seekingferret: Word balloon says "So I said to the guy: you never read the book yet you go online and talk about it as if--" (Default)
[personal profile] seekingferret
Title of vid: This Be The Verse
Recipient: thirdblindmouse
Vidder: [personal profile] seekingferret
Fandom: Batman - Adam West (1966)
Music: This Be the Verse by Philip Larkin
Summary: They fuck you up.
Content notes: No standardized notes apply



I can't recall where I found the Philip Larkin recording of Larkin's poem "This Be the Verse"- I suspect [personal profile] spiralsheep, but it could've been random internet browsing. Whoever's fault the discovery is, it's my fault that my brain said Batman.

The poem is a masterpiece of irony, and Larkin's delivery elucidates every bit of it. I think what's striking is that I've always heard the poem in my head, rhythmically, as a companion to the Beats, off-kilter and crass like Ferlinghetti or Kerouac. But Larkin pronounces it steadily and somewhat lightly, making it a dark companion to Lear or Carroll's soothingly subversive nonsense verse.

And that makes it perfect for the 1960s Batman, a wonder of camp whose tongue is so firmly in cheek it comes out the other side. It is impossible to take Adam West's Batman seriously even as camp in the post-Frank Miller world. There is so much, for example, about the relationship between authorized vigilante Batman and the police that is astonishingly objectionable. There is a darkness there that can't be laughed away. And even more so this is true of the relationship of Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson, bringing this naive child into the dangerous world of crime fighting. Indeed, they fuck you up, your mom and dad. And because '60s Batman is camp, it never offers explanation for Batman's decision to bring Dick into the business. Fortunately for me there's lots of other Batman canons to bring context.

And if you want Bat-canon misery porn, look no further than newcomer Gotham, whose child Bruce is a sometimes steely, sometimes thoughtful boy who nonetheless spends most of the show crying and the rest of the time barely holding in his deep emotional pain. Gotham's Bruce believes he is already drafted into the war against crime by his parents' death, sees no reason for waiting until adulthood to be initiated into the world's cruelty because he wasn't given the chance to wait himself. And the adults in his life, for their own stupid reasons, play along, even egg him on. Gordon, earnest and childlike himself, recruits him into the investigation into his parents' murder. Alfred, caught unexpectedly between parental role and servile role, treats Bruce more as master than as son. For these failures, ultimately Robin too is condemned.

The contrast between '60s Batman and Gotham just worked perfectly for the message I was driving at... I think the fundamental difference I take advantage of is the pacing. When Gotham wants to challenge the status quo, threaten its heroes, add in a twist, it does so with ruthless efficiency. A gunshot and everything's changed in a moment. The 1960s Batman is a cruel miracle of extended cliffhangers, a show whose very fabric is built on patience. Almost nobody dies on the show. Every week, Robin is bound and gagged in a new ridiculous death contraption, and every week at the last minute he survives, with no apparent sign of trauma. On Gotham, there is no way to hide from the significance of the brutality, and using Gotham's brutality in between 60s Batman's denial brings out the horror of Robin's abuse.

I'm so grateful to [personal profile] ghost_lingering for beta help. I started the vid with a twisted idea and with [personal profile] sanguinity's observation that it would either be really cool or fall completely flat. And I think the vid draft that I first sent to [personal profile] ghost_lingering was not completely flat. I think it definitely showed off the promise of the twisted idea. But she pointed to a bunch of specific things that weren't quite working and I took another look at them, and then another look, and every time I looked at something she pointed at, I found a much better way to do it. It was really a perfect betaing job. She didn't tell me how to do anything, just told me where things were broken and she told me in a constructive way that led me directly to the solutions to my problems.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-02-16 01:22 am (UTC)
morbane: pohutukawa blossom and leaves (Default)
From: [personal profile] morbane
I really liked the closing on the two poles - a very clear sign of parallel paths that manages not to be on the nose because the show gives it to us every episode too.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-02-20 04:00 am (UTC)
sanguinity: woodcut by M.C. Escher, "Snakes" (Default)
From: [personal profile] sanguinity
[personal profile] ghost_lingering did a wonderful job beta-ing my vid, too. (Although mine was much less of a delicate balancing act than yours!)

Just checking, you're not making downloads available for this or the other?

(no subject)

Date: 2015-02-20 04:04 am (UTC)
sanguinity: woodcut by M.C. Escher, "Snakes" (Default)
From: [personal profile] sanguinity
Sweet.

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