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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Mad Humanist's Avatar

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    Default The Way of the MacGuffin

    I just found I had a wikipedia tab open about MacGuffins for some reason. I really need to close it before my machine crashes but I might as well read it first:

    Usually, the MacGuffin is revealed in the first act, and thereafter declines in importance. It can reappear at the climax of the story but may actually be forgotten by the end of the story.

    The Holy Grail of Arthurian legend has been cited as an early example of a MacGuffin. The Holy Grail is the desired object that is essential to initiate and advance the plot. The final disposition of the Grail is never revealed, suggesting that the object is not of significance in itself.

    It might be a Scottish name, taken from a story about two men on a train. One man says, 'What's that package up there in the baggage rack?' And the other answers, 'Oh, that's a MacGuffin'. The first one asks, 'What's a MacGuffin?' 'Well,' the other man says, 'it's an apparatus for trapping lions in the Scottish Highlands.' The first man says, 'But there are no lions in the Scottish Highlands,' and the other one answers, 'Well then, that's no MacGuffin!' So you see that a MacGuffin is actually nothing at all.
    So the Giant has said that the Snarl is a MacGuffin not a character. (Citation needed, so who you're going to call?)

    We have seen how (since being revealed) it's decline (though slight so far) has begun. The "new world" seen by Blackwing is one such indication. The possibilities opened up by Redcloak and the Dark One are another. So what are the chances that the Snarl will go the way of the MacGuffin and have diminished in significance to a mere ball of yarn by the end of the book?
    Last edited by Mad Humanist; 2020-11-26 at 09:54 AM.
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  2. - Top - End - #2
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Lizardfolk

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    Default Re: The Way of the MacGuffin

    Quote Originally Posted by Mad Humanist View Post
    I just found I had a wikipedia tab open about MacGuffins for some reason. I really need to close it before my machine crashes but I might as well read it first:



    So the Giant has said that the Snarl is a MacGuffin not a character. (Citation needed, so who you're going to call?)

    We have seen how (since being revealed) it's decline (though slight so far) has begun. The "new world" seen by Blackwing is one such indication. The possibilities opened up by Redcloak and the Dark One are another. So what are the chances that the Snarl will go the way of the MacGuffin and have diminished in significance to a mere ball of yarn by the end of the book?
    I don't think the Snarl is a macguffin in the truest sense (the ice skate case from Ronin, or the Maltese Falcon), but more like a nuke. You don't fight the nuke, because you can't. You do your damnedest to disarm it, stop it being launched, or escape it. This doesn't mean the nuke becomes trivial to the plot. It's an unfought, unfightable menace. And it's importance hasn't diminished; this threat is the basis for the entire Godsmoot arc, where the Gods are so threatened by the nuke that they're willing to become nukes themselves (in Sunna's exact words).

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Dragon in the Playground Moderator
     
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    Default Re: The Way of the MacGuffin

    Quote Originally Posted by Mad Humanist View Post
    I just found I had a wikipedia tab open about MacGuffins for some reason. I really need to close it before my machine crashes but I might as well read it first:



    So the Giant has said that the Snarl is a MacGuffin not a character. (Citation needed, so who you're going to call?)

    We have seen how (since being revealed) it's decline (though slight so far) has begun. The "new world" seen by Blackwing is one such indication. The possibilities opened up by Redcloak and the Dark One are another. So what are the chances that the Snarl will go the way of the MacGuffin and have diminished in significance to a mere ball of yarn by the end of the book?
    I don't quite see how macgiffins decline in importance, but think about the MacGuffin more like the Death Star. It's nothing but a plot device, but it absolutely needs to be dealt with.

    Also, when The Giant called the Snarl a macgiffin, he likened it to the Death Star, so that's a pretty apt analogy.
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  4. - Top - End - #4
    Halfling in the Playground
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    Default Re: The Way of the MacGuffin

    I'm no banana, but here's the post where the Giant called the Snarl a MacGuffin. And I'll repeat my thoughts on that from another thread:
    Quote Originally Posted by Bilbo Baggins View Post
    I know I'm a little late to the Snarl MacGuffin discussion, but that quote reads as though he's talking about the role the Snarl plays in that part of the story, during Book 5. I don't think we can conclude that the Snarl is confined to the role of MacGuffin for the rest of the story.
    Last edited by Bilbo Baggins; 2020-11-26 at 01:06 PM.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: The Way of the MacGuffin

    Quote Originally Posted by Bilbo Baggins View Post
    I'm no banana, but here's the post where the Giant called the Snarl a MacGuffin. And I'll repeat my thoughts on that from another thread:
    Quote Originally Posted by Bilbo Baggins View Post
    I know I'm a little late to the Snarl MacGuffin discussion, but that quote reads as though he's talking about the role the Snarl plays in that part of the story, during Book 5. I don't think we can conclude that the Snarl is confined to the role of MacGuffin for the rest of the story.
    I do not subscribe to your reading, mostly because of this bit:
    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    The Snarl plot is part of the armature upon which I hang the characters' conflicts; it is not the whole of the story. The strip is titled The Order of the Stick, not The Chase for the Snarl or even Saving the World. Ultimately, it seems like you want the story to be about things it is not going to be about, so it's unlikely you are ever going to enjoy it.
    I'd say it refers to the whole comic, rather than a single book (unless Blood Runs was briefly retitled The Order of the Stick in 2013).

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    HalflingRogueGuy

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    Default Re: The Way of the MacGuffin

    I would avoid thinking too deeply about “which of the many possible meanings of Macguffin do other authors intend when they say Macguffin”, and think instead “what does the giant mean when he says Macguffin”.

    A Macguffin can take a huge range of importance and power; you can’t look at just one example and say “this is the only meaning the giant is permitted to have”.

    On one end of the spectrum is the classic Macguffin: the stolen $40,000 that drives Psycho. But wait, you might say... what $40k? Because by the end of the movie, you forgot it ever existed in the first place.

    On the other end of the spectrum is the greatest Macguffin of all time: The Ark of the Covenant, in Raiders of the Lost Ark. It never diminishes in power through the film; and one point it is even takes on the important role of being the conduit through which god comes down on his wires.

    I’m guessing that the Snarl is probably somewhere closer to the Ark side of the spectrum than the $40k side of the spectrum, but I may be proven wrong. We’ll see.
    Last edited by Dion; 2020-11-26 at 04:06 PM.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Orc in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: The Way of the MacGuffin

    I think it's a MacGuffin in that it's a driver for the story, but plays little part in the plot itself. It serves as a basic premise for the main plot and the ostensible motivations for the main characters. But except in flashbacks and a single panel in Book 5, it hasn't actually appeared in the story or done anything. It has even less of a presence than the Death Star, which at least established itself as a credible danger.

    I doubt, however, it'll end up being the type of MacGuffin that turns out mostly inconsequential at the end. At some point, it'll have to be addressed, likely at the climactic point of the plot.
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    Dragon in the Playground Moderator
     
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    Default Re: The Way of the MacGuffin

    Quote Originally Posted by skim172 View Post
    I think it's a MacGuffin in that it's a driver for the story, but plays little part in the plot itself. It serves as a basic premise for the main plot and the ostensible motivations for the main characters. But except in flashbacks and a single panel in Book 5, it hasn't actually appeared in the story or done anything. It has even less of a presence than the Death Star, which at least established itself as a credible danger.
    I would argue that the Snarl has been established as a credible danger.
    Last edited by Peelee; 2020-11-26 at 04:32 PM.
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  9. - Top - End - #9
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    HalflingRogueGuy

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    Default Re: The Way of the MacGuffin

    there are two things to think about:

    first, the very first word of that Wikipedia entry is “usually”. There’s no hard and fast definition that applies universally to all MacGuffins.

    Second, it’s interesting that giant compared the snarl to the Death Star, because the Death Star wasn't the Macguffin. The MacGuffin in Star Wars is the Death Star *plans*. It’s easy to overlook, but recovering the plans is the plot for the first 2/3rds of the movie! And the plans were so uninteresting that until Rogue One nobody ever spent more than 5 seconds thinking about the plans, and mostly in the context of “what exactly is are Bantha Spies supposed to be, anyhow?”

    But the Giant didn’t compare The Snarl to the plans. The Giant compared The Snarl to The Death Star. Which makes me think that the Snarl might continue to be very important until nearly the end of the story.
    Last edited by Dion; Yesterday at 05:42 PM.

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Mad Humanist's Avatar

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    Default Re: The Way of the MacGuffin

    Quote Originally Posted by Dion View Post
    there are two things to think about:

    first, the very first word of that Wikipedia entry is “usually”. There’s no hard and fast definition that applies universally to all MacGuffins.

    Second, it’s interesting that giant compared the snarl to the Death Star, because the Death Star wasn't the Macguffin. The “classic” MacGuffin in Star Wars are the Death Star *plans*. It’s easy to overlook, but recovering the plans is the plot for the first 2/3rds of the movie! And the plans were so unimportant that until Rogue One nobody ever spent more than 5 seconds thinking about the plans, and mostly in the context of “what exactly is a Bantha supposed to be, anyhow?”

    But the Giant didn’t compare The Snarl to the plans. The Giant compared The Snarl to The Death Star. Which makes me think that the Snarl might continue to be very important until nearly the end of the story.
    Well there goes my plan to tempt the forum away from talking about Star Wars incessantly.
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  11. - Top - End - #11
    Titan in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: The Way of the MacGuffin

    Quote Originally Posted by Peelee View Post
    I would argue that the Snarl has been established as a credible danger.
    Too impersonal. This establishment, I feel, is more immediate (especially as a counterpoint to RC's earlier defanging of the Snarl when he commented how passive he was above Gobbotopia).

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    But really, the important lesson here is this: Rather than making assumptions that don't fit with the text and then complaining about the text being wrong, why not just choose different assumptions that DO fit with the text?
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  12. - Top - End - #12
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: The Way of the MacGuffin

    Quote Originally Posted by Mad Humanist View Post
    Well there goes my plan to tempt the forum away from talking about Star Wars incessantly.
    The best you can do is steer star wars discussions to where they properly belong: the main comic thread.
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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    WolfInSheepsClothing

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    Default Re: The Way of the MacGuffin

    The point of that quote was to tell people that the focus of the story was on the characters' actions and motivations rather than the physical aspects of the plot. It doesn't mean that the snarl won't be important, it just means that the way that the characters deal with the threat it poses and the choices that they make will be what defines the story, rather than any details about the snarl.

    The statement seems to indicate that the snarl won't really function as a character or get much of its own characterization. However, I have wondered if there was some foreshadowing that it might have just a touch of it. iirc 1190 has Belkar wondering aloud how Mr Scruffy manages to not get bored playing with string again and again - perhaps even beings of pure chaos grow bored with the same old and try the novelty of something ordered?

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