Monday, May 07, 2007

"All you need is fuck."

At some point during this semester, I was reading something and thought "Hey, I wonder if this where Grant Morrison got the 'World of Anders Klimacks' idea in The Filth from?" Except I can't remember what I was reading when I thought that. I flipped through the anthology for my modern drama class, skimming various avant-garde plays for anything that seemed to relate and nothing jumped out at me. I'm thinking now that maybe it was The Incal, thinking that John Difool and Anders Klimacks look alike and that may have been the connection.

Ah well.

In my search, I decided to reread The Filth for the third or fourth time. For those who don't know or haven't read it, The Filth is a 13-part series by Grant Morrison and Chris Weston about Greg Feely, an English man with a cat named Tony and a love of porn who discovers that he is not, in fact, Greg Feely but Ned Slade, an agent for a secret group called the Hand. The Hand is the world's garbage collectors, eliminating various elements of society that make us, as a whole, dirty--usually what are called "anti-persons." Except when the fake personality (Greg) is taken over by the real personality (Ned), it doesn't seem to work. Ned Slade isn't coming back the way he should be and maybe Greg Feely isn't as fictional as everyone says.

I remember when the first issue came out and there was the typical "What the fuck? I don't understand!" bullshit that accompanies almost everything Morrison writes (except for the odd superhero book--and even then, there's a good chance people will say the same thing). Warren Ellis did a really good Bad Signal on the first issue where he pointed out how fucking simple it is.

And the entire series is rather simple and straight-forward. It gets a little tricky at the end, but, for the most part, this is some of Morrison's easiest to understand work. Sure, there are some "trippy" (oh, how I hate that word) elements, but they're window-dressing. It's all about Greg and his attempt to hang onto his life while being told by people that he's crazy for thinking he's a normal person and not a member of some secret police force. How fucking funny is that? I love that inversion of ideas!

The series is also broken up into little mini-stories like the two-part Anders Klimacks porn story where a porn producer creates giant hyper-fertile sperm that impergnate women to death, satirizing the more misogynistic elements of the porn industry. Or, the stand-alone story about Max Thunderstone, the world's first superhero. Each story fits into the overall arc of the series, but also hint at the true scope of the world depicted here. But, in a weird way, seeing these various missions doesn't give me the desire to see more of this series, because each mission is just so fucking ridiculous.

The Filth is patently absurd in nature. The Hand dresses in weird day-glo uniforms (complete with bright-coloured wigs), have Nazi-dolphins, and steal their technology from the pages of a comic book. How can you take this book too seriously?

And that's where the brilliance lies: the best part of the book is Greg Feely's attempt to simply live his life. In a way, the conflict is between real life and fiction. Yeah, comics are cool and all, but they're just stories--what matters is your relationships with others.

In that way, The Filth is a strangely positive book dressed up in funny colours just so you'll read it. It says you can't just say you're helping the world by keeping things the same, by eliminating the bad elements of society, you need to also help out people, make lives better. Basically, all you need is love.