While watching Avatar recently, for the second time, I began to pick apart certain story elements that were familiar/trite/lame/silly/illogical, and I thought to myself, “None of that stuff really matters with this film, because I’m enjoying the hell out the experience. I’m hanging out on Pandora and I don’t want to leave.” Sure, Michelle Rodriguez wouldn’t have been able to get our hero guy and Sigourney Weaver and that other superfluous dude out of the brig because she’d be there herself for abandoning the mission, but so what? The 3D truly did suck me into this other world, and whatever concerns I had about the story didn’t really detract from the overall movie-going experience. It was the first time, for me, that 3D felt like an experience instead of just a gimmick. I thought, “It’s not about the story and words. It’s about the orgasm my eyes are having all over these funky 3D glasses.” I’ve heard people are distraught after watching Avatar, jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge because the real world can never live up to the Avatar World. The movie ends and they have to go back to their shitty lives. They are not distraught because the writing was so terrific that their vocabulary could not live up to the words spoken on the Avatar World.
With the success of Avatar (I’m fairly certain it’s eking out a small profit, or so I‘ve heard), and with the current slate of 3D films heading to theaters, I do have one itsy bitsy concern: Writing might not matter anymore. There are so many 3D films coming out this year and next that theaters are adding hundreds of new 3D screens just to keep up with Hollywood’s output. Now, obviously, movies have always been a visual medium, but the words were usually equally important. But the scales are tipping. Tim Burton has Alice in Wonderland set to his theaters in 3D; the next Spider-Man film will be in 3D. Technology is becoming so amazing that it’s starting to smother story and words beneath a dreamy CGI wave.
I worry about the words. I worry about the story. Writing can take us places too, wonderful places, but we are forgetting. Our eyeballs are saying, “Sorry, brain, it’s all about us now.”
Newspapers are dying. The internet has become a priest reading those crumply old newspapers their last rites. Getting news from the internet is fine and dandy, and quick! But certainly not always accurate. People want to break a story, and they can, in seconds, whether they have all the facts or not. Newspaper reporters trained for years and honed their craft. Sure, they made mistakes, too. On the internet, anyone and everyone is a reporter. Someone Tweets, “I saw Charlie Sheen sipping vodka off a stripper’s boobs!” and, voila! It’s news. I do get some news from the ‘net, and I believe there are reliable news sites all over cyberspace. Still, I miss the days when I woke up in the morning and opened the paper and was surprised by that day’s top story. On the internet, writing isn’t so important: what’s important is getting attention. Tiger Woods sleeping around is today’s Watergate. Big news.
Plagiarism continues to rear its ugly head. Now, more than ever, people feel like they can just “borrow” other people’s words and not give proper credit. Nobody owns the words, but they do own how they shape the words. The rules of the game seem to be forgotten or simply not known by much of the younger crop of writers out there.
People are texting more than they are writing. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I simply can’t bring myself to send a text that isn’t grammatically correct. I can’t help myself. I want to preserve the language, because the English Language is glorious. The guy who invented words was the James Cameron of his day.
Me? I am not superior. I am reliant on my computer to a fault. Sometimes I flat-out forget how to spell. Because I know my computer will do it for me. My laptop will say, “It’s okay, Ervin. I will help you out with ‘superfluous’ and ‘grievous’ and ‘nefarious’ because you are only human and I am beyond human.”
Story and words matter to me. I like eyeball candy just like the rest of you. I must admit, though, that Avatar scares me, because it is the future. And Avatar has nothing to do with story and words. In the 70’s, Star Wars and Jaws came along and ushered in a new era in cinema: The Blockbuster. Those gritty, personal films by Cassavetes and Altman and the like were suddenly less interesting because America discovered the epic.
We’re all in the Avatar World now. I hope we’ve brought our brains with us.