Friday, June 29, 2012

Call me Ishmael...I mean, Earl...Call me Earl!

Episode 52 or Season 3, episode 5 of the hilarious My Name is Earl TV show:

The episode is called "Creative Writing," one of those with Earl in prison. He elects to take a creative writing course to better himself. He begins to discuss it with his brother, a prison guard:

Randy, the brother, says, "Writing sounds cool. You can make a world where anything could happen. Like a guy all alone in a boat hunting a big white whale."

Earl replies, "Randy, nobody's gonna wanna read that!"

First of all, I can't tell if Randy actually means The Old Man in the Sea or Moby-Dick. I think he has gotten those two books crossed. When he specifies "all alone," this is clearly in contrast to our Melville novel, where people who have read note that Ahab is taking down the whole boat with him. If it were truly a solitary thing, there isn't as much conflict for Ahab. It is the conflict of bringing Starbuck and all the men in on it with him that is the real story. The Old Man in the Sea, while focusing on the futility of the endeavor, also focuses on man's determination--in this respect, the protagonist is a hero and not a looney.

Secondly, of all the fictional references to be made, they choose Moby-Dick. Are they saying how weird the novel and idea are? Why didn't Randy say something like, "...a world where anything could happen. Like a queen of a deck of playing cards threatening to cut your head off while you are chasing a white rabbit," or "...Like a taking a raft trip down the Mississippi to take a stand against slavery." Any other work of fiction could work, but they chose Moby-Dick first.

And these two characters have clearly never read the novel. I doubt they have read any book. I know the actors and writers are intelligent and creative people, but the characters are clearly idiots. Therefore, in this creative TV show, the writers have referenced a story that they think even the idiots know all about.

No comments: