Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Ordinary People 

I wonder how often we genre folk, who revel in the weird, in the counterfactual, in the hyperreal, forget how far we exceed the scruples and tastes of most other people, of the mundanes, of the ordinary people. Well, at least, *I* have realized this recently. (I also recall incidents from my childhood and young adulthood which reminded me of the same thing: my grandmother baffled by Twilight Zone episodes, however much I tried to explain; my high school best friend sniggering at the sci fi books I read, on those occasions I tried to share, or confide.)

But we all grow up, grow comfortable in our views, tend to hang out with others of our bent, privately, at clubs, or conventions. We avoid dissenters. Yet other people impact our lives, from other angles, on other dimensions. And they keep us in check.

Case in point, my domestic partner, who's willing to follow me pretty much anywhere if it involves traveling, shopping, or watching movies. (Though he's not a book person at all.) Yet there are times he rebels. Via Netflix I rented Peter Jackson's Heavenly Creatures -- the movie he made before he made Lord of the Rings, a movie I'd not seen before, but had heard good things about.

Yeong, my partner, was offended, really offended, that the story resolved with -- SPOILER WARNING! -- a girl who kills her mother. Why would anyone make a movie about such a thing?? They must be really sick. Was his reaction.

I attemped to explain, as any of you might, about the film's interest in exploring the fantasy world these girls made for themselves, about how this was a real case murder story, but he actually resented my trying to explain. These people must be sick, he said. How is this different than the murders in, say, Psycho?, I asked. You can't convince me, he said.

It's not actually a genre thing, I realize. He was as upset by seeing House of Sand and Fog, which involved the unfortunate killing of a teenaged boy. In that case, I didn't approve of the film much more than he did, for different reasons than his. He was offended by the sacrifice of the boy; I saw it as a classic idiot plot, stupid people doing stupid things, for the sake of a tragic plot.

Yet his reaction applies to much of what we genre folk focus on. Unordinary things, bizarre things. We settle into our attitudes, our worldviews, chat with our friends at cons, and forget how many of our fellow citizens would be revolted by what we do. Is there a political analogy here? Ok, I won't go there. Enough is enough; let's move on.
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Mark R. Kelly

The opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of Mark R. Kelly, and do not reflect the editorial position of Locus Magazine.
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