Open Thread for Friday, January 30, 2009

It’s been a quiet week in popular culture.

Not a huge week in the popular culture… Oscar Noms are a week old, and February sweeps and mid-season replacements are a couple days off.

So how do you occupy yourself when our corporate overlords aren’t providing you food pellets of entertainment in response to your increasingly frenzied pushing of the lever in your cage?

Have at it in the open thread.

9 Comments on “Open Thread for Friday, January 30, 2009”

  1. Jonathan #

    I am convinced Jareth the Goblin King (David Bowie) from Labryinth wanted to lose to Jennifer Connelly because he has a fetish for babysitters.
    Did you see the way he looked at her during the ballroom scene?

    Besides, if he could trim a few hours off his deadline with the wave of a hand, why didn’t he just push the hands to 13?

    David Bowie just wanted a longer music video, I guess.


  2. Trevor #

    David Bowie gave the world “The Laughing Gnome,” so he can do pretty much whatever he wants :-)


  3. Matthew Belinkie OTI Staff #

    I assume others have mulled over the strange similarities between Labryinth and Pan’s Labryinth. Young girl visits male-dominated fantasy world to protect baby.


  4. mlawski OTI Staff #

    An interesting OTI post could probably be made of how Labyrinth and Pan’s Labyrinth treat fantasy. Labyrinth seems to come down to the moral, “Girls, you need to outgrow fantasy* and take on adult responsibilities. But I guess you can watch Muppet movies sometimes if you need to, cause otherwise we’d be hypocrites.”

    Pan’s Labyrinth is a little more complicated. My interpretation is of it’s moral, if it has one, is, “Escaping to fantasy worlds is the proper reaction of an innocent to a markedly un-innocent world.”

    Interestingly, if that interpretation is correct, then Labyrinth and Pan’s Labyrinth are very different. Labyrinth is an innocence=>experience tale (aka a coming of age story), while Pan’s Labyrinth suggests that the world would be better off if people stayed in the innocence stage. I guess it depends on how you read the film’s ending, though.

    *By fantasy I mean both literary and sexual fantasy, based on Bowie’s pant bulge and that trippy masquerade scene towards the end of the film’s second act.


  5. Jonathan #

    While I can’t speak for Pan’s Labyrinth, because some how my idiot mind hasn’t remembered to rent it yet, I think 80’s Labyrinth is about losing your selfish, er, self.

    Sarah spends the beginning of the movie complaining about watching what I’m assuming was her half-brother Toby (she acts like the mom is a stepmom), eventually wigging out completely and calling upon goblins to take the poor crying kid away for cramping her self-centered fantasy lifestyle.

    In fact, it’s not until she starts helping people that things begin to go right for her: she saves Ludo, then the ugly Hoggle, then saves Sir Didymus from eternally guarding the bridge by asking a well-deduced question, and finally rejects her dreams (offered by Bowie) to save the kid, and then gets to party like its the 80’s with Jim Henson’s homemade homies.

    Selfishness = misery ;)


  6. stokes OTI Staff #

    One interesting thing about the films is the way they deal with fairy tales.

    Labyrinth follows one classic fairy tale structure in which the main character goes on some sort of journey, helps everyone she meets on the way, and is eventually helped by all of her new-found friends. The message being, it’s good to be helpful.

    Labyrinth subverts this sliiiightly, in that the final showdown is still just a Sarah vs. Jareth cage match, which is not how fairy tales of this nature tend to work out. The message of the revised version might be, “It’s good to be helpful, but eventually you’ll have to stand on your own anyway.”

    Pan’s Labyrinth starts off like another classic fairy tale structure in which the character goes on some kind of journey and meets a magic sidekick who gives her a bunch of arbitrary instructions that she proceeds to *ignore*. (“Don’t eat anything in the room!” etc.) Typically in this kind of story, things go from bad to worse until finally the main character wises up and starts following her magic buddy’s advice, at which point they all live happily ever after. The message being: do as you’re told, rugrats.

    Pan’s labyrinth subverts this pretty agressively. Eventually the girl decides that the magic buddy is not giving her good advice, and more or less blows him off. The message here is “people who give you orders you don’t understand rarely have your best interests at heart,” which is hardly even related to the original.

    That’s hardly the ONLY thing that’s going on in these movies (Hey Fenzel, want to post your exegesis of Labyrinth-as-metaphor-for-female-puberty?), but it’s certainly worth pondering.


  7. mlawski OTI Staff #

    @Stokes: I’m not sure about your second fairy tale structure. It seems to me, that type of fairy tale goes like this:

    -[usually female] protagonist meets “mentor” who gives bad advice

    -protag. tries to follow the advice, and kinda-sorta succeeds

    -protag realizes the mentor is false and defeats the fake mentor.

    I’m thinking of Little Red Riding Hood, mostly, but also Alice in Wonderland (which has the moral of, “Man, adults are ridiculous and their rules are arbitrary, so never, ever listen to them”) and The Wizard of Oz.

    So Pan’s Labyrinth isn’t really a subversion at all.


  8. Gab #

    SORT OF SPOILERS for _Pan’s Labrynth_:

    I have trouble accepting the notion that Ofelia is oblivious to the truth of the *real* world going on around her. She’s “innocent” as in not culpable, but I don’t think she’s “innocent” in terms of understanding. She seems pretty aware of what a bad guy the bad guy is from the start, and her encounters with various other characters as the story progresses would only lessen any level of ignorance she had before encountering said characters. And it is this understanding of the reality, not the fantasy, that gives her the strength and courage to make the decision she makes in the end. I suppose one could argue that as her understanding of the fantasy realm increases, so too does her understanding of the real one- but she consciously steps out of the fantasy at the crucial moment, and this says to me that she is wise enough to do so. And my interpretation of this is had she chosen to stay in the fantasy, things would have been even worse- everybody “good,” including Ofelia, would have died; so the moral, imo, is that by understanding the harsh, cruel reality of our world and using this to influence our decisions, we at lest decrease the amount of harm the not-so-innocent (as in culpable) world does. After all, her understanding of the real world gives her the prize- and while said prize may indeed be in the fantasy world, she can no longer exist within reality because of the choice she made in reality for reality’s sake, so she is taken back to the fantasy.


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