Next book is coming along. As always, I put out a Friday video, usually of me walking the dog, on my https://www.patreon.com/stevencampbell. I kind of like doing the videos and it’s hard to update a million places.
But I’ll take a moment to write about Hawkeye the tv show. I like a lot of Marvel titles, having grown up with Marvel comics. I had mentioned before the concept of mode. Mode is a term I came up with that has (amazingly!) not become standard. There is the very common concept of Tone, but that doesn’t really encompass it. Mode is the tone but also the reality level of whatever story you’re watching.
As example, think of old B&W Marx Brothers or Three Stooges. That’s earth. Those are humans. Everything is the same. But the tone is not only “wacky,” there’s an entirely different reality. You can pull the hair off someone’s head by the fistful, and it will hurt, but only for a few seconds. You can hit someone on the head with a sledgehammer, and it will knock them unconscious, momentarily. You can say the most outrageous things without anyone noticing because they are straight men (or women). A mode of some action tv shows might be there are lots of guns shooting. Guns everywhere. A million bullets an episode. And no one ever gets shot because the show is aimed at young audiences. Any teenage soap opera: where 20-somethings are still in high school and everyone is independently wealthy without parents.
Just like tone, the mode can’t shift in the middle or it will throw us. We can accept whatever the mode is as long as it’s consistent. If someone got murdered, straight up murdered, in a Marx Brothers movie, with everyone crying and screaming, that would be crazy startling. It would shatter the mode and we’d be like WTF is going on?
I can’t understand the mode of Hawkeye. On one hand, people are murdered. People are stabbed and hacked to death with swords and shot and killed in moments of pathos. But they got a 20-something girl who is just chat chat chatty while she’s abducted by Russian gangsters and duct taped. I can’t process these transitions. If innocent people get slaughtered in your story, then other people, when facing slaughter, should be concerned. If they aren’t, if the violence becomes wacky, then we’re forced to watch Marx Brothers comedy in the middle of a Sopranos episode. And that’s hard to do.
It reminds me of those horrible Star Wars post-prequel-sequal whatevers. Where Finn is some wisecracking goof who just escaped from virtual slavery. It’s really hard to process any kind of fear or jeopardy for these characters when no one seems to be afraid. Darth Emo-Kid isn’t scary when there’s banana peel hijinks every ten seconds.
Spiderman has always been that kind of wisecracking character. But Spiderman titles have never been especially violent or realistic. And…he’s an actual superhero. When you can lift a car, you’re able to make jokes when someone is swinging a baseball bat at you in anger. Deadpool can regenerate from nothing. If you can’t get seriously hurt, then it’s a lot easier to not care about getting hurt.
But the characters in Hawkeye are just people. People who are good with bows and arrows in a world filled with guns and gods of thunder. If the show was consistent with its mode, if everyone was a wisecracking silly pants, then we could go with that. But there are scenes of startling violence. Scenes of emotional emotionality. And then people just sit around making jokes after chopping people into literal pieces. And it’s not meant as dark humor. It’s Spiderman-level jokes. And I just can’t figure it out. You could make Hawkeye a gritty, realistic show. Kind of like Daredevil was. You can make it a silly, weird show, kind of like Legion (which apparently no one even knows about) was.
When you start mixing modes that are entirely contradictory, we don’t know what reality we’re supposed to accept. Are people afraid of death in this universe or not? The gal in the show is about 23 years old and just annoying as shit because murder and violence are absolutely meaningless to her. Like the most sociopathic character since Joker and apparently the only thing she wants to do with her life is more of this. Like every Marvel character since forever, has been a reluctant hero. She’s like, I want to stab people all the time, always. Wacka wacka!
I just feel they got the tone/mode really wrong on this. It’s entirely inconsistent and I can’t figure out what’s going on.