MISS CLEO'S NFC WEST PREVIEW!!!!!!!
ITS NOT THE END OF THE WORLD!!!
OK, folks, it looks bad out there.
The first two years of the 2020's have definitely been the worst and weirdest time we can remember, and maybe a worse time to be alive than we can imagine any time in American history being.
And that's probably a good thing. It can actually be invigorating to feel like you are living in a uniquely troubled epoch. It would be far more frustrating if we were acutely aware that the mistakes humanity is making today are the same ones we have always made throughout our history.
Humanity is always troubled, and will never not be. The feeling that we are beset by troubles that we cannot control is essential to our very civilization.
Healthy food doesn't always taste good, but it makes our bodies stronger. In the same way, our minds feed on stress. External stress fills our brains with chemicals that propel our thoughts to places they never would have gone, at speeds we never thought possible. The times and places in history most beset by disasters and conflict are also the birthplace of humanity's greatest inventions and artistic works. To this day, we remember the era circa year 0 AD as "Biblical Times". The great historical tragedies of the Greco-Persian Wars and the expansion of the Roman Empire have been relegated to our scripture and mythology.
How will our history be recorded?
The Olympics are over and we only got 39 golds, so Biden's gotta watch his back. In the DYM household, wall-to-wall Olympics coverage pretty much replaced all news-watching, as we imagine it did in many American households. Now the American people, suddenly aware of the existence of other countries, are turning the news back on this week to find a wide variety of gruesome scenes unfolding across the globe. This week's top headlines include:
Three volcanoes are erupting in Alaska
The Taliban won the "forever war."
We haven't gotten much bad news from East Asia this summer, but we suspect the Japanese media was intentionally keeping things quiet so they could get the Olympics over with. Back in February there was a military coup in Myanmar which was covered widely in the following few months. We hadn't heard much about it this summer, but just today it was announced that the conflict (still very much ongoing), has now claimed over 1,000 civilian lives.
But our personal favorite international crisis of 2021 - the one we think about when we really wanna give ourselves nightmares - is The Tigray War.
Last summer Ethiopia was supposed to have elections but, like many countries, found it logistically difficult to arrange in-person polling during the pandemic.
So the prime minister pushed the election back from June to November. Obviously COVID didn't get any better by then, so he pushed it back again. As you might expect these decisions were met with significant criticism.
One Ethiopian state, Tigray, was like "Fuck yall, elections are not that fuckin hard. We're doin this." They went ahead and held their local elections and named a new Governor. But of course the federal government emphatically refused to recognize the new state government and sent the army to Tigray to hold shit down.
Tigray happens to be the northernmost region of Ethiopia, bordering Eritrea and Sudan; and happens to be home to a large portion of the Ethiopian Army. So most of the soldiers that were from Tigray defected and ganked a whole bunch of weapons and vehicles and shit. The defectors are also backed up by the Eritrean Army, because most of the fighting is now actually happening in their country.
The "Background" section of the wikipedia article on the Tigray War starts in like 1990 or some shit cause, seriously, when has there NOT a civil war in Ethiopia? But this one popped on our radar because something weird happened in January that only the biggest fuckin psychos on the internet are talking about (aka The Guardian and The Times of Israel). Apparently the fabled "Ark of the Covenant" (yup, the one from Indiana Jones) was kept in a cathedral in Tigray called St. Mary of Zion. The city of Aksum, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was taken over by the Ethiopian military in January. 750 people were killed and local historical researchers claim that countless "paintings and manuscripts, and collections of research data" were stolen from the cathedral.
In Raiders, some people tried to warn Indy not to fuck with the Ark cause it would trigger a variety of apocalyptic scenarios - and they were RIGHT!!
So, needless to say, some people out here these days are connecting all these dots in the news and it's stressing them the fuck out. From what we understand, a lotta people have succumbed to physical and mental illness this past year - but NOT US!!!!
DYM is lookin good, feelin good, playin good, and gettin paid good (good enough anyway).
What's our secret, you ask?
See, the cool thing about Mythology is, even though a lot of the stories are about "The End of the World" they all take place a long, long time ago - so, obviously, the world didn't actually end. And DYM is here to say that, for all intents and purposes, it probably never will.
Every one of us is gonna wake up tomorrow, and the next day, and the next, until we don't anymore. And the day your life ends, about 150,000 other people will die too, it happens everyday. The good news is that over twice as many people will be born that same day. And, if they're lucky, some of those new babies will one day believe that their life is the most difficult life ever. They may believe that the life of the world itself is fated to "end" before their own -- and they will create timeless works of art.
Of course we're not the only ones fuckin with mythopoeia hard right now. Today our culture's most renowned myth-makers are grappling with ways to reframe their stories as to contend with our shared sense of impending doom.
DC Comics got out ahead of the trend about midway through the Trump Administration with Elseworlds. Elseworlds was a series of one-off graphic novels (now animated movies) where the heroes are placed in different settings throughout history. We get all kindsa weird combinations of team-ups, and sometimes the heroes die, but none of it matters to the canon story. The characters in DC (especially the Batman-adjacent ones) have always been more mutable and fungible than most other popular comics. That's one of the main reasons why Batman is our favorite superhero - because he's always changing. We kinda like how almost every Batman story retells the death of Bruce's parents and the discovery of the Batcave, it's a trope that demonstrates that each incarnation of Batman is original and effectively independent from all others. Every new Batman story is a work of pure imagination - the very definition of mythopoeia. DC has been quietly releasing these animated movies for years and now, and they are all finally available on HBOMax. There might be more Batman content available for streaming right now than Star Wars, and goofy-ass Jon Favreau isn't in ANY of em!!!
If you ever feel like your life is in a rut, and you need to shake things up, we highly recommend the Elseworlds flicks and the two Justice League Dark flicks on HBO. They're weird, but in our opinion they're the among the best Batmans. We have always held Batman as one of the most essential archetypal figures in American culture. And as such his potential incarnations are as multiple as the stars in the night sky. So why not make Batman literally a ninja? Why not an Arthurian Knight? Or a Russian revolutionary?
Truly, we are all Batman.
While HBO asks "why not?", the question of the day over at Disney+ is "what if?".
The last two Marvel series on Disney+ (Loki and What If?) are our two favorites by far.
We have a lot of very particular qualms with Falcon & Iron Soldier and WandVision, but we suspect the reason they're not as compelling as Loki and What If? is simply because they are embedded in the pre-existing MCU timeline.
When Iron Man 1 came out in 2008 it was a revelation. But that was 13 years (and 24 movies) ago. To be honest we're kinda bored with that story at this point. And more importantly the world is a very different place today than it was 2008 (see above), so our collective subconscious DEMANDS new stories.
Loki introduced us to dozens of different versions of the classic character. So it urged us to imagine that there could be an infinite number of versions of our own lives as well.
This is a proper myth for the 21st century.
No one understands quantum physics (literally no one), yet almost everybody accepts that it's real.
There are FAR MORE objectively verifiable phenomena that we, as a people, are far more likely to deny (like election fraud). The reason everybody accepts the concept of quantum physics without being able to observe (or even comprehend) it, is mostly because it provides a framework for a psychologically satisfying mythology. It's comforting to think that the ultimate salvation of mankind (or it's ultimate destruction) does not lie ahead of us; but rather has already come to pass in a parallel universe. It really takes a lot of pressure off of us - eases the conscience - which is actually the whole point of storytelling.
So we LOVE that Marvel followed up the first season of Loki with the What If? series. Every episode of What If? is a complete and self-contained Hero's Journey.
Although the stories are unfamiliar the characters and settings are not, thus it makes simultaneous demands of our memory and imagination, but leaves logic and objectivity behind.
Logical thinking demands continuity, but the intelligibility of the plot is not a necessary component of mythopoeia, quite the opposite in fact. Logical continuity entails a mental exercise of connecting the things one sees to other things one has seen. But mythical archetypes do not connect to each other directly - rather they take turns connecting to, and evoking the images of, our most distant, forgotten, and unconscious memories. Mythology forces the audience to relinquish factual knowledge and see the story with a new set of eyes. Myths are allowed to change over time because the particular events of the story matter far less than the archetypal images. Every storyteller places a piece of themselves in their version of the story, and if they are honest in their storytelling, it will remind the audience of something within themselves. They learn about themselves and are then able to reorient their focus within their everyday life.
This is the true meaning of being "Born Again".
Yesterday Disney dropped a trailer for the next Star Wars series, entitled "Visions". And HOLY SHIT, you guys, it looks fuckin AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!
The most recent Star Warses (especially Episode IX and Bad Batch) were strained by attempts at MCU-style continuity. And unsurprisingly they were a huge let down to us real Star Wars fans. Our expectations of all Disney Star Warses are now very tempered, so this trailer doesn't have us as viscerally amped as the Episode IX trailers did, but we are much more (unironically) confident that this is gonna be our new favorite Star War.
We loved Episode VII for precisely the same reasons most people hated it - because it was the exact same story as the original SW. The problem with Episode IX is the story was inundated with very specific, and overt, references to the previous movies but actually told a different story. Thus the images we see in IX did not comport with the story being told: The villain was supposedly redeemed but does not return for the final scene; The heroine says she found her family but we never see them all together. The logical errors of Episode IX were impossible to ignore because the Sequel Trilogy was just that - a sequel. It was a continuation of a story written over 40 years earlier. It was written by a team of writers who were all collectively beholden to the details of that story - which prevented all of them from allowing their individual imaginations to unfold in the writing. When Palpatine returns in Episode IX the audience is forced to make objective, logical connections to the plot of the previous movies, not an imaginative connection to the images. Thus the path to the audience's unconscious imagination was also cut off.
Myths do not need to be continued or completed, they simply need to be retold.
For anyone who's been frustrated by Disney's ham-handed rehashing of SW's epic themes, Visions should be a breath of fresh air. We're getting new characters and new stories that will be completely divorced from the established "canon". Seven different directors get a chance to tell their own versions of the story, and place pieces of themselves within it.
If we're lucky we may finds some pieces of ourselves there too.