[REV] End of Month Reviews - August 2004 [spoilers]

Saxon Brenton saxon.brenton at uts.edu.au
Sun Sep 5 18:43:40 PDT 2004

[piggybacking just a little]
Dvandom replied to Arthur:
>> Martin wrote:
>>>  Lowest common denominator?  Is that what the LNH/LNH2/LNHY has been
>>> this month?  Hmm.
>> That's always been my target audience.

I'm not sure whether you're being flippant or not. For my part my target 
audience has always been people who can understand all the superhero/comic 
book references that I stuff into my writings - and while that's loosely 
summarised as 'drooling comics fanboys', it nevertheless requires them to 
be well read and at least moderately erudite drooling comics fanboys.

>> Looking through Google I find it interesting that there are no old 
>> posts about the whole Woody Scandal.  Was the Woody Scandal something 
>> that was just completely blown out of proportion?
>      I think it was more a matter of coming so completely out of left 
> field, and also shocking the co-writers a bit.  At the time, the story-
> line in question was bouncing between (IIRC) four writers, a couple of 
> whom were on the young and easily offended side.  Plus, for those of us 
> who weren't offended by the content, many of us found the execution 
> offensive on a literary level.  I.e. crude and utterly unromantic 
> phrasing used for what was probably intended to be a significant 
> character moment.
>      Of course, over in ASH, I've had someone use tantric sex to cure
> paralysis, and more recently have been dealing with the sex lives of people
> who are no longer organic, so I'm probably on that "jaded" side.

Maybe. Or maybe you just have the proper emotional distance from those 
characters. I recall when you had the problem about how to do 'right' 
the scene where Kid Pocky is seduced by the dream simulation of Kat in 
_Dvandom Force_ #91, but they were, to some extent, Writers Characters.

I concur with your assessments about the WS, but in particular I think 
that the 'execution offensive at the literary level' may have wider 
implications for the type of genre we're talking about. The Legion is at 
heart superhero parody and from there branches out in style. Some writers 
are able to handle the change of style between anarchic and goofy 
silliness on the one hand and more serious adventure, social commentary 
&/or characterisation on the other, while other writers will not. 
Moreover, there will be some readers who'll suffer cognitive dissonance 
from that change, regardless of how well the combination is presented, 
and that situation will reflect both personal taste and cultural 
upbringing. (One of these days I really should borrow Cynical Lass from 
Rob for a quick pointed comment about how the Americans seem to be happy 
with almost any amount of violence but tend to get puritanical about sex, 
while the Europeans stereotypically have the opposite reactions...)

The whole topic raises complex issues about how to deal with certain 
subjects for the best (or from a cynical point of view, least worst) 
literary effect. There are some subjects which are 'hot button' for 
some people, and even some cultures, but which may or may not be taboo 
in stories, depending on their treatment. And depending on whether the 
treatment is between characters or between writer and reader, or whether 
it's ironic, or relieving the tension of an otherwise serious scene, 
numerous other factors, it's tricky to do humorous treatments of sex, 
race, homosexuality, obesity, etc.
And of course, when it's done poorly, it gets accused of being (among 
other things) lowest common denominator. It may be a function of RACC's
status as non-pro posting forum but which is nevertheless not a fanfic
forum that we angst about this sort of issue (as well as things like, 
'is RACC dying?' and suchlike). Does anybody who hangs out on other 
fiction forums know if other groups go through this sort of 

Saxon Brenton      Uni of Technology, city library, Sydney Australia 
     Guerrilla advertising: details of Phil and Kaja Folio's _Girl Genius_ 
gaslight fantasy comic can be found at:   http://www.studiofoglio.com/

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