In the fifteenth part of Moving Pictures, the group’s arrival in Ankh-Morpork sets events in motion. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of sexism and objectification of women.
I had to say that Dibbler hadn’t built the theater yet, didn’t I? I HAD TO.
Wizards and Clicks
There’s an undeniable humor for me in the prolonged joke of the wizards venturing out of Unseen University to do something so wholly pedestrian and non-wizard-like as going to the movies. It’s funny. I get the joke, and their banter is beautifully written, especially with Poons’ objections so liberally spread between what everyone else is saying. (Actually, the fake beards bit is spectacular, too.) But lord, it’s just tiring at this point to read about old men objectifying women or mystifying them. Like, do we need this at this point in the Discworld books? Even if it weren’t grating to read in general, it’s been repeated a number of times in most of these books. It’s not new, and there’s nothing here that adds to the conversation. I suppose you could say that the text sort of condemns their behavior because they’re portrayed as silly fools, but then you’ve got Victor’s similar treatment of Ginger to contend with, too.
I also wonder how this reads if you’re asexual because the wizards are a group who are celibate by choice, and yet their sexlessness is not exactly portrayed positively. I mean, there’s got to be a wizard who got into the profession because they were super stoked not to have to maintain any sort of passing interest in sex, right? WHERE ARE OUR ASEXUAL WIZARDS?
Really, the one part of this that I did like? The wizards trading stories about all the times they broke the rules. That was kind of adorable, a glimpse into their pasts that showed us that these men were willing to pursue what made them happy. Does anyone else feel a little sad about how restrictive wizard life is? Perhaps that’s just me because I grew up in the kind of household where I was restricted from doing pretty much anything.
Anyway, I think there might be an intentional reason that the wizards are all going to be in Bezam’s theater. If there’s anyone slightly more qualified than most to deal with a hole into unreality, wouldn’t it be wizards? Which then creates another complication: would Victor be willing to identify himself as a wizard in front of Ginger? He clearly isn’t going to at the current moment, but he might have to. And then what?
First of all:
Ginger stared, panic-stricken, out of the carriage window.
“Who are all these people?” she said.
“They’re fans,” said Dibbler.
“But I’m not hot!”
BLESS THIS SIMPLE PUN, IT BRINGS ME JOY.
Fandom is a weird concept, one I never really put much thought into until I started being on the other side of it. That actually wasn’t due to Mark Does Stuff, however; that came from my time at Buzznet. I’d run plenty of online communities prior to that, but it was my experience touring with some fairly large bands that shed light on what it feels like to have a fandom. I’m sure most of you wouldn’t be surprised to hear that this was both horrifying and uplifting at the same time. To see devotion, undying and unconditional, can be both inspiring and upsetting, and I got to see every shade of it directed at these bands I toured with. More often than not, these fans were lovely people, eager to share a moment of emotional connection with someone who done something wonderful for them. While I have enough horror stories to fill an encyclopedia concerning fandom, I don’t really want to focus on that right now.
I’m more interested in how fame manifests in Moving Pictures and what it means for these characters. It’s something I really haven’t figured out how to deal with myself, and I’m still learning. It’s odd to be recognized on the subway or the airport or, my current personal favorite, a super raunchy gay bar in Los Angeles. (Shout out to the guy who said hello to me at The Eagle in LA last month. IT WAS SO LOVELY.) I grew up shy and lonely, full stop. To be at a point in my life where strangers are willing to come up to me and say nice things to my face… well, it’s meaningful. It’s astounding. It regularly brings me to tears because I wanted it. I have no shame in saying that to y’all, because I was a sad motherfucker as a kid and a teen. (I mean, I still am, but that’s a separate topic for another day.) I wanted so badly to be liked and desired and appreciated.
I don’t think that Pratchett is trying to say that fame is an awful thing. It’s exciting and even a bit intoxicating. It does wonders for my self esteem and my sense of self worth. I get such a high doing events and conventions because for this tiny moment of my day, I matter. Is there anything wrong with that? I don’t think so. And that’s not the vibe I get from the book, though I suspect this has to do more with idolization than enthusiasm and joy. The people of Ankh-Morpork have put Victor and Ginger on a pedestal for reasons that have nothing to do with who they are as people. They’ve idolized an image of them, one created by the false identities assigned to them by Dibbler’s films. It’s so bad that the only way Ginger can find the energy to go out in public is to PRETEND SHE IS DELORES DE SYN. That sounds exhausting, y’all!
Of course, the real problem is that Bezam’s theater looks just like the one beneath Holy Wood. Everything is going to get super messed up, isn’t it???
The original text contains use of the words “mad,” “idiot,” “lamely,” and “crazy.”
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