Seriously Entertaining

So I wrote this post a couple of weeks ago, realized I didn’t like it, and now that I haven’t updated in awhile I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel for things to post. Here it is, after all:

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I live in a nation that takes its entertainment extremely seriously. While I’m tempted to make a political and/or cultural point about this, I spend much of my free-time hoping to write escapist novels for a living, so it’s very much in my best interests not to go around calling the kettle black.

Mind you, while I’m easily pleased (Speed Racer is one of my go-to movies when I’m in a rotten mood, if that tells you anything), I also over-analyze and rewrite screenplays, music videos, books, and sundry in my head for fun. I claim professional interest as a writer, but goodness knows that’s actually just a part of my generation. Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K to you fans) was a TV series created in the 90s to make fun of movies (not to mention Rifftrax, its internet follow-up), and now there’s the YouTube series “Honest Trailers” and “Everything Wrong with [Movie Title].” I’m fairly certain these guys make a decent living picking apart other peoples’ creative endeavors, which they do well and pretty hilariously.  Forget suspension of disbelief, there’s nothing like having an internet show point out that the villain in a movie shouldn’t have been able to get from the bottom floor to the attic in ten seconds, as they are wont to do.

Yet sometimes these series annoy me. Like everything else, I had to sit down and pick apart why they sometimes get my bristles up. And here we go: the plot hole bombing is hilarious. But I don’t like it when they make fun of things that are an intrinsic part of the medium.

Movies are bound by a very simple reality: they’re visual. Unlike a book, anything you want the audience to know has to be seen or said out loud. I love writing because you can follow a character’s thoughts, explain the political makeup of a city in a paragraph or two, and take any number of pages to describe background and context. In a movie sometimes someone has to hold the idiot ball. “Why is the company closing?” “Good heavens, man, you’ve worked here for twenty years, why am I explaining this to you?” or “Why do we have to see the judge?” “You’re a lawyer, I’m pretty sure you should already know.” Then there’s scene-mashing, when you have two characters drive together to a destination but they don’t talk about what they’re doing until the scene starts and they’re getting out of the car.

Of course, all movies aren’t equal (some, in fact, are more equal than others), but the fact is there are certain realities you have to work with depending on your medium. I may have to write a paragraph about someone’s looks while a movie just hires a makeup artist, but I can describe someone’s gut twisting where a director has to zoom in on just the right facial tic or have one character describe it to another.

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And that’s all she wrote. It was supposed to be a discussion on writing in different mediums, and it sort of spun around in a ramble of nothing. So there you go. I’ll post something of substance around Easter.

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