Monday, May 30, 2005

Judgement passing and all its thrills

I managed to catch a bit of shit when I dared share this particular observation out loud, so uh, I decided to toss it up here. Thing is, I can't decide if this particular phenomenon represents something good or bad, a positive side of human behaviour or a negative. "What are you talking about Holmes?" Ah yes, let us peer into the observo-mato-tron and see what we can observate, shall we?

So I'm watching the movie "Sideways" with a few folks the other night, which by the way, the Holmes highly recommends. If you don't like it, you're either a kid, which is forgivable, or an idiot, which is less so. Anyway, while the movie was playing, there was a whole other show going on in my living room with everybody just railing on Thomas Haden Church's character and what a complete and total dick he was....which he was, totally, no doubt about that. An absolute shithead, the kind of guy we know is out there doing his part to turn heterosexual women off of men, probably forever. But oh man, the venom! The sheer vitriol issuing forth from my movie-watching companions towards this man's character was fucking palpable. You didn't want to get caught in the crossfire of this shit. These folks were really getting something out of their system.

Not that I'm surprised though. It's an occurrence you can observe pretty much anytime you gather people together and watch a movie that features an asshole main character. Inevitably, it seems that the audience will gang up on the bastard and let loose with every bit of anger and hatred built up from frustration after annoyance after frustration after disgruntlement after irritation after disappointment after frustration after annoyance, all built up over the course of time. For some reason, I find this behaviour really, well, annoying.

Have you noticed how writers have started putting ", well," near the end of their sentences right before words that they seem to know they're overusing, as if to apologize for it by pointing out that they recognize their own shortcoming rather than trying to come up with a different word or expression to communicate what they have to say? I do it too. I'll probably do it again. Just making a, well, observation.

As I was saying, the whole judging characters thing really rubs my raisins wrong. Part of it, yes, is the fact that it's being done during the movie, and in my book, pretty much any talking during a movie is a sin. And talking TO the movie? To the characters? Dude, there are entire dormitories being built in hell as we speak to punish such evildoers. Which, sadly, includes pretty much everyone I know and love, but hey, it's not my rule. Or wait, actually, it is. Never mind then.

But the taking part, that's not the entirety of it. There's something about the act of judging fictional characters that just...I don't know...or even characters who represent real people. Maybe it just seems silly to me. Or maybe it's the fact that I come at it from a writer's point of view, which in my book, means never ever judging your characters. Actors should take a similar approach. Be honest about your characters, accept them as they are, and let them tell their story. It's when you start judging them that they begin to become the stereotypes that everyone expects, and they cease to be interesting, to be people, to be real in any way.

But then, is that really the audience's job? What is the audience's job? Why watch movies or plays at all? Is there any reason, beyond entertainment, to spend time watching actors play out stories for us, either in a live theater setting or in a recorded format? Maybe having such strong feelings of recognition for a character that people start yelling at him or her is a sign that the creators of the work did their job, and maybe the "getting it all out" part is just a part of the fun that, unfortunately, some people (like, uh, me) get all worked up over and start overthinking and then have to go type way too long a blog posting to sort it out in their heads.

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