Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Make Better Choices

While watching a lot of movies and television shows that have come out over the last few years I have noticed a trend that often baffles me. A lot of characters, the ones often described as quirky, obtain the ability to be a rambling, slow motion train wreck of a human being. Every time these characters are on screen we, the viewer, are subjected to an onslaught of awkward rambling that go nowhere and do nothing to develop the character or the story any further.

This sort of short hand happens a lot in television and film due to the constraints (usually on time) that the format demands. But that seems hardly an excuse to stagnate a character in a mire of word salad. This wouldn't be such a problem if it wasn't so damned prolific. I am not a large consumer of television in general, so either I am attracted to shows that tend to have these characters in them or (as seems more likely since I have had this discussion with people who live in front of their televisions) there is a major problem with the state of television writing. I would encourage you to take that with a grain of salt since there is usually a reason for these things becoming popular, namely that it worked spectacularly at least once.

But there is little point in discussing a problem without offering a solution. In a format that relies on trying to cram 5+ characters into a story that lasts at most 45 mins, how do you get across a character that is an utter failure at social grace and has all the charm of an egg rolling off a counter top? Actually, that might be it right there. The feeling they want is that same reaction we all have when we see something horrible about to happen, but are powerless to stop it. Thus the slow motion train wreck illustration above. But the problem still remains that a lot of shows carry that feeling to excess and thus are to awkwardness what J.J. Abrams is to intensity: A perfect note early on that puts you on the edge of your seat, but that goes on so long that your butt falls asleep.

Character traits like this fascinate me a great deal, and I think I may explore more of them in the future.

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