Thursday, August 04, 2011

La Muerte y la Brujula, Part Two

This originally appeared as a comment some years ago on Rob's blog, which alas I have forgotten the name of since Lexifab removed his link:
The thing that bothered me about Se7en- besides it being really gross and disturbing, of course- was that there was not enough internal consistency in the choice of victims or their punishments. This was explained by taking the traditional Hollywood path of least resistance and making the perpetrator a psycho-looney. But I think even a psycho-looney ought to have a self-consistent lunatic philosophy. I advise the following principles to guide a looney- or better, a lunatic organisation like the Opus Dei of fiction:

(1) The victims should not necessarily be those who have been corrupted by a particular sin, but those who corrupt others with it.

(2) The punishment should be, as far as possible, simply the consequences of the sin they encourage, taken to its logical conclusion.

Hence, rather than some poor recluse, the proper exemplar for Gluttony should be a celebrity chef- a Jamie Oliver or Nigella Lawson type. Who better to exemplify the exploitation of Lust than a presenter on one of those sleazy reality programs? Or Wrath, the host of a nasty Jerry Springeresque talk-show? Avarice, someone connected with televised real-estate porn, or a ‘Weakest Link’ style game show? In fact, it seems to me that the pernicious corrupters who embody these sins cluster thickly around Big Media.

In my never-to-be-made remake of Se7en, each of the victims will work for a (unnamed) television network.  I thought for a while about the best way to kill each one off, but decided this was too icky a pastime. The Seven Deadly Sins pattern will not be made explicit by the killer(s), but will be explained on the website of a kooky religious organisation that the investigator googles early on. I envision Mel Gibson in a cameo as head of this kooky religious organisation. In fact, the killer(s) will never be seen: there will be no action sequences, because this never-to-be-made remake is the work of someone who dislikes action sequences. The investigator will not be able to pin the murders convincingly on the kooky religious organisation, not quite, not yet. The developing pattern of events- following the order seen in Dante’s descent into Hell- will point to the head of the network as the final victim, sentenced to die for the sin of Pride.

But of course, it is the investigator himself who has to die. In the course of the film we will have seen the investigator gain a cult following being interviewed on this same network’s news and current affairs programs during his investigation, oozing the arrogant hyperintellectuality of a Holmes or a Lonnrot. He has rejected his place as an interdependent member of society, relying only on himself and scorning the help of God or Man. We now can see clearly that he embodies the solipsistic vision of Timothy McVeigh’s last words, which is also the boast of Lucifer: ‘I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.’  Is the network head’s smile just a little too fixed? Are the investigator’s fingers feeling ever so slightly numb as he grips the glass the kindly network head offered him? He finds he cannot move his arm, and struggles to ask the network head for an explanation. And as he slips into a black coma where there will, indeed, be no-one else but him, the network head will explain.

‘It was all about ratings, of course...’


Cornelius Gallows said...

Cynic :)

Actually I think this would make a pretty good story, although you'd need to describe a more interesting narrative arc for your investigator than "pride-pride-pride-pride-pride-pride-fall".

When I am a famous television producer with a mildly popular series of twist-in-the-tail vignettes*, I will get you to write this one for me.

* I am not thinking of becoming a television producer anytime soon.

Dr Clam said...

Oh, of course it will be a more interesting narrative arc than that: but it will conform to type as a detective story most of the way through, so the viewer will expect it to be about the puzzle rather than the detective.
In general I am thinking: "lust-gluttony-avarice-sloth-wrath-envy-pride-fall".

I expect you will throw out my screenplay anyway and get Adam Sandler out of retirement to write the second draft - you bigshot producers are all the same :(

Marco said...

Yes. Pride always comes before the fall ???

Andrea K Höst said...

Completely unrelated link for you Chris - thought you might be interested.