Carmelita, hold me tighter.
I think I’m sinkin’ down
‘cuz I’m all strung out on heroin
on the outskirts of town.”
I have been having a lot of issues enjoying new things lately. At first I put this down to early onset “grumpy old man syndrome”
But then I was listening to Warren Zevon and the problem came to me. Almost everything new I have read, heard or seen lately has felt too sterile, clean, and wholesome. Even when it seems “dirty” it just comes off as clean pretending to be dirty. When I say dirty I don’t mean necessarily X rated, I mean it isn’t visceral.
It feels all homogenized. Like it fed on its tropes until it was tropes, then those tropes ate themselves…then you have this trope smoothie. Even if it is a good story, the words just seem all marshmallowy. Maybe all these writers these day are afraid of writing what they feel. Gotta get paid, people buy pablum, so gotta write pablum. Try to coat it in a layer of faux dirty so the pablum public thinks it is risque, so people Think they are getting away with something and you may have a best seller.
Older fantasy fiction, hell older fiction period, seems visceral, gritty, dirty. Like you could stick your hands in its intestines and pull out ropy handfuls of glistening bloody tubes. It rolls up its sleeves and Gets the job done.
It brings the cool and gets the job done. It is far from clinical
For literary examples, Conan feels dirty and so does For Whom the Bell Tolls whereas Hunger Games (for all its brutality) felt sterile to me.
for gaming examples, Kult and Cyberpunk 2020 feel dirty and D&D 4th feels too clean to me.
I want to be able to play a junkie. A whore. a lowlife who might rise to the occasion or sink into degradation. I am the kind of player who might play a fighter who turns on the rest of the dudly do-rights and sides with the monsters. then takes over the dungeon screaming YOU ARE THE FUCKING MONSTERS!
I don’t want to come to the game table and fuss over fiddly rules, but I also don’t want to sit and stew in my precious narrative soup. I want to come the table and play my part.