Analysis of Everything

My training in analysis of media started early. According to my mother, I came to her when I was three years old and asked solemnly why she didn’t love my baby sister. Horrified, she asked me why I thought that. I told her that it was because she didn’t use Huggies nappies.

The TV was gone the next day. Gone. Mum didn’t let the evil box back into the house until I was twelve. Which did a lot for my love of reading, I must say, since it was books, the radio upon which Dad had first dibs, or walking (literally) two miles to the next house to play with the kids ‘next door’. But Mum also set to teaching me about advertising, analyzing the message presented to me to figure out what they were trying to get me to do. And then we started analyzing stories. And once you start, you never really stop.

I love analyzing stories, especially. I spend a lot of time wondering if this or that was done on purpose. Did J. K. Rowling really intend to set up two substitute ‘mothers’ for Harry Potter? Everyone knows about Molly Weasley, but the person who spends the most time actually raising Harry, the one person who prioritizes him over *everything* else, even her own family, is Hermione Granger. I’d love to know if Rowling did that intentionally.  Did Elizabeth Peters always intend for Amelia Peabody to be a somewhat unreliable narrator, or did she use it as a way of reconciling the contradictions in the first couple of books? As for David Eddings, well…. let’s just say that in my personal and subjective opinion, either he only knows two women, or he only finds two women appealing, and neither reflects well on either him or Mrs Eddings.

It was a proud moment for me when my husband turned to me while we were watching Big Bang Theory, and in an outraged voice announced ‘You’ve ruined Leonard for me!’. Because Leonard doesn’t love Penny! He loves the fantasy of Penny, and he’s built it up in his head to the point where he can’t let go of it and he keeps trying to fit her into the fantasy and she’s so bad at relationships that she has no idea how to handle or even identify the problem and… yeah. I overthink these things. All the things. Everything, really.

Which would be why I hated the one class I did in Critical Media Analysis or whatever they called it during my brief university stint. The teacher was *rubbish* at it. She actually demanded that we analyze a poem line by line, when the individual lines made no sense whatsoever because each ‘sentence’ or unit of meaning took about three! (Yes, I don’t know the right term for it. But I know what I mean!) I got a seven in that class, but only because I sacrificed all my critical principles and doused my exam paper in a mighty pile of bullshit in the teacher’s preferred flavour.

Anyone else find things in their books, movies, comics etc and wonder if the creator put them there deliberately?

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2 thoughts on “Analysis of Everything

  1. It doesn’t often come up in my notice, but I’m a lazy viewer.

    However, I’ve been asked if I did something deliberate with one of my characters, Glimmer Girl. Once upon a time she was known as Justin Cade, called JC by her friends, and I was asked if this made her an allegory for Jesus Christ. Then she became Kaira Cade, or KC, and I was asked if I was spinning the initials of Clark Kent. Funny, really, seeing as she started out as a parody of Supergirl.

    The same analyst then told me ‘everything a writer does is intentional, even if they didn’t mean to.’

  2. I do this all the time. My brain spins questions about story elements while I’m working my way through them. Details, characters, themes, imagery, word choices… maybe it’s my background in textual analysis (all those years of studying English Literature had to have some effect, after all). It’s not just text, but pretty much any art form that I can understand well enough to analyse: TV, movies, games, comics, advertising. To a lesser extent, visual art. I love to study these types of things and see how it’s done and what it’s doing and why.

    Because I do that, I also try to do it to my own work. Because if I do something in my writing, I’d like to be telling the truth when I say ‘yes, I did that on purpose’.

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