Early Onset Coot Disease
Undertale is the New Game You Have To Like Or You Don’t Get It. These sanctified vessels are selected by an organization that is either lofty or subterranean, I haven’t decided, and one of the cool things about being old is that I don’t care.
These hyper-earnest teens I got on my block are way into this stuff. I’m glad that someone is teaching them new words. But I can sense a kind of invisible maze go up when they start this conversation - they want to know if I can be trusted. If I’m like the others. They want to know if they can tell me the secret, and they will, provided I already know it. So I lied. I lied and lied and lied.
There is a popular mode now I have taken to calling Double Reverse Irony, where things are real but not real but no they’re actually real, that is just one step beyond where I’m interested. My policy when the next generation “does them” is informed by 2pac’s I Ain’t Mad At Cha, and I only get mad when people transform works into litmus tests. In the case of Undertale, I can’t abstract it enough to even look at it: I can’t hold it far enough away. The thing it is dismantling is too close to me.
Parody can be revelatory of weakness in the subject, but it can also reveal strength; it can reveal what’s left after the softest parts are washed away. Even when done in love, it has a caustic quality. An extended look at metals extraction probably isn’t appropriate for this paragraph, but I’m thinking about gold cyanidation and toxicity. The game is gleeful in its cannibalism of the medium, there’s blood all over its face but it’s smiling. It’s intimate with the tropes it has on display, and at this precise moment in time I’m discomfited by what it does with that familiarity.
It is insufficiently reverent, and does not perform the proper obeisances. Others like it for precisely these reasons. I’m delighted by the iconoclasm intellectually and repulsed by it viscerally; if nothing else, it’s providing an intense psychological workout.