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October 2, 2003

I Take It All Back

Actually, now that I think about it, the article I just posted on the X-Men is actually the epitome of all the things I really dislike about a certain kind of criticism, that I tend to conflate as Marxist.

Not that the article is not perceptive and well, the accusations it makes are actually quite fitting. It's just that there's a general tone about it that is rife with that dramatic turn for revelation and the relish and strut of political discovery. However much I am swayed by the accuracy of the accusations it makes, and obviously I feel them to be necessary, even essential, to any reading of the text, yet the problem lies in that this kind of writing is just so very simply not very good literary analysis. Beyond that, it is also just not very fair or descriptive - to the extent that it becomes a kind of naive imposition on the text, and lacks any real engagement with the complexity that accompanies any text deemed worthy of comment.

Just as examples that spring to mind, what of the aesthetics of spectacle involved? The endless close reading that can take place in examining the narratorial and textual elements of the form the text takes - the framing of the action, the "how" of the story being told in a series of panels, the issues of focalisation and perspective that are involved. Not to mention the sexual fetishism inherent in the depiction of bodies, the textual and verbal ticks that pervade the series, somehow independant of the change-over of writers. And I suppose I could make some snarky comment about ignoring how funny things are but that would be somewhat unfair.

Not that I am not guilty of doing similar things - and to be honest it is very effective as a kind of rhetorical trump, to undermine the politics of a text - and yet I find that it's really the easy, and lazy way out, an effective way of dismissing texts rather than examining them.

Accusation, if nothing else, detracts from the more fruitful examination (if you want to retain the same ideological slant as accusation allows) of the mechanics, the emotional appeal if you will, of how and why these texts are then still so attractive and persuasive. If you wish to move beyond idle politics, then you come to the point where these caveats become a baseline, a point of departure from which you examine the million other things that are of so much more interest. I appreciate that he's writing in response to something, working against the flow of something, but it's just how predictable he has to make it that is rather disappointing.

Of course it's politically compromised. Deal with it.

Posted by subtitles at October 2, 2003 5:12 PM | Personal