Of the wide variety of articles in this week’s Common Room, one of the most fascinating is Laura Miller’s “Desecrating Poe,” posted over at Salon. Her scathing review of the new Fox TV show “The Following” includes commentary on art, beauty, and the artistic portrayal of violence. Sample quote:
Violence in popular entertainment is usually discussed in absolute terms: Either you think it should be reined in quantitatively or you defend it in blanket terms, as a matter of free speech. This bogus polarity obscures an important question: How is it used? Eyes are gouged out in “The Following” because the mutilated female corpses (all young and pretty in life) make a ghastly spectacle and enable Carroll to torment Hardy with talk of severing the victims’ ocular muscles one by one. Eyes are gouged out in “King Lear” to indicate that the play’s social order has descended to sub-human brutality as a result of the main character’s refusal to see the truth. It’s the same violent act, but in the latter case it is replete with meaning and induces an elemental despair, while in the case of “The Following” it’s just gleefully lurid.
Follow the link for the rest of the story, including many discussable points.
In other news and commentary:
Bloggers and C.S. Lewis fans: Review blog Pages Unbound is hosting a C.S. Lewis read-along throughout the month of February. Ways to participate include reviewing Lewis books or hosting discussions on your own blog, sending in guest posts to the Pages Unbound proprietors, and simply following along to read and/or comment on Lewis’ oeuvre.
Ben Schrank posts about the fact that when he gave his Ascendio keynote speech last summer, he had never read Harry Potter. That surprise hits with the force of a Stunning spell, no? He talks of knowing how the Muggles feel, but the witches and wizards just call that “missing out.”
SF Signal has the video for “How The Hobbit should have ended.”
Viggo Mortensen–or, as he’s better known, Aragorn in the Jackson adaptations of The Lord of the Rings–has recorded an audiobook version of Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s children’s classic, The Little Prince.
Director Frank Darabont gave io9 some of his thoughts on his upcoming remake of Godzilla.
In Doctor Who news, BBC America is bringing the U.S.A. some classic Doctor. And Steven Moffat is prepping a 50th Anniversary special that will include all 11 actors to play the Doctor, including the three who have passed on.
Diane Duane has an excellent essay titled “Eating in Narnia,” which was posted in full recently at SmartPopBooks, but the link now displays only an excerpt. The essay was good enough, anyway, to suggest great things about the anthology in which it appears: Through the Wardrobe: Your Favorite Authors on C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia.
MentalFloss has Lovecraft’s 11 tips for novice writers. As it turns out, the great horror author did not approve the practice of verbing nouns, which is a problem for your friendly Blogengamot link-finder. Also in writing instruction: Tolkien’s 5 tips for creating complex heroes.
Ron Howard is in negotiations with Disney to direct a live-action adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book.
Fantasy Faction reports that the shortlists have been announced for the Kitschies, an award created to honor the uniquely “progressive, intelligent, and entertaining” in speculative fiction. Here’s The Kitschies’ page.
YA fantasy writer Shannon Hale, Twilight author Stephenie Meyer, and screenplay writer Jerusha Hess–who is half of the husband-wife team who made Napoleon Dynamite and Nacho Libre—recently teamed up to make a movie out of Hale’s Austenland, a humorous novel about a young Mr. Darcy fan who goes to a private Austen-themed resort in England. The film reportedly did very well at the Sundance festival, and was just picked up by Sony for nationwide theater distribution later this year. Yours truly is so going to see this movie.
New Zealander Wynand Mullins was recently asked to change his T-shirt before getting on a plane–because it read “Hello! My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”
In ordered lists: forget the video game versions–Flavorwire has tracked down 10 literary board games for book nerds, SFX has 20 of the greatest pets in sci-fi and fantasy, and blogger Steve Alia has listed his top 10 science fiction movies.
Finally, in the fun, cute, and/or hilarious: Monster Chairs by Jason Goh, Not Always Romantic on magic rings, a puppy gets frightened by a Godzilla toy, the Star Wars cantina song has now been covered by an accordionist, and over at The Onion, a mass market paperback copy of The Scarlet Letter complains (with some adult language) about the notes a high schooler is writing in its margins.