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-Here's an idea, "Over the Garden Wall"
is about having faith in the face of the impossible.
MAN: No.
-In the event you've been wandering
the woods for the last month, "Over the Garden Wall"
is a 10-episode Cartoon Network miniseries
created by "Adventure Time's" creative director Patrick
In an "Adventure Time" meets "Grimm Fairy Tales" meets
Miyazaki meets Mark Twain meets [EXPLOSION NOISE] style,
"Over the Garden Wall" follows brothers Wirt and Greg,
Beatrice, a talking bluebird; and their frog-- variously
named Kitty, George Washington, doctor, Mr. President,
Benjamin Franklin, and so on-- around
a rural, mysterious, Americana-infused landscape
called the Unknown as the boys try to find their way home.
-Where are we?
-In the woods.
-Along with having been met by nearly
universal critical praise, "Over the Garden Wall"
is also the most requested "Idea Channel"
episode topic in recent history by a long shot.
Thematically, "OTGW" has a lot in common with our episode
about the cable news.
It's an exploration of how fear can
pull at one's puppet strings.
Endicott is afraid of a ghost, Miss Langtree of a gorilla
and that Jimmy is gone for good.
Lorna is afraid of Auntie Whispers,
and Auntie Whispers of Lorna leaving.
The Woodsman is afraid of losing his daughter,
and so on, and so on, and so on.
The main antagonist, the Beast, a baritone-voiced, horned black
figure with glowing eyes, provides
an undiluted personification of the fear that
is pervasive in the Unknown.
And as a matter of fact, when the Woodsman
warns Wirt and Greg to beware the Unknown,
it's not super clear if he means the place, the Beast,
or the general concept of that which is not known.
As it turns out, their respective reflexes
in the face of the Unknown, in each of its forms,
ends up making Wirt and Greg heroes.
But it also sets up a tension between them.
Greg, the younger teapot-topped brother,
is a big, old ball of hopeful.
He's got faith that things will work out
and occasionally doesn't even appear
to know that he should be afraid.
Pointy-headed Wirt, on the other hand,
is a bit more resigned to stuff being hopeless or unlikely.
That is, until-- spoiler alert.
So take out your headphones or turn down your volume
until I put my spoiler hands down.
That is, until he is shown how his lack of faith
can poison those he cares about.
It's all clear now.
"TV Tropes" casts Wirt and Greg as the cynic and optimistic
archetypes, respectively.
For me, the brothers typify another duo
as well, Soren Kierkegaard's knights of resignation
and of faith.
Kierkegaard wrote about these knights
in "Fear and Trembling," a dialectical lyric
about what it means to have and act upon faith.
Inspired by the biblical story of Abraham,
who is commanded by God to kill his son, Isaac.
Abraham has faith in God, so he does as he's told.
But just before he's about to kill Isaac,
he's allowed to sacrifice a ram instead.
He has proven his faith.
He would kill his own son at the word of God.
Kierkegaard had a hard time imagining himself
in Abraham's sandals.
Would Kierke-dude believe that God
would pardon him, stay his hand, or bring his son back
after the sacrifice?
I don't know, having that kind of faith is not easy.
Abraham and other knights of faith,
Kierkegaard wrote, have no such doubts.
They act on quote, "The strength of the absurd."
Though convinced of something's quote,
"humanly speaking impossibility,"
they maintain it will or must happen
in some other not humanly way.
That impossible seeming something
doesn't have to be holy intervention either.
Kierkegaard writes about a young lover pining after a princess.
And if that young lover were a knight of faith,
he might realize the absurdity of their union,
but believes it possible somehow, perhaps
through the will of some divine force nonetheless.
And divine force, from my perspective,
not so much from Kierkegaard's.
We could be talking about all kinds of inscrutable stuff--
god, luck, chance, destiny, the free market, who knows?
A knight of infinite resignation, on the other hand,
resigns himself to loneliness.
No princess, no hope, no one to drive with him
to Ikea on Sundays, not going to happen.
He doesn't abandon the thought of their love, though.
Resignation is not surrender.
He is not, Kierkegaard writes, afraid to let his love steal in
upon his most secret and hidden thoughts.
To let it twine itself in countless coils
around every ligament of his consciousness.
By comparison, the knight of faith
lives a life less binding.
Quote, "Carefree, devil may care, good for nothing.
He hasn't a care in the world."
He resigned everything infinitely
and then took everything back on the strength of the absurd.
So maybe that's Greg.
Along for the ride, worry free, sure that everything
is going to work out, carrying candy in his pants.
-Candy camouflage.
-And Wirt is our knight of resignation.
What, with his-- spoiler hand-- general reluctance,
mopey poetry, and Sara feels.
I wonder if amongst all of its ideas
about fear and the Unknown, "Over the Garden Wall"
is also, at least a little, illustrating something
of the tendency to be full of faith
as children and resignation as adolescents.
-I don't want to have anything to do with you or that frog.
I'll try to think of a name myself.
-If it's not true, then at the very least
it's a trope that as the intricacies of the world
come into focus, we find it harder and harder
to have faith that they will work in our favor.
Kierkegaard says the knight of faith must resign first.
Give up their view of the world, and then
take it back under new conditions, new understanding.
-What view do faith-having children--
and by extension, Candypants Teapot Dome here--
have to give up?
I'm not sure.
Maybe none.
At this age, what does Greg, as our exemplar,
even have to give up?
Faith begins precisely where thinking leaves off,
Kierkegaard wrote.
But maybe it's not a giving up so much
as it's the careful selection of the set of things deemed
appropriate to think with.
Children and Greg have, by their very nature,
only a very particular set of knowledge at their disposal.
Does this make them somehow more capable or powerful,
especially in the face of the unknown?
While watching "Over the Garden Wall," for some reason
I couldn't shake this feeling that Greg
has so much in common with Ness, the main character
from the video game "EarthBound," which you
might also know as "Mother 2."
I'm not going to lie, their similar shape probably
has something to do with it.
Ness doesn't have a damp blanket turned hero co-conspirator,
but both he and Greg are these willing, faithful characters
of action.
In a landscape littered with fearful adults,
they don't ever question their capability.
Or really, even that capability has something to do with it.
They just go for it and work towards ousting
this abstract, terrifying evil, hoping
to return their lives to normal and seemingly acting
on some faith that they know they can.
That it will.
In "EarthBound," it's a bit more explicit
given how you have to defeat the final boss, Giygas, by praying.
By praying a few more times than feels
right, if I remember correctly.
It's been a little while since I've played "EarthBound."
But it means that both the character, Paula,
and the player, the person holding the controller,
need to have a little faith.
-(SINGING) I got to have faith.
-In "Over the Garden Wall," it's a little more up in the air
for reasons that are pretty clear if you've
seen the ending.
But could we say that they wouldn't
have made it through if it weren't for Greg's faith?
Maybe we could.
If it's not a fact, at the very least maybe it's a rock fact.
-It's a rock fact.
-What do you guys think?
Does "Over the Garden Wall" say anything
interesting about faith when trying to navigate the Unknown?
Let us know in the comments.
And to keep "Idea Channel's" lantern lit, please subscribe.
(SINGING) I've got a blank space, baby, for you
to write a comment.
Let's hear what you guys had to say about Taylor Swift.
Kayla Haffley writes a really interesting comment
about the distinction between masculine and female
narratives, and talks about how you
could view Taylor Swift as someone
who is putting together a true-- or authentic with all
of the scare quotes required for "authentic" female narrative,
but that she still appears to be somewhat constructed.
And I think that this is maybe always the-- um, I don't know,
like dialectic of being some kind of mega-pop star
that is advertising some level of personableness
or authenticit.
That, you know, because of the way people interact with you,
because of the fact that you have
a team of people managing you, you will always
seem somewhat constructed.
And yeah, I mean, navigating that process
as we watch Taylor Swift do all the time is, I think,
really interesting.
But yeah, Kayla, thank you for writing this comment.
This was great.
Shessomickey writes a great comment
about how regardless of Taylor Swift's possible reinforcing
of traditional images of women, she is no less powerful
a feminist.
And that one of the sort of central tenets
of modern feminism is that however someone
chooses to perform their gender, that makes them no less
of a feminist.
The other thing shessomickey brings up
that we didn't talk about is Taylor's
crossover from a country artist to a pop artist.
And this makes me wonder whether or not
there is maybe a connection between the agency Taylor feels
over her image and songwriting that allows her to make
that transition and her involvement
in conversations about gender and pop music
or popular culture, which she has been doing a lot more
And yeah, I wonder if there's something there.
I'm just sort of putting this together as I'm saying it,
but this is what this made me think of.
So this is-- yeah, interesting.
Mara K writes a comment about how
though you can view Taylor Swift as someone who is writing
her own story and in control of her own image,
there are things about that story and image that you could
view as less than positive.
And yeah, this is a criticism of Taylor Swift, especially
her older stuff that I can absolutely see and understand.
I had read somewhere-- so I don't know if this is true
at all-- that she had actually stopped performing
certain songs that could be read as sending the wrong message
to young women.
Um, I don't say that as a defense of any kind,
just to say that like, I think, yeah,
like that's a sort of admission that there
are parts of this story that are hm--
you know, like iffy at best.
And finally, I want to spend a couple minutes responding
not to a particular, specific comment
but a type of comment that was left on last week's video
and is left sometimes on other videos.
There were a lot of people who said that they just blanketly
assume every pop star has their music written for them
and that they-- they don't make a consideration for gender.
Male, female, whatever.
They just assume if you're a pop star,
you don't write your music.
And if that is the case for you, that's awesome.
I'm-- I'm glad.
You shouldn't.
You should not make that gender distinction.
Um, I mean, maybe you should believe
that some people write their own music,
but that's another thing entirely.
But there were a significant number of comments, I think,
that went one step further and said that they believed
there is no group of people who make that gender distinction.
That I literally invented the idea
that there is a group of people who assume female pop stars
don't write their own music just for the episode.
And I want to talk about that for a couple reasons.
First and foremost, Taylor Swift,
who we quoted in the episode, says that this distinction
does exist.
That she has experienced it firsthand.
And she is a music professional who works in the industry
and has experience with this situation.
And I see some of you reaching for the authority fallacy video
that we made.
And I would like to remind you that Taylor Swift is
an authority not only on her own experiences,
but also the music industry-- an actual authority.
So there is no fallacy here.
You could argue that she has invented
this thing for some bizarre PR reason,
but I think that that is exceptionally cynical.
And second, there's a thing that I've
started to notice now having done
"Idea Channel" for a little while, which
is that these types of comments where we get
accused of making things up, relying on hearsay,
or inventing stuff, really only happen
in very specific situations.
They show up in videos where I quote a female theorist,
talk about social issues, representation, or women.
These are the situations where we get accused
of just making stuff up.
And what I'm not saying is that on every other "Idea Channel"
video where we don't talk about those things
people are 100% on board or in agreement.
That's not what I'm saying at all.
What I'm saying is that on those other videos,
like about too many cooks, if someone disagrees,
the response is usually something
like, uh, I don't know how I feel about this.
Or, uh, that's a little bit of a long walk.
Or, you know, you seem to misunderstand this thing.
We don't get accused of making things up.
It's not like a rampant problem.
We're not being accused of making things
up every other comment, but it is a thing that I have noticed.
And I think it's important to point out.
And also, to be perfectly honest,
it kind of upsets me a little bit.
So I just want to get it off my chest.
The end.


Is Over The Garden Wall About Having Faith? | Idea Channel | PBS Digital Studios

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Mary Lai 2015 年 9 月 25 日 に公開
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