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April 24 2012

(SPOILER) The conspiracy and spectacle of The Cabin in the Woods. More analysis of Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard's movie.

Oh, boy, was this long and silly. "...cells conspiring without our say so, weather and elements deciding who lives and who dies..." Y'know, cells cannot conspire and weather cannot decide, and the entire, loooooongggg paper, is replete with this hyperbolic writing.
I think it is an excellent exploration of the deeper levels of the movie.

It also does a good job of explaining why deep thoughts are worth exploring, instead of ridiculing (by claiming that this very struggle is really what this movie is about -> about challenging the superficial ways of thinking that society forces on us).

Choice quotes:
"To understand how the world, as one 17th century mystic put it, is 'bound with secret knots,' you have to ask big questions. For many, the big questions are too terrifying to ask without pot. Indeed, questions about god, reality, and conspiracy are nowadays ridiculed as stoner questions."
"The big questions questions of conspiracy, questions of what is real, questions of nature and culture set us free from these low-level tangles, but we remain ridiculed for [asking] these questions."

I'd disagree slightly with his ultimate summary of the point of the movie. (His point seems to be that if we don't change what we want, constantly, we'll be slaves to ancient urges we don't really understand. ...? Well, I'd argue the point of the movie was more like "as long as societies require some form of scape goat sacrifice, they deserve to be torn down".)
(...or maybe I'd say the point was simpler, just "we can solve the problems with modern horror movies if we destroy the formulas we've fallen into").

Sorry to disagree Dana, but I think this might be the most interesting dissection I've read yet.

[ edited by WarrenEBB on 2012-04-24 20:27 ]
The comparison to the Initiative is very interesting. Demons can't be harnessed, can't be controlled. Obviously the BtVS seasons 2 & 5 finales also compare, in terms of the moral question - is it better to kill one or allow billions to die? A similar dilemma was faced by Angel in "a hole in the world", but the most similar comparison I can make to Cabin is the Jasmine arc in season 4. She, like the government in Cabin, believed that the sacrifice of a few is a necessary evil to protect the rest. But Angel would disagree...and so would Mal. He and his shouldnt have to lay down and die so others could live in their better world.

Ahhh I love all the thematic parallels!!!
I think this is the first time we've had a link to a gay porn star's work here at Whedonesque. Cool!
@WarrenEBB: yes, "as long as societies require some form of scape goat sacrifice, they deserve to be torn down" was very much how I read it. I was very strongly reminded while watching the movie of Ursula Le Guin's classic short The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas, a much sparer take on the same point, and sadly lacking in killer mermen.

I had a vague sense of possible political overtones, in the sense of "if you have to abduct, imprison and torture your citizens without trial in order to keep yourself safe, you don't deserve to be safe", but that may be a reading too far.
Warren- it was no question a fun read, but it is buried under utterly silly writing. Crit theorists would have a field day with this. I love some of the quotes that make no sense:

"We think that science and scientific understanding give us a better handle on these forces, but in fact science is a symptom of these magical forces."

"We build airplanes out of a magical impulse to fly, telephones out of a longing for telepathy. "

"Advertisements beep and whir in the place of missing birds, lights flash in place of blotted-out stars. Its no wonder that most of the kids dont notice until its too late that there are no stars out in the sky, or that moonlight seems to turn on and off like an overhead lamp." Heck, I live in Iowa! You can see stars everywhere here, since we have no large cities. Anywhere!

"Once you begin to see the world for what it is, once you get to the depths and ask the big questions, the world begins to change. The old world, the one you knew, ends." Huh? What?

Anyway, I laughed all the way through this, but in the end, I had fun, which is certainly worth something. I just thought it represented, you know, sort of introductory deconstruction 101 kind of writing. But that's me. :-)
You know, after the movie I was thinking about the Initiative and how the Facility would have probably been the kind of place Professor Walsh would have had if she lived. She and Adam would have probably created all sorts of creatures.
Blackmarketbeagle: I don't think that's going too far at all -- I would not at all be surprised if that was one of the ideas running through their heads.

I like the article, thuogh I agree with Dana that it's poorly written in a lot of ways. Hm. I think the basic idea here -- that the world is really beyond our comprehension as finite beings, and that it takes great, active work to see the world as it is, and that that is costly -- is very much what this movie is 'about,' in addition to the horror movie elements.
Heh Invisible Green, I sort of was wondering that in the back of my head. That was a much longer essay than I would have expected from a drag queen's website though I'm not that familiar since I keep getting Peaches Christ mixed up with Peaches the Canadian musician. I had no idea the former's website was some sort of gay-interest/horror portal/hub/whatever. (And appropriately the logo does kind of remind me of the Buffy font.)

As for the article itself, it was surprisingly thorough/a bit unwieldy and ambitious so not really what I'd have expected from a porn star. It hit a number of details that I wouldn't have really known/expected/caught in a single viewing even if there were some parts of it that I didn't quite agree with or -- above all -- the fact it was a dragon-bat, not a man-bat...

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