Monday, April 21, 2008

I'd Rather Watch A Movie

Transformation is at the heart of any story - whether real or fiction.

Movies and novels would have us believe that a single breakthrough moment or revelation is enough to profoundly alter one's outlook or behavior. We all know these scenes... the hero/ine is walking down the street. Suddenly s/he sees something across the way, usually obscure and/or trivial. Suddenly the world is a different place, they are different people, and the old mistakes are never repeated, and brand new paths are forged. "Aha! It's a bad thing to be an alcoholic, will never touch the demon liquid again!" or "Aha! That person I treated like crap is the love of my life, I will never be an asshole again and will suddenly have the ability to resolve conflict and effectively communicate!" or "Aha! I thought I was a nobody but it turns out I am the heir to the throne and I will live up to expectations and embrace my destiny!" or "Aha! In the last 15 minutes of the movie, I had this random conversation with this random character played as a cameo by some absurdly famous actor who is really good friends with the director and now I will change my life for the better!"

But real life is far more recidivist. In real life, COUNTLESS "breakthrough moments" are required for actual transformation to take place.

The lack of realism in fiction makes sense in a very practical way. In the span of 2 hours or 200 pages, there's limited time, and besides, it would be incredibly boring and tedious to watch the main characters continually backsliding before they "transform."

So when someone tells me that they have had a transformative, revelatory breakthrough and that everything is now different and shiny and new... I'd rather just watch a movie.


Robespierre said...

Better yet, you can have a "Regarding Henry" incident where you do not even remember the old you so backsliding is not even possible.

As an aside, that movie came out in friggin' 1991 ... good God we are getting old.

P.S. I don't like eggs.

C-Belle said...

I'll toast to that - life endangering accidents that result in complete amnesia! Well, not for EVERYONE. Just those for whom a blank slate would be vastly preferable to their usual state.