Among Gaiman’s many talents is an uncanny knack for explaining not just what he enjoys about something but why he enjoys it.
What’s more Gaiman’s got incredible range: he explains what is great about books – sure – but also visual art – also movies – also genres – also people.
Gaiman explains what is great about things that aren’t entirely successful or are even objectionable.
This is an especially impressive trick.
Though the term ‘problematic’ gets a lot of people’s backs up – at its core, I find it incredible useful: things can be both pleasing and disappointing – can inspire you while still upsetting you – can be great with terrible elements.
‘Problematic’ frees us from having to either pretend that the things we don’t love have significant flaws or that we don’t love the things we love.
Gaiman loves some problematic things and people (as do we all) and here is where View From the Cheap Seats shines brightest: Gaiman tackles movies – books – and even people that depending on the time and angle are utterly reprehensible – or glorious.
He neither sugar-coats nor condemns these contradictory beasts: rather he explains how their contradictions are able to co-exist and again what makes them great – even with their flaws.