Diary 2019-03-01

By Max Woerner Chase

I seem to recall pontificating about sequels and continuity and whether some movie series "really" share a continuity. I feel like in talking about stuff along those lines, I'm playing a little fast and loose with various ideas and assumptions, such as:

I think what ultimately bothers me about when a sequel isn't "really" in continuity is, we don't have a convenient way to distinguish between "An installment in an ongoing series with an overarching plan" and "A story that notionally takes place 'after' another, completed story". This might not be a distinction that can be meaningfully drawn, necessarily. I think it's possible for a piece of media to end up on a continuum between these, like newspaper comics that combine ongoing arcs and no plan whatsoever to end. Furthermore, we probably want "installments in ongoing series" to also be "stories in their own right", if they're long enough compared to the time between installments.

I guess my issue with stuff like horror movie sequels is that "something in the same continuity" doesn't seem to be the best way to deliver a similar experience to the original, and most of the horror movie sequels I've seen don't really fit into the established continuity. On the opposite extreme, stuff like trying to turn Halloween into an anthology... eesh. I think what I'd prefer to see is something like Osamu Tezuka's "star system" applied to a franchise. Basically, paratextually acknowledging that the characters in a story aren't going to act in a way that's totally consistent with their past appearances, but drawing roles, motifs, etc from those past appearances.

I think I haven't developed this to my satisfaction yet. I don't have a good sense for applying this outside of, say, horror movies, where sequels are mostly bound to bring in unwitting victims from somewhere, or else just give everyone amnesia about stuff that should really be world-changing. It maybe gets into "what do we mean by a sequel?" in various contexts. Like, a "sequel" to a "work" is "more of" some aspect of the work, but it's not more of every aspect, because otherwise it would just be the original work. So, if it's "more of" one aspect of the work, which aspect is that? If someone is giving thought to the matter, it is whichever aspect they deem most important to the work's identity. This could be thematic elements, characters, situations, probably more things. My feeling is that the default assumption is that a sequel should be focused on constructing a direct continuation of the sequence of events in the original. If this wasn't in some way the intent in the first place, things get awkward.

I don't think I've developed that to my satisfaction still, but I'm done for now. Instead of more of that, I just tried to put together a quick command-line interpreter for driving the rpg functions I've been writing. It is nice how quickly I can put together a basic interface using the cmd module, and with just a bit more effort, I can put together the one bit of tab-completion that makes sense for this application. Aesthetically, I'd prefer to work with something that doesn't use classes the way cmd does, but something something purity something practicality something something.

Things seem to be going a little better for me. Maybe work is doing better, maybe it's the increased levels of sunlight. I don't know, but I hope it continues. Here's hoping I get more on track still. Good night.