Sunday, April 30, 2006

Return of the Repressed Sitcom


Photo by spacecowboym1.
In a seminar last year, I somewhat irresponsibly claimed that the uncanny was impossible under late capitalism. But today, I realized that was not true. I went hiking with friends today at Malibu Creek State Park, a lovely area in the Santa Monica Mountains that has streams, lizards, and a very small but pretty lake. We did a nice five mile hike on a hot but pleasant day.

Malibu Creek is also where the television version of M*A*S*H was filmed from 1972-1983. We knew this as we started to hike, but were a little unsure where it happened exactly. Coming around a bend in the trail, we suddenly realized that we were in the exact spot where the opening credits were filmed--you know, where the helicopter flies in through the mountains and lands in a meadow.

It was, in a word, uncanny to be standing in this spot. It was a lovely spot, very calm, with impressive rock formations around. It would make a very good camping spot. But all I could think about was that I knew this spot very well, as if I had been here many times before. Years of half-watched re-runs of hoary old M*A*S*H linger in my subconscious, despite the fact that I don't think I've ever seen a single episode all the way through. All of those old-fashioned anxieties that Freud puts as the repressed roots of the uncanny--the castration complex, the womb fantasy, etc.--give way under late capitalism to an uncanny triggered by the real-life version of a television show set. Perhaps only possible in Los Angeles, but then, that sort of proves my point.

Okay, I'll stop being abstruse now! It was a lovely hike, and with lovely company. I really do need to see more of Los Angeles, since I'm not going to be living here forever.

1 comment:

Doug Gentry said...

I remember, when I first went to college on the SF Peninsula, and traveled to Southern Calif. that the "countryside" looked very familiar. I decided that innumerable episodes of the Lone Ranger, and other Westerns, were probably shot in those same foothills.