People yearn for neat and tidy endings. Where every character and subplot is resolved, tied off, cauterized and trimmed. Our media, and movies especially, feed off this hunger; Teaching us by rote that happy endings are the norm.
"So what?", you say, "it's entertainment, what's the problem?". The problem is that almost nothing in life is neat and tidy. And I think that the barrage of information we get to the contrary gives people false hope and feelings of shame when things don't go as Hollywood would have us think that they should.
Case in point is the movie I saw this evening. "The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy". Now I've been a fan of this book and it's sequels for most of my life and can tell you that the production team (which did include the book's author Douglas Adams before his death) decided that they needed to add both a love story, and a revenge subplot into the film. What made this book great in the first place was not the arc of the story (to be fair, there wasn't one, and that's partially the point), but rather the characters and their dialog for which Mr Adams had a true gift. It was just this dialog that they cut in order to affix this love story, gutting a good portion of the brilliance of the work in the process.
And for what? So everyone can feel warm and fuzzy inside on the way home? It's a sci-fi comedy for pete's sake. Let it be silly and funny, and please don't try to yet again sell us on the idea of a one and only true love. And this time it's not even in the whole world, but the entire galaxy in which she is unique.
Movies aren't the only demon in this story. History books for kids are also rife this crap. When you read about the founding fathers in grade school they make them out to be gods who had all of this in mind from the get go. But if you actually go and read the minutes from the constitutional convention you'll see that these guys fought over everything, at times, almost to blows. These men were not perfect and if kids learned this early on they'd see the potential they have to be great too.
Life is organic, life is complex, threads overlap. This is the way is should be. Each of our lives weaves in and out of others every minute of every day. And it's beautiful that way. Very few things have a distinct beginning and a distinct end, but that's what let's things sneak up on you and leads to the next chapter of the book of your life that you're writing right now.
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