Sunday, March 19, 2006

Nothing's shocking

Satire is hard. Really hard. Most of the time it is too obvious, not funny enough, too obscure or some combination of those failures. Effective satire is shocking. A Modest Proposal will still drop some jaws. Today it is hard to shock, of course. So it isn't totally surprising that I found Ben Elton's Popcorn to be decent, but not a home run. The book has good targets. It skewers Hollywood's getting rich off violence while denying any secondary or tertiary effects of selling violence as entertainment. It also attacks the cult of celebrity and America's overly litigious culture. The plot is simple, a Tarantino/Stone clone is held hostage by a mass murderer who loves his work. Should be great, yeah? Well it's not. To be fair this is hard to do. The humor just wasn't enough and the tension between violent art on one hand the need for everyone to take personal responsbility on the other is interesting, but it is also obvious. Perhaps Elton is operating on a number of levels, by showing how we have been desensitized and then folding back our understanding of what is entertainment and where the lines of personal and societal responsibility meet. Or something.

I do have one complaint. I'm sure American authors are guilty of this too, but so many British authors have Americans talking like British people even when the author takes pains to model accents. For example, no American was ever in the Girl Guides, since we have Scouts, Brownies and others, but no Guides. Also movie ratings aren't over 18, it's R. And people don't get knackered or whatever. It's not a big deal, but if you are going to be satirical about a place, get it right. It would be a like an American depicting a Briton visiting Brighton thusly:" So did you enjoy your stay?" "Dude, it was rad, the waves were SO toasty, brah. I got together with my buddies and their honies and we just got mellow with a couple brew dogs. Sweet."


Anonymous said...

Wouldn't Braxton talk that way in Brixton?

Brack said...

No way, dude.

In Brixton, I, Braxton, would say:

"When they kick down your front door, how you gonna come?

With your hands on your head, or on the trigga of your gun?"


Tripp said...

No doubt the British lad with you would ask you to stop harshing his mellow.