Sunday, May 27, 2007

Look Out for the Anvil!

Read Roger has a conversation going on (Crap, here comes the Teacher!) that talks about didacticism. Right now there are over 50 comments.

My two cents worth:

Do I like didacticism or message books? Hell no.

But doesn't every book have a message? Is it not so much about the message as how it's delivered? Hell yes.

I look at it this way, whether it's a book, a TV show, or a movie.

Yes, I know there is an author / writer/ creator. But the minute Oz shows himself behind the curtain; the minute I know that my strings are being pulled by a puppet master; I'm turned off. For me, the moment that the message overwhelms the story you've lost me as a reader, and this usually happens when the author lets the message get in the way.

In addition to that, if the message is so heavy handed that it's like getting hit on the head by an anvil, you've lost me. I'm not stupid. Get too heavy handed (this is important! you must take this message away with you!) and you've lost me, because I don't like to get beat up.

Let me add: this is true whether or not I agree with the message; tho to be honest, I'm probably more forgiving and willing to ignore it if it's a message I agree with.

How can I tell when this happens? Characters act unlike themselves; speeches are given that take away from the whole; events happen that don't make sense; consequences are over the top. In other words, the story is affected and manipulated in order to have the message delivered. It's one of the reasons I didn't like This Is All; I felt as if all those things were happening in order to deliver a message, and as such the characters and events never stayed "real" to me.

Edited to add: One more thing about the Read Roger comments: there are way too many people using anonymous. OK, for whatever reason, you don't want to use your real name but for the love of Mike, pick a pseudonym and stick with it. Trying to keep track of who was who is way too confusing, gives less weight to their argument, and makes it difficult to follow the conversation and the points being made.

Thanks to Monica for letting me know about this conversation.


Kelly said...


I am SO over the anonymous comments. I'm tired of people being anonymous on the web in general. I understand certain places are necessary: Bitch PhD, Miss Snark, for example, but they at least stick to a NAME. One you recognize. I thought that conversation was ruined by the anonymous.

Kimberly/lectitans said...

I'm with Kelly. I stopped reading the comments just because I couldn't keep up with which Anonymous was commenting.

Liz B said...

It got particularly frustrating as Anon. spoke as if everyone knows him/her.

And to tell you the truth, 'h was bothering me, too; I understand why someone doesn't want to use their real name, but since 'h was using their real life creds ('i got a star from horn book') that also proved frustrating; plus, since they used anon sign in (even tho its possible to use a name without webpage or addy) one didn't realize it was 'h anon until the bottom of the post. Why not just use the option of 'h as name when commenting?

Kelly said...

Well, maybe everyone DID know who Anon #1 and 'h are. But...I still wonder, what was being said that one has to hide behind a "'h" or "anon" moniker? Seems cowardly to me. If you have an opinion, you should have the guts to state it using your own name. If you can't, maybe you should keep it to yourself.

Liz B said...

Kelly, I see what you're saying and I agree; the exception I was thinking of is bloggers like Little Willow or Mother Reader; how you can use something other than your own name and have credibility.

And I did seem like some people "knew" who anon & 'h are. But I guess I didn't get that memo!

Anonymous said...

I found that conversation hard to follow after a while, too. I didn't know who Anon and 'h were, either.

Kelly said...

Oh, yeah, MotherReader and Little Willow are like MissSnark or BitchPhD. (The exceptions I had above.) In a way, they're not anonymous because there is a traceable place to which you can return and take them to task if you want. I don't see that as anonymous really. They've created web personae that are real.

Saints and Spinners said...

As much as I loved the His Dark Materials series, I thought that Pullman was as guilty of didacticism in The Amber Spyglass as he accused C.S. Lewis of being with Narnia.

Re: Anonymous comments and such, just so you know, my real name is Farida Dowler. ;)

Liz B said...

Alkelda or should I say Farida!

I think The Amber Spyglass is a great example; like you, love the series, disappointed that the third one was too message driven (and sad that Pullman didn't seem to realize he was doing exactly what he accused CSL of doing.)

Another reason I think Amber Spyglass is a great example is I'm sure there are many people who disagree!

Little Willow said...

What do you think of I Am the Messenger by Zusak?