Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Reconciling Jaimeness

I am a big fan of TV shows like 'The Wire' and plays like 'Wicked'. The Wire leaves you deeply unsettled for the first few episodes of each season. There is no clear, self-contained point of each episode. There is no narrative structure we can smugly project forward in order to guess what happens. Unlike Friends episodes which can be summarised as 'The one with...', it is more like being parachuted into a real life situation. You have to watch and slowly (most of) the mist will rise.

I like this because it allows characters to build in bits and pieces. You aren't instructed who the good guys are and who the bad guys are. There are good cops and bad cops. There are good drug dealers and bad drug dealers. Good cops do bad things. Bad cops do good things. Really bad people do heroically good things. This seems to reflect the way the world is better than 'The Good Witch of the North' and 'The Wicked Witch of the West'. Which is why I loved how 'Wicked' turned the whole story I grew up with on its head while sticking to the 'facts' and time line of the story. It was an interpretation. Much like we view history.

Reading 'The Fall of the Ottomans', I am struck by how the Muslim world's path towards a secular society with constitutional rule was interrupted and halted by the European Game of Thrones otherwise known as the First World War. I am no historian, but it is hard to figure out a good or bad side from what I have read.

Rebecca Davis touches on this in a chapter of the hilarious 'Best Whites and other Anxious Delusions' recounting how she guards against being charmed by people she is interviewing. Only to find out they are rapists or murderers. The world makes more sense when people are good or bad. The idea that we can be charmed by evil is deeply disturbing. Just like it is almost impossible to know how much of our success to attribute to privilege, we have absolutely no idea what sort of evil acts we are capable of give the right toxic mix of circumstances. If you don't want to believe this, don't read 'The Lucifer Effect'.

Early examples of fallen heroes for me include Hansie Cronje and Lance Armstrong. Of the two I am struggling with at the moment, one is fictional. I don't know how on earth to emotionally respond to Jaime Lannister. Progressively through Game of Thrones they have turned him from an evil dude into someone it is harder and harder not to like. But then there is that scene. The one that makes Borat look like a politically correct movie. I had even 'forgiven' him for pushing a little boy from a tower. That scene on the other hand... The real life one is Bill Cosby. I grew up with the friendly, funny father figure from The Cosby Show. I can't reconcile that character, and the public persona of the actor, with his Jaimeness.

I can see why we like clarity. We can throw water at a problem and watch it melt away. Reality is much more messy.
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