Notes from New Sodom

... rantings, ravings and ramblings of strange fiction writer, THE.... Sodomite Hal Duncan!!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Sodomite Songs

Talking of queer drama, I slapped together the full songbook for Sodom! The Musical, editing it with a few tweaks from the text as blogged. If you want to read the finished version, go here.

I didn't tell you, did I, of what I'd really like to do with this? Cause, yeah, if I was only, like, a Scottish Chris Lilley or something, I'd totally make this the basis for a six-part TV mockumentary, Staging Sodom. (Or something like that.) I have, as they say, ideas.

The pitch? At Leviticus International's new UK flagship Centre for Orientation Conversion, counselor Richard Alcott, PhT is staging a production of Sodom! his grand stage musical re-envisioning of The Farce of Sodom. His cast: a group of gay teens sent to the boot camp to be "reoriented." His audience: a group of visiting dignitaries from the US Head Office. Over the coming weeks, we'll follow Richard's struggle to thrash his material into shape, and we'll meet some of the troubled young men into whose hands he'll be putting that material, for them to bring it to life:

Roger, who insists he's straight and doesn't even belong here. Roger is forced into the play and mortified to be cast as Puckinello, the King's Catamite. From Richard's touchy-feely direction it's blindingly clear that Richard is besotted with him. He "does a Steve McQueen," in the penultimate episode, throwing everything into disarray.

Tom, the flaming power-bottom who desperately wants to play Puckinello but is miscast in multiple minor roles "because his face is a bit bland, you know, so you can do so much with it!" So we end up with him in a giant handlebar moustache as General Buggerman, a waxed moustache as Virtuoso the dildo-maker, and a full beard as Flux the physician -- all of them looking absurd on the slender, girlish youth. Naturally, at the last minute, when Roger goes on the run, he gets to step into the role.

Lucy/Luke, a trans girl -- i.e. biologically male, female-identifying. Despite not being remotely flamboyant, Lucy is cast as Cunticaea to give "him" the opportunity to be "as dazzling as he wants to be... but within the perfectly safe tradition of the pantomime dame." Lucy is determined to get gender-reassignment, which she's thoroughly researched, and become an accountant. Lucy escapes with Roger, forcing Richard to step into the role.

David, the new arrival. We first meet his parents as they drop him off, worried about the self-proclaimed "bicuriousity" of their son; cut to a prepubescent child, who we'll find out doesn't actually knows what the word means. David is cast as Prickett, the young prince of Sodom who's debauched over the course of the play. He has no idea what's going on, just wants to go home. John takes on an elder brother role for him.

John, the actor cast as Bollox. It's an open secret that John and Tom are a couple trying to patch up a split, blatantly obvious to all but Richard. They use the play as a pretext to meet, with Roger helping to cover for them, but have a huge bust-up over Tom's infidelity. It's resolved when Jack's fraternal relationship with David is insanely assumed to be sexual, and Tom storms in to tell Richard that his bf is not a fricking paedo. The two are about to be disciplined when Roger's escape is discovered.

Episodes would move along chronologically but also each focus in on one particular character, with the others interviewed but their own narratives backgrounded.

Week 1 -- The concept -- Richard
Week 2 -- The auditions -- Roger
Week 3 -- The cast -- Lucy
Week 4 -- Rehearsals -- David
Week 5 -- Dress rehearsal -- Tom
Week 6 -- Performance -- John


Some little details, thoughts on the sorta stuff that would be in here:

Centre for Orientation Correction? Picture the sign outside, the initials with a K spraypainted on the end.

PhT? Stands for therapist of philosophy, rather than doctor of philosophy. It's "not exactly" a medical degree... or a philosophy degree. It's "sort of the middle ground, where therapy reaches out to philosophy and philosophy reaches out to therapy."

Reoriented? "We don't call it 'cured,' because it's very important to us not to stigmatise homosexuality as a disease in and of itself. Also we're not legally allowed to use the word cure."

A stage musical? It's "a crucial part of the therapy to give these young men a healthy outlet for the sensitivity and creativity that might otherwise lead them astray" -- as Richard explains earnestly while, in the background, a chorus line of boys in hotpants practises the gayest dance number ever.

The Farce of Sodom? A Restoration play by the notorious libertine Lord Rochester may seem a curious choice, but really it's "a scathing indictment of the depravity that leads to disease and fiery demons." See, King Bolloximian unleashes sodomy, and the kingdom falls apart. Incest, bestiality, paedophilia, everything! But right at the very end, on the very last page, the fiery demons show up to give the king his come-uppance. "So it's all OK!"
    Interviewer: So they drag him to hell, like Faust or Don Giovanni?
    Richard: No, no, he escapes. But they make it very clear that he's a bad man.
    Interviewer: On the very last page?
    Richard: That's right. But the entire play is spent up to that point showing how depraved the kingdom becomes.
    Interviewer: Like where stage directions call for a dozen naked men and women to come on and "fall to fucking?"
    Richard: Exactly!

Trans? As far as Richard is concerned, playing Cunticaea is a safe context for Luke (as he insists on calling her) to explore that flamboyance
    Richard: I mean, really, it's sort of a fetish.
    Lucy: It's not a fetish.
    Richard: For someone like Luke here --
    Lucy: Lucy.
    Richard: -- transvestitism --
    Lucy: -- transgender --
    Richard: -- is about the costume... the grand facade! About being, just for a little while, someone else --
    Lucy: -- that I actually am.
    Richard: And I understand, I do, how desperately one can want to be someone else. Anyone else!
    Lucy: [gives a look: yeah, we know you're fucked in the head, mate.]

The Pooñata? A piñata shaped like a giant pair of buttocks which Richard has the boys beat with a baseball bat.
    Richard: There's been a lot of research over the years into the roots of homosexuality. An aversion to an overbearing mother. A desire for a distant father. The current theory is that it goes right back to infancy, to feelings of pleasure and shame associated with the poop-shute -- whether it comes from spanking or an early experience with suppositories. The homosexual is trying to get revenge on their bottom, you see, either directly or with another man's bottom as surrogate. And beating the buttocks allows them to vent all those feelings in a healthy way.

Cunt? Richard is convinced that this is not obscene if said "in an authentic Olde English accent."
    Richard: Back then it was a medical term, so you just have to say it like they would have back then. I mean if I was to say it like--" [mouths "cunt"] "--except of course, I'm not actually saying it, because that would be dirty -- but if you imagine me saying it like--" [mouths "cunt"] "--well, that would be bad language. I wouldn't expose the boys to that sort of filth. But if I say it in the right accent. Cunt. You see? Cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt. I can say it as much as I want and it's fine. It's just like saying, 'lady parts'. "
    The rehearsals episode might well kick off with Richard trying to coach David to say it "correctly." His pronunciation is of course indistinguishable from the way David is saying it. I imagine a frustrated Richard screaming, "Cunt! Cunt! Cunt! Cunt! Cunt!" in the poor kid's face. Cut to the interview explanation, then quick cut through Richard "correcting" this or that performer over every swear word in the play.


So, yeah, unfortunately I'm not the Scottish Chris Lilley. I wouldn't put myself in charge of a project like this, so I can't imagine anyone else would. Even if they did, I wouldn't know where to start. If you happen to be the Scottish Chris Lilley though... like, some comedian-cum-mockumentarian with a burning desire to make something in the mould of Summer Heights High or Angry Boys (with a hint of Jerry Springer: The Opera thrown in for good measure)... dude, call me.

No, really. Call me.

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Private Romeo

Over at The Mumpsimus a week or so back, Matt Cheney posted on a movie I'd heard a little of, Private Romeo, in a way that tweaked my imagination a tad more than the vague notion I had of a gay Romeo and Juliet set at an all-male military academy. I'm all for queering Shakesepeare, have done so myself indeed, (download here if you want the full script) but... well, I can live without another tragic story of gay love doomed by society's disapproval.

So I was intrigued by Matt's description of this adaptation as "virtually unique" in grafting the words onto another story. His feelings were mixed, positive as regards the first half, negative as regards the second, and pretty damning of an "incoherent, insipid ending," but it was enough for me to track down a copy and check it out. And I've gotta say I'm glad I did. I totally agree with Matt on the high quality of acting -- if only all micro-budget queer indie flicks had performances of this calibre -- and the Tarkovskian cinematography of hollow corridors. But actually I felt the second half also holds up pretty well, came away feel quite impressed. Sure, as Matt says, the stakes are lowered where the rivalry between Montagues and Capulets is dispensed with and duels to the death become brawls, but that's exactly what I liked about it, I think. From a story so overblown it's the meat of the greatest musical of all time (I will brook no dissent) and, of course, Baz Luhrmann's awesomely lurid update, director Alan Brown crafts a refreshingly low-key take on the tale, bringing an intimacy to it I found gripping throughout.

We begin with some of those Tarkovskian visuals, establishing shots of a US military academy's empty spaces -- a basketball court, the grounds, an exercise room -- then we're introduced to eight cadets in a classroom, reading Romeo and Juliet, one playing Juliet, another the nurse. All fair enough, but as the bell rings, one student carries on only to be interrupted by the senior cadet in charge, cutting in with lines from the end of the scene, and in context hinting of real-world meaning. And we're not sure how to interpret the moment. He's reading from the book, but "Madam, the guests are come, supper served up," sounds awfully like "You heard the bell. Time for chow." Is he finishing the scene or dismissing them from class? Or both? "Follow straight," he says, but it's the others leaving first.

It's not Luhrmann's approach then, where a rapier becomes a brand of gun, where the setting is translated and details of the scenario updated but the text still maps to it, where the articulations of our world are only heightened with artifice, like the conceit of sense being sung in a musical. In the opening scenes to follow the title -- which comes up not insignificantly as ROMEO first, the PRIVATE added -- we get the cadets greeting each other with Shakespeare's lines, talking of love, conversing naturally as if this language were their own, but there's something more interesting going on here. At morning reveille, the senior cadet left in charge addresses them in plain dialogue; then, in another class, as cadets Singleton (Romeo) and Neff (Mercutio) recite again -- the dream of Queen Mab passage -- they slip into such a naturalism it's hard not to read them as communicating rather than performing. But what exactly?

That we don't know is, I think, the point here. It's not that we're meant to imagine these characters living a modern-day iteration of the classic story. Rather the classroom scenes remind us that the play exists in this world, precisely to deny a Luhrmannesque Verona Beach, a substitute worldscape of a Romeo and Juliet who clearly could never have heard of Romeo and Juliet. The conceit here, I think, is a reversal of changing the trappings in which the text is articulated; instead the scenario of our world replete with the play is what we must take as stable, part of the fabric of the drama, while the articulations are the trappings transformed. Which is to say, we are not getting the words the characters are speaking. We're getting Shakespearea's words instead.

When that Queen Mab passage (interrupted in class) is returned to, Neff articulating it fully as Singleton, Sanchez (Benvolio) and himself head to a poker game, there's a sense that maybe Neff is not even really speaking of dreams. He's not a modern Mercutio spieling his riff. He's spieling a riff, but we're getting Mercutio's instead of it, in a movie dubbed into Shakespeare. Offering itself like a film in an unknown (or half-known) language without subtitles, the movie's inviting us to parse the intonation and gestures -- forcing us to do so, really. It's offering a little extra with the sense of the text, but only as a pointer to the subtext. Matt is right, I think, to say that it's "as if the emptiness of the military academy has allowed them to create their own world," like Shakespeare has "become for them a kind of code, a complex path toward emotions and ideas that their own everyday language cannot approach." But it's not that this code is a shared thing hothoused by the isolation. Rather they are talking normally throughout, in the idiom they share with us as much as with each other, but we are hearing the lyrical articulacy of their emotions, the inner Shakespeare too personal to translate to anyone.

Am I reading too much into it to find significance in the use of "ROMEO" in the NATO phonetic alphabet, to take it as perhaps a metonym for language itself? Doesn't that pause before "PRIVATE" is added to the title highlight its role in changing meaning, adding to it -- i.e. its use not just as a military rank but as a modifier, the simple adjective "private"? This is about more, I'd say, than just a crude pitch -- "He's Romeo... but in the Army!" That title, Private Romeo, points at the inner identity of a person as a would-be lover (a Romeo inside) and as an emotional language (a private Shakespearian,) at once inarticulate/inarticulable and openly expressed in every word and gesture.

The latter is perhaps the crux. We speak a common language that sort of gets the gist across, but inside it's a private Romeo we're speaking. Where a more miserabilist work might take the notion of a private code of self as springboard to fatalism -- oh, how we're doomed to be forever islands, (singletons, one might say,) incapable of bridging the gap, unable to communicate the true richness of this argot of affect we are so fluent in, not in anything so crude as English -- here Shakespeare's play is appropriated as evidence in an argument that we can and do.

As Singleton flirts with Mangan (Juliet) at the poker game, he begins with phatic mumbling about liking his kicks and his wristband, pulling the corniest childhood trick -- what's this? he says pointing to Mangan's chest to flick his face when he looks down -- as segue to Shakespeare's "If I profane with my unworthiest hand this gentle shrine." The thing is, it's all awkward playfulness even when the lyricism comes in. And as Mangan begins to flirt back, it's via metaphor of pilgrims and prayers. For sure, they're talking in the most elegant English, but indirectness is the name of the game here, fumbling around their mutual attraction, camera as unsteady as their tentative reaching for intimacy. But it works. They might really still be awkwardly mumbling in their own idiom -- it's acted with a touching naturalness as if they are -- but it doesn't matter because, perhaps unconsciously and instinctively, they're each hearing what each other is really saying beneath that.

"What's in a name?" says Mangan later, and it seems to me the film is taking this so familiar passage of roses smelling sweet regardless of what you call them, unfolding it with its conceit, riffing on that theme. I think of Wallace Stevens: "Throw away the lights, the definitions / And say of what you see in the dark / That it is this or that it is that / But do not use the rotted names." So here, while as I say the sense of the Shakespearean passages does point us in the direction of what the characters are really saying, (in their crude shared English and in their sophisticated private Romeo,) as often as not it seems the invitation is for us to abstract the affective dynamics.

And actually it's a scene in the second half where the film really became electric for me in this respect. With the duels turned to brawls leaving "Mercutio" and "Tybalt" still alive, with Singleton having run away from the academy rather than be expelled, now it's Neff and Sanchez who confront Mangan as Juliet's father and mother insisting on her marriage. Except there's no one for Mangan to "marry," whatever that might mean. Watching it, I wondered if we're meant to read "marry" as "give yourself to," if Neff having transferred roles was now casting himself as that suitor as well as the father. Is he coercing Mangan into sex here? It's a sideswipe just to have Neff as Juliet's father, knocks us out of a generally stable mapping of cadets to characters. The more we try to parse it, the more disturbing it gets.

But rather than a literal coercion, I think the sense of Shakespeare's words is being used here to estrange and complexify, to conjure a subtext of profound threat in a scene that, if we put the "real" words to it, might simply have Neff blaming Mangan for his friend's expulsion, saying little more than "this is your fault, and I'm going to make your life miserable for it." Given that Neff and Sanchez are making a YouTube lip-synch video at the point when "Juliet" is "in the chapel," with no indication of plans for Mangan, there's every indication, I'd say, that we're not meant to be literalists here, that the whole confrontation scene is about the affective dynamics. You might look at it as a failure to make the words and story fit. I think the fact they don't fit is what really makes it.

With Shakespeare's words as pointers, the negative space where we're trying to reconstruct a logical analogous coercion becomes loaded with the only menace that can really fit in that spot -- rape -- but maybe it's just the subtext we're meant to be taking away. It's not that Neff is demanding Mangan turn up anywhere anywhen for any particular reason. It's just that hearing the private language of Neff exposes sinews of sex and power that have been rippling in that character through the film -- noising up Mangan in class, drunkenly hunting Singleton through the corridors. There's almost a frisson of Pinter here, imbued by the uncertainties of relationships between what is being spoken in Romeo, what might be being spoken in Modern English, and what is being acted.

The tension it loads into the ending is one that could well irk in a "that doesn't work!" way, but rather than incoherence I see uncertainty here, the scissioning from Shakespeare's story leaving us unsure if Mangan is being coerced by Neff, the action laced with threat born of that potential. The cadet playing the friar role is set up early on as manufacturing recreational drugs, dealing them to the other cadets, and his own sampling of the goods after supplying Mangan signposts that faking death isn't the purpose here, but with that threat of "marriage" I found myself wondering if Mangan was turning to the dealer for drugs to get him through whatever Neff had in store for him. For me, that's resolved with lip-synch vid, the hollow looks of Neff and Sanchez signalling that, no, the former is not a figure of authority. Whatever is going on inside him, he and Sanchez simply look lost without their Singleton, their Romeo.

Is the purpose of the potion opaque in a story without a forced marriage to fake a suicide over then? In the end, as I read it, Mangan's plan is to cause his own expulsion, with the fear that he's overdosed driving Singleton to put him in the recovery position but take the drug himself so he shares whatever Mangan's fate may be. Cutting loose from Shakespeare's story but keeping the words does leave a fair whack of the connections here to be made by the viewer, but... well, it didn't fall apart for me.

And where Matt is disappointed at the lowered stakes, ultimately the simpler intimacy of that distinctly non-tragic ending worked for me precisely because of its less grandiose register. The stakes are lower throughout, but that restraint only made it feel more human to me. I believe in Singleton more than I believe in any Romeo, or at least I believe in Singleton's private Romeo, waxing lyrical even when he's mumbling awkwardly at Mangan's Juliet, "I like your kicks." No sweeping violins for the poignant deaths of the star-crossed lovers? Works for me. A complete disregard indeed, as Matt points out, of the drearily easy mapping in which homophobia is what renders the lovers star-crossed, so no Terribly Important Point to make about Society's Cruel Mores. Again, good. We don't need to do for gay military cadets what Brokeback Mountain did for gay cowboys. (I'm not sure we needed to do that for gay cowboys, to be honest.)

Just a fascinating little study, I thought, of love between men -- all the more so because of the way it ignores expected boundaries between homosocial and homosexual behaviour, rendering the distinction entirely uncertain, queering the entire setting so we can't tell if Neff, early on, is winding Mangan up or genuinely hitting on him, or both. If we are to take the Shakespeare as rendering that inner language, it occurs to me, maybe that ambiguity is because Neff doesn't know himself. Either way, where I automatically plumped for "winding him up" the first time round, I wasn't so sure by the end of the film, so I can rather see myself rewatching it fairly soon.

All of which is to say, indeed, I reckon it would reward a second viewing, so I certainly recommend it for a first. You may well come down more on Matt's side than mine, but I definitely think it's worth a watch.


Monday, June 18, 2012

Mary Sue

UPDATE: And now we have the actual song.

Mary Sue

Mary Sue, Mary Sue,
You're the captain of your crew.
You're the princess of the pages of this book.
We'll suffer as you suffer through,
Though no-one counts but Mary Sue,
So all our sorrows will be overlooked.

Mary Sue! Mary Sue!
Is there anyone but you
Who knows the pain of being precious as a dove?
Oh, boo hoo! Boo hoo!
Sing a song for Mary Sue.
Ain't no misery as cruel as being loved.

Mary Sue, Mary Sue,
With your eyes of emerald blue
And your flowing locks of adamantine curls,
Your skin is smooth as buttercream
And all your charm is but a dream
Of being envied by all other girls.

Mary Sue! Mary Sue!
Is there anyone but you
Who knows the pain of being precious as a dove?
Oh, boo hoo! Boo hoo!
Sing a song for Mary Sue.
Ain't no misery as cruel as being loved.

Mary Sue, Mary Sue,
Why d'you do the things you do?
Your motives are a mystery to me.
The way you treat your Gay Best Friend,
It's all a bit BDSM,
And all without a hint of agency.

Mary Sue! Mary Sue!
Is there anyone but you
Who knows the pain of being precious as a dove?
Oh, boo hoo! Boo hoo!
Sing a song for Mary Sue.
Ain't no misery as cruel as being loved.

Mary Sue, Mary Sue,
You're a little plain, it's true;
Still they'll all be lining up to win your kiss.
A gentle boy with eyes of grey,
Obsessive, jealous, closet gay,
Oh, that brooding boy will be your perfect bliss.

Mary Sue! Mary Sue!
Is there anyone but you
Who knows the pain of being precious as a dove?
Oh, boo hoo! Boo hoo!
Sing a song for Mary Sue.
Ain't no misery as cruel as being loved.

Mary Sue, Mary Sue,
Other people suffer too.
Once I even saw you shed a tear for one.
A pretty boy with pretty hair,
Abused and soothed, and with your care
You nursed the gratitude you'd rightly won.

Mary Sue! Mary Sue!
Is there anyone but you
Who knows the pain of being precious as a dove?
Oh, boo hoo! Boo hoo!
Sing a song for Mary Sue.
Ain't no misery as cruel as being loved.

Mary Sue, Mary Sue,
Sell the gifts and buy a clue,
And give it to your author when you're done.
For all the wonder of your birth,
The real world of the actual earth
Revolves around this thing we call the sun.

Mary Sue! Mary Sue!
Is there anyone but you
Who knows the pain of being precious as a dove?
Oh, boo hoo! Boo hoo!
Sing a song for Mary Sue.
Ain't no misery as cruel as being loved.
Ain't no misery as cruel as being loved.

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Monday, June 11, 2012

Thoughts Upon Watching Prometheus

Q: Wait, what?! Why does the Engineer kill himself to seed the pretty rockworld with life? Couldn't he just, you know, use a pig carcass or something? Or get some chimps to have a tea party and spike their PG Tips with the black goo? Why would he kill himself to do this?

A: Well, wouldn't you, if your entire species were fucktards? Clearly he's killing himself in a fit of pique at the WTF Quotient of his own species. They're fucktards.

Q: What do you mean? They're smart. They can engineer a black goo that somehow tears DNA apart and simultaneously programs it so that billions of years of evolution from the seeded material will result in mini-mes.

A: Exactly. Anyone else might go for a less sedentary terraforming process, and just fricking clone the mini-mes, for fuck's sake. Not these fucktards. I imagine that Engineer muttering, "Dude, you know this is going to take billions of years before we see any results. Billions. We could do this so much faster." But clearly he's out-voted by the rest. Who are fucktards.

Q: Well, you say billions of years, but... um...

A: You're not going to tell me the pretty rockworld will turn into a human-populated Earth in a shorter timescale, are you? Go read a fucking book. As that Engineer probably said to his comrades.

Q: But they're a super-advanced species! When they return *cough* years later they're like gods to us... like Erich Von Danikenesque alien-astronaut-astic space-gods!

A: Yup. Fucktardery and arsewipery go hand in hand. Come on. If you need a host of mini-mes to tell you how awesome you are, it's pretty strong evidence that you're not awesome at all, just an egotistical wank, a prime form of fucktard. Again, you've got to imagine that Engineer watching his fucktard brethren play deities and devotees, shaking his head at their fucktarded desire to be revered by lapdog versions of themselves.

Q: And when they decide to kill the mini-mes off...?

A: If your billion year long project is such a flop you decide to just wipe it out and start over... sounds like a pretty big fuck-up to me. They can't even do it right. They wipe themselves out in the process of trying to terminate a project they've invested billions of years in. For no apparent reason. Fucktards.

Q: Maybe they had a good reason. This is meant to happen two thousand years ago, right? I hear Scott has hinted that they got miffed over the crucifixion of Jesus. Cause Jesus was sent from space, one of them. And OK, that's a bit fucktarded but it fits with all the cross-waving. Maybe they decided to exterminate us because we killed the Space Jesus they sent to teach us... um... peace and love?

A: Like that was a good plan? I can just imagine that Engineer shouting at them: "We just spent all of prehistory playing god-kings, establishing mythologies of heavenly imperialist pantheons ruled by might all across the world. What the fuck did you think they were going to do to an anarcho-socialist pacifist? And now, for that one action, you want to exterminate every motherfucking one of them with xenomorphic rapedeath? In punishment for their empathy deficiency? Seriously? For the love of cock!"

Q: And when they leave the mini-mes an invite to... ?

A: To the lifeless planet where they're stockpiling the liquid frickin death they've decided to dish out on humanity -- I'd say that's pretty fucktarded, wouldn't you? Prometheus is supposed to have stolen fire from the gods and given it to humanity. This is more like God leaving every fucking culture on earth a signpost to the vials of wrath he intends to pour out on them come Judgement Day. Vials of wrath that he's just as vulnerable to as them.

Q: But wait! All the Von Daniken stuff hasn't happened yet, not at the very start. If the first scene is Earth being seeded, then clearly they haven't given humanity the signposts to LV-223 or randomly decided to kill us all with liquid death, not yet. Surely the Engineer is committing suicide long before any of this has happened!

A: Actually, there's no reason to suppose the pretty rockworld at the start is Earth. Scott himself said it might not be. So you could as easily imagine that this is another planet, and the Engineer who offs himself at the start could well be one of those tasked with making sure the humans had the map. Me, I imagine him reaching breaking point with his species over that very fact: "Really? We're giving them the map to LV-223. Why? Why are we pointing the mini-mes at the liquid frickin death? Seriously, guys. I mean, generally speaking, munitions dumps are kept secret from those they're going to be used against."

Q: Maybe when they left the signposts they just didn't think they'd ever have to use the liquid death on humanity?

A: This is a species which creates liquid frickin death in order to exterminate all humanity in a genocide beyond even the Nazis' most grandiose dreams. Humanity is genetically identical, the Engineers' mini-mes. You've heard the saying about the apple falling not far from the tree, right? Why the fuck they'd be shocked at humanity being a tad murderous is beyond me, but clearly this is a notion as far beyond the Engineers' capacities as empathy. As I say... fucktards.

Q: Are you sure they didn't consider the possibility of humans being a threat? It might explain why the signposts don't point to their homeworld.

A: True. Looks like someone among them did realise there's every likelihood the mini-mes will turn out as dangerously fucktarded as their creators, and so talked his comrades out of directing the min-mes to the homeworld. Three guesses who. Can't you just imagine that one intelligent Engineer breathing a sigh of relief when his bosses agree not to leave signposts pointing to the homeworld... and then facepalming when they breezily tell him where the signposts will point instead? "Really? That's your alternative? Just in case they turn out dangerous, you're going to invite them to the planet of liquid frickin death instead of the homeworld. Fucktards. I'm surrounded by fucktards."

Q: But what if LV-223 was originally just where we were meant to meet them, nothing more? What if they only sent the stockpiles of liquid death there after they'd decided to exterminate us? Or developed them there, or whatever?

A: Cause setting up your munitions dump / top secret bioweaponry facility in the one place that your would-be exterminees know to come looking for you... that's so much less fucktarded. For cock's sake, the Engineers couldn't be more fucktarded if they put their WMD R&D facility on a spaceship programmed to return to their homeworld on a collision course in the event of an emergency. And what kind of a cretin would do that?

Q: But you're assuming it's just liquid death plain and simple. Sure, it tends to result in undead penis snakes, thrashing squid babies, and ultimately a gangly teen-gimp xenomorph, but what it does to the Engineer at the start... maybe it's just some sort of terraforming malarky cum evolution accelerant that... goes a bit wrong. Do we know that it's really meant to be a WMD?

A: Well, if it's not a WMD, that would make Idris Elba and the two crew members look pretty fucktarded when they crash the Prometheus into the Engineer ship in an entirely unnecessary attempt to save Earth from the liquid frickin death. It would make Shaw look pretty fucktarded for believing the killer android when he tells her that's where the Engineer ship is headed to unleash the liquid frickin death. Actually, I suppose it is quite possible the whole spectacular finale is just the last few survivors of this crackpot mission financed by a dying crank being talked into killing themselves pointlessly by a faith-addled pseudo-scientist on the word of a killer robot. The defrosted Engineer could have other plans entirely. The robot could be lying. But...

Q: But you don't think they're that dumb?

A: On the contrary. Idris Elba's fucktarded enough that he doesn't think to direct the two lost scientists back to the ship using the big fucking hologram map he's looking at. And Shaw trusts the killer android after he's poisoned her lover with the liquid frickin death and drugged her to play unwilling womb for a thrashing squid baby; there's no question she's a fucktard. They all are; the fucktardery humans seem to have inherited from the Engineers is evidenced throughout. But given the fact that Earth does pop up straight away in the navigation thingy, and the way the defrosted Engineer tries to kill every human in sight... and, of course, the small fact that the whole place is stocked with liquid frickin death... I'm willing to believe that he is indeed out to exterminate humanity.

Q: Even though it's two thousand years later? And all his comrades are dead?

A: I told you: these people are fucktards. Forget the extinction of his entire team. Forget warning the rest of his species of whatever dread calamity happened on LV-223. Orders are orders. He's got a job to do and he's going to do it. No, the humans may be so fucktarded as to remove helmets in a zone of hideous death, practise the worst archaeology ever, wander off and get lost like ten year olds, play with undead penis snakes, and more, yet more, too much fucktardery to list, but they get it from the Engineers. So yeah, I can totally believe the defrosted Engineer has no other thought in his bald noggin than to complete an obsolete mission of genocide on behalf of his extinct species. That's just how fucktarded they are. And the opening scene makes total sense in that context. You can see the sort of fucktardery the Engineer in the opening scene is dealing with now, right? No fucking wonder he kills himself.

Q: But doesn't Scott say somewhere that it's about him being destroyed to create life -- like in some sorta sacrifice, some sorta spiritual circle of life thing? Like, the Engineers accept death as a natural part of the cycle? Like, they're so big on the whole Promethean theme of self-sacrifice that this is just How They Roll? If they're gonna create life, one of them has to nobly offer himself up to die. Even if they could just use a pig carcass.

A: Self-sacrifice? Yeah, those ghost image recordings look really noble in their acceptance of death as they run away in panic from whatever monstrous fuck up they've unleashed. The bodies piled up outside the door clearly had that whole circle of life thing foremost in their minds as they scrabbled desperately for sanctuary. The Engineer who shut himself up in stasis leaving his comrades to their fate... he's all about the self-sacrifice.

Q: Well, maybe the one at the start isn't like the rest.

A: Then we can hardly paint his suicide as ritual expression of a culture-wide mindset, can we? The rest aren't just genetically human. They display the natural human instinct of self-preservation. As far as their belief system goes, the fact they worship a giant China Miéville head doesn't tell us nearly as much as the fact they run the fuck away from danger.

Q: But hey, at least running away means they're not entirely fucktarded?

A: Well, the fact that only one of them survives speaks volumes. The rest are apparently so fucktarded they just pile up at a closed door that an android can open with a touch, as I recall. They're fucktarded enough it seems they end up royally fucked by one "every man for himself" bastard who's smart enough to lock the door and hide. I'm guessing he's the boss, by the way; only management would be fucktarded enough to rip the head off the person who actually pulls you out of the endless-stasis-with-no-hope-of-rescue shit. Anyway, the point is, their undignified death doesn't exactly project a pacific acceptance of their own death, does it?

Q: But surely that big-ass xenomorph mural suggests there's more to the biogothic decor than just aesthetics.

A: So the biological killing machine is awesome sauce to them. That seems more like they're accepting life as a necessary part of death than vice versa. Seems like they're creating life just for the glorious joy of unleashing liquid death on it. Hey, boys! Let's fill a planet with mini-mes then dump murderous monsters on them! What fun! It'll take a few billion years, but it'll be worth it for the chest-bursting. Stupidity and viciousness -- again, it's a natural combination. And what do you know, they end up extinct because of it. Again, I say the most logical thesis is that the Engineer at the start has just fucking had enough.

Q: But isn't the point that we don't know why they decide to kill us? Like, God moves in mysterious ways and all that.

A: No, authorial fiat moves in mysterious ways. When you can prove to me that your writing is the product of the Hand of God itself, pressing the laptop keys with your fingers, then it'll maybe be a matter of the inscrutable motives of an imaginary uber-deity somehow beyond human understanding and yet absurdly anthropomorphised (if we count mammalian emotions and primate nous as anthropomorphism.) Until then, it's not God defying explanation; it's your wholly human agencies having no rationale because you've decided to have them act without one. And that makes them fucktards. Whether the decision is to make humanity or destroy it, if your answer to "Why?" is "Um... because?" they're not even really acting on caprice; they're acting as brainless pawns in your authorial hands, doing what you need them to simply to further the sequence of events. (I say "sequence of events" rather than plot because it's not fricking plot if it's driven by authorial fiat. Plot is when one event actually, you know, causes another.) We can give them the benefit of the doubt, fill the void where motives and agendas should be with rationales of our own construction, but if you haven't thought it through, if you've deliberately denied thought in order to ape profundity with trite gestures at ineffability... surprise surprise, the most sensible rationale for the agents of your narrative may be that they don't have a fucking clue what they're doing, the fucking fuckwitted fucking fucktards.


Friday, June 08, 2012

Thank You Haters

This is awesome: