Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Fragglian Shadow

"Everyone carries a shadow.
The less it is embodied in the individual's conscious life, 
the blacker and denser it is." 
Carl Jung, "Psychology and Religion" (1938). In CW 11: Psychology and Religion: West and East. P.131

Fraggles, like children, run on pure id.  While Doozers work, the Fraggles frolic and play all day.  It is part of a Fraggle's nature.  It's in their blood.  So it comes as a shock to many Fraggles when they meet Boober, the Fraggle who hates fun, surprise, and any sort of danger.  His concern for safety has branded him as a worrywart, but he is content to be so.  As long as people leave him alone, he gets along just fine.

But Boober's repressed Fraggleness wasn't going to stay hidden for long.  Sooner or later, Boober's psyche was going to burst, and the side of him he had kept down in the bottom of his mind was going to take over.  Thus, Sidebottom was born.

The Hyde to Boober's Jekyll

In Jungian psychology, there are three steps people take when interacting with their shadow and Boober takes this journey over the course of three episodes, each chronicling a different step.

1. The Encounter with the Shadow (Episode 206: "Boober's Dream")

The shadow usually reveals themselves in dreams or visions and this is exactly how Boober first meets Sidebottom. In a series of nightmares, Boober finds himself having fun as the life of the party. He turns to his friend Wembley for help and, through the Fraggle process of shared dreaming, Wembley is introduced to Sidebottom, the fun side of Boober.

He's got a silly hat and everything!

During this stage, the shadow reveals himself to showcase all aspects of the hero that refuse to be acknowledged. Sidebottom is energetic, funny, and playful. He tells great jokes and makes sure everybody has a good time. He makes Boober sick, but Wembley thinks he's a blast! Sidebottom instructs Wembley to bring all of Boober's friends into the dream so he can finally play with them. Wembley obliges, and that night, all Fraggles join in Boober's dream.

Make your own Inception reference here.

All Fraggles have a great time playing with this new side of Boober, but, with the Encounter comes the suggestion that the hero will eventually fall victim to the shadow. Sidebottom begins to hold the rest of the Fraggles hostage, agreeing to only let them escape from the dream if Boober agrees that he'll let Sidebottom come out to play in the real world. In order to save his friends, Boober agrees that he must embrace his fun side from time to time. In the context of the episode, this is treated as a success, for in this case, Boober's shadow is actually the more pleasant of the two. But Sidebottom's sinister tactics should not be ignored.

Sure, everybody's singing in harmony now...

2. The Merger with the Shadow (Episode 223: "Boober's Quiet Day")

Boober didn't stay true to his promise, however. So, on a quiet day, when Boober's mind has been cleared, he drifts back into the dark recesses of his mind, where he runs into Sidebottom once again.

This time Sidebottom "accompanies" Boober as we awakes, affecting the decisions he makes throughout his day.  During the Merger, the hero must learn how to integrate the shadow into his life, lest the shadow take complete control and turn the hero into his slave.  Here, Sidebottom asserts his power over Boober subtly.  As Boober keeps encountering distractions on his quiet day off, Sidebottom feeds him little white lies to keep everyone out of his business.  Eventually, all of the lies add up and Boober must rely on Sidebottom to get him out of his increasing problems.

Of course, Boober has to end up pretending he is an old gypsy woman.

Despite the added stress and ridiculous set-up he has to maintain, Boober finds himself enjoying the absurdity of his no-longer-quiet day. Sidebottom is no longer his enemy. He is his ally.

Regular Boober would never have gotten himself into this situation.

Boober now realizes how much fun fun is. And he sees no reason to stop listening to his shadow.

3. The Assimilation of the Shadow (Episode 403: "Sidebottom Blues")

Eventually, the hero will ascent away from his merger with his shadow. Boober will eventually get to this point, but first he must descend to the absolute bottom of his journey. When over hearing his friends talk about a "big goof" who is standing in the way of their fun in the Gorg's garden, Boober assumes it is him they are refering to. He has tried to be more fun but he realizes that it's not enough for his friends. In a desparate moment of weakness, he allows Sidebottom to completely take over his body for the first time ever.

Boober/Sidebottom rounds up all of the Fraggles and proves that he can be the coolest Fraggle in the rock by leading them out to the Gorg garden to play games. However, the Fraggles are worried they'll be captured by Junior Gorg (the "big goof" they were referring to before). Without thinking about any consequences Boober/Sidebottom dubs himself "Dr. Fun" and heads straight into dangerous territory.

Looking danger in the mouth.

There, Boober's newfound courage allows him to convince the Gorg that he is actually a Fraggle and the Gorg becomes a harmless plaything. The other Fraggles remain weary, especially Wembley, whose bonkberry allergies begin acting up due to the recent bonkberry bloom. Boober/Sidebottom throws all caution to the wind, however, and forces the Gorg to make a bonkberry stew. When the hot stew touches the Gorg's lips, the Gorg flips out into a rage and the bonkberries fall on Wembley, rendering him unconscious. Only Boober knows the remedy for Wembley's reaction, but Sidebottom is still in charge. Sidebottom then must turn to his own inner self, Boober and allow him to come back so that Wembley's life can be saved.

It is here that Boober's shadow is assimilated into his whole persona. He learns that there must be a balance between his cautious, rational side and his thrill-seeking, irrational side. This was the last we ever saw of Sidebottom as a separate entity, but his effect on Boober's life was strong.

Boober faced his shadow and is better Fraggle for it.

Sidebottom  has finally been accepted.  Boober ventured into the darkness and emerged victorious.

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