The Perpetual Three-Dot Column
The Perpetual Three-Dot Column
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by Jesse Walker

Tuesday, April 24, 2007
NOTES TOWARD AN ESSAY IT'S TOO LATE TO WRITE: Little Miss Sunshine as a genre movie. On one side: the tradition of stories painting the family as a haven of support in a frequently hostile world: I Remember Mama, various sitcoms, etc. On the other side: films that feature a fraternity of freaks, from Freaks itself forward through The Wild Bunch, Revenge of the Nerds, various biker movies, circus movies, gay movies, etc. The first group has a conservative aura, celebrating a central social institution, while the second feels subversive, treating outcasts as heroes and implicitly rejecting the social institutions that have rejected them. (The Nerds series might be a special case, since it combines its fraternity-of-freaks approach with a basic universalism -- the message of the movies is that we're all spazzes under the skin.)

Between them, a peculiar fusion: the family of freaks. Stretches at least as far back as Capra's You Can't Take It With You. Exemplars: The Munsters, The Addams Family. (What would Gene Healy's
quirk generator make of those?) Both pro-family and pro-freak, and thus (a) confounding to ordinary political categories and (b) a pretty typical American POV.

Question: Where does the family of slobs fit in this? Are The Simpsons and the National Lampoon's Vacation movies a lighter version of the family of freaks? (Was Little Miss Sunshine pitched as "Freaks meets Vacation"?)

Chances that I will actually write this article: Low. Just stick some notes on the blog instead.


posted by Jesse 4:25 PM
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