The Curse of Labyrinth

Long-time readers will doubtless recall, from many posts past, this cry of despair. Today, we have an updated version.

For quite a long time, often on paintings with no relation to one another or anything else, over at DeviantArt, I would get comments that said “Hey, this reminds me of “Labyrinth!”

A lot of comments like this.

Day in, day out.

It is not the viewer’s fault. Let me state this categorically. While I occasionally get one of those annoying sorts who makes it their goal to tell me who my influences are (and generally gets it wrong) most people are responding honestly and without artifice–this reminded them of something. Maybe it was the emotions invoked, maybe the sense of wonder or whimsy, and this is a genuine compliment. Maybe they really LIKED Labyrinth. This is usually praise, and an attempt to explain, often out of gratitude, why this moved them, to compare it to one of the greats of the fantasy pantheon. Hell, maybe it just bloody well looked like something from the movie. It’s really not their fault that this is like saying “Wow, have you lost weight?!” to someone who just learned they’re carrying around a gullet full of tapeworms. For those commenters on the Gearworld blog who may be squirming in their chairs now–s’okay. Really, it is. I do appreciate the thought, and the good will behind it. I am very glad that people want to talk about my work–without that, I’d be throwing art into the silent void, and I don’t know how long I could do that before the silence drove me up the wall.

I just happen to have this muppet tapeworm, see…

The cruel irony here is that Labyrinth is the ONE movie in that genre I only saw once. I watched the Muppet Show faithfully with my father, I frequently demanded we rent the Dark Crystal on video (to the point where my mother never ever ever wants to ever ever hear anybody EVER do the Skexsis voice again) and I was a member of the Fraggle Rock club.

Labyrinth, however, I pretty much missed. And this was largely because of timing–my mother was, at the time, a reasonably devout fundie, and while she wasn’t crazy in the sense that she believed all fantasy was bad, (hence the Dark Crystal) she did not approve of rock music. And so, when I saw Labyrinth one time, at nine or ten or so, it was at my father’s, I got one look at David Bowie’s gyrating vinyl bits, and knew that I would not be renting this movie back home. Sadly, that’s about all I remember of the movie, too. Some vague muppetish shots, but mostly Bowie’s genitals.

Arguably, if one must carry an image around, there are worse things, but we won’t get into that.

But I am starting to feel like I am under some bizarre curse. The Curse of Labyrinth. A muppet Mark of Cain. For scorning the vinyl nads, I am doomed to wander the earth, producing art that reminds people of Labyrinth. And now, it appears, that this jumps media. The paintings, I could just about see–the visual influence from early Dark Crystal is probably easily mistaken, and I do like Froud–but now it leaps to writing.

I wrote a section of the Gearworld blog wherein somebody communicates a cryptic message by making a little face out of his hands and making it talk. We used to do this all the time when we were punchy, although ours were much more crude and mostly involved drawing eyes on the side of our hands. And in keeping with making the absurd solemn and the solemn absurd, as is kinda the gearworld thing, this was supposed to be somewhere between silly and creepy. And I thought the hand thing was a neat idea, and I had gone so far as to compose about half an entry from Senior Librarian Vo about a group of religious ventriloquists, who’s pronouncements were the immutable word of God, and so in order to get day to day living done, they had to have these elaborate masks with moving lips that spoke for them, or in times of crisis, make little faces out of their hands, and…hey, isn’t that like something out of Labyrinth?

It’s not the reader’s fault. They’re almost certainly right, and one should never have to apologize for being right. And I LOVED Henson. There are infinitely worse things to be compared to. Yet in my gut, the tapeworm turns.

I think, to use Eland’s metaphor, that it’s probably like exploring. You come over a hill and you see some vista of land, previously untouched by mortal eyes, and you go “Wow! Amazing! How gloriously cool, I will share it with the world! This is what exploring is all about!” and then you get out the binoculars and discover there’s a Starbucks halfway down the hill. It’s still cool, and you’re still glad to have seen it, but now you feel a little embarassed about your own prior enthusiasm.

At this point, I don’t know if actually renting the bloody movie–or buying it off Amazon, since I don’t know if video stores would even carry it any more–would make things worse, or better, or what. Possibly the reason I keep reminding people of Labyrinth is just because I don’t know what to avoid–if I sat down and watched it I could mark sections of the mental map with “Here There Be Muppets” and avoid them. Or possibly I would discover that I could never do anything again that wouldn’t remind me of Labyrinth, driving me to a career of horse-breaking and chartered accountancy. I’d just as soon avoid that.

The last time I ranted about this, it was cathartic. Everybody started saying “Hey, that reminds me of Labyrinth!” about everything, and then I could take it as a joke, and stop worrying about whether I was going through life as some third rate-knock off of a muppet movie. Perhaps I just need to do this once a year or so, renewing the paperwork on my angst, as ’twere.

And if that fails, there’s always chartered accountancy.

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