~:: Where Did All the Stories Go? ::~

So, now I’m philosophical. I haven’t actually written anything down for a long time. Ideas come and go, but I am too busy to cup them in my hand long enough to pour them into words. Today, I decided to try to hold still long enough to do it. I’m terrified of boring you to death. But I don’t know if what I think makes any sense at all unless somebody tells me it does. Or doesn’t. Ensuit – voila.

I like the idea of television; I’m a storyteller who loves to be told stories. Here, there are a number of things I could say – questions about how many stories can be told in the world before we’re doing nothing but repeating ourselves. About how money and politics over-shadow storytelling constantly in the media. Whatever. I think I’m a little miffed this morning because I keep going to the well in hope of finding refreshment only to come away dry almost every time. There just aren’t that many stories in the Magic TV Box that are worth the time it takes to watch them. Even documentary stuff – because the styling has changed; you don’t just get interesting info – now you’re bombarded with this unbroken underscore of INTENSE synthesizer music. So glad I can be sure that lectures about cuttlefish or South American amoebas will have plenty of edge and tension so I won’t get bored.

I suppose, if you’re into certain aspects of earth life, like you’re a real sex fan, or you like explosions, or you get happy watching really intense, narcissistic people being clever, there’s a lot of programming out there for you. Or murder. Heck, plenty of that.  Which is what set me off this morning.

How many murder mystery shows are there on the rotation any given night? And they’re all the same: you get the quirky crew rushing to the scene of the brutal murder (what is murder, by the way, if not brutal?) which you get to see in detail on screen for a good couple of minutes—all the gore and blood and unnaturally positioned bodies. Gee, I love that.  Then, finally, they get to the process, which – according to a detective I know – isn’t close to what really goes on in most investigations.

I really like the problem solving part. And I’ll admit I like NCIS – not for the murders. I don’t care about the crime part. I like the problem solving part. And I’m engaged with the characters. And it’s one show that hasn’t succumbed to the tradition of a constant barrage of irresponsible sex and the new, hip trend of inserting foul language in dialogue.  But the MURDER – why does the problem solving always have to be about murder?  It wears me out.  So I was trying to that figure out this morning—why are so many of the tales we now tell around the campfire about murder?

Well, I have a theory about that.

Stories have always been about conflict. About taming fear. About settling the universe’s accounts. And traditionally, they’ve been about passing values and information from one generation to another within a culture—about the cohesiveness and survival of groups of people. The teaching vector is about engagement – through fascination, and sometimes through judicious use of inspired fear.

TV is about return audience and money.

Add to that, the tenor of our times—largely about desperate efforts not to offend the offendable (and who is not one of those? Which means we have to make sure everybody is stroked).

Maybe – just maybe – murder is the only moral point we can all agree on.

Maybe you can’t tell a story about anything else anymore.

There are lawyer shows that get around this by semi-wrestling with ethical questions, and some of them are good at doing that.

But we’ve got some fundamental problems here: if you want a straight-ahead story – conflict and triumph – it has to be built around basic moral assumptions. In the past, cultures grew up and held together by the strength of their shared moral assumptions. Their narratives were based on these shared moral assumptions.

But that is not now.

We are too connected for that now. Once upon a time, there were clear enemies: enemies of society, monsters in the dark, evil countries, evil human types. We could believe in them because they lived somewhere else—maybe as close as the house next door, maybe across the planet—made invisible to us because of walls and doors and mountain ranges and oceans.

With Star Trek, it was Klingons. We could really hate those guys.  There was nothing sympathetic about them—not the way they looked or dress or spoke or behaved themselves. Until the show began to take on substance. Then suddenly, there was a beloved and sympathetic Klingon on the bridge. So we had to have Romulans—safe because they were based on a slight resemblance to an ancient, aggressive, vanished culture. Then we had to go to non-humanoids, and even that petered out on us.

Who do we have left to hate? And what behaviors are left that can be universally haled as reprehensible – so we can tell stories with strong villains and monsters, vanquish them with relish, push them out the airlock with a feeling of innocent and good-hearted relief?

There are plenty of people who complain about the internet, who are secretly terrified of this sudden new connectedness in the world. We don’t just live in neighborhoods anymore where people are hidden behind doors and walls.  Now, we see each other because the windows have been thrown wide open.  Some people will never feel comfortable being that exposed, or having other people literally expose themselves the way we do now.

Add to that the fact that media (which I must assume we can all agree cannot be trusted to be truthful, even the confusion of life’s complexity aside) isn’t allowed to tint characters with any of the old patinas.

I watch The Good Wife. It’s not an easy story, and there are things in it I hate. But the wrestling with questions has an honesty to it, a sort of tragic truth, that makes me think. The characters are not simple; there are qualities about almost all of them that engage me, allowing me to invest something in the on-going story. But each character walks in shade, making choices I cannot love.  As I think about this, I know that I also walk in shade of my own making; my moral code is clear, but my application gets muddled. So many extenuating circumstances. So little logical order in real life.

How odd it is that the sun beats down on us all without partiality, but the shade we walk in is different for each of us.  I suppose that has to do with the angle we strike, relative to the sun. And there is always that confusing added complexity of clouds.

So how do you tell a story now, when we see this truth: that sympathy can, if we are honest, be found for almost every person on the planet? That if Facebook were available to every human being in every country, we would find someone loveable and admirable in every one of them? When for every sin, there is a sinner with a true story that can explain at least portion of the terrible choices? When those who take Christ as a standard realize that casting stones means picking up and stone and throwing it at somebody?

And yet – there must be stories to tell.

Maybe our present stories would still have substance if we were wise enough to look impartially at life and see that, whether it’s comfortable or not, a certain set of behaviors often bring about a certain set of consequences. Even the very personal behaviors that so many think “shouldn’t matter” to anyone else. Based on defendable statistics, shouldn’t we be able to build wise and complex stories that are true? That could actual contain wisdom?

Stories like that would demand complex characters. And the writing would have to be controlled and insightful, if the truth and the wisdom were to be maintained.

This kind of story would not be the fairy tales we favor now, where any choice brings about a good consequence for a sympathetic character because somehow, by virtue of being alive, we all deserve a happy ending. Because we all want what we want, and never should be injured or ruined by our choices. This, I think, is the Achilles’ heel of this culture – the inability to understand that happy endings are not universal. The inability to understand that what is “good” is not equivalent with what we want.  Our fantasy narratives don’t pass anything of substance along. What they do is reinforce the dangerous childishness of our cultures.

So I don’t know. Maybe we’re stuck with murder mysteries for a while.  Really ugly ones, so we’re absolutely sure we want the person caught and brought to justice.  So we’re absolutely sure that the conflict in the story is based on something that can safely be judged as bad and evil.

So that’s all I got. Now what do YOU think?


This entry was posted in Epiphanies and Meditations, Just talk and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

35 Responses to ~:: Where Did All the Stories Go? ::~

  1. Sam says:

    I happen to enjoy intense, narcissistic people being clever, but only if they are actually clever. Almost any Oscar Wilde play is fun to watch (or re-watch) because of that. Unfortunately, most of TV comedy now is intense narcissists trying to be clever instead, which is much less entertaining unless your brand of television watching falls into the Mystery Science Theater 3000 category (which also falls into the “trying to be clever” category more often than not).

    So I’ve been complaining for a while how the designs of aliens and creatures in movies these days are always scary, roaring monster-types. I wonder if your description of modern morality might fit in, because people would feel bad if the good guy shoots a sympathetic alien, but nobody minds if you gun down a roaring monster that eats people? I have hope that it’s a trend tied to new technology that allows people to imagine all sorts of monsterie, but I’m afraid that it’s following a larger trend of writers that are too lazy or too poorly trained to create true dilemmas: so they concoct for their story the same conflict they’re familiar with. That’s a topic for another day—why do people cling so incessantly to what they are familiar with in entertainment? In this area where so little risk is involved, why are people so drawn to living out the same lives (or retreading the same stories) over and over again? Is it the companies afraid to make a statement about morality like you’re saying, or are the companies just falling back on the same old garbage because people aren’t opening their wallets for anything else?

    Sadly, the most interesting stories being told right now are animated for kids. Not sad for me of course, but sad for humanity.

    • K says:

      I am just grinning in delight. I always do that when you comment, because I feel like I have won a prize. HA – bet you don’t feel that way when I comment on YOU. I think your point is well taken. I’ve been thinking about this whole present-story situation a lot lately. I think that A) most people want to be told a safe story. They want to trust that the stress they undertake as audience won’t overload them. I like a happy ending – I don’t know if the entire category of “happy ending” qualifies as “the same,” or not. Couldn’t you be just as inventive with a happy ending as with a bad outcome, even a tragedy? Tolstoy’s bit about all happy families being the same really bothers me. I’d see it the other way around if I were going to hazard those waters at all.

      On the other hand – or maybe NOT on the other hand – I see so much violent, dark, extreme stress stories now, especially in movies, I begin to suspect that people are using stories as a sort of straw man. We live in disturbing times. People who thought they knew good from bad are being told loudly that they were wrong all along, and mean in seeing the way they did – so they aren’t sure. Issues become so complex – I heard on the radio this morning that Latino voters tend to be Christian people, people of faith, but they flock to a party that generally eschews that kind of faith because of immigration laws. There are scriptures about that, the swirling together of light and dark, so furious, so self-righteous – and to someone who feels keenly and is not prone to want to think hard enough to analyze the value of the gray in front of them, this is desperately confusing. So everybody’s anxious. So when they go to a story, they go to a sure catharsis. They want violence, because they are angry inside with no way of expressing that anger, and they want dark because they want a sure enemy, and they want loud, because once that is removed, there is quiet.

      But they want the good guys to win. And that’s the same story all people who have had reason to be afraid of the dark want to hear. They want reassurance that dark is ephemeral and light is triumphant. In terms of physics, this is an interesting juxtaposition. The sun had to be created for there to be light. But given the sun, darkness can only be created by blocking the light.

      So – at once, they want the same old story, because it’s as much as they can stand – but they want it loud and scary to wash their systems out with adrenaline so that they are at peace when the triumphant ending comes. In quieter times, you can have your Going My Way and your Philadelphia Story. But seemingly, not now. And as far as morality goes, our audiences want badly to be lied to – looking for what they think will be relief in all the wrong places.

      As far as the media goes, jah – they’re all about the bucks. Why take a chance on something outside when you’ve got a tried and true pattern? My first NY book was turned down about five times by people who said it was too outré. But Scholastic, big enough to float, took a chance and sold over 100K copies. It paid its way in the end. But the smaller, less active houses didn’t believe that it could. And that was – what, like over twenty years ago. Don’t you love how, when one network does “Once Upon a Time,” which I didn’t like at first, but have kinda been hooked by, that suddenly, there was Grim, too? And then live action movies of fairy tales (that weren’t half as effective, charming or dynamic as the animated versions). Honestly, four out of the five movies we’ve bother to go to the theaters to see in the last two years have been animated. And I am just as engaged in them as I have been in my favorite live action films. I don’t know if that’s sad or not. But looking at Hollywood and the people who publicly populate it – yeah, sad for humanity.

      I will admit that I don’t mind re-reading a story that has grit, great writing and an ending that gives me hope. Or reading two stories that are of a pattern under those conditions. The writing itself is worth the ride. With visual stories, the writing is the most important element – then the acting and the production values. And the music should NEVER call attention to itself. Stupid music and I’m outtathere.

      So I think that’s why people cling to those things. I mean, the whole long thing I just wrote. That’s what I think. And I am slavishly grateful that you read the essay and told me what you think. Truth.

      • Sam says:

        Of _course_ I feel like I won when I get a comment from you! But maybe you feel it because I’m terrible at taking time to give responses to anything, including on my own blog. I think I’m more like a snake that, if poked enough, will slither out for a minute before retreating to a different hiding place.
        Anyway, I think your response is great and I totally agree with your reasons why people look for familiar things. I think a good bit of familiarity for any story to be successful. But when I was talking about telling the “same story” I wasn’t talking about the hero’s journey or happy endings or anything like that. I prefer happy endings. Really, every tragedy is a story that has “been done” before also, so that’s not what is bothering me. Maybe I’m not looking for originality in the story that is being told so much as the clothing the story is wearing. I think the repeated “murder mystery” might be an example of that. So many shows now are like high school kids that don’t dare dress different from anyone else because of what’s “cool.” Movies like Battleship, which bears only passing resemblance to the board game it’s “based” on, and is about a band of guys overcoming impossible odds by shooting lots of scary roaring monster/robots. Isn’t that like ten other movies we saw last year? Wouldn’t it make more sense to do a great naval drama like Hunt for Red October, how long has it been since we saw that? Instead we get a percussive sequence of explosions, timed to keep our eyes engaged so we don’t realize that our brains aren’t. Does it matter after so many action epics whether there is a plucky sidekick or a handsome rogue to mix things up this time around? Yeah, sometimes the story has a twist. The zombies are really just misunderstood. Someone dies that we weren’t expecting. Sometimes the twist works and the movie feels satisfying. But I still wish we were seeing something different, instead of trying to decide whether the added nose ring goes with the pants everyone else is wearing. And I don’t understand why Hollywood, which fancies itself as a voice for those bucking against the trends, refuses to do so itself.

        • K says:

          “we get a percussive sequence of explosions, timed to keep our eyes engaged so we don’t realize that our brains aren’t.” Roaring. That’s right on the money.

          Yeah – I see what you mean. Me too. You know why? I’ve MET some of these guys who get their films funded – and they aren’t impressive people. They’re mostly young guys without a brain in their heads – it’s like rock’n'roll Sam; somebody writes a hit song, or comes up with a new styling and suddenly everybody’s jumpin’ on the bumper. It’s like fashion. Somebody invents a style and suddenly, ripped jeans are being sold as new at Sears. MONEY. Not art. I remember – when was it, like the 90s or something. The commercial clothing industry tried to bring back the 60s. They were selling chain belts and bit, Peter Max flowers and peace symbols. It was Pa-thetic. Plastic reproductions of a real social movement. When we wore peace symbols back then, they meant something. There was passion in the air. It was terrifying and exhilarating and infuriating. But it wasn’t plastic. It was real. Nothing feels very real now. Life of Piwas interesting. Different. Intellectual acrobatic. But this is why we don’t pay twelve bucks to sit through this uninspired junk.

          I suppose we can say nobody wants to shell out five million dollars (or fifty million) on an untried idea. There’s a lot of risk there. But the movers are the ones who start the waves everybody else is surfing on. So do you play it safe with a stupid script, or do you take a chance on a truly interesting idea? Especially when most of the people working in the industry don’t think deeper than the bottom of their tumbler? You’re going to put that kind of money into the hands of some mid-twenty to mid-thirty idiot who hasn’t experience five minutes of a real, responsible life and expect him to come up with something of substance?

          You know what I want? I want another You’ve Got Mail. Another Stranger than Fiction. But the people who did those are older; they did their bit in the stupid pit, but came up able to handle quieter, sweeter themes. What’s gonna happen when they’re all dead? But then, maybe they are.

  2. Chazi says:

    I enjoy murder mysteries far too much, and let me add this–
    a murder victim is a silent victim, a victim who cannot speak of the brutalities done, of the wrongs suffered. When you have a living victim, the horror of it all is far too close. The murder victim is, in many ways, impersonal. I tried watching Law and Order: SVU for a while, and whilst the characters were interesting enough, the heart-broken, damaged victims were too much for me to bear. Better by far the cold impartiality of bones layed out on Dr. Brennan’s table in the Jeffersonian institute. Human relics are by far less sympathetic–less pathetic, in the classical sense.

    “That if Facebook were available to every human being in every country, we would find someone loveable and admirable in every one of them? When for every sin, there is a sinner with a true story that can explain at least portion of the terrible choices? ”
    Christ would tell you ‘Yes’, I think.

    • K says:

      Aw, fetch, now I have to go back and see what I wrote. Good thoughts, Chaz. And you are my second angel. I was afraid nobody’d wanna read this much, and that they wouldn’t have anything to say anyway. But YOU DID!! YAY!! And it was good. It’s good to hear what other people think.

  3. Rachel says:

    I read……… but once again I am out of my league in commenting. Gargamel. Smurfs. Easy to hate Gargamel.

    I don’t watch murder. I don’t watch violence. I haven’t even seen, “Lord of the Rings” yet! I can’t handle it! I think this comes from growing up without a television. My imagination is vivid and I can’t separate acting from real. It’s all real to me and it upsets me too much. To me it isn’t a mystery to try and unfold and I’m on the edge of my seat waiting for the bad guys to get caught.

    I still remember when my sister came home with her boyfriend from college and they put, “Gremlins” in the VCR. I fled the room in tears and was SO embarrassed because I was so upset. I couldn’t handle the violence. I was in high school and I’d wanted to look cool for the college friends………… my Dad came and found me and I’ll never forget his reaction. I was shocked because he was a dude and he sat next to me and told me he knew how I felt and he didn’t like it either. I told him I knew it wasn’t real but it ‘felt’ real. He understood me and because of that moment, I’ve never felt bad for being a ‘wimp’ when it comes to movies. The fact that my Dad left the room/movie too and told me he felt the same was a big deal!!!

    I love the “Cranford” type stories. The “Anne of Green Gables”………… There is too much ‘violence’ in the world outside my very door. The news is full of it. I’m happy to bury my head in the sand and be swept along in a story where the characters are real. I’m happy to read a book like, “The Rent Collector” that teaches me that no matter what the circumstances are, there is beauty and goodness to be found if you look for it……..

    Not the educated response that you wanted but to me, television and movies have never been what they are to others…… I’d rather sit down and talk to a live human being for an hour or sit around the table and play games with my kids and husband then all of us sitting in front of a screen living in the same house but not ‘living’ or ‘knowing’ each other because we’re so disconnected and trying to live via an imaginary world…………..

    • K says:

      Now, what on earth do you think education is, dude? Your response is every bit as important and respectable as some college professor’s. The most important education we get comes of life experience and spiritual guidance, I think. The rest of it’s words. And you’ve read a thousand things. Including classics, so don’t get me started. I am with you. I would have stalked out of the room myself. Not stalked. Escaped, with my stomach in knots. You’re hardly alone in this. I’m not one of the people who want the violent catharsis (that’s that crowning tension at the end of the story – it hits and is dealt with and the relief is the catharsis). I’m not interested AT ALL in violence. In fact, to me, sexual activity on screen is also violent. There are people who don’t understand that and may laugh, but it’s true. Sex between committed people is something you don’t show other people. It’s private. And the other kind, done in my face, is a violence done to me. So is harsh language, like I’ve been slapped in the face, or had someone spit in my face. I reject all of it.

      I think your point about never having had the crutch of TV to weaken the legs of your imagination is brilliant. I’ve had more than you, but I also have a vivid imagination, and people who write for “entertainment” seem to assume the audience has neither imagination nor intelligence. They write ham-fistedly, smashing things into your face, evidently afraid we won’t “get” their point. And the point is seldom subtle. It’s like people who eat too much spicy food from the time they’re little. They grow up and their pallet is blunt. Our pallet is NOT blunt.

      And I thought I’d loaned you Cranford, and you didn’t like it?????? Too slow for you. Changed your tune, have you? By the way, The Rent Collector had some wrenching stuff in it. But because the book was honest in SO many ways that So many writers are not, those things were acceptable as parts of a necessary story.

      My point here is that I think that murder is the only plot line left because it’s the only “sin” we, as a people, can agree on. So the writers beat it to death (no punish meaning here). I want delicate stories. Intelligent stories. Human stories. Honest stories – not just about the dark underside of life. So many people since – oh, what was that novel about the meat-packing industry – written in – the thirties? Before that? People think that’s honesty. It’s not. It’s expose. Honesty takes into account the fact that the lives even of those who grow up without abuse are complicated. That the rich and the poor both suffer and have joy. That life is complicated for every human heart and body. Anyway, it WAS the response I wanted. So there.

      • Marilyn says:

        The Jungle. Right? Silent Spring was the same. Sensationalism masked as impartiality.

        • K says:

          Yes. G remembered, too. I’ve never read either because I – sticks tongue out. I don’t read there. Mom always had that Silent Spring book in this tiny bookshelf over our kitchen table (one end to the wall). I was always curious about it, but it had this self-righteous aura about it that turned my face back to things like A Wrinkle in Time.

  4. Rachel says:

    The movie Cranford. I liked the movie. The books were a bit slow for me but then again sometimes that is exactly what I want so it depends on my frame of mind……..

    As for murder, I think even today that is starting to have grey lines! I am appalled at the responses/comments on a news story that took place recently. Those who were defending themselves are now the ones who are having rocks chucked at. Not the person who committed multiple crimes and came out gun slinging ready to murder those who protect our very safety with their own lives………..

    The Rent Collector does have some harsh things in it. So does another favorite book of mine, “Undaunted”. The biography of a WWII survivor of a POW camp where again, this man shows us that the human spirit can be forgiving and come out stronger because of his desire and fight to hold onto goodness and not crumble and shrivel in hatred and revenge.

    I’m with you. Sex, language, all of these things are violent to me. Highly offensive. You know from book club that I am very limited in what I’ll read. As my brother in law said, “You don’t have to lay in the gutter to appreciate the sidewalk”.

    When I do come across something that isn’t dumbed down and makes me think, it is beautiful to me and I don’t want it to end. There are times where I will walk around with a book in my hands for a few days because I love it so…………. I’m hopeless. :D

  5. Dawn says:

    I think you’re on to something with your philosophy about why there are so many murder stories lately. Calling most things right or wrong is sure to offend someone, and many are scared to do that. One story that I have been enjoying on Netflix instant has been a show called, Call the Midwives. This is a show that is well written and full of heart. Other than that, I haven’t been watching much. I’ve been having trouble with nightmares, so murder shows aren’t good for me. I’ll try watching The Good Wife.
    As always, I’ve loved reading your words. I love the way you get me thinking.

    • K says:

      I have toyed with trying The Midwives, but the one time we tried it, we realized we’d need to start from the beginning. Now, there are huge caveats about watching The Good Wife. Some extremely bad choices are made, and the world is not one you nor I would want to be part of. And they go to far with some scenes – trying to explain the depth of the impact of the choices, and I have to skip parts. The moral and ethical questions that are raised are hard. This is not a pleasant thing to watch, but intriguing. Very worldly, though, and I don’t know that I’m comfortable recommending it to you. I watch it on the treadmill and I don’t share it with my husband, except by report. I’m better at mental editing than he is. I’m not sure I want you to go there. And you make me think, too -

      • Dawn says:

        This is good to know- thank you. I might still try it, but not with my daughter . I understand that need to add a disclaimer to a show or book after recommending it. I do that all the time, and don’t usually remember the stuff I mentally edited out until after I’ve talked about it. ; )

        • K says:

          Definitely without Grace. There are sins here – but what I like about it (aside from the afore mentioned hating that they go too far in demonstration) is that the sins are not brushed under the table as taken-for-granted-modern-life; they are shown complete with the complexity of human choosing, the desire to do right vs desire for other things, and uncomfortable, emotionally difficult, damaging, painful, inconvenient, heart-breaking consequences. And none of these are pat. They are ongoing, the repercussions of human choices woven through the events that follow, even for years. One or two of the sins are too much for me, but they are not shown to be without natural consequences either. I just hate ‘em. Same with good choices. But this is a show about lawyers and law, the complexity that is inherent in trying to negotiate life – where right splits into gray, white, whiter – with the fact that even whiter has consequences that are not fairy-tale endings. It makes me think and offers fodder for serious conversations about human choices, ethics, law. But, you know, an honest view of “modern” life is going to be rough, because modern life is mostly stupid and short-sighted. There is some religion here – it isn’t beaten to death, nor is it white or black washed. There isn’t the depth of it we have invited into our own lives. The discussion is most heavily weighted in ethics, avoiding the question of God, a question that can be terribly mishandled by media, and frankly, by people who participate in it. So I’m kinda glad they stay away from what they can’t reason out without the interference of the confusing and manifold personal interpretations and permutations and personal perceptions of Eternal law.

  6. Marilyn says:

    You got me thinking too. I can’t add anything right now. Sometimes thinking of our common humanity (eg your Facebook analogy) makes me feel energized and hopeful—we’ll be able to work it out, God’s in charge—and sometimes it just makes me depressed, like, why does it all have to be so sad and hard and confused before it gets better (as I DO ultimately believe it will). You always have such a way of tying things together and making sense of them.

    • K says:

      She colors slightly and drops a curtsey. Me too. On both counts. Good thing we believe in God – and can throw the ultimate oversight to him. “Thy will be done” is really a comfort, and maybe even a cop-out sometimes. Just a little.

  7. wsw says:

    TV – I have an uneasy, distant relationship with it. It’s simultaneously too condensed *and* too diluted. Too prescribed. And so often the topics are poorly researched and misrepresented, which drives me batty. And the characters? I usually end up wanting to counsel them (as if I have any skill in that area). I never watch the murder mysteries. Like Rachel, I *feel* the events depicted too much to be able to enjoy the genre. When watching movies, my children will express their “It’s a MOVIE!” exasperation with me when I share my alarm at how dangerous the car chase is, or how if a real person fell from that distance they would not just get up and shake it off, or WHERE are those baby bunnies’ parents? And I do the same thing even if it is just my husband and I watching the movie.

    Yes, there are stories to tell. Stories to be lived.

    • Rachel says:

      :) My husband and children don’t like watching movies with me. They say I talk too much and my comments are embarrassing. Me??? EMBARRASSING??? Just because I point out constantly where every movie has stolen their ideas/lines/costuming/ect. from Star Wars!!! Or the sarcastic comments like, “Oh that didn’t hurt at all”!!! after someone gets punched and gets back up. Riiiiiight.

      Secret confession: I haven’t seen all of the Star Wars movies………

      • K says:

        Please see comment on WSW. Wouldn’t that be just FUN???? And not all the Star Wars movies are worth watching, actually. Sadly. Iconic, but chronically badly written.

        • wsw says:

          I’m not sure that I’ve seen them all either. If I have, they weren’t memorable. I know I’ve seen parts of at least one of the later ones, and yeah, not worth watching.

    • K says:

      If more people were busy living stories, people wouldn’t have to tell so many. And I do the same thing. A direct punch in the face from somebody built like a bull and – wow – the guy may come up with this red mark on his face, but his nose isn’t hanging by a thread or turning into a tomato and he isn’t reeling or being sent to the hospital because his nose and cheekbones are broken. Wouldn’t THAT be a nice world? Elastic body parts. Wonderful concept. But along the same lines as: you can sleep with ANYBODY and you don’t get hurt or heartbroken or AIDs (or other things) or generally your heart smashed to pieces. Same idea. Trampoline humanity. Woo-HOO!! And yeah, it’s a movie, but – my little dears – where do you think you get your expectations of reality outside our home? Where do the Muslims get their assumptions about westerners?

      The beauty of it is that if even an abject idiot is probably in a position to counsel the characters and really teach them something, certainly you and I would be. But we can’t. Because we know they’re not real. Which is evidently not the case with a good part of the audience. (I’m ranting here)

      Love the things you say – me too. I mean, not that I love me, too – I know what you mean. Nodding. Vigorously.

      Then, wouldn’t it be fun for us girls to have, like, a Science Fiction Theater 3000 or whatever night where we get together without the husbands and kids and watch some stupid movie or show and all of us talk ALL THROUGH IT???

      • wsw says:

        Oh my gosh, that would be a blast! The kids and I, especially the older ones, do talk a lot about what we’ve watched (and read), though apparently it’s best to do this AFTER the movie. (I think DURING is better, but I’m outnumbered.) And when it comes to expectations of reality, I need only point to horses on screen. The manner if which they are often represented (and from which we once drew our concept of *horse* from) is very different from how they really are, which ends up being a handy tool in this family for assessing the veracity with which *life* is portrayed on the screen.

        Trampoline humanity. I love the things you say.

        • K says:

          I LOVE (everything you way) your point about horses and the way you’re using it as a touchstone. YES!!! The thing about equines in media that drives me the craziest (besides the whole Lassie behavior bit) is that they “talk” constantly. Whenever there’s a horse on screen, the dub in these vocalizations as though the horse is commenting on everything. They call when they’re being ridden. They nicker when the action seems to call for horse opinion. And that’ only the live-action stuff. Animated horses are all Rin-tin-tin. I really enjoyed thinking about that just now. Makes me wanna pull my hair out.

          Oh – it would be so fun. And Rachel is the worst. Even stuff I want to forgive because it works for me on screen, she’ll shred with laughter. It would be terrific fun.

  8. Rachel says:

    Oh pooh! You spoil my fun!!! If I can’t poke fun at the screen and laugh my hysterical head off (cuz we all know I’M funny dang it) then where is the fun and what is the point? Life is too short and taken far too seriously.

    I’d rather shed a tear laughing then shed a tear crying. :D

    And even YOU have to admit most of the time I’m right when I’m shredding!

    • K says:

      No, you silly thing. I was saying that was a VIRTUE here. Hits head with palm of hand.

      And wouldn’t that be fun? The trouble making bunch of us all going after something tasty? Twilight would be WAY too easy.

  9. Rachel says:

    Twilight would curl up and die in our hands. :D

  10. Holly Baker says:

    The writing follows the money. The public votes with every dollar it spends.

    Speaking of stories, you would have loved the RootsTech story night a couple of weeks ago. It is a new event, held at the Conference Center little theater. There were 4 people who had been invited to tell stories and they did an awesome job. The next day Elder Packer shared new info on a study recently published. If children know the answer to 5 specific questions about their families, this knowledge is a greater indicator of success than any other indicator previously determined. This knowledge showed significant improvement in the control they feel they have, because they know they are apart of a bigger support system, and the higher the child’s self esteem. Alas, I only remember one of the questions, it was simply, “Do you know what high schools your parents went to?” The book “The Secrets of Happy Families” cites the study in detail, and has all five questions. Tell the stories!

    • K says:

      I need to read the book. And I need to think about this. And I need to read your blog. And I need to pull my head out of the past. But I won’t for a few weeks, yet, I think. There’s more discussion here to be done. And I love it when you’re in the conversation. Sorry I’m so behind.

      • Holly Baker says:

        I totally understand. For some DUMB reason I announced to my family that I was going to write a book about my father’s childhood and now they expect me to finish it. Yeesh. I do have the first 4 paragraphs, but every time I sit down to figure out what happens as this 8 year old rounds the corner of his house I suddenly have a million questions followed by a sudden urge to clean the bathroom or quilt or watch tv…

  11. Patti says:


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