I'll come up with something in a minute.

H2G2 Thoughts

I should say now, I haven’t seen the 2005 movie, and can’t say if there are other reasons why it failed to take off. The movie might have been utter crap, but I’m going to suggest another reason.

While it made some money, in fact it made double its budget, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy movie did not set the world alight. They made changes, it wasn’t as charming, many of the jokes exist within the narrative and would be awkward to fit into dialogue at best… these were all reasons suggested. What hasn’t been suggested is that the books are just plain out of date.

Hang on, hang on, put down the pitchforks and axe handles for a moment and listen. I just re-read the first three books and was struck by something I’d noticed, but had never been able to put my finger on before. The books are satire, and one of the major things they satirize is the incredible selfishness and self-obsession of the late 70s and early 80s. The books are mired in the “But enough about you” culture that was prevalent at the time. All the characters are so self-absorbed that it’s amazing they can ever actually have a conversation with anyone else. In fact, not listening to what the other person is saying is often the source of the comedy. While self-obsession is still a thing, it’s not the big a point of comedy that it was in the 80s. Any perusal of 80s comedy books will revel the “Me-me-me” idea was ripe and oft plucked fruit at the time. But something happened around 1994. People started going to shrinks and talking about themselves there. Computers started isolating people in a way we never thought possible. Maybe it was Grunge music that made people realize that they’d better get interested in their friends before another suicide happened. Maybe Prince changing his name just woke everyone the fuck up after we all glimpsed just how far down this rabbit whole went. Once you’ve got a rock star asking to be called the symbol for soapstone, you realize that not only is it turtles all the way down, but all those turtles think they’re the most important turtle in the world.

Whatever it was, the funny joke about being a self-absorbed yuppie just wasn’t funny anymore. There are young geeks, I have met them, who don’t understand the relationship between Ford and Arthur. They don’t get why Ford would have Arthur along, since he clearly doesn’t like him very much, and they don’t get that Ford is just exasperated with all the things Arthur doesn’t know, but that he’s simultaneously too lazy to bother explaining*. They don’t get that much of the satire is of a time and place that doesn’t exist anymore and was really funny to people who now are embarrassed to admit they ever acted like that. It was a different time you understand., 1979-1992. There are jokes the kids get, but many they don’t, because the world has moved on and those jokes just aren’t funny anymore.

That might be why the movie didn’t do as well. Or, maybe it sucked. I don’t rightly know myself, I still haven’t seen it.

*That’s not entirely fair to Ford, but roll with it, I’m giving a shorthand explanation here.

November 8, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment