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Thursday, January 9, 2014

Reality and Fantasy and Why I am So Bored

So Han and I carpool together most mornings being that we work about 60+ miles away from our respective homes. With an hour or so to kill, we tend to get into lengthy conversations. Both of us have a passion for pop-culture entertainment and movies in particular. I was lamenting that looking at the upcoming release schedule, very little was getting me excited. Most everything that comes out is some sort of adaptation of something that came before, be it a comic book movie, a sequel, a remake or whatever. It is rare to be original.

Is this anything new? I'm not certain but I look at my childhood and I see such iconic characters being created from Captain Kirk and the various imagery from Star Trek, to Star Wars, Back to the Future, Indiana Jones, John McClane, TRON, Alien, Predator, Superman (Christopher Reeve), and probably many others I'm forgetting. Lots of TV too has stuck with us as well. What's iconic these days? Jack Sparrow perhaps but really, what will resonate decades later the way Star Wars did?

There is so much being thrown at us these days, I have to wonder if perhaps the talent pool is being spread too thin. For every Breaking Bad, there are 20 Honey BooBoos. And that brings us to the reality tv boom.

If you're like me, you hate reality tv. But why? It's fake, it's not really "reality." Well neither is film. No movie is real either. So why do we accept the movies but not reality tv? Many, many people love reality tv and accept what they see. I believe that movies (not all movies, but most movies) come from a place of sincerity. The emotions on the screen are real to the characters but faked by the actors. But a reality is created within the framework of the movie that reflects the emotions of those who wrote it. This is called art.

Reality TV's character's emotions are in fact real. (Again, not all but) I believe most people on a reality tv show are really feeling what they are showing on the screen. But the situation they willingly put themselves in is crass exploitation. There is nothing sincere about the situation but because the emotions are real, people fall for it as reality. I find the manipulation offensive. It's also incredibly fucking cheap.

Sports are the original reality tv show as the situation (a football game) is not real but a situation set up by owners for the players to compete in. Winning and losing creates real emotions in the athletes, as opposed to a movie about a football game where none of the actors really care about winning the game. Sports is well defined and the activity is not a life decision like the Bachelor or MTV's "16 and Pregnant."

Now a sports movie is telling a story and the characters in that movie do feel emotions in the reality of the story. In actual reality, the audience feels the emotions of the characters. That's what art is supposed to do, generate an emotion. The actors don't really feel the thrill of victory, the characters do and then we do by watching the story unfold.

Reality TV is us being voyeurs to other people's lives. People who put out their emotions for everyone to see, things that should be private and mean something more than entertainment for the masses. This is the dictionary definition of pornography.

The Bachelor puts 25 ladies in a room to fight over one man and we get to watch every bit of the courtship in contrived settings. Some ladies are picked by the producers to create drama. Some are really hoping to find love. This is not for our entertainment and yet there it is, for all of us to peek in on and giggle.

Again, the emotions of these people are REAL, but the situation is manufactured and it appears that it is supposed to tell a story like real art does. But we don't interpret anything, we just are peeping Tom's into their lives. People confuse the emotions they are seeing on the screen with actual drama with sincere writing, characters, and plotting. I hope that people will wise up but I doubt it.

So I look into the future and I see a dearth of talent and movie studios with no guts to take chances on stories that need the big budget but have no preconceptions or familiarity. Avengers, Iron Man, Star Trek, all properties we know about. But creating something new and iconic? The writers are all spread out amongst 2,376 tv shows and internet videos. The studios seem to latch on to proven winners and all we get retreads in the theaters and reality garbage on TV. It's depressing.

And I am so bored.

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