Yesterday I was in the city to see The Book of Mormon at the lovely old Academy of Music, using some extra time to snap photos along the Avenue of the Arts: the Walk of Fame, the Wilma and Merriam theaters, the Kimmel Center. It was a mood, delivered in large measure by participants from the pride parade, a sporadic rainbow, joyfully controlling their own narrative.
Now in The Book of Mormon there’s this matter of story-telling, myth, and whether it’s perfectly fine or even admirable to mix a little Star Trek or maybe a hobbit into the otherwise perfectly reasonable epic of Christ’s American stopover, just to help get the point across. Reminding my admittedly addled brain of some recent Internet rants against those entitled, interloper superfans who think they know what should have happened in the Star Wars movies and GoT, and are actually demanding rewrites. I mean, who do they think they are, anyway?
Now listen, I write with specific ends in mind, and they are not to be questioned. This is sacrosanct.
But at the same time, I have creeping, premonitory doubts about all this. Obviously, no one creates in a vacuum; communities do determine narratives, and there are plenty of national epics to prove the point. The input of the world is everything, only it hasn’t quite got it together yet, so we’re able to flatter our little egos.
This is where the Internet comes in. What it does is, it builds and gives voice to powerful communities, whether incel or #MeToo. The world, the society, is starting to speak.
So what happens to this concept of the individual? You remember, that other modern invention that thinks it has rights and can own intellectual property, all those barriers to communal will? That proud individual who, almost by definition, disowns the ignorant community?
And then there’s this whole notion of Art, you know. Does it ultimately belong to the people, and serve them, particularly when it hugely influences the zeitgeist? It’s all about that tired communitarian versus libertarian argument from philosophy and political science classes.
So who really owns the narrative? It’s clearly a collaborative dynamic. We can’t escape each other, but fortunately we don’t need to, because right this minute there’s room to expand and experiment with fan fiction or just fan complaint. We’ve managed to construct an entirely new dimension, one with ample room for leniency and even acknowledgement.
Anyway that communal voice is gaining strength, so best to start paying attention.
But still I insist the originals remain inviolate, especially mine, because they express evolved intentions born out of whatever mutual impulse it was that birthed them. Mine are copyright, all rights reserved.