29 Apr 2013 09:52 am

Are You Ready for Post-Post-Modernism?

At least in terms of popular entertainment, post-modern works like "Scream" featured self-aware characters and scripts. The teenagers in "Scream" knew the patterns of a slasher movie, right down to the order of character deaths (not that it did them much good). Now, three movies later, "Scream" is heading for the small screen with a TV series on MTV. By now, post-modernism is a fad though - and we're onto post-post-modernism.

A couple weeks ago, I finally saw "Cabin in the Woods". You could say the movie has a similar post-modern vibe to it, with several moments of characters questioning the bad decisions typically made in horror movie. The biggest charge made against "Scream" was that it mocked slasher movies, thereby alienating the generation of fans who watched the endless array of "Halloween" and "Friday the 13th" pictures. But "Cabin in the Woods" doesn't mock the horror movies - instead it validates them, and ultimately, revels in them.

This post-post-modernism (which is probably not the right term, but I'm using it anyway) extends well beyond movies. I took advantage of a sale on Comixology and started reading "Morning Glories" by Nick Spencer and Joe Eisma. The story of teenagers trapped at prestigious but ominous prep school, "Morning Glories" falls somewhere between "Lost" and "The Breakfast Club", but still manages to pay homage to its John Hughes roots. We see this when the heroine Casey literally smack into Hunter, their respective papers go flying. Then they hit each other's heads trying to pick up said papers.

We've seen this scene play out time and time again on dozens of romantic comedies. In keeping with post-modernism, so has Casey. It's what the characters do with it that makes it post-post-modernism. Casey remakes, "We just lived through the most cliched moment in romantic comedy history. I don't wanna see your face." She says if she sees Hunter's face, it will be come a "thing" which she really doesn't have time for. So the entire rest of the scene plays out with Casey covering her eyes and refusing to look at Hunter. When a classmate asks Hunter what that was all about, Hunter says, "I dunno . . . I think I just fell in love or something." "Morning Glories" took a scene we've seen over and over again, and with just the right amount of self-awareness, turned it into something completely original.

If you're still wondering what I've been rambling about, think of it like this: post-modernism is like giving the characters a cheat sheet. Post-post modernism is letting the characters use Wikipedia on exam day. It may or may not end well for your characters - but it will certainly be original. And that's what post-post modernism is all about - originality. It's about being aware of the tropes and archetypes of the past, but its also about rearranging them into something new and interesting. Granted, this in and of itself isn't really original. We've been doing this for centuries. But perhaps we're seeing this now in order to remind us that, when Hollywood seems to say there are no fresh ideas out there, there is still plenty of room to grow in old ideas made new.

(That's it for this rant. There will finally be a new Blue Yonder this week!)

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