Monday, June 13, 2016

Can A Show Resist Progging

As a show ages, the probability of becoming progged reaches 1. Poz finds a way to creep into shows. It is the Hollywood game that no opportunity to overtly or subtly push The Narrative must be missed. Humans cannot escape it. Is there a way to fight the poz creep? It is too late for a franchise like Star Wars, and Mad Men went off the rails in season five, but maybe there is away. Agatha Christie's Poirot offers a path.

Poirot was the BBC series that adapted Poirot detective novels to the small screen. It started in 1989, and aired embellished short stories that featured the prissy Belgian detective in England. With some critical acclaim and success, the show turned into that show your aunt watched by herself and felt slightly higher brow than you for doing so. The adaptations were mostly under one hour with faithful representations of the days of Interwar England. Plots were definitely not pozzed.

Then it started. Being a neutral show in a period setting was not enough. It was not as bad as Downton Abbey's pozzing but immediately starting in 2003 with a switch in production teams and higher quality technical aspects, the poz crept in. Suddenly female characters left Agatha Christie's normally neutral portrayal to be much more girl power. Female characters were wearing pants far more often than one would expect in 1930s England.

There were worse insertions, starting with that 2003 revamp. There were gay characters inserted where no gay character had been, and this was done repeatedly, and even in episodes where it had no bearing on the murder. There was even a hipster looking character put into a very late episode. Did they write in an incest bit one film? Yes, with Michael Fassbender playing the naughty cousin. It was eye-roll inducing.

Something happened though that felt like a reaction but was an even more weird insertion for 2000s media. The show got more religious. It was not to make religion look like a quaint superstition. The lead character Poirot himself got religious. Praying, holding a rosary, giving a rosary as a gift, and all of this was simply inserted and not from the books.

The adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express was far superior to other adaptations because instead of Poirot being a toady for the wealthy and connected, he called them out invoking God. The very nature of sin, guilt, justice and God's mercy or wrath were debated, and not just from a Catholic perspective but Protestant. Characters were shown praying as if it were normal and a good thing.

How did this happen? It happened because the actor playing the lead, the indispensable character, went through a religious transformation of his own. David Suchet, who was marvelous also in The Way We Live Now, converting to the Anglican faith. They could not replace him as he had also done a fantastic job portraying Poirot, and by that stage in the show's run, could not be replaced. Suchet was irreplaceable and therefore antifragile. If he wanted some crosses and prayers, the show would insert some.

Like any corporate lackey that seems to avoid the axe at layoffs, one has to be indispensable. One also has to have the will and drive to resist or push counter-narratives. Suchet was strong in faith and impossible to get rid of. If he annoyed showrunners and writers, well they were going to give into the man who had become Hercule Poirot and carried the show for years. Who was going to junk the man who brought the chubby little detective to life? That was all religion had going for it as that show aged. That is why The Narrative is dominant: system wide control of the organs of messaging.


peterike said...

Indeed, pozzification is inevitable and ubiquitous. And why? American Hollywood and the BBC -- from whom we get the bulk of our television -- are both run by Jews, gays, and gay Jews. So it's Narrative Uber Alles, to borrow a phrase.

I don't watch a ton of television, but I'd say the main poz themes are:

1. Inter-racial romance/sex (nearly always black man, white woman)
2. The charming gay character
3. The grrrrllll power character
4. The smart Negro scientist/doctor/insert-implausible-profession
5. The Evil/Corrupt/Racist White Male

For children's television you would also add the charming/exotic immigrant/foreigner character.

Over time we've lost some classic television poz characters like the paranoid anti-Communist maniac and the noble anti-nuke activist.

Had I the time and energy, I'd start a Wiki where people could contribute to keep a scorecard of the Poz themes. Take inter-racial romance. From the television I either watch or have been exposed to, I'd say the percentage of shows that have included inter-racial romance is at least 80%, probably more. It would be interesting to have it actually quantified.

Laguna Beach Fogey said...

How do the Rumpole and Jeeves and Wooster series hold up?

Portlander said...

On the flip-side, like peterike is alluding, the system's gatekeepers are very careful about who they let in, lest a man which they cannot control make himself indispensable. I'd call these post-hoc conversions the exceptions that prove the rule.

So, we have the politicians and MSM pundits that we do because, ahem, the (((donors))) and (((media executives))) make sure only compromised or compromisible, <cough> Hastert <cough> Limbaugh <cough> men get called to The Show. If you're a man of character, you'll never make it out of the minors.

For a politician, either you won't get funded to run beyond state legislative office, or if you have a special talent for connecting with voters, they'll make sure you get beat-down by well-funded challengers before you make it off the city council.

Now, their system is not 100% perfect 100% of the time; outliers occasionally get through. But the system is robust enough that a dozen outliers in Congress, 2 or 3 outliers in the Senate, and the occasional appellate judge, aren't going to be able to change anything of fundamental consequence.

In fact those outliers, probably serve as a bit of pressure-relief, so the rubes have a champion they can rally around, and continue to feel like if they keep playing by the rules and working within the system they can make a difference Real Soon Now™.

Bumbling American said...

Have yourself a good laugh and watch the most recent Miss Marple series sometime...just off the top of my head I remember an interracial adoption/romance in 1930s England and an "out" lesbian couple

Glengarry said...

Chesterton's Father Brown is thoroughly pozzed too. I think they particularly enjoy doing it to a priest. One written by a conservative star has to be something of a treat.

Here's the synopsis of the latest episode:

Father Brown hosts a multi-racial jazz quartet whose car has broken down but they are interrupted by Emmanuel Jammite, who claims that cocky musician Joseph Sinclair stole his girlfriend, the band's singer Yveline from him back in Haiti. Emmanuel is a voodoo priest and curses Sinclair, whose corpse is later found floating in a swimming pool. Emmanuel swears his innocence but dies trying to flee from the law. Father Brown believes one of the band members is the true murderer and in trying to confront them almost loses his own life.

I haven't seen it, but I have my suspicions on the color of the killer. What would you guess?

anon said...

Just watched NYPD BLUE all of it and I probably had seen a lot of it originally though didnt remember what was amazing. Its a completely reactionary and conservative show all 12 seasons though slightly less so towards the end. It takes place in the lower east side of NYC where i grew up in the 60s/70s all the criminals are blacks and really stupid violent realistically depraved niggers however the neighborhood was really mostly puerto rican. There are hot girl detectives but theres no gyrl power crap they are there to show a little side tit before getting paired up with a man of their own race they dont act like sluts or super heroes,race is a common topic as it should be in a blue collar nyc 90s show but its done honestly yeah honestly by reactionary standards whats refreshing is the minority actors seem quite comfortable with this realism. The men are manly ans sipowctz [dennis franz ] is not only brilliant acting he ought to be taught to hipster faggots in college as how to act like a man