Viewing posts tagged green death

6

"I have in my hand a piece of paper," says Mr Stevens, CEO of Global Chemicals, echoing Chamberlain in unconscious admission that his promises of a profitable truce in the class war will turn out to be worthless, "which will mean a great deal to all of you. Wealth in our time!"

The ex-miners, crowded around the gates of the closed pit, are unimpressed.

"When the National Coal Board were forced to close the pit last year..." Stevens begins.

"It were a shame, that was!" heckles one of the workers, in Ignorant Yokel Speak.

"No, my friends," says Stevens chummily, presenting himself as one of them, "we must not be bitter. We must face the facts."

Note the 'we'; the most abused word in political discourse.  As in 'we're all in this together'.

"Coal is a dying industry," asserts Stevens.

The miners shout "Rubbish! Rubbish!"

When it happens in reality, the idea that the mines had to shut because they were unprofitable will be rubbish.  Mining was always subsidised.  

"Oil is our future now and the government agrees with me. They have not only given us the go-ahead for our plans, they have promised us money ...

Skulltopus 12: Come Out onto the Balcony and Wave a Tentacle

Okay, first a quick (well... relatively quick) recap and a few clarifications... because we've come a long way. And then onto some hot Zygon action.


The Story So Far...

If only 'Pirates of the Caribbean II' had looked this good.
According to China Miéville, the tentacular monster was introduced to Western SF/Horror literature in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by the loose style/affect/trend known as 'the Weird'.  Lovecraft, Hodgson, Machen, etc.  They used various new forms of the monstrous, especially tentacles, as a 'novum', unfreighted with previously accreted meanings and associations, which could express something of the unprecedented, inexplicable, inexpressible catastrophic horror that was engulfing modernity with the onrush of world war, mechanised imperialism and endemic economic crisis.  (There were a couple of important pre-eruptions of the tentacular and Weirdish courtesy of SF pioneer H.G. Wells and 'ghost story' writer M.R. James.)  Mieville says that the Weird represents a way of trying to express anxieties that is alternate and incompatible with the gothic.  The gothic - or hauntological - is an expression of something we already know which has been hidden (or repressed) and which haunts us, threatening to return.  The Weird is what we ...

Cottage Industry vs. the Spectacular Tentacular Draculas

According to Miles and Wood, Barry Letts' eco views were very much influnced (as were many people's) by a text called Blueprint for Survival, co-written by Edward Goldsmith (now deceased) and published in the magazine he founded, The Ecologist, in 1972.  It was supported by many scientists and was subsequently released in book form to became a best-seller.  Miles and Wood identify it as the real-world model for Sir Charles Grover's Last Chance for Man in 'Invasion of the Dinosaurs'.  There is indeed something of Goldsmith's politics (small-c conservative; anti-industrial society) in the fictional Grover, who is simultaneously an eco-radical and an establishment elitist who wishes to turn the clock back (literally) to a kind of enlightened feudalism.  George Monbiot has described Goldsmith's politics as "a curious mixture of radical and reactionary", saying that he "has advocated the enforced separation of Tutsis and Hutus in Rwanda and Protestants and Catholics in Ulster, on the grounds that they constitute 'distinct ethnic groups' and are thus culturally incapable of co-habitation".  According to Monbiot, Goldsmith

assumes that culture is a rigid, immutable thing: that different communities can live only within the boxes nature has ...

Skulltopus 10: How Green Was My Death?

'The Green Death' is a ghost story.  Doctor Who itself may actually be best described, from one standpoint, as an anthology of ghost stories.


Okay, let's go back a bit.

Firstly, let me defend my notion about 70s Doctor Who sprouting Weird tentacles when it notices (and thus needs to evade and/or signify) capitalism.  'The Green Death' is clearly aware of capitalism and, sure enough, shows signs of Weird inflection.  (I'm aware, by the way, that I keep talking about the show as though its alive... a form of commodity fetishism that I'll address some day.)

Apart from anything else, there's a dirty great tentacle in 'The Green Death'.  It's only in it for a few seconds, during the Doctor's abortive trip to Metebelis III, but still...




As in 'Curse of Peladon', this is the tentacular riding in on past associations... however, it can't be said to work quite the same way as previous tentacles in the Pertwee era.  This tentacle is clearly not obscuring any potential thematic convergence upon the subject of capitalism, as in 'Spearhead from Space' and 'Claws of Axos'.  Nor is it standing in for implied ...

BBC Wales


The patronizing use of Welsh stereotypes in 'The Green Death' is evidence of the employment of centuries-old imperial condecenscion.  However, Welshness alone does not straightforwardly equal idiocy in this story.  Rather, it is the conjunction of Welshness with membership of the proletariat which produces characters who don't really have a clue what's going and need everything explained to them.

Clifford Jones and 'Nancy' (note how she doesn't need a surname) are allowed to be efficient and useful only because their Welshness (which entails them using cute provincialisms galore) is offset by their educated, middle-class boffinity and right-onitude.  Meanwhile, Jo marvels openly at her own foolishness in caring so much about the death of a "funny little Welshman" (who kept her alive).  The difference between these Welsh characters - i.e. between the ones who qualify as people and those who don't - is down to class.

The workers in this story are belittled, peripheral figures.  They are profoundly out of touch and their Welshness is but a conduit by which they can be further quaintified.  They miss the big picture, even when the hippy scientists try to explain everything to them. They side with Stevens ...

Missing Codec

Old Who was not fundamentally about characters or characterisation.

At its best, it used characterisation as a way of expressing its actual concerns, which were narrative or semiotic or conceptual or thematic or mythic or political or satirical... or any combination thereof.

We know everything we need to know about who Kalik, Orum and Pletrac are, how they think, etc. for the pastiche/satire/parable/joke to work.

It simply isn't interested in how Kalik feels about his mother.

It certainly isn't interested in how the Doctor feels. Or hardly ever. Even when the Doctor goes home for the first time, we don't see him soulfully staring at his childhood haunts or standing in the rain over the grave of his deserted Mum. Instead, he gets caught up in a satirical political thriller that turns into a surreal duel and then an apocalyptic techno-melodrama.

Of course, there's plenty of characterisation in 'The Deadly Assassin'. Even minor characters have ways of thinking and speaking. Hildred is a brutal bungler. Borusa is principled in some ways, cynical in others, and has a sneaking admiration for his wayward ex-pupil, etc.

Worldbuilding, in the service of conceptual or historical or ...

Twee... but Pertinent

Yep, here's the best of my Pertwee stuff from Timelash II.  Thrill to my confusion as I struggle to get to grips with an era that itself struggled to get to grips with fuel controversies, miners' strikes, feminism and loads of funny stuff like that.  Lots of new material in amongst the stuff I posted at Gallibase. 


‘Inferno’

I remember the first time I saw 'Inferno'. I was at university. I popped into town and bought the VHS release with pretty much the last scrapings from the bottom of my overdraught. I took it back to my digs and watched it in one sitting, surrounded by half-read Penguin classics, half-written essays and empty beer cans.

I remember, somewhere towards the middle of the story, practically praying to Someone Or Other (the gods of TV probably) that the writer would have the balls to refuse to reveal what the green slime was and/or what the Primords were.

I remember being well pleased when I got to the end without having had some clumsy sci-fi "explanation" foisted on me.

The Primords are just there. They represent the animal in man, unleashed. The are the externalised form of ...

Recent Posts

Archive

Tags

Authors

Feeds

RSS / Atom