“Let’s pause here and take some questions.”
August 28, 2020 11:43 AM   Subscribe

[“The South Asian Speakers Series Presents the Archeologist and Adventurer Indiana Jones” by Tania James] is the eighth story in this summer’s [New Yorker] online Flash Fiction series. You can read the entire series, and our Flash Fiction stories from previous years, here.
posted by Going To Maine (16 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
(Not a complicated premise or surprising premise, but it has kept bubbling back into my brain ever since I read it.)
posted by Going To Maine at 12:04 PM on August 28, 2020

wait. so what's this now? am i missing some larger context? i am a fan of the raiders series, but this seems like more fan fiction than something i would read in the new yorker. asking for a friend.
posted by rude.boy at 1:50 PM on August 28, 2020

I know that in European noble dining there was a trend of displaying wealth by having elaborate mock preparations, like turtle cooked to resemble a rabbit and rabbit cooked to resemble a turtle, that sort of thing. So my head canon is the Maharajah's head chef was familiar with the legend and doing a sort of visual pun, serving hóu tóu gū soup in taxidermied monkey-head bowls!
posted by traveler_ at 1:51 PM on August 28, 2020 [2 favorites]

"I was a child. I was in love. It was wrong and you knew it." Stop trying to redeem this creep.
posted by rikschell at 2:00 PM on August 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

Holy crap.

I always inferred that she probably had been one of his students. Maybe 18 or 19. So that she was in her late 20s now, which is approximately how old the actress was when this was filmed.

Which would have made her “a child” when they had the affair, and the affair would have been wrong, because of the serious ethical lapse in having sex with one of your (nevertheless adult) students.

The idea that Spielberg and Lucas are TRYING to write the hidden backstory of statutory rape is...mind boggling.
posted by darkstar at 2:24 PM on August 28, 2020

I, too, think of that girl who painted her eyelids every time I think of Indiana Jones. The school he taught at was, I think, supposed to stand in for the college that I went to, a women's college that has had a good reputation for archaeology. I cannot imagine one of our alums doing such a thing for a professor. At least, not a man. (I took early morning archaeology classes myself, and if there had been something written on my eyelids, that message would have been clearly visible. No slideshow classes before noon.)

Anyway, I never had early exposure to the movies because -- wait, eleven? Lucas thought that Marion was eleven? Christ, no wonder his writing went to shit once his wife left him.)
posted by Countess Elena at 2:29 PM on August 28, 2020

I know the depictions in Temple of Doom are highly problematic and unrealistic and maybe it's because we were so starved of representation on the screen in English-language movies that we'd take anything, but my friends and I loved everything about Temple of Doom when I was a kid. For years afterwards we'd be saying stuff like "Snake Surprise" or "Chilled Monkey Brains" when food was being served at social gatherings. And I don't know how many times we acted out the KA-LI-MA ripping out the heart scene. I don't know if I'd want to re-watch it now as an adult but me as a kid loved it.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 2:35 PM on August 28, 2020 [4 favorites]

"I was a child. I was in love. It was wrong and you knew it." Stop trying to redeem this creep.

I feel comfortable saying that a piece of trivia that has to be picked up from background script discussions and that’s tucked away in a novel that mostly no one reads says more about the creators than it does about the character. It’s obvious in the film that Marion was “too young”, but the notion that she was at an age where the relationship would qualify as rape isn’t on screen and has -I assume- not been any part of most peoples’ construction of the character. The creeps here are Kasdan, Spielberg, and Lucas. Indiana Jones is the crusading archaeologist who has some problematic aspects.
posted by Going To Maine at 2:57 PM on August 28, 2020 [7 favorites]

"my friends and I loved everything about Temple of Doom when I was a kid."

So, in other words:
You were a child. You were in love. It was wrong, and [Lucas] knew it!


We watched the trilogy a few years back, and, yeah, Temple of Doom is PAINFUL. The female lead is unwatchable. (I guess it was Speilberg's newfound love interest, which apparently turned into some very bad direction.)
posted by kaibutsu at 3:44 PM on August 28, 2020 [2 favorites]

any portmanteau in a storm, I get you on the complicated childhood movie love. My siblings and I watched our VHS copy of Temple of Doom to shreds because Short Round was one of the only kids we ever saw who looked like us doing cool stuff on screen.
posted by Diagonalize at 4:36 PM on August 28, 2020 [2 favorites]

this seems like more fan fiction than something i would read in the new yorker.

McSweeney’s, which has a similar audience, has published four similar short riffs. Shouts & Murmurs always tends towards the slight, and let us not speak of Andy Borowitz. Indiana Jones kind of falls into prime New Yorker reader territory, so it seems like this is squarely within their area.
posted by Going To Maine at 5:03 PM on August 28, 2020

The thing about Indiana Jones is that it’s been out of relevance for about 30 years now. It was a kind of fun throwback movie for older millennial kids and for zoomers, it’s riffing on things that have receded from public memory.

Indiana Jones belongs in a museum.
posted by Merus at 7:41 AM on August 29, 2020

The movies may have faded from public consciousness, but the toxic male "hero" who talks over women, exoticizes people of color, and angrily insists that he's the put-upon good guy here, is alive and well. He's in the White House, he's on the Supreme Court, he's in nearly every workplace in America.

The only bit I found unbelievable about that New Yorker riff was the redemption arc at the end.
posted by basalganglia at 8:14 AM on August 29, 2020

More generally, I would argue that while Indians Jones is only directly relevant to older Millenials and up (that is to say, the majority of the population, and the portion that controls old media and owns new media), The concept of the character has perhaps metastasized a bit more broadly. Lara Croft, Nathan Drake, and the adventurer in Spelunky are all his direct heirs, as are surely many other indirect descendants. (Of course, as a milleniold, my specific references here are stale.) Indians Jones obviously has antecedents as well, but many of them have fallen off the cultural map.
posted by Going To Maine at 9:07 AM on August 29, 2020

Indiana Jones belongs in a museum.

I mean, yeah, acknowledged.

I believe Indy would be 121 years old in this current day fanfic. I'm sorry he had to live to see fascism rise again.
posted by gwint at 9:07 AM on August 29, 2020

The redemption arc may be unbelievable for you, but I was personally glad to suspend my disbelief for it. Yes, Indiana Jones has problematic aspects but I appreciated him and like the idea that he could be redeemed.

Spielberg, Kasdan and Lucas, on the other hand...
posted by rednikki at 8:35 PM on August 29, 2020

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