Tuesday, February 14, 2006

You look like you've seen an optical self-delusion

I'm currently re-reading DC's Ghosts crossover. I love the art, and the writing is solid, if nothing spectacular. I especially like the underlying theme, that the superheroes are haunted by those who are a manifest of their own guilt about something they consider among their biggest errors.

However, one thing I can't "get" about this whole thing. In every single issue of the crossover, at one point, the main character will go "this can't be a ghost", or "I don't believe/you don't believe it's a ghost". I mean, C'mon. It's expect that from anyone else BUT DC's characters. After all, what exactly is the Spectre? Deadman? Those heroes deal, live and eat with the metaphysical/supernatural/occult on a daily basis, I find it a bit hard to digest that they would go skeptic all of the sudden. I know that the writers do tend to "keep it real" when it comes to characters, and those skeptic remarks are our own (as in the readers) immediate reaction, but it's quite a stretch of the suspension of disbelief.
I recall those late-seasons Star Trek: The Next Generation where one of the characters would enter and go like "I've heard voices all night" and the crew, instead of sending that character to a nice, long vacation with a nice prescription of medical drugs, would immediately start scanning for stuff and theorising on what could've caused it. It looks silly, and probably is silly, but those characters met with the unknown on a weekly, daily and hourly basis, they'd be more susceptible to accepting the metaphysical than the rational.

On the other hand, it does create some interesting reflections. At the ST:TNG episode "Journey's End", Wesley Crusher announces he is quitting Starfleet Academy (this being TNG, quitting the academy is akin to giving up all chance of post-graduate education. There are, technically, other academic institute, but in the TNG world it's "SF Academy or bust"). He gives the usual "young adult" reasoning, he doesn't "find" himself there, the pressure is too high, etc. etc. Then he meets a colony of Native Americans who refuse to be transferred from their planet due to some connection they feel with the land. He meets one of them, who takes him to a "ritual room", puts some heavy incense, which induces a trance-like state in Wesley, resulting in him seeing and talking to his dead father.

Now, let's take a different look. Had I come, several years ago to my mother, and told her that not only I'm quitting school, but I'm doing this after I inhaled some drugs that made me talk to my late father who encouraged me to not follow in his footsteps, I would really hope that my mother would have the sense to beat the crap out of my head. Literally, if necessary. Not surprisingly, this is hardly the case here. Dr. Crusher shows some maternal concern for her boy, but nothing that really hints that she thinks he did anything wrong, or is making a bad decision. While at it, Picard nearly rekindles a war with the Cardassians rather than kick the hell out of the Native Americans, just because they have this "bond" with the land, so there you have it.

Ridiculous as it may sound, this is perfectly in theme with the rest of the series, a bit to the extreme, granted, but not something we haven't seen before. Having the Flash doubt the existence of ghosts, is just bad writing.


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