25 September 2013

we’re walking in the ... whatever

● The recent follow-up to the animation of Raymond Briggs’s The Snowman, thirty years after the original, was revealing because it demonstrated the hidden downside to the post-postmodernist school of drama, in which everything becomes “a bit of a lark”, and products have to be scrubbed clean of elements that fall foul of pseudo-egalitarian values. For example, anything which smacks too much of taking oneself seriously, or other bourgeois traits, comes to be regarded as risible and must either be presented with a neutralising dose of mockery, or simply excised.
The result is that certain flavours and perspectives are no longer conveyed, and perhaps are no longer capable of being conveyed – comparable to the loss of a language.
There are acceptably sanitised versions of sensitivity (one of the key themes of Snowman) but these relate principally to the plight of underprivileged social groups, or basic, universal things like loss of a family member. Sad that you failed to get your bassoon scholarship, or that your snowman friend melted? Get over it.
The flavour of the original Snowman is now plausible only in a retro sense. It was presumably impossible (or forbidden) for it to feature in the new version, and so we got a more casual, devil-may-care approach.
The dodgy clone had another interesting feature symptomatic of mediocratic culture. Its emotional vacuity – implicitly destructive, however mildly, towards the psychological themes it replaced – was concealed by the fact that superficially, in terms of graphics and so on, the product brilliantly duplicated the qualities of the original.
To an indifferent observer – or one who had switched off the relevant part of her brain (easily done e.g. with a daily dose of BBC One) – the flavour of the two instalments will have seemed indistinguishable.