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Old 08-08-2011, 08:31 AM   #6
Matthias Wasser
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Boston
Default Re: And the Angel of Irony wept...

Yeah, I agree that this is nothing crazy. Two critical comments:

1) I think this is a good illustration of why I don't like bright, high-contrast settings - when it's clear what good and evil are and that good will triumph, two of the most compelling types of conflict are given away. In real life, affirming that good and evil are absolute and that the good guys will win in the end don't rob life of its pathos, because doing what you believe to be right is struggle and your conceptions of morality and teleology are constantly perforated with doubt: "and some question, in the middle of the night, whether they made the right choice - they are very much like us." Suspension of disbelief over third person objective-described settings - and not being an incredibly talented actor - compromise these elements in fiction, especially this particular medium; and I think that many geeks' reflexive reaction to settings like this is "well what if Starfleet is EVIL and the show is Federation PROPAGANDA" is essentially an attempt to sneak these elements back in. This rewrite actually runs in the opposite direction - this sense, the author's joke about Derek Pearcy being a Balseraph may have been more sly than intended - because it goes above and beyond the basics of the bright high-contrast setting by removing additional sources of conflict - angels only ever politely disagree, they never have torrid love affairs...

Of course, to be clear, I really do mean "criticism" above in the analytic rather than scolding sense; and I'm likely judging this from a position of privilege (as opposed to a privileged position, if you catch my meaning) and that the author worked from a much less poncy aesthetic perspective than my own, much like - and I realize how condescending this sounds - Michael Bay makes movies that are objective failures by the standards of high culture (hence film critics) but succeed on others. (The class and other baggage that's encrusted around these different standards is unfortunate, because it makes some preferences difficult to express without sounding like a dunce and others without sounding like a dick.) Like: this is basically Touched by an Angel with more room for flaming swords and high-speed car chases, and TBAA worked well by its own Kitchen Soup for the Soul-style standards. You couldn't really translate its narrative formula to an RPG straight, unless you went a weird indie route - the NPCs experience all the drama - but maybe the author imagines, say, playing with a youth group who get to cathartically beat up demons while their youth pastor GM assigns dissonance to impart lessons about right and wrong. Idunno.

This was a bit longer than it probably deserved to be.

2) Making Eli Jesus makes Yves' not being renamed the Father a bit conspicuous - maybe the author's theology places the Father as more absolutely transcendent than that? But then why the complaints about print IN's rather transcendent godhead? This does kind of expose a bit of In Nomine that's in effect a sort of deformed Christianity - God is both fully transcendent and immanent, but only because we're giving you both an apophrastic panentheism and, separately, Morgan Freeman in Bruce Almighty. This seems like a good thing to think about when playing around with the setting.

3) Okay, yeah, it's funny and stereotype-confirming to see a fundamentalist going down the list of Archangels expunging moral sins: "Hmm, Blandine... angels don't have sex... Gabriel... no, he is sad about the whole Islam thing... Janus... stealing is wrong, revise that... Dominic... hmm finally a good guy, moving on..."
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