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Passing Fancies - Laura Wise

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August 10th, 2013


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01:03 pm - Passing Fancies
It's Saturday, and I'm hiding from the giant burning orb in the sky, which is sharing its heat far, far too generously with the subtropics right now.

(Yesterday at a charity thing an acquaintance said to me v. sweetly, "Your skin looks so good!" At which my close friend interposed, "Yes, it's because she doesn't like the sun." This is not untrue.)

I am also working on a project which I hope to tell you all about soon, but until then.... I've been thinking a lot about passing fancies and trends in storytelling.

When the various kerfuffles around the casting of Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor erupted last weekend -- my thought: I LOVE PETER CAPALDI -- one of the underlying, not always articulated concerns was "What kind of story-telling is this Doctor going to have?" I went back to a fascinating book I've owned for years, an early work of cultural studies which is entitled Doctor Who: The Unfolding Text."

The book was published in 1983, and its authors John Tulloch and Manuel Alvarado had access to Classic Who showrunners like Barry Letts, and John Nathan-Turner, who talked about the kind of things they aimed for in their storytelling; the authors also drew copiously on published interviews. One of the striking things was the difference in story emphases, often tied to the zeitgeist during production, often affected by who was show-running, very often affected by who was playing the Doctor. Some of the ways Tulloch and Alvarado broke it down, with some of the following examples:
1) Verity Lambert saw the First Doctor as primarily a mystery (and shepherded the production to highlight that).
2) Barry Letts wanted fairly explicit Earth-bound political critique and thriller elements with the Third Doctor.
3) There was a shift with Tom Baker's Doctor from Gothic/Romantic stories (Phillip Hinchcliffe's forte) to the Douglas Adams/Graham Williams type of meta-aware stories.
4) John Nathan-Turner wanted to emphasize action and yet also vulnerability -- which is why he chose Peter Davison AND why he got rid of the sonic screwdriver.

Those of us who watch New Who can probably think of ways to categorize Nine's, Ten's, and Eleven's stories too.

At any rate, I'm fascinated by the passing fashions in stories here. What are fashions in storytelling -- tropes, subjects, supernatural characters ;) -- that are interesting you these days?

Cheers, and may you be deep in the things you love today.

(15 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


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From:heron_pose
Date:August 10th, 2013 05:19 pm (UTC)
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Wow, the Who book sounds amazing, although for handwavey reasons i don't completely understand myself I'm unlikely to ever really get deep into Whodom (despite lovely Five)....

Good on you for staying inside during the horrible attack of the sun. I believe there may be a trip to a cool, dark movie theater in my immediate future, and I don't even care what I see!

::HUGSHUGS::
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From:laurawise
Date:August 10th, 2013 07:42 pm (UTC)
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The Who book IS amazing. It's of course thirty years old, so some of its theoretical foundation might be questionable now, but it does a great, even-handed job of working with different analytical modes to present a wide view of a narrow subject. :)

Cheers! Hugs! Movies! YAY YOU!
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From:stateless82
Date:August 10th, 2013 08:54 pm (UTC)
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I wonder off and on about zombies. I have a vague impression that originally they were supposed to represent the fear Communism, or some sort of collectivism, or at least that someone somewhere said they did.

I can't watch or read zombie anything, so I have no idea if they're still written that way (which seems kind of dated), or if they've evolved to reflect some other more modern fear. I could probably look it up, I imagine someone's written about it, but so far it's just something that crosses my mind when I see an ad for The Walking Dead or World War Z.

We had rain this morning, but the drop in temperature was countered by the increased humidity, so I'm still not going outside.
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From:cindergal
Date:August 10th, 2013 09:41 pm (UTC)
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I think I have heard that too, about zombies representing fear of Communism. I think different creators use them for different purposes. George Romero's zombie films contain lots of social commentary (Night of the Living Dead was the Vietnam War, Dawn of the Dead was consumerism - it even took place in a mall).

The Walking Dead examines how different people react when faced with desperate situations and face moral dilemmas where there is often no clear right answer and the stakes are life and death every single time. It's really a metaphor for real life, just amped up to the nth degree.

Here's an interesting article about it: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/grand-rounds/201112/the-moral-molasses-the-walking-dead
[User Picture]
From:laurawise
Date:August 10th, 2013 11:13 pm (UTC)
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I can't read or watch zombies, either.

Hurrah for rain in the midst of heat! We had a bit too, which didn't mean a huge drop in temperature but enough to be felt. :)

Cheers and hugs!
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From:cindergal
Date:August 10th, 2013 09:45 pm (UTC)
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What are fashions in storytelling -- tropes, subjects, supernatural characters ;) -- that are interesting you these days?

See above re: zombies. :-) Post-apocalyptic tales always fascinate me.

I, too, am told I look younger than my years, one benefit of being a couch potato. *g*

*fans you and hands you a cool beverage*
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From:laurawise
Date:August 10th, 2013 11:14 pm (UTC)
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I remember that you're one of the many people I know who love dystopian fiction! So it does make sense that you're also fond of zombies. :)

Cheers to you -- you DO look young! [hugs]
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From:paratti
Date:August 11th, 2013 09:41 am (UTC)
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I love the way the show connects with and has a dialogue with what's going on here. As welll as out there.

((Hugs))
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From:laurawise
Date:August 11th, 2013 11:35 am (UTC)
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I know that's one of the many many reasons you love Who. :))

Hugs!
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From:roguedemon
Date:August 12th, 2013 12:20 am (UTC)
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Avoiding the sun definitely pays off. :) Having good skin without having to spend a lot of money at the dermatologist is definitely a perk.

I'm really into the whole dystopia trend -- I was into it before it was a trend. I also love supernatural creatures that are immortal for whatever reason. I find the whole concept of immortality intriguing as a storytelling device.
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From:laurawise
Date:August 12th, 2013 10:40 am (UTC)
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I knew you were a fan of dystopias! And I should have guessed about the love for immortality. :)

Cheers, Nell, and hugs and a great week.
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From:janus_74
Date:August 12th, 2013 01:13 am (UTC)
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My sister doesn't like to be out in the sun either, I'm sure she'll have good skin too.

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From:laurawise
Date:August 12th, 2013 10:41 am (UTC)
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Sun-aversion can be a really good thing. :)

Cheers and your preference of sun or clouds today, T! Hugs too.
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From:mobile_alh
Date:August 12th, 2013 01:56 am (UTC)
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Nothing more useful to add than my thanks for the info on the Whovian theories.

We expect to get hot again here next week but happily the county fair (ending today) did not suffer from the usual August horrible-heat. Off to Ashland on Tuesday to see Cymbeline, The Tenth Muse, The Liquid Plain and The Heart of Robin Hood...these days we mostly skip the Shakespeare (Midsummer Night's Dream AGAIN??) to see new, sometimes premiering, plays. I'll try to take notes for you!
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From:laurawise
Date:August 12th, 2013 10:42 am (UTC)
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Hurrah for breaks in the heat and for theatre-going! (I love The Dream with a love that is real, but I totally understand how one might see too many productions of it. ;))

Hugs hugs, and thanks in advance for notes!

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