Tuesday, 19 August 2014

What I'm hoping there'll be less of.....

Carl Wilson in 'Let's Talk About A Love', his dissection of his loathing of the music of Celine Dion, points out that the word 'schmaltz' is derived from a Yiddish term for rendered chicken fat. In France you can buy roast potatoes covered in the stuff, that have sat all day underneath a rotisserie, with the fat from the chickens above slowly drip, drip dripping onto them, hour after hour... and that's how I think of Nu-Who ... saturated in a kind of sickening, cloying fat; smothered in an excess of emotion.

I know it would be churlish not to applaud the endeavor to explore the emotional interiors of the Doctor's companions, or the Doctor's own guilt and insecurities, or his attachment to the Tardis, or his loneliness . I can't see anything wrong with any of this and it looks likely that Capaldi's Doctor will be the sort of  troubled soul that we have become used to lately. So why do I balk at all the 'schmalz'?   (And it really is 'schmalz', or at least its' equivalent. Wilson defines it as 'saturated, demonstrative sentiment' but he doesn't make clear if he wishes us to apply the definition beyond music. Nevertheless, I think that if we look at the one with wedding of River Song, or the one where Smithy from 'Gavin & Stacey' beats the Cybermen by really 'believing in something', the term definitely fits).

Wilson points out that we are all quite happy to experience the excess of "paint, noise, rage, monumentality, vocabulary, nakedness and more that art has rolled around in since modernism and especially since rock 'n' roll"... but not extreme emotion, not schmaltz. So why not? Emotional excess has after all become the default genre of all telly. I don't mean HBO, box-set, clever telly. I mean family telly. We all know that you can't buy a house or win a nice baking competition on telly without an emotional story arc......  but  I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling a certain lack of tolerance, a lack of immunity, to schmaltz (to continue my analogy - a fear of clogging the arteries) . I'm unable to feel impervious to it, in the way that is easier with an excess of language, noise or violence.

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