Sunday, July 24, 2011

Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!

There's a certain majesty to a work that is crafted to pander to specific appetites, and eschews the social mores and conventions of the time that it is made. I suppose this is another way of saying that the vulgar can be beautiful--especially when it's classification as being vulgar is the by-product of a value system that is gilded and stratified, and, perhaps, already falling aside under the ponderous weight of old thinking.

Take the movie "Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!". If you aren't familiar with this movie, check out the trailer on youtube. This movie was considered vulgar in its day, yet the roots of modern films like Tarantino's Kill Bill are there to be seen. And the movie is no longer shocking--because the idea of a woman kicking some serious butt is no longer so completely outside of the gender archetype that society has defined for women.

I think fantasy stories are on a similar track. When Tolkien wrote Lord of the Rings, although the story was evocative of age-old myths from multiple cultures, I don't believe there was a fantasy tale like it in mainstream consciousness. The Arthurian stories were around, but they didn't focus as much on wielding a power that could destroy the world. Lord of the Rings pushed our society forward in a subtle way, as we came to grips with nuclear weapons and other truly terrifying end of the world scenarios.

Now, all manner of stories about magical powers abound. We have wizards, vampires, werewolves, superheroes, etc., etc. As a collective, humankind seems to be preparing for enhancing ourselves through genetic engineering. And we're using these stories and fantasies to explore the morality of these issues before they become a reality. It's a pretty amazing thing, really.

So what is the next story after this? What writer will write the defining myth for the 22nd century, in the 21st?

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