Crox Minor and I would huddle each fortnight in the Home Orifice to hear the lastest broadcast, and reminisce afterwards about our favourite characters and lines. I've even submitted some original music to 'the Weather'.
Imagine, then, our joy at finding other Night Vale fans when we went to WorldCon last month.
|Fans of Welcome to Night Vale, recently.|
Well, it was heaving with fans and we were expecting to pass a pleasant hour soaking up the camaderie engendered by the shared love of ephemeral popular culture.
When we left, I had a bad taste in my mouth, and I confess my ability to enjoy Welcome To Night Vale has decreased as a result.
The panel, I regret to say, was stuffed with the Politically Correct, who rather than sharing their views, were intent on telling us, the great unwashed audience, What To Think.
It is clear to anyone who listens to Welcome To Night Vale that it is steeped in the schlock that is H. P. Lovecraft. Indeed, earlier editions of the show even reference the batty old scribbler from Providence by name. But the first person in the audience in the Night Vale session at WorldCon who mentioned Lovecraft was shouted down by a panellist. "Don't even mention Lovecraft to the creators of Night Vale!" we were told, on account of the fact that Lovecraft was the most dreadful racist. So he was, but that (I submit) shouldn't prevent one enjoying his horror fiction. I mean, I enjoy the verses of Hilaire Belloc, even though he was an anti-semite. (The authority on which the panellist could base this ukase was questionable - none of the creators of Night Vale was in evidence.)
Then came an extended tirade from one of the panellists on how poorly (in her opinion) Night Vale treated disabled people. This made no sense at all to me, nor, I guess, to many of the audience. Night Vale has a panoply of characters with all kinds of peculiarities. People have varying numbers of heads, for example, or are invisible, or have been turned into lizards, or - in the most discussed case - were born as the single hand of an adult male. To me, this looks like a clear riff on The Beast With Five Fingers or, perhaps, that character from the Addams Family. But, Oh No, we were told - this was all about people with disability and how they are treated in our Society.
Er … what?
I think this is a case, once again, of being separated by a common language. To me, an English listener, Night Vale is funny. It is an entertainment. Yes, there is, buried not too deeply, some biting political and social satire, and a recent episode had some trenchant remarks to make about retirement, and how we shouldn't define ourselves by our jobs - for when we retire from our jobs, what are we then? But it derives its comedy from the Absurd. It reminds me very much of old-fashioned radio comedy such as The Goon Show and Round The Horne.
Many American listeners of this American show, though, cannot help slather it in the noisome ichor that is Political Correctness, and, in so doing, suck all the joy and laughter and fun out of it.
The Politically Correct are like the Dementors in the Harry Potter adventures. Let them in and they will flood your soul with despair. For me, they have tainted my appreciation of a show I once loved.