16 June 2017

American Gods

Poor Neil Gaiman. Has he seen what Amazon have done with American Gods? (Rhetorical. Presumably he has.)

The TV series constructed from what some regard as his best book is one of the trashiest things I have ever watched.

Mediocratic culture is characterised by a relatively high level of trash, but its attitude to it is ambivalent. In part mediocracy celebrates its own trashiness, in part it denies and conceals it.

Compared to other societies, the trash of mediocracy is relatively sophisticated. There is aesthetically presented trash, technically complex trash, extraordinarily expensive trash. (Mediocracy, p.176)
Expensively produced trash can be entertaining, and so would this be, except for the fact that the way it is trashy is exactly the way loads of other American TV series are trashy, only more so. It is all pretty brainless, like a crude comic strip turned into live action. I imagine it is designed to provide maximum enjoyment for people with an IQ of about 100. That can work well for adaptations of books which themselves were written for that IQ level, but for novels like Gaiman’s it results in a depressing parody.

Gaiman doesn’t seem readily filmable in the normal cinematic medium. Stardust (2007) was a reasonable stab, but perhaps Coraline (2009) – a stop-motion animation – is the only visual product to have captured the flavour of his novels, so far.

(Don’t worry, Amazon. You’re good at lots of other things.)