In the thirteenth part of Moving Pictures, WHAT THE FUCK! Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
I absolutely was not ready for this.
Nighttime in Holy Wood
Before we get to the thing, which I’m still struggling to understand, I wanted to talk about the opening montage of scenes here in this part of Moving Pictures. Perhaps more than every before, Pratchett balances the tone of the text between sadness and humor. There’s something undeniably adorable about Detritus hiding behind a rock so he can scare random passersby. But why does he do it? Because he’s convinced that his crush on Ruby has ruined him. Look, I think a lot of us can relate to someone dealing with the pain of an unrequited crush. It’s awful! You hurt all over your body because it’s not just an emotional thing. It’s very physical. So I get why Detritus bursts into tears after discovering he’s frightened a couple. It’s a painful reminder that he can’t have something like that, at least in his eyes. Perhaps Ruby really is interested in him but it’s complicated.
And while Detritus is coping with this, Dibbler is busy further manipulating those who will watch his clips. If the egregious and crass advertising was terrible, then his discovery of and use of subliminal messaging is a billion times worse. While I don’t understand why Holy Wood is bad for everyone in this book, i’s more clear than ever that this place and this magic has affected Dibbler in horrific ways. He went from being a persistent but charming salesman to… well, the worst of all stereotypes about the exploitative nature of Hollywood. He encompasses them all. He takes advantage of labor; he underpays everyone; he steals credit and respect; he overworks his staff; and now, he’s trying subliminally manipulate his audience.
The remainder of this section, though, tracks one single thing: Victor’s attempt to stop Ginger from opening the door on the hill. As utterly horrifying and mystifying as this ends up being, I found it kind of hilarious that Victor failed IMMEDIATELY at doing the one thing he was supposed to do. I admit that I’m largely bored by the romantic subtext to a lot of this, namely because it feels like it’s following the same dynamic we’ve seen numerous times throughout the Discworld books: an average-looking guy is awkward, uncomfortable, and confused around a very pretty woman, who is often painted as unattainable and difficult to understand. That’s not to say I’m not into the idea of them as a pairing, but this specific relationship just pales in comparison to practically every other part of this book. Moving Pictures feels so unlike the previous nine Discworld books, you know?
So I’d rather talk about the absolutely mindfuck that is this new twist to the story. See, I kept thinking one thing whenever the Door was brought up: What would come out of it? I don’t think it was an unreasonable way of framing my understanding of it, especially since the text always wanted us to be aware that Something was trying to get out of that doorway. But I can now see how that guided me into a specific narrative, one that never made me ask a different question:
What’s beyond the door?
Let’s start with Ginger’s dream:
“It always starts off with this mountain –“
“Look, you really shouldn’t be talking –“
“– and there are stars around it, you know, in the sky, but one of them comes down and it’s not a star at all, it’s a woman holding a torch over her head –“
Victor slowly turned back to the front of the book.
“Yes?” he said, carefully.
“And she keeps on trying to tell me something, something I can’t make out, about waking something, and thent here are a lot of lights and this roar, like a lion or a tiger or something, you know? And then I wake up?”
When I first read this, I thought it was a clever reference to the Paramount and MGM credit sequences, but now, I’m not so sure, given what Gaspode and Victor find… there. After a gloriously funny sequence in which Gaspode fetches Laddie so that Laddie can perform their role perfectly as the “Lassie” dog, the trio tries to stop Ginger from freeing the horrible force in Holy Wood. Again, I approached this totally wrong, so I know that’s why this freaked me out. I honestly thought that Victor would go in a few feet, and then maybe Ginger would run out of the place.
But this??? I WAS NOT FUCKING READY. Y’all, I have so many questions I need answered so that my soul doesn’t feel so disturbed.
- WHOSE SKULL WAS THAT? WHY WAS THERE A SKULL DOWN THERE?
- What’s the significance of the sound of the sea? Logistically, I think that supports the theory that Holy Wood sunk ages ago, but why is the city connected to this place? How was the door constructed? WHY was it constructed?
- Does the archway signify yet another doorway? In terms of imagery, that’s what I got.
- I feel like this is obvious, but is the shimmering screen the actual point through which They can pass into our world?
- WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED TO ALL THE PEOPLE WHO WATCHED THE LAST MOVIE HERE? WHY ARE THEY ALL DEAD? DID THEY JUST REMAIN SITTING UNTIL THEY DIED AND THE MOVIE KEPT GOING UNTIL IT RAN OUT OF POWER OR SOMETHING? WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON?
- Why did Ginger need to hold the torch? Where did she get it? What does it signify?
- WHAT IS THAT BODY UP ON THE SLAB???????
- WHAT’S THE CORRODED DISC BEHIND IT?
- What did Ginger mean by “Go away now or great harm will befall”????
- What exactly did Victor activate by stepping on the musical “keys” in the orchestra pit??? Why did the entire cavern start to “rearrange”?
I mean, this could still be a temple of sorts, and it’s clear that moving pictures led to the ruin of Holy Wood before. Is this exactly what’s going to happen again? I could perhaps see that, except Dibbler hasn’t built a theater like the one they just found underground. OH GOD, IS THAT WHAT HE’S GOING TO DO NEXT?
This was supremely creepy, y’all. Good god.
The original text contains use of the words “mad” and “idiot.”
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