Episode 245 : Everybody’s Neverland

It’s part one of our usual two-part Thanksgiving extravaganza! Which means we finished this up over an hour ago, so my memory’s not great. New TV shows, a LOT of Peter Pan, and what’s wrong with modern narratives. Enjoy!


What kind of stories around today do you think are culturally beneficial? culturally harmful? –Jas


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8 Responses to Episode 245 : Everybody’s Neverland

  1. jas says:

    Peter Pan: That was a really interesting reading of what each of the elements would mean as a negative reflection of contemporary culture.

    Just a minor point, but I’m not sure the idea that Barrie welcomed the success of the play because of its profitability is really accurate. From what I remember, he signed the copyright over to The Great Ormond Street Hospital (a children’s hospital). I think Disney had to pay them for use of the story. Maybe people still do?

    I also heard something about Barrie on Radiolab when they were doing a show about the effects of childhood trauma. Barrie’s older brother died in an accident (and I think Barrie was a witness to the accident), and then his mother went into an intense depression. Barrie attempted unsuccessfully to take his brother’s place for his mother. And apparently the effect of his mother’s withdrawal and his perceived failure to replace his brother was to severely stunt his own growth (he only grew to be about 5’3″).

    • William says:

      Quite right. What I observe, though, is that Barrie didn’t seem to have a particular social or cultural agenda with Peter Pan, so as long as the story/character was celebrated in one form or another, he was happy about it. Certainly it meant his favorite charity would keep getting royalty checks. 🙂

      I perhaps shouldn’t have called him an opportunist, but I didn’t really mean it in a bad way. I just meant that Barrie wasn’t a purist about his own creation and was grateful and actively supportive of just about any attention Peter Pan got.

    • William says:

      This just occurred to me…

      Peter’s childish, self-centered, and often absent husband/father vs. Wendy’s clever, doting, and often jealous/suspicious wife/ mother…

      Don’t we have here the basis for modern family-oriented TV commercials and sitcoms?

      When I read it in the novel/play and when I SAW it in the play/musical, it didn’t even occur to me that what I was seeing was a childish parody of something that, when Barrie first wrote it, wouldn’t really be “a thing” (trope-wise) for several more decades!

      (Although, to be fair… in some types of comedy theater, especially Vaudeville, these tropes pretty-much already existed… didn’t they? Someone help me out here…)

      It just seems like Barrie (inadvertently? much like children playing at grown-up adventures, I suppose) captured the cultural basis for lots of stuff, but then his work turned around and *became* the cultural basis for lots of stuff…

      • jas says:

        Probably true of vaudeville, but maybe even more relevant–that trope is based on Victorian gender roles that had a basis in the material reality of Victorian family life.

        Interesting that “Wendy” was actually Barrie’s nickname (given to him by a little girl who wanted to call him “Friendly” but couldn’t pronounce her consonants very well yet)–subverting the whole notion of gender binary that’s represented.

        • William says:

          Yeah, I often thought while I was going over this material that it didn’t seem like Barrie was trying to subvert anything, per se, but that the material could VERY easily be read that way, or VERY easily staged or shot in a manner that unambiguously subverted the gender binary, race binary, age binary, and maybe even the “civilization vs savage” binary, perhaps even without changing anything in the original material other than how characters are positioned and how lines are delivered and responded to.

          But if such a subversive version of the tale were accepted, Peter Pan wouldn’t be the “hero” of it, or a suitable emblem of that subversion, any more than Hook would be. There’d be no hero or icon for the story, unless one considers Neverland itself.

  2. jas says:

    Harmful stories:

    In terms of gender I’d say the worst stories that are really prevalent right now are the ones that show the woman saving the man from his character flaw (of varying degrees) with her love. Unfortunately, it’s a really popular structure, especially with women and girls.

    And the one that’s on my mind right now because lots of politicians are playing to it is the one that demonizes an entire group (refugees, for instance) and promotes the speaker as the hero who will somehow have enough power and control to make everyone safe. This is getting to me with all the various political leaders (including my own governor) who are saying they will not accept refugees without thorough vetting or until they understand the vetting process. I completely understand people being afraid, but one has to ask–did these officials not understand the vetting process up until now? Have they just been letting people in without any oversight? Of course not. So what are they doing when they stand up and say–We must have a thorough vetting process! Playing to people’s fears. That is not leadership.

  3. jas says:

    Beneficial stories: Anything like Steven Universe. 🙂

  4. Mark says:

    Playing games with family: That sounds vaguely familiar, but I wouldn’t swear to it.

    Dominion: *blargh* I can play that game, but I never cared that much for it. My wife, on the other hand, loves it. I think I recall just enough to recognize the absurdity of the Tony’s achievement.

    Twin Peaks: I have great fondness for this show; but the last time I tried to rewatch it, it was just too damn dated for me to get into it. Which is a bit of an odd statement given how many period pieces I enjoy watching.

    Into the Badlands: HA!

    Supergirl: Does it get better? I’ve only seen a fraction of the pilot and it looked horrible.
    Arrow: We watched some, but quickly grew to hate it.
    Flash: Ugh, I couldn’t get through even a single episode of this.
    Agents of Shield: Yeah, I know I like this show but I don’t know that the show as a whole is any good. It definitely has good bits/scenes/actors.

    Mister Terrific: A quick google search makes is appear William was remembering the character name correctly.

    Legends of Tomorrow: Well that sounds more interesting than any of the individual shows have been.

    Culturally beneficial/harmful: Umm, the I.T. Crowd? 😉

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