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Sunday, June 21, 2015

True Detective Is Not a Comic Book

True Detective returns tonight, and I'm looking forward to it.  Last season, and the reaction to it, blew my mind.

I think this season I'm just going to watch it and ignore as much of the commentary as I can.  Because they just don't seem to get it.

Cue Alyssa Rosenberg:
Last season, “True Detective” was marinated in a shared horror mythology about a fictional city named Carcosa, which shows up, among other places, in the Robert Chambers short story collection “The King In Yellow.”
Whut?  Where did this come from?  Carcosa was mentioned, yes, and there was a "Yellow King," but c'mon.....This notion that there was some kind of "shared horror mythology" appeared on the internet, not the show.

But then again, Rosenberg tips us off to the fact that she wasn't really watching True Detective, the show that's on TV, but rather True Detective, the show she wishes it to be.
Moustache-twirling isn’t the same as insight, just as making your serial killer an incestuous hillbilly is not some visionary, searing indictment of sexual culture below the Mason-Dixon line.
It's true, as a searing indictment of Southern sexual culture, True Detective fails.   But that's like saying that Lebron James failed to win the Stanley Cup.  No attempt = no fail.

The way I see it, and I may be alone on this, but the fact that the serial killer is just an incestuous hillbilly and not some diabolical comic book villain is a pretty good "Fuck you" to everyone who wants to focus on the symbolic. 

The problem with reading everything like a comic book, when a two-second glimpse of the Infinity Gauntlet is imbued with meaning, is that it can train you.

Rosenberg is trained for comic book style viewing, not pulp fiction style:

I suppose it’s some sort of accomplishment that that first season of “True Detective” trained me to pick up on all these crumbs, but I have little confidence that they’ll make a satisfying meal.
Thinking back on my John D. MacDonald and Raymond Chandler binge-reading, I've come to ignore the crumbs.  They don't mean anything.

And that's doubly true for comic book movies.