Uncyclopedia:Pee Review/Infinite Jest
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Stumbo 06:27, March 18, 2011 (UTC)
|Humour:||5||Ok, you seem to take two approaches to humour, neither of which is particularly successful in my view. The first approach is most evident in your intro, whereby you make a lot of cracks at the expense of the novel, generally making fun of how weird and intricate it is. Essentially, what you're doing here is saying "isn't this funny?" rather than making any jokes yourself. Take a look at this line for instance, "also, bonus LOLsies about the dim-witted wives of Canadian spammers who all walk with a slight limp". See what I mean? You're not doing anything humorous here, you're just pointing out something funny about the novel itself. It's like writing an article about Monty Python and saying "the knights who say 'ni' are funny". Well yes, they are, just as the scene you're describing sounds vaguely amusing. But just to mention this isn't funny, I'm here to read some satire, not have a funny book recommended to me. You have to make observations of your own, tell jokes about the subject that the subject doesn't already tell itself. If the novel doesn't make any sense, you could try to write about it as if it did. Obviously that's just an idea (and a crap one at that) but I hope it illustrates what I mean. My point is you need an angle, you can't just list any random lines that occur to you in no particular order (you do develop more of an angle later but that is also problematic - I'll get to this later). The fact that the book isn't so well known only hinders this further. The fatal flaw you make here is that you assume your reader knows what you're talking about. I myself have never actually heard of the book, although having looked it up I now see it is highly regarded, and actually looks quite interesting. Overall though, I'm guessing most people won't have the required knowledge to "get" this. I'm not saying you can't write about more obscure subjects, in fact it should be applauded in some cases, but it simply doesn't work when you do it like this. If you were writing about Monty Python or something you might be able to get away with it because it's a household name. If we think about the limping line again, you can see why I don't find it funny: I have no context. I don't know why they're limping or even why this is supposed to make me laugh. Your introduction to the novel is generally too rushed. You don't satisfactorily explain why I should even read an article like this. When I first looked at it, I assumed it was some shitty book that's an in-joke between you and your friends (or something similarly harsh) then I read the wiki article - and that actually made me want to read more about it. If your subject is obscure like this it's even more important than usual to justify why you're writing about it. We certainly don't need an article on Infinite Jest. A good example of an article that does this is Milton Babbitt/rewrite. I had no idea who the guy was when I read that, but the intro very concisely introduces who he is, and quickly demonstrates his bizarre public persona, and from then on the author is free to have a lot of fun at his expense. You need to introduce your subject this well. Take a look at the wiki article for ideas on this; it was called one of the greatest novels of the 20th Century for god's sake. You don't even mention that. So it's an intricate novel is it? Then say that, say it straight away, then you can start making jokes about that. It doesn't have to be a joke at first, just say "it is noted for its barely comprehensible, labyrinthine plot and inordinate amount of footnotes, which only make it more difficult to understand". That's what the Milton Babbit articles does, and it sets the scene for the rest of the article very well.
The other issue I have with your first approach is that it follows no kind of pattern. It's so mad and all over the place that I can't tell what is a genuine facet of the narrative, and what you've just made up. Making up plot strands for hyperbolic comedy is fine, but you have to be able to tell when it's made up otherwise you're not going to laugh. I'm guessing the stuff about the hamster is made up? Not sure about that. A good way of introducing an idea like this is with the rule of three, wherein each example gets increasingly absurd. By the third one, you're just making it up, but it's obvious to the reader and also serves to make fun of the two previous, real examples. So for instance, you could say something like "America and Canada have become one country, crime in Canada has risen drastically, and much of the continent has been turned into a giant hockey rink". While I realise the second one isn't necessarily "real", I haven't read the book so just came up with something stereotypical to the prophetic SF genre. What I'm trying to do here, however, is a "real, real, fake" example, to show how building up slowly to absurdness works much better than just being absurd from the get-go. The way you have it now it very random and has absolutely no flow to it. Look at your first section heading for instance; "setting", you just claim that Atlantis is under the Yangtze River. Is that supposed to be a joke or is it actually mentioned in the article? Simply saying things that are silly and untrue is rarely amusing. Not unless the lie is somehow satirical, I suppose. Absurdity can be funny, but it has to be surprising. Most of the time, randomness isn't surprising. This article manages to combine the two, if you need an example. The main way it does this is by running with the same absurd idea and building it over time. The absurdness is also very unique and imaginative, which helps. None of it seems random for the sake of being random, as a lot of your article does. Your randomness is too relentless, jumping from references to hamsters, Atlantis, hockey and pingpong. I would definitely recommend you (re)read How to be funny and not just stupid and, more importantly, spend some time with our best of - the latter are mostly good examples of how to write things in a funny way.
In your second approach, you develop more of an angle. I'm talking about the big footnote thing, of course. On the plus side, this is exactly the kind of thing you ought to be doing. It's satirical because it exposes the absurdity of the way the book is written, without resorting to outright statements that it's crap (which is more like the approach you take in the intro). There are problems though, I'm not going to lie. For one, it's underdeveloped. You've only got one example of what the footnotes are like. For the article to feel whole, you'd have to cover the entirety of the novel in this consistent way (not necessarily all in footnotes, but in a way that parodies the writing style). Is there a way you can keep this up throughout but still give the reader an indication of what the novel is like? And while I like this idea, I can't help but think it's been done before.
|Concept:||5||So they're basically the two joke styles you have here. The biggest problem in terms of concept is that the article feels very much like a piece of two halves. The opening, which takes the more encyclopaedic approach (albeit sloppily) doesn't work alongside the second half, which is the satirical footnote thing. It's up to you of course which you choose to stick with (it's very obvious you can't do both). It's a tough decision because the second option is a better idea, but like I say, something similar has been done before. Perhaps if you can expand upon it and make it less like the other article? Are there more little idiosyncrasies in the book that you could make fun of like this? If so, you might be able to write the article in the same style of the book, and not have it look like you're copying an older article (which may not be the case, of course, but people will probably think it regardless).|
|Prose and formatting:||4||In terms of prose I'll probably just repeat what I've said above. It doesn't really follow any logic. The intro, for instance, describes the plot, the setting, the infamous footnotes, and general information about the novel. It does this in a seemingly random order. Look at the wiki article again, each paragraph in the intro does something different. The first gives you general info (name, author, year etc) the next is a brief overview of plot/setting/themes/genre, and then it gives you some additional general info on how it was received/why we care. Overall, however, it's very general. You really need to tidy things up in regards to this. Keep your introduction introductory, and leave details for their relevant sections. If you're going to talk about plot in the intro, keep it all within one neat little paragraph. The article also lacks any kind of aestheticism, although I'm sure the big template has already pointed that out to you. More normal sized sections should help with this, right now you've got one normal sized one (the intro), two ridiculously short ones and then one overly huge one. This makes it look very scruffy, especially when there's no pictures.|
|Images:||0||You have none. You should really sort that out. Not only is it adding to article's ugliness, but it's an untapped well of humour. Pictures are such an important part of articles, I would never recommend not having any (unless under very, very exceptional circumstances). As for what you should have pictures of... that's a difficult one. Books are hard to illustrate in Uncyclopedia articles, but it doesn't mean you shouldn't try. A book cover would be a good start. Then there's always pictures of the author, pictures that illustrate plot events or characters, scenes from the film version (assuming there is one, which there probably isn't). I don't know, but have a think about it, and again check out our featured articles for ideas if that helps. Remember, if you need someone to photoshop something for you, try RadicalX's Corner. They'll always be happy to whip up an image, as long as you already have the idea.|
|Miscellaneous:||4.5||My gut feeling.|
|Final Score:||18.5||So, I realise there's a lot there, but don't worry, read it at your leisure. And don't be offended if I've been harsh, the article isn't bad or anything, it's just not great either. It feels like you've only just started though, so it's only to be expected. You should see some of my first drafts... Anyway, to quickly recap; you need to tighten the idea here, pick one approach and develop it. And please get some pictures in there. If there's anything I've said here that you want me to explain better, or if you want my opinion on anything I might have missed, please let me know on my talky page and I'll try to help. I hope the review is ok.|
|Reviewer:||--Black Flamingo 22:43, March 25, 2011 (UTC)|