Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Lowering Bar

Without getting into too much background causality, it's obvious to nearly every1 that how language is being managed now has changed.  U can C it everywhere.  Texting probably contributes.  (Personal disclosure: I don't have a cell phone. We don't have service here anyway and I don't have need for such a gadget.)

So okay we're not going to get very upset with typos in our books because we see tehm all the time.  What are we going to value?

In the very early days of movies,  such things were shown in storefronts in the city.  Who was in the city at the turn of the century?  Immigrants.  It became quickly obvious that many people in the audience had difficulty reading English if at all.  The story had to be told in images.  It had to be simple because the moving images move very quickly and details are lost and not remembered. 

I think we're reverting to this style of storytelling in ebooks and I'm only talking about indie books, not those that began life in tradpub.  Broad, simplistic, easily understood at speed, lacking resonance.  

In screenwriting, I think I've said this before, the opening image is supposed to tell the audience what the story is about.  I'm sure this isn't the only example but this is the one that I remember most clearly.  In The Bodyguard, the first scene is Kevin Costner standing over someone on the ground and there's a firefight going on.  You know he's a bodyguard, you know he will risk his life standing unprotected in a hail of bullets in order to do his job.  Okay we can go home at that point as far as I'm concerned.  Or to quote from The Player "The thing writes itself."  You know whatever dame is introduced will face a similar situation but that since she's a dame and he's a guy, they'll have deep feelings for each other.  There will be an obligatory sex scene where the formerly cold guy shows unbelievable heat.  You know she will act like a bitch, but that's just verve/whatever, she has reasons for acting like that but is not actually like that.  (Oh let her actually be like that, who cares.)

So what part of this movie is worth watching?  I have no idea.  I guess if you like Kevin Costner.  Of course with this specific movie you're waiting for Whitney Houston to sing I Will Always Love You which is spectacular and written by Dolly Parton.  This movie is going to change nothing, move nothing, say nothing.  It's a way to pass a couple hours.  It's...well no, I was going to say it's like eating potato chips but since I don't eat those very often, when I do, it's always very exciting.  This movie is never going to be exciting and we've seen it all before.  It's like robotic eating, you don't remember you've done it.  You don't remember watching this movie.

And there are an enormous number of ebooks we're not going to remember reading.  I'm not making a judgment because I really do believe people need to be distracted at times.  If your loved one is terminally ill, you need a few hours of a mind vacation.  Nurses, doctors, firefighters, police, all kinds of people have stressful jobs and just need a break.  A challenge isn't needed, it's not helpful.  But challenges make you stronger, they test your muscles and your mettle.

Right now we're in the storefront era of ebooks.  We're all learning what this new medium is.  But do you know what happened in film after the creators learned how it all worked?  There was 2 decades of creativity that has yet to be rivaled.

No comments: