Monday, November 5, 2012

Post/Open Thread: Transformative art/commentary/stuff

It looks like everyone's crunch time hit at about the same time, so with the exception of a post written a while back tentatively scheduled for Wednesday this could end up being the week of the open threads.  (As a reminder, the moderation discussion is still ongoing.)

If it does I'd kind of like to arrange them around the theme of writing since it is National Novel Writing Month (next open thread will ask you to weigh in on that) but today, being as it is, the fifth of November, it seemed worth remembering.

Guy Fawkes doubtless saw him as a freedom fighter or political/religious reformer, the gunpowder plot failed, he was caught, and thus was a traitor.  Guilty of High Treason he was tortured and executed.  (Strangely he managed to earn the respect of the king he tried to assassinate  though that did not stop the king from ordering him tortured.)

Novemeber the 5th had been transformed from the day a group of Catholics hoped to overthrow Protestant rule, to a day that Protestants celebrated those Catholics failure and burned the Pope in effigy   With the passage of time that too would (largely) pass and, instead of the Pope, Guy Fawkes was burned in effigy.  The word "guy" entered the English language via these effigies.

From 1982 to 1989 Allen Moore published V for Vendetta, in which the ambiguous title character and, after his death, sympathetic second lead, don Guy Fawkes masks, completely altering the perception of a Guy Fawkes mask.

In 2006 a film was released.  Allen Moore charged that it transformed his British story into an American one.  It seemed to present Fawkes, the attempted mass murderer, in a positive light and definitely presented the characters who put on Fawkes masks (with one exception) in positive lights.

I've just listed a lot of transformations, some through circumstance, some through time, and the last two through works of fiction.

I've previously mentioned that I think part of what makes deonconstructions so appealing is that they're transformative.  Start with the World's Worst Books, end up with Fred Clark's brilliant commentary.


This was supposed to be a lot shorter, the open thread prompt is:
What do you think of transformative work?  What are some transformative things that interest you?  Stuff?

Open thread, run wild.  But within reason.


  1. Guy Fawkes is often described as "the only man to enter Parliament with honest intentions". But what did he really aspire to do?

    The objective of the Gunpowder Plot was to assassinate King James (who had been on the throne for a little more than a year, following the death of Queen Elizabeth) and replace him with a Catholic monarch - specifically his daughter, Princess Elizabeth, at that point eight years old. The death of the king's Parliament was to be merely a fortunate side-effect. English Catholics had hoped James would be more tolerant of Catholicism than Elizabeth had been, and this didn't seem to be happening.

    It's not clear what the conspirators were planning to do about Prince Henry, ten years old. But the explosion would kick off a popular uprising, and there would be free rainbows and kittens for everybody.

    Everybody Catholic, anyway.

    If the plot had come off... what the plotters were hoping for was something like a return to the "good old days" of Queen Mary - the original "Bloody Mary" - when hundreds of religious dissenters were burned at the stake for refusing to accept Catholicism. (It's worth noting that none of the conspirators had been alive for this.)

    What they were relying on was English Catholics putting Catholicism before Englishness - being radical in the same direction that they were themselves. But by far the most probable outcome in fact is that the small secretly-Catholic population would have been shocked by the treason that had been committed in its name, and far from following the conspirators would have strung them up from the nearest tree.

    In practice, of course, the Plot led to much greater restrictions on Catholics - look, you can see they can't be trusted - and seventy years later made Titus Oates' completely fictitious conspiracy seem all the more plausible.

  2. Just posted this to Facebook, figured I'd share it here:

    Remember remember the fifth of November
    And that thingy that happened in England
    Like a really long time ago, like 1950 or something
    And there was that guy, whatsisname, Dude Fox or something
    Yeah, and that's where we get the word "dude"

    1. Heh! [economy-size plaudit]

  3. Seems like transformative, at the very base, is taking that which had come before and putting a new spin on it. Not a very high bar to cross. Factoring in Sturgeon's Law, however, and then we have the works that transform us, rather than other stories. So, I'd consider a transformative work to be one that indoors change in the reader.

    I think part of the popularity of the Guy Fawkes idea is that V for Vendetta allowed people to indulge in anti-government fantasies. And then Anonymous adopted it for their purposes, which involves a lot of anti-government activities, reinforcing the idea (although not really helping with contextualizing the Gunpowder Plot itself) and making the associations stronger.

    Of course, this is without considering what copyright law considers to be transformative instead of derivative...


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.