Wednesday, 28 October 2009

On informing your students that they're murderers (Being another post in this vein.) In a famous (and surprisingly controversial, for reasons I will tackle later in the week) section of Understanding Comics, Scott McCloud defines the act of moving from one panel, through the gutter (the white space between panels), and into the next as "closure." Unlike film, in which closure is made unconscious by the persistence of vision and the limitations of our perceptual apparatus (such that twenty-four frames per second is automatically perceived as motion), closure in comics is a collaborative effort between author (or artist) and reader. Take a scene in which one person threatens to shoot another: What happens (at least in my tweaked-for-maximal-classroom-efficiency sequence) between the second and third panel there? Put differently: in order to achieve closure between the second and third panel, what do Moore and Gibbons compel the reader to imagine in order to make the transition through that gutter make sense? The answer, of course, is that they force the reader to imagine murdering a pregnant woman. That is, they make the reader a silent accomplice to the Comedian's crime per McCloud: Just in case the awful complicity of the reader failed to sink in, McCloud draws himself hugging his knees in a dark corner (and undoubtedly near tears behind his grandma glasses): Students absolutely loathe the possibility that McCloud might be correct. They claim they are the victims of a sick manipulation on the part of the author; that they were tricked into imagining this terrible crime and therefore aren't culpable; that they never knowingly sin in their hearts unless someone forces them to do so; etc. I then show them the omitted panel: And after they express how much better they feel for not being an accomplice to a fictional murder, I ask them why witnessing a crime is better than imagining one and we turn to a slightly more thematic discussion of Dr. Manhattan's culpability here. But they remember McCloud's point, which was why I implicated them in the Comedian's crime in the first place.
Life imitating art irritating life imitating art. The premise of Curb Your Enthusiasm, according to James Kaplan's 2004 profile of Larrry David in The New Yorker, is that: David's character is a semi-retired sitcom mogul who ambles through his inordinately comfortable life, routinely managing to annoy or infuriate everyone around him. This season, some of those people will include the blind, the physically handicapped, and the mentally challenged ... David has a sardonic, slightly depressive presence onscreen, and is quite natural playing his worst self. Some of his finest moments are when he gets into arguments—arguments that he always loses—with children.In this week's episode, David accidentally urinates on a picture of Jesus, the urine is mistaken for a tear, and in the end, he manages to annoy and infuriate everyone around him. So it goes ... or would have, had he not also managed to annoy and infuriate conservatives who don't watch the show. The Anchoress wants to know: Would he piss on an image of Obama?Absolutely. Next question. Would he piss on an image of Obama?Absolutely. Crying guy, would you like to say something? Good people hurt innocent people every day.Larry David's not good people. Eventually, their better nature takes over.He doesn't have one. They think about how such a cruel and disrespectful act might hurt those they know.Are you sure you're talking about Larry David here? Because I'm not. Anyone else? I’ve never seen this show, does anyone know if the assistant is recognizably ethnic? Is this “brave” comedian also taking a swipe at Hispanic (or for that matter Italian or Irish) piety?First, when you assume that a housekeeper's Hispanic, that makes you the racist. Second, if you want people to respect what you say, don't tell people that your speculation is based on unadulterated ignorance. Third, if you think anyone other than Larry David would be the punchline of an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, you've proven the validity of my previous sentence. Moreover, if you've been horrified and offended by what Larry David did then congratulations, he just suckered you into participating in an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm. You're no longer the audience: you are, in effect, on the show.

Become a Fan

Recent Comments