WTNV Theories and Ramblings - Episode 69: Fashion Week

Fashion’s weird, isn’t it? I don’t necessarily mean the ever-more outrageous outfits and accessories. I mean just the whole system of fashion. In order to do this, I think I should let one of the Great Masters do the talking. You see, I can’t help but think about Charles Dickens’ Bleak House when I think about fashion. Bleak House is one of my favorite novels, and it has this gem about the nature of fashion in it:

It is but a glimpse of the world of fashion that we want on this same miry afternoon. It is not so unlike the Court of Chancery…. Both the world of fashion and the Court of Chancery are things of precedent and usage: oversleeping Rip Van Winkles who have played at strange games through a deal of thundery weather; sleeping beauties whom the knight will wake one day…! But the evil of [the world of fashion] is that it is a world wrapped up in too much jeweler's cotton and fine wool, and cannot hear the rushing of the larger worlds, and cannot see them as they circle round the sun. It is a deadened world, and its growth is sometimes unhealthy for want of air.

In essence:

  • The world of fashion is one of judgment (as in a Court). We can reasonably understand this. Fashion requires a separation of classes (particularly, what is “in” and what is “out,” but certainly economic classes become involved when it comes to cost, designer labels, and status symbols).
  • Dickens has a negative opinion of this world, twice referring to those contained within as sleepers (Rip Van Winkle and Sleeping Beauty). In addition, such a world is far too insulated, far too concerned with itself that it loses sight of the worlds around it. Being closed off causes it to stagnate.

In terms of just this episode, Dickens’ descriptions of fashion are represented in the headlines news about Fashion Week and the malevolent Sphere that polices the event. The Sphere, ever-judging, is the sole arbiter of what is “hip” and what is not. The consequences are elevated to some very high stakes, as the unhip are destroyed.

And what better example of an “oversleeping Rip Van Winkle” or a “sleeping beauty” is there than Michelle Nguyen, who is so wrapped up in her estimation of what is current and cool, that her “headphones…are plugged into nothing at all.” Her eyes, too, appear to be blinded by neon signs that she’s affixed to her face.

In terms of this entire story arc, however, the connection between Dickens’ fashion world and Night Vale are alarming. I have spoken previously about Night Vale rotting away in its time-locked existence. We know from A Carnival Comes to Town and The University of What It Is that the citizens of Night Vale are horrifically judgmental, and that they opposed to opening up to new worlds.

That Cecil is disinterested in Fashion Week (to the point of risking his life) is a testament to how he has come to feel about Night Vale. Disinterested. Weary. Done. As he says at the end of the episode:

I’ve missed Carlos greatly, and I’ve also grown weary of a mayor that can’t protect herself, of a town that fears outsiders. Of a Faceless Old Woman who secretly lives in my home and publicly wants to do me harm. And I think of a Desert Otherworld where it’s always sunny, and mountains are real. There is a helpful masked army that can build anything, and your cell phone battery never dies, even if reception is 4G at best.

There is the question: is Night Vale worth it? Is Night Vale good? Is it a good town?

These are questions and feelings that we have been grappling with for a long time. Night Vale, like the world of fashion is capricious. Is it worth it to be a part of this world at all when it is so difficult to keep up with its seemingly random whims? In short, as Cecil asked in Parade Day (which aired around the same time as this episode, actually):

Are we living a life that is safe from harm?

Of course not. We never are. But that’s not the right question. The question is are we living a life that is worth the harm?

The importance of these questions was also highlighted in the Community Calendar. The narrative in this segment trivializes the war with StrexCorp by using an analogous invasion (of alien warriors) and merely suggesting the same solution that was used to repel StrexCorp. What was once a central conflict has been relegated to a Community Calendar joke. 

Why? 

Because there are many more problems than simple invasion in Night Vale. They’ve figured out how to deal with foreign invaders. They haven’t figured out how to live with themselves. 

They haven’t figured out how to live.


Miscellaneous (or God DAMNIT, Chad!)

I know that the big ticket item in this episode is Cecil’s announcement that June 15th’s episode will be his last. This is of great and obvious concern. I am not entirely convinced that he will actually go. The Faceless Old Woman has threatened the opening of the Opera House in the next episode, and I feel that something will compel Cecil to stay…whether it be his own civic pride, or an unseen handing pulling his strings to defend the Mayor.

But…what about these Shambling Orphan disappearances? Cecil devoted only a few lines to the story, promising further developments. But we never received any. The libsyn feed highlights the investigations of these disappearances as “ongoing,” but I really can’t think of the last time the Shambling Orphan was mentioned.

Oh, wait…

It was Antiques, wasn’t it? Yes, let’s paste that quote right here:

Chad Bowinger, who lives in the Shambling Orphan housing development down by the Haunted Baseball Diamond, said “It is a sadness, what we do to each other. It is a weeping, and a gnashing of teeth.”

Ok, so twelve people have mysteriously disappeared in the same building that a man named Chad lives in.

Saints preserve us, I think that’s the Chad! The Faceless Old Woman’s Chad! The Chad that has summoned something unspeakably terrible in the Shambling Orphan.

I really hope that’s not grand spectacle the Faceless Old Woman has planned for June 15th.

Options for the next Night Vale episode:

• We go with Cecil, and he broadcasts from the other world desert radio station
• We stay in Night Vale, and someone else takes over the broadcast. (Like, an intern (Maureen?), Kevin, Leonard Burton etc.)
• Cecil is unable to leave and we have a regular episode
• Opera starring Lee Marvin

Hold. The. Phone.

Waaaaait a minute. Cecil’s in the WTNV novel! At least, in the 4-chapter preview they released. There’s a whole little sub-chapter dedicated to his broadcast, as he reports on the goings on in Night Vale, like normal. This troubles me.

Possibility A. Cecil decides to not leave Night Vale for whatever reason (Carlos deciding to return, perhaps? Or trouble?)

Possibility 2. The book takes place before or during the current storyline, which could be, but I’m not quite sure.

Possibility C. Cecil is omniscient, like some fans believe, and can see what’s going on in his hometown all the way from the desert otherworld, and found a way to broacast to Night Vale from there.

Thoughts?

Something just hit me.

One year ago, “Renovations” aired. In that episode, Cecil returns to Night Vale, and it was triumphant and I was proud.

Yesterday, Cecil announced that he was leaving Night Vale, and it was triumphant and I am proud.

It’s funny how much can change in a year, isn’t it?

Stop Dapper Waistcoat Cecil 2k15

Thinks casual clothing is:

-Honeycomb Hat
-Leather Pants
-Hawaiian Shirt

Thinks date-wear is:

- Furry pants
- Tunic

May or may not wear:

- A “baby boomer mall mom on a cruise vacation” fanny pack at all times

Wore a tie:

-Like once we know of for a picture and we don’t even know what else he was wearing with it. Probably a fanny pack.

Your headcanon has been jossed. It is no longer canon ambiguous enough to be a true headcanon. It’s a straight up AU where Cecil can actually dress himself like a normal human being.

WTNV I need a hug omg

Okay Night Vale fandom, I need a hug. So, Telly the Barber makes Cecil angry, and Telly goes crazy. He loves Carlos and hates the Apache Tracker: Carlos lives and the Apache Tracker dies. He doesn’t believe the “real world” news report about Michael Sandero, so by the end of the episode the news has changed. He doesn’t want the world to end in 1983, so it doesn’t. He loves the actor Lee Marvin, so Lee Marvin is the founder of Night Vale and 30 forever. He misses Earl, so Earl comes back, but in a way that doesn’t threaten his relationship with Carlos: married (I think?) and with kid. He doesn’t want Leonard Burton to die, so he doesn’t.

And this is a thing: Has anyone else noticed that in year three, when he has been “softened” as Steve Carlsburg said, by his relationship with Carlos, almost nobody dies? Instead of whole swathes of the town being destroyed by Valentine’s Day, everything seems to always end up okay. Even the intern death count in down.

He likes the idea of radio, so what he is doing becomes being a radio host.

Is Cecil some kind of god-like entity, unaware of what he is, creating the world around him without understanding what he’s doing? Does he keep the mirrors covered so that he will not see himself for what he is?

I need a hug.