Posted by middlerage on March 28, 2011
I recently learned about a science fiction trilogy from a legal blog of all places. It is called the Hunger Games and I hadn’t heard of the series despite the fact that it is an NYT bestseller. The series is science fiction only in that it is set in the future, otherwise it is low on science and definitely not what might be called “hard science” fiction. I was attracted to the story because it is set in a post-apocalypse setting, and I am a sucker for post-apocalypse stories. The books are a guilty pleasure, because, as I was reading the first one, I thought, “boy this is light and easy reading, almost Harry Potter-esque.” I looked at the spine, and sure enough the library has it categorised as juvenile fiction (I had to put in a hold request at my branch library, so did not actually physically look for/discover it is classified “young adult.”). Ha! Something funny about a law professor recommending young adult fiction, but I know plenty of adults who devoured the Harry Potter series.
Anyhoo, the purpose of this post is not to muse on the Hunger Games, but rather to muse on the idea of badass as protagonist. Unless you’ve been living in a cave (underwater and on a planet light years away) you’ve heard of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (also a – wait for it – trilogy). The main chicka in TGWADT is a computer whiz genius who borders on asperger’s syndrome and wields a mean axe. She has a photographic memory and is an all around techno-geek badass. Likewise, the main protagonist of The Hunger Games needs all of her skills as a hunter and ace archer to survive the “Tribute” games – gladiator-style, battle-to-the-death – entertainment fostered by the evil “Capitol” to control the masses. (Don’t worry, if you plan to read the books, that really isn’t a spoiler. You know from page one the protag survives, otherwise there’s no story beyond page 21, much less a – wait for it – trilogy). Likewise (again with the “likewise”!), there’s the Bourne Identity series: badass, black ops, ranger Jason Bourne fights dah Man with all of his badass training, which is ironically courtesy of dah same Man. The Bourne series is another guilty pleasure of mine. None of these are literature, but they are wildly popular, because they tell a romping good story. Sometimes you want mind-bending literature, and sometimes you just want a good story, well told.
So here, then, I muse on unanswered questions:
what is it about these badass individuals who take on the powerful? Are we living through a certain zeitgeist at the moment that makes us feel powerless? A certain zeitgeist that makes us dream we had da skillz to fight deh power? Why are these stories all about individuals? Where are the stories of groups or unions fighting the good fight? Would that be less satisfying? Less entertaining? I’m asking – not criticizing. Is it our western heritage of individual rights that makes the individual badass so popular? And what about the everyday, normal, non-badass? Where are the stories of Joe Blow and Jane Doe fighting and winning? I’m not saying those stories don’t exist, but I can’t think of them at the moment – well there’s Erin Brocovich. Any others? And notice how the stories are formulated where the protagonist is a badass – fer sure – but also very “everyman” at the sametime. Badasses who are not elites. Humble. Saintly even. The hair-shirt, hermit monk defying the Church, then fast forward 1000 years to the likeable, hates-to-cause-injury, badass defying Big Brother. Maybe we feel like no one’s got our back – the bowling alone syndrome. Maybe no one has our back because they all work for Big Brother. I conquer alone because I am alone. Righteousness.
What say you readers – thoughts, comments, angsts? Do you feel powerless? Do you enjoy stories of these pop culture badasses? Do you miss reg’lar folks who make the fight? Comments on.
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Posted by middlerage on March 28, 2011
I haven’t had much to say about Facebook in a while. My last post was on the failure of friends, not about the failures of Facebook itself. Since that time I’ve been reached out to by a long lost friend who promptly disappeared once I replied, and I’ve had to accept a friend request from someone I’d rather not, but you know how it is…diplomacy an’ shit. Ahhhh, such is the nature of the social network. And speaking of The Social Network, I finally got around to renting the Aaron Sorkin Oscar contender. A marvelous movie that I can highly recommend. I won’t review the movie or mention much beyond the recommendation that you see it. However, I do want to say… my take away from the movie is that FB CEO Mark Zuckerberg stabbed his best friend in the back. The movie tried to soften this fact at the end – Zuckie isn’t an asshole, just trying too hard to be an asshole. But that carries no truck with me. He is a backstabbing asshole. That a social phenomenon dedicated to friendship, i.e. Facebook, has a foundation of hurting friends is so ironic,… why… it’s heavy, raw, low-carbon, pig iron ironic. Of the blackest sort. Not much else to say. File this under “Short Ones.”
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