Here’s the thing about Scott Pilgrim. There really are no ideals in the book. Every person has a flaw. Nobody is too good to be true. And the girl of Scott Pilgrim’s dreams (literally) is more damaged than my brother’s ten-year old Transformer after I was through with `fixing’ it….when I was nine, I believe. Of all the weird, out of the box fiction I read, this may be the most normal. Fine, the moon has two holes in it and whatnot, but honest.
More than The Alchemist, this might be the true story about following your dreams. For one thing, it strives to tell you that the world does not conspire to make your dreams come true; you have to earn them. There is much more to the books than indie culture, rock and video games. And I am not taking anything away from these classy bits of pop culture in it.
But, as Gregory David Roberts put it, Scott Pilgrim starts with a woman, a city (Really? Toronto?), and more than a bit of luck. And here it is so vastly different from that other great Murty recommendation, (500) Days of Summer, that I am surprised that he ever watched both of them without doing that thing that all littas worth their salt do- spot the differences.
The part I like about the book is that there is no ideal person, and definitely no ideal couple. Ramona Flowers is as fickle as people can get, and has more than her share of well-deserved guilt. The reader goes “Finally, a girl who is as messed up as I am! Yaay!”. No, you perv, not that way. She is a cartoon. Get over it.
But think about it. If you leave aside children, how many female lead characters have actually been portrayed as humans rather than angels? Scarlett O’Hara comes to mind. Anna Karenina was`unfortunate’, not `bad with decisions’. Paulo Coelho’s ladies are always cleverer than all the Nobel prize winners combined. Jane Austen’s heroines are near perfect and are `complemented’ by their significant other. Our beautiful ladies of pulp fiction have a pretty one-dimensional character, though I can’t say the same of their characteristics. And Shakespeare himself created Juliet, Cordelia, Portia and Ophelia. Female perfection has been so beaten to death that the main reason male literary critics remain bachelors can be attributed to their single-minded pursuit of the ideal, `el uno’, `the one’.
So, fie to you, Shakespeare! In the pursuit of uncovering the dark male psyche, so much has been glossed over when it comes to the female psyche. And though my favourite philosophers are those whose works I have never read, this may be the true reason behind why people wonder `ladki kyun ladkon si nahi hoti?’. That, and too much wine. But more on that from our senior correspondents.
Scott Pilgrim was about how the titular character comes to terms with growing up and finding love, and that was pretty straightforward. But it was also about how every person, male or female, is intrinsically flawed. It is about how to put up with these flaws, to make things work despite them. And it is about how beautiful girls may have an ugly side. So much has been said about looking past looks to truly connect with a person that it has been forgotten that what lies beneath may be what you want to avoid, and why you must not. It is a book about redemption, and forgiveness, for all those small mistakes we make. About how love is not something that is taken, but given, and how nerds like the people reading this are not very far off from the average person.
So, dear reader, off you go to buy the first volume from the nearest book store. And if you find all this gyaan tiresome, as no doubt many will, you can always take away the beautiful little Mario references from your thousand odd bucks well spent.