There’s a fine line between interpretation and stretching like Reed Richards. – Grass Pants Muses on the Creator’s Intent.

So, I was talking with John earlier this week about the intention of the creator over at his place. I don’t know why, but my mind just wasn’t letting me piece together a compelling argument, so I told him I’d get back to him. Well, this is my getting back to him.

Speaking as an author (hobby, not professional by any stretch of the imagination), I’m totally okay with people taking different things in different ways. Hell, half the time people give me better ideas than what I intended. But there’s one thing that really bother me and it’s something you see a whole lot in … well, anything creative. It’s when the reader, despite how obvious the “point” is, completely misses it. Let’s take my favorite example: Light Yagami from Death Note.

Light, without a doubt, is a psychopath. Sure, his intentions were good, but then he got a god-complex and started killing whoever would get in his way. He’s a monster, plain and simple, and he completely deserved what happened at the end (spoilers: he dies alone, freaking the hell out because he lost). Yet, for some reason, some people find him to be this badass hero who got cheated. He’s the protagonist, but that doesn’t make him a hero! You’re not supposed to like Light. Light’s not the good guy here.

Well, whatever. People miss the point, I can accept that. Let’s move onto my next point about interpretation: With enough effort, anything can become anything. Look at r/fantheories, TVTropes’ Wild Mass Guessing page, or even John’s post (seriously, he makes some nice examples). Like I told him in the comments, there’s a fine line between interpretation and stretching like Reed Richards. Too many people go for the latter and are completely serious about it. I know, it’s fun to twist things and whatnot, but when you go out of your way to say that the author really meant X, Y, Z when you’re watching something intended to be nothing more than dumb fun (see John’s Queen’s Blade example for something like that)… You’re trying too hard, guys.

Finally, this is probably the biggest reason that the creator’s intent is important. Sometimes, the creator doesn’t just want to entertain you. Sure, it’s the main goal (that and maybe making money, but hey), but it’s not the only one. Sometimes the creator or writer or whoever wants to drop a moral or some kind of message. Some of these are more effective than others, of course. Great Teacher Onizuka made me realize that while, yeah, there are some awful teachers out there, more often than not they’re willing to help and want you to succeed. They’re human. Playing The World Ends With You made me realize how decidedly shitty my self-induced isolation was. I’ve had more than one friend watch stuff like Gurren Lagann and identify with Simon, then slowly realize it was time for them to man the hell up.

Again, interpretation is fine, but there’s got to be a limit where you stop seriously considering ideas. Joking or outlandish ideas? Sure, keep ’em coming because it’s fun. But don’t you look me in the eye and tell me that Ash is in a coma or that Pixar’s movies are all about the apocalypse with all the seriousness in the world. Don’t get me wrong. I love these things as an idea, but… Just, y’know, don’t be stupid about it.

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6 Responses to There’s a fine line between interpretation and stretching like Reed Richards. – Grass Pants Muses on the Creator’s Intent.

  1. draggle says:

    What are you talking about?! “Just dumb fun?!!!” Queen’s Blade is an intellectual masterpiece!

  2. John Sato says:

    A wonderful response. I can see why you wanted to make this a full post instead of a comment!

    I’m realizing that a key part of this topic comes down to how we view art. Is art there to communicate a message to us, or is it there for us to take away our own messages? I mean, sure it may…actually, it definitely wasn’t intended for Ash to be in a coma, but if that makes the story come alive for that person, who’s to say he/she’s “wrong?” Of course, I myself prefer a message that is apparent to *everyone* that we can all take away (or at least most of us), as opposed to an outlandish idea that few people can accept. But still…

    I think in the end, what it may come down to is which interpretation is just plain and simple *better*. If the creator is trying to say his/her work means one thing, but some random person says it means another and the random persons’ interpretation is more accurate and better supported by the story itself…I’ll go with the random person every time.

    Which would mean there’s a fallacy in my suggestion. There is a dichotomy, but it only exists for individual works. There are different creators, after all, so there’s no way something as inclusive as “the creator’s intention is *always* right” would be true across the board. Of course, my question still stands when it comes to whether or not you can make broad generalizations, which I think you can (“the creator’s intention is usually/infrequently more important”). Still, I got to see the subject from a new perspective.

    Excellent post, thanks for responding!

  3. Kai says:

    I read some of the Queen’s Blade analytical posts and instead of being amused, I find them to be hilarious. They are still awesome though, I for one, don’t think it will be possible for me to see Queen’s Blade with such hilarious in-depth extremes.

    Like John said, I also think it’s all up to interpretion. If someone’s depict an anime in another meaning altogether, people will definitely see his logic as the truth instead if his is more accurate then the creator’s.

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