I found a lot to like last night in the iTunes rental of a very photogenic movie that reminded me of Buffy Summers taking up residence a the lip of another hellmouth. A plucky, prickly, idiosyncratic, female hero contradicts my sixty years of Dudly DoRight programming. I like that kind of a lot; but upon reflection, this morning I’ve begun to see a certain resemblance in Coraline to the desperate American themes that flowed out of 9/11.
Coraline Jones’ dissatisfaction with intractable governance by her modern, negligent, (and wired) distracted parents leads her to explore a new domain in which more-attractive alternatives eventually reveal themselves to be an incontestible evil presence that threatens the security of her homeland.
Maybe I’m responding to the film with ingrained male chauvenist resentment for the subordination of maleness in a story that features three females in positions of preeminent power, and maybe it doesn’t matter. The most intriguing consideration is that the source of evil in this movie receives no particle of sympathy, which reminds me of our president’s near-simultaneous Nobel acceptance speech in which the presence of absolute evil in the world justifies the inevitablity of war. It’s a point of view that negates for me the attractive platitudes about hope and change that raised a contradiction into preeminent prominence.
I really liked the film, but I find the reality nauseating.
Not long ago, I mentioned an interest in learning more about India’s struggle for independence from Britain. Unfortunately, I NetFlixed Lord Mountbatten: The Last Viceroy as a DVD tele-remedy for my woeful ignorance. It’s one tough slog for several reasons.
Everybody speaks English in this 6hour presentation. Nobody speaks American, and the various characterizations of famous and notorious personages weigh in with interminable passages of important exposition that’s more or less incomprehensible, while millions of Hindus and Muslims are busily wreaking profoundly irrational vengeance against one another and kicking the crap out of Sikhs. The entire native populations of India come off as relative nutbags as the representatives of Britain appear to be ingenious, resourceful and steadfastly rational. This is not the story I need to learn anything about the release from colonial bondage of a people engaged in the successful search for freedom (from the box of intellectual property confusion). It’s, instead, the ideosyncratic tale of a landscape of victims, as far as the eye can see, and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is even worse, although the Le Carre interview in TTSS‘s special features is deeply and remarkably insightful with regard to the conscientous consequences of maintaining imperial dominion.
“Ideosyncratic” isn’t spelled correctly, but it says precisely what I mean; that an ideational agenda (supporting the benevolence of despotism) underlies the quirky and more-or-less entertaining recitation of docu/fantasy events that compose the theme of all three stories. The idea at the root of that common agenda is that incarnate evil exists and must be violently opposed.
In Coraline, that evil is an older, desperately-loving and empty version of Coraline Jones. In The Last Viceroy it’s an undefined age-old history of religious intolerance. In Tinker…it’s duplicitous indifference in the imploding-vacuum consciences of our best&brightest undercover patriots. But in all three stories, the villain is an interesting and familiar two-dimensional stereotype whose point-of-view is underrepresented, except as a terrible force that thwarts the good guys. The good guys ultimately win, and the benevolent, confusing despotism of copyright law prevails.
Max comes closer than anything I’ve read or seen to a sympathetic demonstration the rationale of evil incarnate; self-interested opportunism. That’s good enough, for now.