Friday, October 24, 2014

The Labyrinths of P.T. and The Shining

Jack also encourages you to play.
In my latest PopMatters piece I revisit the twisting halls of The Shining and P.T..

By sheer coincidence (or via the machinations of an unearthly hand), I recently rewatched Stanley Kubrick's The Shining and immediately followed it with the excellent documentary Room 237. After PlayStar here on Experience Points mentioned it in relation to P.T., I couldn't help but spiral into theorycrafting around the game and its relationship with the film.

Now I want to take a moment to dispel some of the criticism unfairly targeting Room 237, and this is important in regards to P.T. as well. Room 237 is not entirely a film about The Shining. Yes it exclusively includes theories about the film, but it's far more about the act of searching for meaning in film period. Importantly, all of the theories, from the hoaxed moon landing to the psychosexual themes in the move, are given equal weight in the film. It's not a documentary judging these individuals and their expression of obsession over the movie. Indeed, they don't even appear physically in the film! Instead, their ideas are shown expressed across the provocative visuals of The Shining, many of which are repeated again and again.

Somewhere in Room 237 it becomes easy to accept some of the weird ideas about The Shining. Sure, maybe Kubrick didn't make it about Indian genocide, but there sure is a lot of symbolism around the subject. Maybe there is some subtext there. Or maybe you catch a theme the others haven't and you start coming up with your own ideas about what being locked in a food cabinet could mean. Room 237 opens the door for spinning your mind in the search for meaning, something we humans so love to do, and it makes the space safe for you to really reach and strive for that.

In its complexity and demand for crowdsourced solutions to its puzzles, P.T. does the same thing, and it's brilliant.

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