Tuesday, 20 June 2006

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Why Buffy Is Funny, Family Guy Isn't, and Warren Ellis Is Capable of So Much More Parody requires more than a fine idea. Take my recent "Fuck Act Theory" posts. In addition to being funny on its face, the parody works because of its consonance with actual "Speech Act Theory." The focus on marriage as a spoken contract jibes with centuries of thought about the necessity of consummating a marriage. Now do you see why it's funny? What aren't you laughing already. Some people. Anyhow, I write this not to toot my horn. For shame! Thinking this further evidence of my penchant for self-promotion. I'm writing because this afternoon I finished a disappointing Star Trek parody. Here's the idea: Ray Winstone is an excellent British actor who tends to play working-class London psychotics. Even when he's the good guy, he's usually fucking terrifying. Only once in (my) recent memory has he played against type in film, as the second safecracker in Sexy Beast. See, everyone first saw Ray Winstone as a teenager whipping other kids to death with a pool ball in a sock, screaming WHO'S THE DADDY NOW!! WHO'S THE FUCKING DADDY NOW! I'M THE DADDY NOW! He's a force of nature, a thing driven by beer and cigarettes and kicking fucking heads in. He's got a chubby face and little boy's eyes that, in the moment, go black and dead like shark's eyes. Reduces London English to a series of grunts and yelps. He is, in fact, the Greatest Living Londoner. And the whole thing unfurled as a I spoke, like a flag that someone has wiped on their arse first. Insisting on smoking on the bridge. Ray Winstone has to have his fags (which in Britain means "cigarettes"—it's the first term we purge from our vocabulary when we travel to America). And beer. "Have one of our futuristic blue drinks with no alcohol, sir?" "Fuck off. Fucking pint, son. Right fucking now." That standard Star Trek moment when somone asks the captain if they can go now, and spouts some techno-bollocks at him about how the course is set and all that. "Well fucking go on then, son. Twat." So says the vibrating Warren Ellis—now obliged to never change his banner lest I look the fool—in the introductory material to Switchblade Honey. The book's damn funny but ain't much of a book. Barely a parody even.* Why bad mouth one of my favorite writers? Because I've picked up the habit of beating bloody anyone who fails to live up to the expectations they've created. (Have you read nothing I've written about left homophobia and misogyny? Preoccupied pisser.) I'm increasingly convinced that my dissatisfaction—nay, my inability to find funny the decontextualized "humor" of Family Guy and The Simpsons comes from the inexhaustive parroting of the object of their derision. What do I mean? All the jokes are single shooters. Funny or not they don't move the plot forward. They're minimally contextualized absurdisms whose import disappears the moment they're off-screen. Which is fine. Dandy even. But it guarantees the show will be no more than...

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