The Ungoodlands

Bifurcation, HO!

We are seeing two distinctly separate sub-genres of adventure-drama, being put together for the benefit of two distinctly separate classes of audience. The world, after all, is divided into two groups of people: The ones who do, and do not, lust for adventure in The Badlands.

That’s a term I am coining — I can think of none other — to describe the situation in which you immerse yourself when you travel through the actual badlands. Out there, in the badlands of the United States, if you get yourself hurt, it’s bad. If you find yourself at the mercy of the wildlife around you, for whatever reason; if you run out of water; if you bust a radiator hose, run out of gas, or discover it’s been too long since you changed the oil, it’s bad. Hence the name. In fiction, such a situation brings a flavor of drama that is altogether missing from Coruscant and Hogwarts.

I mean, just think about it. If the snake bites you, not only are there no medical services available, but there’s no one to hear you holler. No one would ever know. Not for awhile, when the sun is bleaching your bones. In the inner city, maybe you’d be surrounded by hostiles and this would bring a whole different sense of danger. But, that sense of danger would be different. The badlands bring a story that is unique unto itself. Obi-Wan summed it up succinctly: “The Jundland wastes are not to be traveled lightly.” The Old Trilogy, like this new Disney project, writhed away in The Badlands. The Prequels merely poked around a bit with such settings, concentrating for the most part on murky political intrigue in the capitol. This, more than Jar Jar Binks, brought about their ruin. It wasn’t because of what was there; it was because of what was missing.

I suppose it ought to be possible to fuse these two settings — say, Harry Potter and the Treasure of the Sierra Madre — but I imagine that might be hard to sell.


  1. McGehee »

    26 December 2017 · 12:25 pm

    The Badlands were once a part of pretty much every adventure, back when most people had the Badlands either outside their own doorstep, or at least just past the city limit sign.

    And I’d say there were badlands available on Coruscant — the prequel movies simply failed to use them.

  2. Fred Z »

    26 December 2017 · 7:07 pm

    I hunt mule deer most Novembers in the badlands of the Sage Creek where it flows from Alberta into Montana very near the border with Saskatchewan.

    People usually visualize the badlands as sun-baked summer deserts, which they are for part of the year.

    For real interesting dangers please consider those same steep, rocky hills with ice on the slopes and high points and 10 foot snow drifts in the cleft bottoms.

    A very good place to be a bit careful.

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