Skip to main content

Stop Misusing Alan Moore's Quote About Imaginary Stories, Dammit! by James Whitbrook

Stop Misusing Alan Moore's Quote About Imaginary Stories, Dammit
Whenever someone questions the logic of a film, book or TV show, it's almost inevitable someone will trot out Alan Moore's 'This is an Imaginary Story' quote from Superman #423 in response. But they're using it wrong - and in the process, completely missing the point of what Moore was saying.
First off, it's ridiculous to pass off a critique of a piece of fiction with the comeback of 'it's not real, so it doesn't matter'. There's a place in science fiction for stepping away from 'competency porn' and breaking into fantastical scenarios that might fall apart the moment you pick away at the surface (but offer something compelling upon a first viewing), but it doesn't make something not making sense any less valid, just because it's a piece of fiction. That's not how things work - otherwise, what would be the point of any logic in storytelling? You could just have something made of complete nonsense and that would be fine - because hey, it's imaginary, why should we care if we consume something that makes sense. It's not even an argument or a counter to criticism when used this way, wielded like a blunt implement being swung around brutishly - it lacks the finesse of a counterpoint. It's a way of shutting down discussions immediately, rather than actually engaging with them. That's a pretty stupid way of trying to prove a point, honestly.
And being used this way, it completely disregards what Moore was actually saying in his introduction to Superman #423. Many interpretations of the full quote place it as Moore almost rallying against the de-canonisation of past Superman stories ahead of John Byrne's reboot of the character post Infinite Crisis, but he's doing so much more than that - he's championing the power and scope of imagination, of imaginary stories. It's not necessarily a quibble about canon, but the fact that fantastical worlds like the comic book one inhabited by Superman can bind all of these stories together. That the canon and the non-canon can sit alongside each other because that's not what's actually powerful about these stories, it's the fact that they are products of imagination. His intro to Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow? brands all of Superman's tales as imaginary - but not to say that they don't matter, but to imbue them with an almost mythological sense of power that Moore so clearly saw in fiction. So while many people use it to argue that something shouldn't matter, Moore is in fact saying very much the opposite: fiction is a construct of imagination, and that imagination has power. It all matters.
So if you come across someone bemoaning a plot hole, or calling for common sense in a piece of fiction, don't misuse poor Alan Moore to try and shut them down. He doesn't want you to completely disregard something, he wants you to embrace it. That's the power of imaginary stories, after all.


Popular posts from this blog

My review of BvS: Dawn of Justice

First, let me say how hyped I was for this movie. I was nuts over it.
These characters are my childhood, shit, my adulthood, more so than any other heroes.
I was so excited that for the last month I was avoiding everything about it online and Tv; of course, you can't dodge it all, but I did my best.
I was even taking the time to workout beforehand all the things I didn't understand, like or agree with, based on the trailers I'd seen (before going Dark) and telling all my friends my ideas as a way to counteract all the negative talk already circling the drain—and this was before the actual first reviews came out.
I was supposed to see the movie with one of my best friends, a Die-In-the-Cape Superman aficionado, who like me, also enjoyed Man of Steel. But I'm glad I didn't see it with him, because he was loosing faith early on, despite all my theories and how I fervently denounced hater trash-talking—mostly cause many weren't fans of the genre or didn&…

Finally, my review of Star Wars: The Force Awakens

This is going to be a stream of thought, rather than a planned out, book-report style review. I hope to cover several points, but, if I miss or neglect some, I'm sure you won't care—you've already read far too many reviews of this movie anyway. So, does it really matter that yet another unknown is throwing his Two Cents into the wind for whoever to read? I didn't think so. And, to further the point, the next time something like Star Wars gets placed in my lap, maybe then I'll have real room to critique. This is just for fun and because I'm a geek. For me, blogging about this stuff is the next best thing to sitting around with friends and going over and over all the little details for hours on end. I mean, I'd like to stay married. :)

Ok, first things first: I enjoyed this movie. To me, it was a solid B (reasons to follow) I enjoyed the return to Old Movie Magic. I enjoyed the equal mix of CGI and FX and Costumes and Settings and all that jazz. It was good.…

My review of Justice League

So, if you read my review of BvS: Dawn of Justice, and you follow me on FB and Twitter, you're likely surprised I even saw this movie. Me too. But, it just so happens an opportunity fell into my lap and so I decided to check it out.

No, this isn't at all the JL I'd hoped for, but it's what we got.

First, as I did with BvS I'll jump right in and say IT ISN'T TERRIBLE!!!!!!! (unlike BvS)
Ok, Now, let's rate it:
Overall, it's between a 6ish and 7, depending on what you think are the pros and cons, which we'll get to. (Again, I rated BvS a 3.5 to 5, so much improvement)

The plot is kinda straight forward and so I won't really much comment, though, the gathering of the team was weak. To be fair, really, the first half of the movie was bad to not very good—it was really  simple, worse than childlike in it's reasoning: "Hey guys, lets make a team to save the world" and so, we'll cover each teammate in turn because that took up a…