Man, I forgot all about this topic until today.
Truthfully, I was going to post a rebuttal to Bon's analysis (and incidentally see if he'd give my ego a boost by analyzing my other stuff—hypocritical, I know), but it just didn't feel worth it. Now its even less so, since Bon himself isn't around to re-rebut anything (unless somebody is willing to speak as his proxy, but I'm sure that's a violation of some rule or other).
But anyway, everything I would've said can be summed up as:
"Dude, you realize you're finding these layers of meaning in a story I wrote in ten minutes purely as a joke on an internet forum, right?"
Consider the above the Laconic Version.
I just clicked Bon's own link to the topic which spawned this thing—that being the "pretentious artsy types" topic. Clicking the link gives a "no topic with that id exists" error, which I assume means its been deleted.
Well, here's a quick recap. The topic was started by me and I made three basic points:
1. Analyzing works of fiction is basically a game up making shit up with only a very loose connection to the actual content of said story, sort of like seeing shapes in a cloud.
2. Despite being basically a game, people tend to take it too seriously to the point of seeing it as an actual, useful skill
even though there's not one thing in real life you could apply it to.
3. In the worst cases it can come back around and ruin fiction, either because of authors who were these kinds of people writing their own fiction and trying to deliberately insert themes and symbolism (whereas most authors are just trying to tell a good story and most of that stuff is read into it by analysts), or else because a certain interpretation is so prevalent that it becomes pretty much attached to the story.
To be fair, #3 rarely happens outside of high school and college. As for #2 and #1 though, Bon himself is and has provided an example. I can't talk much about #2, but examples of #1 are in this very analysis.
Early on in my story, Batman says "let's order a pizza!" Bon apparently reads this as a commentary on American society. But "let's order a pizza" is an everyday phrase, like "what's going on?" or "I'll see you later" or "I need groceries." There is nothing inherently deep in it, and there's nothing in the context of the story to justify the analyst's extrapolation. He pulled it out of thin air, and he continues to do this for much of the analysis.
For that matter, Bon seems to constantly read it as a commentary on society at large, even though even a literal bat can see that the story is not concerned with society, but rather concerns itself with one person—Bruce Wayne—as told through the eyes of the one who knew him best. Moreover, Bon sees the story as confirming a rather dark world view, when the story given is actually more idealistic than the comics that inspired it. Consider for example that Batman's parents are "alive and well and living in Minnesota" rather than having been shot dead in some filthy alley in a corrupt city. Bon claims that living in Minnesota is practically as bad as being dead, but that's a subjective statement and warrants no further response.
One mistake bothers me: He mentions police cars "ignoring" a rape attempt. But they didn't "ignore" it so much as they simply weren't aware it was happening—and why would they be? Nobody involved in the incident actually called them, and depending on how deep in the park this was they might not have been able to see it from the road. Bon nevertheless uses this as a springboard for a series of "deep" questions—a technique that is maintained throughout his analysis. And yet, is it really even much of an analysis at all if the analyzer just keeps asking questions, rather than providing answers?
Part two also contains this little nugget:
Most classic Batman villains are dark mirror-images of Batman himself; Batman is assured of the rightness of his worldview, as is the insane Joker; Batman uses fear as a weapon, as does Scarecrow; Batman is advantaged by his upper-class status, as is the Penguin.
Here Bon shows his chops as a comic book fan, as statements like these are basically gospel to them. But they are not true, at all. "Most" classic Batman villains are not "dark mirror images" of damn near anything, and really only became so through fan-wank. The Joker for example—the mad, chaos-incarnate rogue we've come to love was invented in the 1970s, and yet the Joker himself first appeared in 1940 (in Batman #1), and for the longest time the Joker's most notable trait was his boner. The sad truth is, comics were and still are written in a literary style known as "make it up as you go," and factors like deadlines, low audience expectations and writing to appeal to marketing have meant that any of this supposed "depth" they have is false depth—they muddy the pool to make it look deep, but the minute you put your foot in the water only goes up to an ankle.
Afterwards, Bon says that a woman nearly being raped "underscores the Madonna/whore complex undercurrent of American sexual morality." Errr... what? Joe Chill's subplot serves only a practical purpose—to explain where Thomas Wayne's mythical murderer got his name, continuing the theme (indeed, the entire point of the story) of the reality being somewhat duller than the myth—but also somewhat brighter. As I said earlier, Comics-Chill was a successful murderer if nothing else. "Real"-Chill is a park mugger and attempted assassin who fails miserably at both.
For these reasons and more, I don't see where Bon gets off calling this an "ultimately pessimistic piece." Perhaps the fact that Bon saw it that way says something about him. He's standing in a bright place, but all he can see are the shadows.
There is nostalgia here, not for the content of a more immature time, but for immaturity itself.
This is one of the few things the analyst says that has some merit, and yet again, Bon surrounds this with negativity—apparently in the analyst's world, having a wife and child and having moved on with your life is a bad
thing. It's true that Robin says he "sometimes misses the days of crime-fighting," but he "misses" them in the same way most of us "miss" high school—now that its far away, we're able to think about the good stuff, but nobody wants to actually repeat those days.
But even saying all this, it must be said that context is important,
and the context of this story was that it was a joke, dreamed up and written in ten minutes or so by a man who was bored one night and wanted to rile people up by talking about Batman. Like the comics themselves, there is no deeper meaning in this story. You're certainly free to pretend their is, but you should take it as seriously as you take seeing images in the clouds.
edited 10th Oct '10 12:31:54 PM by Edmond_Dantes