Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Good Omens petition

So, I came late to the GOOD OMENS Petition story, but wanted to contribute my bit.

When twenty thousand people signed a petition demanding that Netflix take down the Terry Pratchett/Neil Gaiman six-part series GOOD OMENS, they overlooked the fact that it's not on Netflix: it's on Amazon.

It's like demanding Coke cancel a flavor of Pepsi.

Here's a quick overview


and a more detailed piece


Checking out their website, we find the group involved, Return to Order, is miffed that after months of posting various petitions trying to get attention for their extremist agenda* they've finally succeeded, only to make a humiliating blunder in a very public way.

Here's the group's website


and their spokesman's comment on the current fiasco


That so many of their followers signed the thing suggests the people who sign their petitions do so blindly, without either reading or thinking about what they're supporting. That a revised petition (redirected against Amazon) got just about the same number of signatures makes me think that number is v. close to their website's total audience.

What's more disturbing is that the website's purpose seems to be to drum up sales for a book (also called RETURN TO ORDER). It's hard to avoid the suspicion that the folks who generate and circulate this stuff are among those in the reprehensible business of making money off of God. Particularly repellent among the earlier posts on their website is a post that crows over the failure of a plan to feed the poor because it was "socialistic".

I admit I have my own reservations about GOOD OMENS. The book is one of my least favorite works by either author, both of whom are among my favorite writers for others of their works.**
And the many, many years it spent in development (nearly thirty) did not bode well. The (mini)series itself had some shortcomings: the scenes with the kids were the low point of the show, closely followed by those with the modern-day witch and also the crusty old witchfinder. I could sum up my reservations by saying that for me this was a six-part series that wd have been improved by being trimmed to five parts.

That said, the two leads were superb. This is the best I've ever seen David Tennant (as Hell's agent Crowley, the serpent from The Garden), and Michael Sheen is even better as his angelic counterpart,  Aziraphale. And the storytelling was great, especially when it focused on the two main characters. They even managed to get in the music by Queen --a toss off running joke in the original book, here elevated into a recurring theme.  The use of humor to critique some of Xianity's more problematic teachings --the very thing the 'Return to Order' lot denounced-- is the work's greatest strength; it reminds me, and in a good way, of Twain's Papers of the Adam Family, CAPTAIN STORMFIELD'S VISIT TO HEAVEN, and his (posthumously published) LETTERS FROM THE EARTH, all three of which can be found in the collection THE BIBLE ACCORDING TO MARK TWAIN (ed. Baetzhold & McCullough, 1995).

The series: Recommended.
The petition: not so much.

--John R.
--now back in Kent.

*they seem to view the greatest threat to Xianity and the world today to be not hunger or hatred or violence but novelty-item Jesus toilet seats.

**I'd go so far as to say I think Gaiman the best living author of fantasy, while I've read all but a handful of Pratchett's many books.


insurrbution said...

Not denying Neil Gaiman's greatness; but - have you checked out Guy Gavriel Kay??

Paul W said...

I'm surprised to see Kay suggested as a contender here but I've only eead the Fionavar Tapestry books and didn't enjoy them. Which of his works would you reccomend.

I think Gaimen is a decent candidate but i think JK Rowling should odds favorite for title greatest living fantasy author.

As for Good Omens I enjoyed it but J Rateliff's take is spot on, IMO.

ATMachine said...

I suspect the answer is "probably". Besides his own writing, Kay was also Christopher Tolkien's deputy editor on The Silmarillion back in the day.

John D. Rateliff said...

Insurrbution wrote
Not denying Neil Gaiman's greatness; but - have you checked out Guy Gavriel Kay?

JDR: Yes indeed, I've read most of Kay's work, and have a high regard for it: he stands out for having gone his own way rather than following the predictable tolk-clones, for which he deserves praise.

But I've found that over time my enthusiasm has waned. Re-reading his FIONAVAR trilogy a few years ago, I found it hasn't aged well. TIGANA I thought was his masterpiece, but I've never felt the urge to go back and re-read it, as I usually do with books I enjoy, and now I'm afraid to in case it too will have aged badly. SONG FOR ARBONNE and LIONS OF al-RASSAN, while enjoyable, were I felt a case of diminishing returns. The Byzantine duology was too much for me and when well into it I gave up and switched over to skimming. The King Alfred book fit the well-established pattern. The modern-day YSABEL was an odd-man-out. The four most recent novels, including the two Asian ones, I haven't read.

So I respect Kay but his works have gradually lost their appeal to me. My loss.