Tuesday, January 15, 2013

And to Think, All This from Jesus vs. Santa

And now I'm over 60,000 words. This is downright surreal.

There's so much I want to tell you about this book. So many details I want to share giddily with Matt while I'm writing. So many aspects which I feel are full of win, from character development to cool vocabulary I've invented. But I know it's not at all the thing to do, both because I'll give it away (on an individual level) and because I'll be opening myself up to thievery (on the wider blog-on-internet level). So I'm having to spin in my own little circle of happiness about what I'm writing instead of spreading the love.

This would all be a lot easier if I wasn't on such a flaming roll, writing thousands of words every day. All I want to think about is the world I've built, and all I want to do is create more inside of it.

Partly for this reason, I'm kind of dry for what to write about here. I thought of writing about this picture, which appeared on Kotaku the other day and spun up all kinds of interesting commentary in my head about gender and pinup art and what women are attracted to. But I didn't think anyone would be interested, so I chucked that idea. I thought of discussing my various writing plans in the near future, but they're all twisted up with my personal life and that was too far in the other direction, away from commentary and toward navel-gazing.

Oh! I know. Over the past few months, I watched the entire berth of South Park available on Netflix. I'd seen most of season one, some of season two, all of season nine (for some reason), and scattered episodes from all the others (the essentials, like the Scientology episode and the Scott Tenorman episode). In all, there were 221 23-minute shows available on instant watch and I'd probably seen a third of them. I loved the series, cheerleaded for it, but still hadn't seen the majority of it. I finished last week, with the last episode of season 15, and even I am genuinely astonished at exactly how good South Park can be. It's subversive to a level that little else in our culture is, it's intelligent to a degree that funny shows virtually never are, and the only adjective I can think of that sums it all up is necessary. America badly needs every effort possible to bring us down a few pegs, whether out of our own self-obsession or out of our strict prudishness about vulgarity and absurdity, and that's possibly South Park's greatest purpose.

One of the complaints I read over and over as I looked up context for the individual shows was that the series picked low-hanging fruit to skewer. This is not an unfair criticism, but the show also bothers to make it well worth your while to watch it skewer the topic in its own especial way. More than just "ha ha, Mormons are so funny," the approach is "let's make a musical about the real story of Mormonism, and the laughs will take care of themselves."

That's the other thing that frankly amazed me. When it wasn't being blatantly absurd (the U.S. military is probably not trying to open a Stargate into Imaginationland), South Park was always factually accurate. The retelling of Great Expectations, the basis of Scientology, various laws of the United States, certain history lessons: the creators unfailingly did their research, and everything was bang-on correct. That makes me respect them even more. A lot of creative types wouldn't bother, and I don't think anyone holds South Park to a particularly high standard of responsibility aside from its own creators.

Just as I was finishing up season 15, I read this article on Slate. If you're too lazy to read it, it lays out reasons why marathoning a TV show is a bad idea. I can't remember when I agreed less with every one of the basic foundations of an article (unless it was just nonsense, like this bullshit). Episodes have their own integrity? It's better to consider TV characters as pals who hang around in our living rooms once a week than actors whose performances we can watch at our leisure? And recaps and commentary are worth reading?? Dude must have been smoking some of the good stuff.

Matt thinks I should write a full-on magazine essay about why marathoning TV is so awesome and worthwhile, so I'm not going to blow my wad about it here. But after absorbing roughly 60 hours of South Park in the last couple of months, I'm here to tell you: in great ravenous gulps is totally the way to watch a series.

Now go watch South Park for yourself. I have writing to do.

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