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[personal profile] para1
I'm going to cite someone whose name I've forgotten. (Perfect beginning to review this, I think.)

The person in question suggested that fiction forces us to empathize with its characters and experience emotions that we wouldn't have otherwise felt. And then he said something that has not left me, even though its author's name has: that the only reason tragedy has a larger impact on its audience is that it actually gives the audience a mild case of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The result is that the piece of fiction stays with you longer than a comparable piece of comedy.

The result, he said, was that we value depressing stories higher. They force us to deal with them longer and we mistake that for greater depth. "It made me think." But usually it did not.

I mean what does Romeo & Juliet's tragic ending as opposed to a hypothetical happy ending tell you? That you better use an expensive courier instead of going cheap-o? Don't fall in love with the "wrong" person. Well. Poor impulse control is bad? Duh.

I mean I love Nabokov's Lolita but the only useful message I get out of its tragedy is not to be a pedo.

I love that tragic ending and it impacts me greatly when Humbert hears the children's voices in the distance and regrets that Lolita's is not among them because he stole her childhood. It's sad, and you get perhaps the first time the idea that what he felt was genuine enough to force him to regret his actions. And this is an interesting character study but it tells me very little about the world. Perhaps if you're into reading too much into this, you might see the potential for an interpretation that love is valuing someone else's happiness above your own.

But that's not a revolutionary thought. Lolita is a scenic journey of a book but if its tragic ending makes you think, you're probably over-thinking it.

On the comedy end of the spectrum you have something like The Truman Show semi-accurately predicting reality television. It's a mere comedy and tells you point blank that if you put a bunch of normal guys living their real life on tv that people will be enraptured. You walk out of that movie without PTSD and at least in 1998 it told you more about the future than you ever wanted to know.

And don't get me started on The Life of Brian, in which the only thing that the (fake) messiah can't get his followers to do for him is to stop killing in his name. That's a comedy. They have a character named Dickus Biggus.

In Mockingjay Collins makes the same mistake, that unknown person accused us all of making – she mistakes tragedy with depth. War is horrible, duh. Children die in wars, duh. War makes people do things they wouldn't do in peace time, duh.

Wow. If I wanted to know about the evils of war, I would just put the letter of "UT" into Google – that's the name of the photographer of the Vietnamese napalm girl. Two letters and all the horrors of war neatly encapsulated into one picture, two clicks away.

I don't need to be lectured on the horrors of war. If I want that I go and watch a copy of Riben Guizi or Winter Soldier and lose my faith in humanity for life. (Been there, done that.) Or just open a history book. Those are, unlike Collins' story, about real people, real war crimes, remember real history so we are not forced to repeat it. Collins' story is useless in that respect.

Mockingjay is disturbing and depressing but its deaths and violence do not give it depth. I'm not saying it's as shallow as a kiddie's pool but its depth is not making up for the novel's short-comings. Which are plenty.

Aside from the fact that it remains the novel that ripped off Battle Royale in plenty of aspects (but let's not talk about the reason I'm never paying a dime for any of Collins' work), that the pacing is shitty (half the books are exposition and more time is spent on description of Katniss' clothes, other physical attributes and make-overs than it can ever be justified, and then the latter half is so rushed that you usually lose a sense of what's happening in general.), waffling between writing characters as fully functional and shell-shocked wrecks depending on the need of the plot and other things other people are better at addressing, I take some general offense at the execution of the ending.

I mean, okay, let's believe that Katniss cares so little about the world she just helped saving/destroying that she just goes home, gets a boyfriend, writes a book that nobody's supposed to read and pops out a couple of kids without ever asking about things like justice, democracy, freedom, more equal distribution of wealth actually existing after all the sacrifices she made.

Yeah, exactly. What the world needs another female hero whose happy ending is being a housewife with no life outside of her boyfriend and her offspring. Because one Twilight wasn't enough already.

Nope, there's another aspect that seems to come directly from Stephenie Meyer's playbook – that ripping people apart in the most gruesome way and other acts of violence that you can find only in movies banned in most countries are fucking okay but showing more than a kiss and with more than even the tiniest description is impossible.

We get so much violence and death in those books. A girl of thirteen is set on fire. But there's no happiness. Even the ending that's supposed to at least signify hope, if not some sort of happiness (and developed and described in about five paragraphs) everything's sterile. Nothing about it feels real. (The first person to suggest it's the Brazil ending all over again, gets shot.)

Why? Because it's written so badly. It's contrived, there's zero development and... it's just lame.

If Collins used half the verve she used to describe suffering into describing this bit of hope, of reconciliation, recovery, then it wouldn't be as bad. But to gleefully rip people apart , blow them up, torture them, have them raped, mentally, physically, sold, mind-wiped and die, die, die in the most graphic detail - and yet describe a kiss as something you merely do until your breath runs out, is fucked up.

I don't want a sex scene or twenty pages of lovey-dovey crap but I wonder about an author who can't put a single positive emotion on page. Because that becomes the point where I wonder if the whole "I wrote the tragedy for these 'deep' messages about war" isn't a smoke screen for "I can't write about anything else but blood and gore but if I put enough not thought-through political allegory around it, it will look like I did that intentionally."


Fuck that noise.


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