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 Last night, I tried to get Mason into "Monty Python and the Flying Circus."  Thanks to our friend John Jackson, Mason already knew that Monty Python could be very hilarious. John (and I think Jack) showed Mason a bunch of various famous sketches on You Tube.  So, for instance, Mason knows all about the "Dead Parrot sketch" and "The Ministry of Silly Walks." 

But, I thought, "Yes, but those are all out of context.  He should really watch an entire episode."  Or at least, that was my thought when a compilation disc of "Monty Python and the Flying Circus" came across my notice when I was checking media at the library.  I brought it home, convinced Mason that it would be awesome, and queued it up.

What I forgot was how surreal Monty Python was and how, sometimes, entire episodes had running gags that just sort of fell flat or were just plain weird and only funny because they just didn't END.  I realize that what I'm saying could be construed as nerd blasphemy, but, seriously, try watching some of those full episodes again... I think you will be forced to agree with me that, yes, there are gems, but some of it is just straight-up bizarre. 

At one point Mason turned to me and asked, "Is this what humor was like in the 1970s?"

I gave him a sad face and sad, "Yes, son, and we had to IMPORT it."
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Least any of you think from my subject line that I'm weighing-in on RaceFail, I'm not.. (yet?) Honestly? I just found out about it at Wyrdsmiths on Thursday night. I'm AM a complete Luddite and never spend much time on-line, and it started in a place I never go because I don't like reading Elizabeth Bear's blog. She tends to piss me off when she talks about her grocery list. Plus, as I wasn't in on the discussion from the beginning, it seems like a really bad idea to say something at this point, since what I might have wanted to comment on is so far gone... and morphed into something completely different.

But what I DO want to talk about right now is an extension of my MarsCON panel "The Day Star Wars Died for Me." There was someone on the panel, who is actually a friend of mine, who was a George Lucas apologist (or so I called him at several points,) anyway, he trotted out all those tired lines about why we should all just stop b*tching about how crappy the STAR WARS prequels were. The first one "he wrote the prequels for kids," I had a chance to refute, but the second one: "For Chrissake people, it's just FICTION, get over it!" I didn't really get a chance to talk about, as we ran out time.

I think one of the things that one might come away from RaceFail that is positive, is, for me, at least, the idea that fiction does matter. What you say and how you say it *is* important. Very important.

And what I hate about when people like the guy on my panel try to shut down the discussion by saying we're morons because we shouldn't get so wound up about something that is essentially make-believe is this: public art of any form (be it movies, TV, radio plays, sculpture, paintng, writing, whatever) is by it's nature a dialogue between artist and viewer. I was told to stop belly-aching because the prequels were Lucas' vision and, as such, they belonged solely to him. To which I replied: "bullsh*t." If Lucas wanted to make a movie for himself alone, he should have filmed it and stuck it in a closet. But he didn't. He put it out for PUBLIC consumption and asked me to pay for it.

I paid for it; it's mine. So I can be mad about it until the end of days if I wish. I can take it personally. I can comment as much or as little as I wish. Because just, as I can't control Lucas' vision, neither can he control my reaction to it.

As I mumbled on the panel, partly as a joke, "Hell, I'm still mad about things that happened in the Illiad." I'm actually not mad about the Illiad specifically, but I do get wound up about any number of issues portrayed in classic literature, even when I know that they might be "out of contex" in my modern era. Because the stories we tell each other have value and cultural meaning, and we're SUPPOSED to consider them and their effect on our lives. This is what stories are for -- to help us define ourselves, our society, and our place in it. And when I say "stories" I mean all forms of public art, even the lowly TV commerical.... (and ask my partner, I do criticize TV ads that I find racist or sexist or, well, stupid.)

So "it's just fiction" is no excuse. If it's put out for public consumption, then the public owns it in conjunction with the artist. The act of putting one's art into the public forum is an invitation for a dialogue... and criticism.

It's the scariest most frustrating part about being a professional artist. It's also the best.

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