Saturday, 12 November 2011

Christmas's Children

Continuing a thread from my last post: here's the John Lewis Christmas advert that's reducing everyone to tears. It's one minute and thirty seconds long.

My thoughts on the employment of children as emotional pawns in fiction have changed several times over the last five years or so. They're such easy triggers. I have to confess that I wasn't expecting the young Edwina scene in M3 to move people to tears - rather, I was expecting goosebumps as a prelude to the denouement. I felt terribly amateurish when I learned that I hadn't controlled my players.
I guess children are the embodiment of all that is good, pure and innocent in the world, which gives us a pretty darned powerful default to begin with.

Here's Hemingway's six word flash:
For sale: baby shoes, never worn.

Here are the Man Booker winners.
I'm not counting, but I can see at a glance that a healthy dollop of them, and possibly the majority, adopt the pov of a child, either in first-person or in third limited, either in flashback (recollection) or in present tense (or even both). Certainly I can recount a good deal of short-listed child povs too. (M. J. Hyland's Carry me Down is still a personal fave.) Moreover, it was Anne Enright's The Gathering that made me begin to question my treatment of fictional children (and last year's short-listed Room [Emma Donoghue] was a wholly predictable confirmation). I'd done my share of child cruelty, riding on the wave of child abuse books that were en vogue at the time, but I knew I would always, always make amends before the closing line, and I would avoid anything relentless. Anne's relentless tone disturbed me* - which is as valid an emotional hit as any other - and I vowed there and then (-ish) to find my own ethical and emotional stance. And we mustn't forget the trauma of Torey Hayden's unresolved Ghost Girl.
As such, I refused to allow young Edwina to watch as her father burned to death AND I would only allow such a flashback to occur once I had clearly imparted the knowledge that adult Edwina was just fine.

I'm genuinely haunted by The Darling Buds of May. I simply can't get my head around it. See how I was mentally subverting the plots not so long ago, warping them into drama. That's to say that it really doesn't qualify as drama, does it? (Or am I mistakenly assuming that drama is comprised of the dramatic?) I adore that show, and countless other people adore that show, but my head cannot imagine how I could make such a tepid (I use that word without any derogatory connotations) topography work for today's audiences, let alone for your average gamer. I guess Ico comes as close to the Darling Buds topography as any other game (and hopefully The Last Guardian: see video on right), with its gorgeous environments, bloodless skirmishes, and ethereal soundtrack and ceaseless winds.
That's where I've pitched Margrave 4, and I'm comfortable with that decision...
Could it be, however, that the big money is buried in horror..? Here's the trailer for the forthcoming MCF release: Escape from Ravenhearst. (Those teeth are far too clean!)

*On second thoughts, I think I found The Gathering depressing more so than disturbing. Anne's world seemed bleak and grey to me, in stark contrast to the previous winner, in which Sai inhabited a world of exciting and vivid colours and smells and tastes.