Browse By

A Monomythic Mausoleum, or Joseph Campbell Soup


WIRED Magazine‘s Scott Brown pulls the drool-logged plug on the doddering old narrative structures of old, and from their ashes raises an alternative storytelling model for the 21st century and beyond – Brown’s Ziggurat.

Follow the link to compare the classic Heroic journey of supercop John McClane with Brown’s own Escheresque re-imagining of the familiar fable, Die Hard. An excerpt:

“In [the traditional model] Die Hard unfolds thusly: NYC cop John McClane arrives in LA to reunite with his estranged wife, Holly (exposition), but terrorists raid her office tower, taking everyone hostage except McClane (inciting incident), who escapes unseen and starts picking off the goons (rising action). The terrorists finally realize they’re holding McClane’s wife and gain the upper hand (climax), but McClane frees the other hostages (falling action), goes toe-to-toe with the terrorist chieftain, and prevails (resolution). He celebrates by making out with his wife in the back of a limo. (Awww! And … denouement!)

A little square, no? With the snazzy Brown Ziggurat, however, Die Hard will look like this: John McClane, NYC cop, arrives in LA to reconcile with his estranged wife—but we already know all about their failing marriage from the ARG we’ve been obsessed with for the six months leading up to the movie’s release. (McClane’s potemkin Tumblr blog was especially illuminating.) With exposition rendered obsolete, we open instead on a Sprite commercial, which transitions seamlessly into furious gunplay. We don’t even see McClane in the flesh, but our handsets are buzzing with his real-time thumb-tweets: “in the air duct. smelz like dead trrist in here lol.” The film then rewinds to McClane Googling “terrorists” to read up on his adversaries. We then flash-cut to the baddies’ POV, which we’re familiar with (and sympathetic to) thanks to the addictive Xbox hit Die Hard: Hard Out There for a Terrorist. This is all part of the Action-Happening Plateau, an intensifying mass of things and stuff leading up to the Mymaxtm.

The Mymax is not a lame old Freytag climax but a hot Escher mess of narrative possibilities suggested by you, the audience. With a mere click of your handset (and a charge of 99 cents), you furnish a Youclusiontm to your liking. This is how McClane somehow ends up defeating terrorists—and winning American Idol—with his ultrasonic melisma. McClane and Holly then celebrate by making a sex tape. (Awww!)”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.