names from, say, Elder Scrolls: Morrowind. The only other game with memorable NPC’s was Borderlands. And that was more because they keep hammering the names into your head. The only NPC with a rounded personality was Claptrap.

Maybe I’m unfamiliar with RPG’s. But even so, I do enjoy Undertale. It’s fun, it’s wonderful, you don’t have to kill anyone, and it’s worth the ten bucks on Steam.

My only complaint is, as I put it to one of my friends:

“Me: this is a really hard game to explain to friends, family, and roommates.

Also me: Hello, Tsunderplane.”

 

Let’s Connect:

@Isaac_Trenti

@CorrelationBlog

October 10 in Geek-dom: John Green’s Novels

Good morning Isaac. It’s Friday.
I think Turtles All the Way Down is going to be my favorite John Green novel. I expect the main character’s obsessive-compulsive thought spirals will be relatable to my autism spectrum neurology.

But here’s the thing: John Green is not only a young adult author but also an Internet personality. Being a fan of his books is an interesting experience for me because I’m also a fan of the Vlogbrothers, made up of John and his brother Hank.
If you watch John’s YouTube videos, you’ll be exposed to his perspective on all sorts of things, including literature. This can alter your experience and memories of his books.
For example, John has proclaimed that authorial intent doesn’t matter and books belong to their readers. This means he may put symbols and morals in his books but he doesn’t care strongly about how we interpret them. This is okay when the potential symbols include scrambled eggs and champagne and the moral is about handling the knowledge of inevitable oblivion. But before The Fault in Our Stars, there was Paper Towns.
Paper Towns is full of symbolism and metaphors. I won’t comment on the interpretations we can or should make of those symbols, but I think I know why there are so many. The moral of Paper Towns is about empathy. As I interpret it, we’re supposed to see people’s outward appearances as metaphors for whom they really are.
But if authorial intent doesn’t matter, does that include how each person “authors” themselves? In the end of Paper Towns, the Manic Pixie Dream Girl tries to deconstruct herself for the narrator (and the readers). But aren’t we supposed to deconstruct the symbolism ourselves? Does her self-awareness really count for anything? These are the questions that plague John Green fans. And I don’t have any answers. (See also The Fault in Our Books about Dying People.)
As I’ve said before, sometimes being a fan of a real person is harder than being a fan of fiction. John Green says he’s a Christian, but I’m not sure he would agree with me on some important truths like the origin of the universe or the fate of his eternal soul.
All this tells me that I need to keep real-life John Green separate from the first-person voices narrating his books.
Aren’t fandoms fun?
Isaac, I’ll “see” you on Wednesday. Hopefully.

Last Monday in Geek-dom: Autism on TV

Recently I was reading a review of a show called The Bridge – hang on. I’m going to get to the shows that premiered on Monday. Give me a second.
The Bridge is set in El Paso/Juarez, a big city straddling the USA-Mexico border. The main character has Asperger’s syndrome, and this reviewer commented on “the current trend of using Asperger’s as a substitution for creating an actual character.” That knocked my knickers, because of course I for one think people with Asperger’s have the potential to be excellent characters. Plus, Asperger’s is the perfect metaphor for a show about people from two different cultures forced to interact with each other.
Now to my actual point.
It’s always fun to see people like me (people on the autism spectrum) in fandoms I enjoy. As I’ve said, Sherlock Holmes is one example. Last Monday, three more examples hit TV on the same night.

The Good Doctor is a medical show made by the same people who made House. House is a brilliant doctor who struggles to connect with people because he’s a jerk. Sean Murphy, the Good Doctor, struggles to connect with people because he has autism. He’s a medical savant but he can’t put his brilliance into words. So far it seems like his autism is mainly a hindrance, mostly unrelated to his strengths. I hope they change that, ever so slightly, to better represent the spectrum.

Scorpion is about a team of geniuses led by Walter O’Brien, who’s inspired by real-life smarter-than-Einstein Walter O’Brien. I’m not sure if Walter is “technically” on the spectrum, but he shares Sherlock Holmes’ high intelligence/low people skills problem. He’s been becoming better at relating to people over three seasons of the show, but Monday’s season premiere made it clear there’s still work to be done. Thus the show still has a plot.

Young Sheldon is a prequel to the Big Bang Theory. If you know that show, you know what’s good and nerdy about this one. Sheldon Cooper is a freshman in high school with Asperger’s Syndrome. Also, he’s nine years old. His twin sister is hilarious. His mom is a Christian. On TBBT, Mrs. Cooper’s Christianity is played exclusively for laughs. On Young Sheldon, it’s mostly taken seriously. That’s refreshing.
So yeah, Monday was a good night for my people. It’s especially encouraging because it means people are finding different ways to show “diverse representation” other than LGBTQWXYZ+ characters.

Something I Like

(Some fandoms have a musical episode; why shouldn’t this blog?)

 

Raindrops on Totoro’s big blue umbrella.

Spending good time with my friends and my fellas.

Fall leaves and Fanta and (sometimes) my bike.

These are a few of the things that I like.

 

LEGOs and Star Wars and Velociraptors,

Doctor Who, LEGOs, and suave British actors.

Wait, hang on, did I just say LEGOs twice?

These are a few of the things that I like.

 

When the game’s sad, when the book’s bad,

When the song is dumb,

I just remember the things that I like,

And then I don’t feel so glum.

 

Dinosaurs, Legend of Zelda, and Jesus.

Wolverine, Spider-Man, Skittles, and Reese’s.

In Super Smash Bros., there’s maining as Ike.

These are a few of the things that I like.

 

The smell of old, good books and sitting on logs.

Parodying Sound of Music on my blog.

Hiding in libraries, enjoying life,

These are a few of the things that I like.

 

This may be weird, this may be strange,

Not that grand or sleek,

But I wanted to talk about stuff that I like…

 

I’ll try to have a review next week.

 

 

Let’s Connect:

@Isaac_Trenti

@CorrelationBlog

When the Master Met Missy

I finally thought of something to say about the Doctor Who Season 10 finale, “The Doctor Falls.” It’s the show’s first multi-Master story, which is a big deal.

The Daleks may be the Doctor’s greatest foe, but the Master is the Doctor’s greatest foil. They used to be friends a long time ago (kudos if a certain theme song is playing in your head right now). But then the Master went crazy and the Doctor went a different kind of crazy. They ended up with very different views on the universe.
In the first part of the Season 10 finale, the Doctor explained that the Master is the only person he’s ever met who’s like him. Even if they’re not the only two Time Lords left, he would like them to be friends, or at least on the same side.
The Master feels the same frustration, but his/her reaction is a bit more antagonistic. They take every opportunity they get to mess with the Doctor and the people he cares about. This continues even after the Sound of Drums is gone. The drums are part of what caused their separation, and after the Master turned into Missy, she became obsessed with convincing the Doctor that they’re not so different after all.
The influence of this idea spread throughout the Moffat era (thanks to time travel). If it wasn’t for Maisie Williams’ lecture in Season 9, the Doctor probably would have gone off the deep end. But in Season 10, he managed to get Missy into therapy and tried to convince her that they wouldn’t have to be on opposing sides if she came over to his way of thinking.
In “The Doctor Falls,” the younger Master didn’t seem overly upset that Missy was becoming a good person without the Drums. His main concern was that she was friends with the Doctor. That weird little idea was the driving force in the finale. And for old times’ sake I won’t spoil the resolution.
The moral is we shouldn’t be like the Master. If we disagree with someone, we shouldn’t try to make things difficult for them. We should just lock them in a box until they start to agree with us. No wait. Maybe we shouldn’t follow the Doctor’s example either.
So there’s not much of a moral this time. I just wanted to talk about Doctor Who.

Let’s Connect!
Twitter: @noahspud and @CorrelationBlog