I'm in the process of marking an MA-thesis on Graham Greene which contains a chapter on Brighton Rock. This is why, for the past few days, I have had "Pinball" Wizard going through my head. You know: "From Soho down to Brighton, I must have played them all ...."
Brighton ... Brighton Rock? Oh, the mind works in mysterious ways! Or is it only my mind?
Speaking of videos and academic theses: last week saw another little cluster of associations, following John's absolute need to show me the video of "Kickapoo" by Tenacious D. OK, I said -- go ahead:
As we can see, this is a cannily intertextual clip, what with an unrecognisable Meatloaf playing dour Dad disallowing his offspring to rock -- which is nicely undercut (or -lined?) by the fact that this is recognisably an epically Meatlovian track. Apart from this little internal in-joke, "Kickapoo" is part of the enduring rock-to-the-rescue genre popularised by the likes of Twisted Sister. Which is why the husband, at that moment writhing with teenage nostalgia, made me watch the following, too:
Now, this isn't exactly my kind of music ... at least it didn't use to be. But for the first time in my life I became painfully aware of the true human suffering that is at stake -- in heavy metal in general and this video in particular. The evangelical moron of a father loosening his belt in order not to spare the rod ... on that poor little boy whose only crime is to want to ROCK (John informs me that he believes the correct spelling in this context is "RAWK". So much for American university education). This is painful to watch and saddening to consider. And I am not being facetious now! "We're not gonna take it" is a Blakean hymn to the oppressed, the tied, shackled and manacled, the wretched skinny boys of the Earth.
And this is where the free association kicks in.
On that same day, I had a discussion with a student writing a thesis on children's versions of Gulliver's Travels. She and I were disagreeing somewhat on the question as to what kind of characters children like. Bolshy cynic that I am, I suggested that most children would defy Rousseauian notions of virtue and morality and choose nasty characters instead. Someone like this pugnacious chap:
Now, some of you might not know this little guy. But for Astrid Lindgren fans this is the all too familiar visage of Karlsson on the roof -- a vicious cross between a proto-skin school-yard bully (look at that Ben Sherman shirt) and smug civil servant, who loves to make things unpleasant for Lillebror, a little boy living in the house above which Karlsson resides. Significantly, only Lillebror can see Karlsson, which makes the latter his uncanny Doppelgänger: Karlsson is actually Lillebror's dark alter ego -- his own Mr Hyde. Which in turn suggests that kids not only dig nasty guys, but ultimately have to in order to free themselves from the suffocating effects of either parental tyranny or love.
At least, that is how Astrid Lindgren saw it, whose characters -- well, some of them -- were ambiguous enough to call forth a host of anxious educators trying to put a stop to that kind of hazmat. This response included the one character who is probably most reminiscent of Twisted Sister:
She probably doesn't need introducing.
See what I mean?