i have to admit, the return of a certain unnameable television show tonight spurred this rant.
one word: sensationalism. there was a time and a place where this was mocked, where this was scoffed at as 'cheap entertainment.' drama is of course a very important element in any sort of fiction genre, but there comes a point when it is just ridiculously over the top. the abuse of it has always been around to some extent, but it's just gone off the deep end now.
there used to just be the dramatic event at the end of a large part in a book, spurring on the next section. now there is a cliff hanger at the end of every 3 page chapter. there used to be dramatic endings to an entire show, or perhaps a season. now every single show has a 'spellbinding' ending. beyond that, there is a question looming at every commercial break!
fiction is not the only culprit. we see it especially in 'reality tv,' specifically game shows. Who Wants to be a Millionaire really took it to a new level, with lowering the lights and dramatic music and the commercial break right before the answer is revealed. and everyone followed suit. deal or no deal, the moment of truth (a sad commentary in itself), etc. they all are ridiculous. they take 10 minutes worth of content and stretch it into an hour. lingering the extreme close-ups on their face. why do we accept this!?! and don't get me started on the new american gladiators. decked out in barely any clothing, the gladiators yell a grunt to say they are ready. people swim under fire. it is completely overdone--even more so than the 80s version! the 80s version! (ok early 90s, but it started in the 80s) yes, the 1980s, where hair was big and everything was overdone. we are worse! we don't need big hair. (oh and everyone gets injured on that show! what kind of gladiator gets injured and sits out events?).
you know what it is? it creates a guise over terrible plots and bad acting, and all we care about is "what's going to happen next???". we become addicted simply because it's a cheap feeling of excitement in our otherwise uneventful lives. ok that's a bit harsh--but it is living vicariously. at best we become attached to the characters because they have some sort of development or endearing quality (usually brought on by the actor, not the plot). but they're not real! really the only 'real' thing we can take is a greater meaning within the stories. but we don't even care about the deeper values or ideas put forth--if there even are any.
i am guilty too. yes, i watched every episode of the OC. what? seth was funny. yes, i know i'm a hypocrite. speaking of deeper values. i have since mourned the loss of several weeks of my life i will never get back.
sometimes i begrudge the approval of subtlety in fiction, but i do see why it is really necessary. and my point of consolation is that movies seem to still do the majority of their 'drama' genre pretty well. and of course there's always good fiction out there--but contemporary fiction has its own issues.
so, if any of you screen writers on strike out there happen upon this post, i know that america eats up the crappy drama--but for pity's sake, use this free time to write something decent. and of course i don't blame you entirely, i know much is the director and producers. oh hollywood, how distinctly american. it's times like this i wonder if i live in the wrong country.
and those of you out there who watch these shows, time for some soul-searching. why do you watch? i mean really, for real, why?