October 06, 2005

Show, Don't Tell

Ugh, this is becoming the literature blog. Scratch that, this concept is universal. It's the idea of showing as opposed to telling to express a concept or idea, and there are many applications including music, film, and the written word.

Music - In particular, a touchy subject: praise songs (think LOFT). Sentimental Hallmark style schlock that enforces a specific emotion as opposed to arousing genuine ones is bad. Next topic.

Film - Sentimental Hallmark style schlock...yeah, you get the picture. I think the main point is that there is a lot more value, utility, enjoyment, etc. to be derived from films that are not entirely self-explanatory. I believe that a deeper level of engagement, such as questions a film raises, adds immensely to the enjoyment - especially for replay value. This is relevent for all films, regardless of a each one's particular genre (sappy drama, slasher horror, blow-em-up action). For instance, I think that Mars Callahan's first movie Double Down is a good film. It's really low budget, and the writing/acting/cinematography is goofy at times, plus the ending is total fluff. Yet there is a consideration of issues other than simply making a quick straight-to-video escape flick. One of the most insightful inclusions was the following line, spoken by Michael's father:

"Have you ever spent money you worked your ass off to get? You always say 'Money won is twice as sweet as money earned,' well that's bull___."

Granted, none of the characters in the movie ever really learn this lesson (they win their big bet at the end and live out their days on Easy Street), but I feel that the inclusion of a little throwaway philosophy is a credit to the film. And my point is that even the most ridiculously non-literary works benefit from a degree of thoughtful complexity.

What was the other topic, again? Oh yeah, the written word. "Double Down is good because it's not just a totally dumb movie." Do you believe it? Show, don't tell.

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