WandaVision’s line about ‘grief’ sent the internet into a spiralMarch 6, 2021
Let’s talk about that line of dialogue in. You know the one I’m talking about.
“What is grief, if not love persevering?”
Man, where to even start?
Now that WandaVision is starting to unfurl its wings — as an allegory on trauma, or the stages of grief — the line has come to exist as a perfect snapshot of the show as an idea, a concept, conceit, or whatever. You could imagine this line on a poster. On a mug. A T-shirt. A sympathy card, an Instagram post. It’s a line that fits perfectly into the constraints of a tweet.
It’s a line powerful enough to send the entire internet into a spiral.
It took roughly two hours for this moment to run the Galaxy Brain gamut. First it was just a nice line of dialogue. Then it was the greatest line of dialogue ever written by human hands — powerful enough to have “every screenwriter whispering a reverent ‘FUCK’ under their breath.”
Then there was the inevitable backlash, which in and of itself became a meme. Endless online dunks on the above tweet, essentially, which — considering the hyperbole — was probably fair.
Then there was the backlash to the original backlash. Should we really be dunking endlessly on those who found meaning and comfort from a superhero show? Also fair.
Then a slight refining: Shouldn’t we use this whole internet event as an opportunity to suggest “better” shows/books/movies? (Maybe, but that’s also a little condescending.)
It was a rapid-fire trainwreck. This process took hours at most. And at some point in the process this single line of dialogue — not Marvel as a company, or a show, or even an episode of a show — evolved into a direct referendum on how we feel about [clears throat] all art and media produced in the 21st century.
It’s absurd, obviously. But it’s familiar to anyone who even vaguely spends time on the internet. A person, event or movie becomes a focal point for discussion and the internet processes through that discourse with a refined, terrifying velocity. Don’t blink.
For that brief moment in time — a week, days or sometimes hours — that focal point becomes the prism through which all discussion is filtered. Literally nothing else matters besides this single line of dialogue and how it slots into our collective and individual identities.
Because your take isn’t just a take on whether or not the WandaVision line of dialogue was good or clunky or ham-fisted. It’s a take on Marvel as an entity. And not just Marvel, but a reflection of your opinion on how TV and movies exist as a medium in 2021.
It’s some universe inside a grain of sand shit.
Having an authentic, earnest take on the line — or anything for that matter — is just step two or three of the galaxy brain meme. Those are rookie numbers. But even step four or five — trying to process it from a meta, bird’s eye view — is a portal to the same kind of madness.
Even when trying to escape the nightmare discourse you are part of it. This vortex that swallows all light and reason.
And I don’t really know how to fix it. Given the state of social media, and the dialogue it promotes and rewards, this new Galaxy Brain process of talking to one another feels inevitable. It’s simply how we communicate as a species. We climb upwards, in the endless searching for the take to end all takes — because that would look good as hell on a resume.
In a strange way it doesn’t even matter what we’re talking about. The line of dialogue, a movie, a person — whatever — it’s just a proxy. An all-consuming nightmare reflection of how we consume cultural artifacts.
It’s actually really bloody exhausting. The only play is not to play.
I saw one thing pop up on Twitter this week, a quote from the actor Mads Mikkelson. A few years back he went viral on Tumblr for the simple act of opening a bottle of vodka during a Rogue One press junket.
“You became a bit of a viral hit when you opened a bottle of vodka mid-interview at a press junket,” a journalist mentioned, a year later. “Are you aware of this?”
The answer was no. He was not aware.
His reply: “I am simply not online.”