Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Peeking Under Rocks

The entertained public is a puzzlement to me at times. Routinely, the confusion stems from the unexplainable success of indescribably awful trash. Other times, I find myself amazed as to why some pre-packaged piece of trash, which all indicators and marketing experts predict hit status for, fail so miserably. Don't get me wrong, this pleases me. But I don't get it. If you liked the last turd, what made you suddenly develop aesthetics?

There are also times when the entertained public rewards something stellar. Inception is one of those times. After seeing it, part of me is thrilled that a complicated story could continue to do well at the box office. Nolan has intriguing way of telling a story that's very literary in nature, but translates wonderfully to film. It's nice to see people interested in it...even if most of them are only interested in seeing cities fold in half or people walking on walls. Which brings me to the point of this post:

I'm amazed at the overwhelming inability of many people to grasp a layered story.

In every article I've read and most online reviews, there is this prevailing theme of having to see the movie more than once to get everything that is going on. The majority opinion is that the movie is 'soooo confusing'. Huh? It was? I mean, it was complex and layered, but it wasn't confusing. If you paid attention, it wasn't hard to keep track of the plot. You had to think, but they were constantly reminding you visually or directly of where you were and what was happening. It wasn't Finnagens Wake for crying out loud!

So while the movie's success is pleasing, the revelation concerning the public's lack of comprehension skills, ability to think on multiple levels or understand inventive storytelling is very upsetting. I see this all of the time in book reviews too, where people only read the action on the surface and not any of the under layers. As someone who obsesses about the under layers, the extended metaphors, and importance of the moments in between action, this trend disturbs me.

Am I expecting everyone to see that the pace of Pure Sunshine mirrors the peaks the valleys of an acid trip? Not really. Do I think readers will pick up on the fact that the ever diverging interpretations of the same moments by Henry and Catherine in The Heights are symbolic of how fate is pulling them apart? I hope so. Did I expect people to pick up on the metaphor of the appeal of fascism in Zombie Blondes? I did and I expected too much of too many people apparently.

So while I hope that Inception's success will spawn more complex movies with the budget for visuals currently reserved mostly for garbage, I won't hold my breath. Because let's be honest, most people just wanted to see cities fold in half and people walk on walls. I will just have to take comfort in knowing that those people probably suck at checkers.


  1. "No one ever went broke underestimating the taste of the (American) public."
    H.L. Mencken

    He coined a quasi-scientific term for the ignorant American Joe -- "Boobus Americanus." His account of the Scopes "Monkey Trial" so enraged locals that police had to rescue him from an angry mob.

    Not just Americans of course, though I dd get in terrible trouble with an American blogger joking about religion - something very common in Europe.

    I blogged about this brilliant article (on a local forum) yesterday:

    and no one got it.

  2. Paying attention is a past time only a few individuals and the older generations understand.

    I blame it on the internet age and the quickness of trivial bits of partial information delivered to the individual by the invisible airways. Ie: twitter tweets and status updates of 1 to 2 lines of mostly unuseful information - otherwise the viewer would have to "pay attention" longer than 30 seconds.

    And "those people" probably don't know checkers is really a board game not a computer game.


  3. Hermes- great quote and great article. I heard about the multiverse theory and the creating universes theories from a program last summer and it has fascinated me since. I'm big astronomy buff. But in all fairness to those who don't get, it's a slightly more complex idea than Inception.

    I disagree with the article's conclusion though about us being created in the designer's image because we are able to know. I actually question what we really do know. We only know what our limited primate brains are able to perceive. And the way our brains work, forces us into making conclusions and coming to understandings no matter how faulty they may be.

    Connie- You're absolutely right.

    But what is really worrisome is that there are vivacious readers out there, who don't know how really read.

  4. By a strange coincidence Brian- very big in our papers over here today:

    Personally I completely agree with your point. Been reading up on the Elizabethan John Dee today and there was a mind unlimited.

    One of my favourite singers doing well
    Robert Plant and The Band of Joy in London, review