Thursday, June 01, 2006

These old shades

Pitch Black, The Chronicles of Riddick, - bad movies *ing Vin Diesel; corny novelisations, one of them by a reasonably competent SF writer (Alan Dean Foster). The only thing worth noting is that Riddick wears “black goggles” (Amazon says this is a statistically improbable phrase) even in the depths of a dark, deep mine.

Shades are common props in many SF movies – Matrix, MIB, etc. Hollywood believes in them as “futuristical” props that nicely offset campy sets and uniforms. Odd because versions of these have been around since before H.G.Wells.

The Germans almost won the Battle of Jutland (1 June 1916) because they had Zeiss glasses that enabled them to maintain semaphore contact through shellfire (after they learnt that the Kiregsmarine radio ciphers had been broken) and to spot British ships emerging out of the setting sun.

Shades also featured in the election slogan of Jack B in “Bug Jack Barron”, which is an awesomely good organ-legging novel from the 1960s. Barron styles himself “The White Shade” to woo the black vote.

Shades are an integral part of the Southie political landscape. Bangarappa, MGR, Karunanidhi, et al, everybody uses shades. At first I thought it was just an affectation – much like Cow-belt politicians referring to themselves in the third person.

Later I realised that it was like a badge of belonging and a not-so-subtle means to establish hierarchy and seniority.

The common political thug wears his shades on the streets of Mylapore to show that he is a more evolved being than the average Tambram who wanders about with his eyes exposed. He takes his shades off in front of an MLC, who in turn, displays respect to a senior boss like MK Stalin by whipping off his shades. MGR was cremated in his shades as the mark of ultimate respect.

In contrast to MGR, Kamaraj was considered a lick-spittle of the Northies by Deccan hardliners because he was so often seen face-naked in the company of the Hindi-speakers. And in Mollywood, one sign that Rajnikant is finally taking the villain seriously is a deliberate removal of his shades before the action-hero rolls up his sleeves and goes into action.

Stalin acknowledges that the man who named him is still the DMK uberappa by going face-stripped in front of MK. And, as for Kalinger, he takes his shades off for nuthin' and nobody. When Jayalollipoppa had him arrested, the ultimate humiliation was that he was caught on candid camera with buck-naked eyes.


Blogger The Marauder's Map said...

Another closet Georgette Heyer fan?

11:57 PM  
Blogger DD said...

Not closet - openly a Heyer fan. She did write elegant prose despite the anti-semitism.

4:53 AM  
Blogger The Marauder's Map said...

Not very obvious or deliberate, was it? I can't think of a single specific instance.

5:45 AM  
Blogger DD said...

Grand Sophy - the moneylender, one of her 1930s murder mysteries, random young men who borrow money from Cohen's and Abrams.

6:15 AM  
Blogger Space Bar said...

sorry, another big heyer fan here, but which 30's tec novel?

one could argue that anti-semitism was a prevalent attitude at the time (re her regency and georgian novels) but i also suspect that might be a little specious.

pity about the title--all the comments are totally unrelated!

6:42 AM  
Blogger DD said...

Mukul Kesavan did an essay somewhere or the other focussed on GH where he did look at the anti-semitism.

About generic racism, Christie provides a fairly decent picture of the 1920-30s attitude in her autobio "Come tell me how you live" where she describes her Armenian driver Michel's attitude to mowing down Muslims ("He is only a Mohammedan") while driving around Syria. Also features the stereotyped Jewish moneylender several times.

Maugham did a nice short story about the son of a Jewish banker who tries to become a pianist and then shoots himself when he realises that he doesn't have the talent.

7:07 AM  
Blogger DD said...

With reference to the post it was just an exercise to see if I could link Jutland (anniversary) with Riddick (which was showing on TV).

7:09 AM  

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