Awhile back, I wrote a series on Mystery Science Theater 3000. My main focus was on what I saw as the archetypes of the Trickster and the Holy Fool that one could discern in the series. However, I also talked a little bit about how I came to be a fan of the show, and my thoughts on the two hosts, Joel Hodgson and Mike Nelson. Spoiler Alert: There will be mild spoilers for Season 11 below. The previous seasons have been around long enough that I assume everyone has seen them by now, and I won’t be discussing them, anyway.
As MST3K fans are doubtless aware, in April of 2017, the show, after many years off the air, returned with much fanfare and popular acclaim, as well as with new cast. I watched the new season–the 11th–and enjoyed it. It occurred to me that having written previously on MST3K, I should post something about its newest iteration. However, alas, at that time, I had lapsed from regular blogging. Of late, I have got back to at least periodic writing here at the Chequer-Board. I decided, therefore, that it was high time that I should return to MST3K and to write about my thoughts on the revived show.
Awhile back I wrote four posts on the series Mystery Science Theater 3000. I’ve recently decided to writer another post, and more may follow in the future. Therefore, I’ve decided to make an index page to get them all together in one place. Enjoy!
It isn’t that I object to it. I just feel it’s the wrong adjective as applied to the films I do. Because horror to me is, say, a film like The Godfather. Or anything to do with war, which is real and can happen, and unfortunately, no doubt, will happen again some time. But the films that dear Christopher Lee and I do are really fantasy. And I think fantasy is a better adjective to use. I don’t object to the term horror, it’s just the wrong adjective!
—Peter Cushing Interview 1973 (1973); courtesy Wikiquote
The first is a brief talk about the Feast of Saint John the Apostle–which is today–and the second is the movie The Gospel of John, a critically acclaimed movie about the life of Christ, which is based on the aforementioned Gospel.
I’m a likely and yet improbable fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Having been born at the cusp of the Boomer Generation and Generation X, I’m in the target age group. As a male and a science fiction fan, I’m certainly in the target demographic. Despite this, it took me a long time to become an MST3K fan.
I remember running across it a few times in the early 90’s while looking for something to watch. I couldn’t figure out what it even was at first. After watching a few snatches of it, I originally thought it was something like What’s Up, Tiger Lily? This was an early movie by Woody Allen in which he took a standard-issue Japanese spy drama, and dubbed it in English with totally new dialogue that turned it into a farcical spoof about the search for a secret egg salad recipe. I had seen that as a kid and liked it; and when I first saw MST3K, I thought the voices of Joel and the bots were an overdub as in Tiger Lily.
Back here, in one of my articles on the decline and fall of television, I had the following to say:
Of course, it may be that we live in an already coarse and unforgiving age, and we just get the television we deserve. That is depressingly possible. Still, the popularity of reality TV, in my mind, is just one more instance not only of the debased state of public entertainment and discourse in our society, but of the exhaustion of creativity in pop culture in general. That’s a broader topic that I’ll be visiting soon.
Well, it’s not that soon, as it’s turned out; but I do want to revisit it. It’s going to take a series of posts to do so, though, so I’m setting this as an index page.
My basic thesis, which I’ll be examining in posts to come is this: Repetition, in the form of series, serials, remakes, and quotation of various tropes is at one and the same time the most characteristic feature of modern pop culture (all genres) and also the sign of its decadence and creative decline. I first thought about this in relation to comics. Later, though, reading Joss Whedon’s execrable comic book continuation of Buffy the Vampire slayer, I managed to shake myself out of the stupor at how the mighty had fallen long enough to apply the same ideas I had to TV. Still later I thought the same notions were applicable to literature, and probably all of pop culture. I have thought about this for few years and am now firmly of the opinion that less is more, and more is–well, more, but also that more is less, artistically, aesthetically, and even morally.
I will be looking at the issue from different angles and in reference to different genres. I’ll be putting posts up sporadically, and it will be a little while in getting to the core of what I’m after; but I hope to make some interesting points, at least. Stay tuned!