“A book has been taken. A book has been taken? You summoned the Watch,” Carrot drew himself up proudly, “because someone’s taken a book? You think that’s worse than murder?”
So, I see an awful lot of movies in the theatre. When summer rolls around, I can usually be expected to have seen one new film a week – not as much as post-Thanksgiving, pre-New Years, when all the Oscar-bait films come out, but still more than the average moviegoer. Sad films, happy films, funny films, weird films: as long as it doesn’t fall under the category “gratuitous slasher flick” I’m typically going to see it. And if I love it/hate it, I’ll talk about it. Forever.
This past weekend my husband and I went to see Monsters University, which fell under the umbrella of “liked it, didn’t love it, but had some great parts.” For a sequel it was certainly strong, and it’s hard to go wrong with Nathan Fillion and Helen Mirren playing bad guys in the same movie. The film is very much a creation story; we see Mike and Sully meet during their Freshman year at school, quickly become enemies, begin to work together, learn from each other, and then finally become friends and colleagues. Monsters U, the school itself, is prestigious and honorable, and it has a typical division of clubs and cliques: jocks, hot chicks, emo kids, nerds, and weirdos. They’re all pitted against each other during the school’s monster triathlon, the Scare Games, which consists of a series of trials to choose the best Scarers on campus. One of the trials – called “Don’t Wake the Parent” – takes place in the university’s library. Can you see where this is going? I could, and it was glorious!
The “Parent” in the trial’s scenario is of course the curmudgeonly, be-speckled, old lady/squid-like librarian who hates noise and has a penchant for chucking ne’er-do-well students into the lake outside. It’s over the top and silly and so much damn fun. She’s everything a Freshman might expect from their university librarian, especially if the university in question is as old fashioned as Monsters U. Look at all those books! The wood paneling! HER OUTFIT! Of course the library is destroyed when the librarian furiously lashes out, but you just know part of her enjoyed putting it back together again. It’s gloriously over the top (really, could they have made her any uglier?) but I just can’t bring myself to roll my eyes. Sometimes you just have to laugh.
Considering summer movies and surprisingly fun librarian cameos, did you know that last year had a similar set up? The Spider-man reboot (The Amazing Spider-Man starring Andrew Garfield) included a scene in which the entire school was destroyed during an epic fight between Spidey and the Lizard. The two crash through a wall – surprisingly easy to do in comic book movies – and on the other side? The school library, featuring none other than the legendary Stan Lee as the oblivious school librarian. He’s rocking out to his old guy muzak and humming to himself as his library is destroyed behind him. See the whole scene here:
Reel Librarians had a great write-up of this scene, as well as other Comic Relief librarians, but I think it’s worth mentioning that perhaps the reason our profession keeps showing up in these summer blockbuster films is because the profession is immediately recognizable as light, good fun. We don’t need back story for why Monsters U librarian is so bent on shushing students – she’s a librarian! We don’t need to know why bow tie-clad Stan Lee doesn’t notice his quaint little library falling to pieces around him – duh, he’s a librarian! Like I’ve said before, sometimes you just have to laugh.
What do you think? Have you seen Monsters University yet? Looking forward to the next Spider-Man? Do you think summer 2014 will bring us another librarian cameo?
- Monster librarian? (reel-librarians.com)
- Stan Lee Spotted on the Set of SPIDER-MAN 2 Filming His Cameo (geektyrant.com)
“Beware the lustful fires that burn in a librarian’s heart.
They can rage beyond all control.”
— Fire Safety And Prevention Tips, The Onion (May 28, 2003)
BTW, I’m on Pinterest. Sorry, what I meant to say is I’m constantly on Pinterest. It’s addicting and mind-numbingly entertaining. Funny things, pretty things, nerdy things: I pin them all. Recently I managed to talk my academic library into creating a Pinterest account. Yes, even academia loves creating digital pinboards – albeit, library-related pins are usually kind of snore-worthy. LibGuides are great, but I’d much rather pin pictures of piles of puppies.
A while back I created a board to chronicle the interesting, amusing and sometimes bizarro media representations of librarians – find it here. While looking over my past pins, I noticed that I had not one, but three separate images showing what I thought was a meme called Ostrich Librarian. After a quick image search, I found the official title for this frazzled oversize bird: Judgmental Bookseller Ostrich. This meme may have begun by chronicling the trials of overworked booksellers, but quite a few of these “I’m surrounded by idiots!” lamentations are shared by equally overworked librarians, especially those who work with the general public. A coworker of mine who has experience with the public library in town once told me that after a prolonged time of working a desk day in, day out, you gain a sixth sense. For example, when a certain type of person walks up to you, you just know they’re looking for Fifty Shades of Grey. (Wait, is that still a thing? Tell me it’s not and you get a cookie.) Even in the world of academic libraries, there is repetition. With repetition comes boredom. And as regular readers to this blog may know, with boredom comes evil librarians.
There is therefore some overlap between librarian and bookseller, and not just because we both deal in information and dead trees. Whether this ostrich is a better fit for either profession is up for debate, but her visage definitely leans toward spinster, myopic librarian. She’s wearing a pair of cat’s eye glasses, her hair is sticking up and about in a comical fashion, and her mouth is open in a Joker’s smile/grimace that makes her seem she’s truly at the end of her rope. She’s a sarcastic know-it-all, ready with a comeback no matter the horrible question she receives, especially if that person has bad taste in books.
I pinned her three times on Pinterest not because I know how she feels – to be honest, very few people ask me about actual, honest to goodness books. (E-books, yes. Book-books, not so much.) On the other hand, I recognize the sentiment. We live in an age of information, and yet sometimes the questions you’re asked are just… depressing. The Judgmental Ostrich can stand for anyone who puts themselves out there in the public realm who perhaps think themselves above the people they serve every day. That’s why I sometimes look at the Judgmental Ostrich and think “I know that feel, sis. I know that feel.”
“Now you may have gotten the impression that there are absolutely no uses for Librarians. I’m sorry if I implied that. Librarians are very useful. For instance, they are useful if you are fishing for sharks and need some bait. They’re also useful for throwing out windows to test the effects of concrete impact on horn-rimmed glasses. If you have enough Librarians, you can build bridges out of them. (Just like witches.)
And, unfortunately, they are also useful for organizing things.”
― Brandon Sanderson, Alcatraz Versus the Knights of Crystallia