Monday, April 21, 2008

Fan Films, Fetishism, and Fate

I’m always a little nonplussed after watching a fan film: it’s as if I’ve just rifled through someone’s underwear drawer and discovered some awful secret thing that screams, “too much information!”* Not that I should be surprised. All self-styled fans are, in one way or another, fetishists, even if we don’t always quite fit the description of—in Warren Ellis’s memorable phrase—“underwear perverts.” And what are fan films but superhero fetishism writ large? They involve fetishes that are not simply taken down from the shelf and contemplated every now and then, but are literally embodied, enacted, and in a meaningful sense, lived. In the end, the film itself becomes the new fetish, perhaps—the culmination of the whole process that integrates the fantasist and his (or her) objects through performance and representation.

Or, maybe it’s just a good way to learn the craft while pissing around with your buddies in film school. Who’s to say?

At any rate, the genre intrigues me, and I admire this Dr. Fate fan film (Part 1 of a serial) that I bumped into on youtube this evening. The acting is sometimes a bit stiff (particularly the scene in the middle between Dr. Fate and the sister) or veers into self-parody (the closing moments, I think, were meant to be dramatic), but the actor who plays the wayward student of chaos magic is solid and the overall production and effects are really cool. The direction is even, dare I say, a little bit David Lynchy in parts. Good fun; Gary Lobstein has a nice little film here.

And here's Part 2, with The Question thrown in for good measure:

*Why I’m rifling through anyone else’s underwear drawer in the first place is an interesting story, but not one I’m going to get into here.

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