for your own topics
|Readers in USA click here|
|Elsewhere click here|
Image copyright: see contents page of each issue. All other material © Visual Imagination 1998 - 2006
Sitting about at home’s a bit dull, isn’t it? Why not see if you can get trapped on a desert island or lost in your personal timeline?
At the end of the Eighties, much-fêted comics writer Grant Morrison completed a run of stories on Animal Man. A more or less forgotten superhero, Morrison’s run re-launched and reinterpreted the character for a new audience who’d likely never heard of him. The course of the two-year storyline Morrison concocted featured Animal Man becoming aware of his real nature, that he was a character in a comic book, acting at the whim of the writer. In the final issue of the run, Animal Man meets Morrison himself, who explains that, for reasons he can’t quite understand, horrible things happening to fictional characters provides entertainment for us.
Why do we like to watch people suffer? Is it simply to be glad we’re not in their position? Is it to try to relate to something we hope we’ll never experience, or to get some pointers in case it does? Are we all just unpleasant people who secretly – and sometimes not so secretly – like a bit of suffering? What it really comes down to is that watching people have lives exactly like ours, where it’s mainly about getting up, washing, dressing, spending eight hours at work then going home, isn’t exciting because we experience that life daily.
This is why TV producers have become more evil over the years. It’s not enough to put your characters in an office environment and then do horrible things to them; nowadays you have to dump them in a hostile environment first and then do horrible things to them. It’s that feeling of someone being out of their element and out of control that precipitates a feeling that anything could happen. Of course, it’s even easier to do such things in a Science Fiction context. With the whole of Time, Space and reality available to drop people into, it’s oh so easy to get people out of their element.
It’s strange to consider that most shows have been so busy sending people off to who knows where that very few think to trap the participants somewhere on our own planet. Arthur Conan Doyle did it way back when he created The Lost World, a place where dinosaurs still survived. Jules Verne was similarly imaginative, sending people to the centre of the Earth and to the depths of the oceans, although in books it would have been a rather poor look-out to have no one returning again at the end. The heir to their throne was, of course, Irwin Allen, who in the Sixties got the Robinsons Lost in Space, Doug and Tony lost in Time after a trip down The Time Tunnel and the Spindrift crew stuck in the Land of the Giants. He even borrowed Verne’s idea for Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, although at least they were allowed to surface again on occasion. More recently, of course, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World returned to the original idea and dumped a former Neighbours cast member and a few others in the middle of the jungle. For all we know, an ITV exec tuning in to Sci-Fi’s showings of it a while back might have thought, ‘You know, if we just did this with celebrities…’, resulting in things eventually coming full circle in the latest series of I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here when a former Neighbours star was once again marooned in a jungle.
by Paul Spragg
Read the full feature when you buy
Image © Visual Imagination
You can order any of
USA $ order
To SUBSCRIBE to
USA $ subs