Monday, February 23, 2009

Plot or Not

Unfortunately I was quarantined for Thursday’s discussion, but I think I’ve got the gist of what was discussed. I thought the whole discussion of the importance (or lack thereof) of plot in blue velvet was particularly interesting. So I started to think about what books I considered important and meaningful, and how they rated on the ‘plot importance’ scale.
          As in cinema, a majority of literary works have some sort of quasi-realistic, quasi-linear plots. Hamlet is about a Danish prince in a power struggle with his uncle, Huck Finn is about a kid working his way down the Mississippi, and Lolita is a pedophile’s travel journal of sorts. All of these books are about more than the plot, but plot is certainly an important device that is used to communicate meaning. However, some books use plot differently/not at all, having plots that seem confusing, unrealistic, or disjointed (The Metamorphosis, Infinite Jest) but are still widely considered important and meaningful. Apparently then, a structured, reasonable plot is not a requirement for meaningful literature, and I would argue that the same conclusion is true of cinema. If I can like a book about a salesman turned into a giant bug, who am I to diss blue velvet because the plot seemed unrealistic?
            So then the question left to us is not ‘Which elements of Blue Velvet’s plot affect its meaning?’ or even ‘What the hell is going on with Blue Velvet’s plot?’ but instead ‘Does Blue Velvet’s plot matter at all?’ I’m still not sure what the answer to that question is, but I’m bordering on no. I mean, I agree that Sandy and Jeff seem a little one dimensional, even stereotypical, but maybe that’s the point. Of course he could have made Sandy and Jeff more developed characters, but he chose to make them corny. Why? Obviously David Lynch knows how to write a logical script, but he chooses to make it ridiculous. Why? I feel like we shouldn’t hate the movie (although it is so tempting) because it’s weird and hard to sit through, but that we should figure out the point of it, and then decide. I bet it’s what Milton would do. 

1 comment:

  1. I'm with you on this. Blue Velvet is intentionally kind of corny and the characters are intentionally one dimensional. I was thinking maybe he did it to try and add a level of absurdity and make it sort of unbelievable but I'm not sure why that would be his goal. Let me know if you think of something!