Response to “I Don’t Do Drama”

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REDBYRD wrote such an interesting response to I Don’t Do Drama that I decided to post it as its own article rather than a comment:

I don’t watch much drama either. Frankly I’ve long since given up on getting good female characters. I’d settle for just getting decent *stories*. Nearly everything I watch is the typically ‘male’ oriented stuff. My friends pretty much know that if there aren’t any fights or explosions, I’m not going to go see it. If it happens to have a token realistic female character, that’s a nice bonus.

OTOH, I’m not sure the industry is wrong as you think about what people will watch.. I’ve spent most of my life living in Mundania, and despite being a rabid SF fan, didn’t manage to connect with ‘mainstream’ fandom until after I got out of college and could afford to go to conventions. That’s when I started meeting more people who were interested in the same kinds of books/movies/TV that I am. This was largely pre-internet.. if I’d stayed isolated until after the internet revolution, I’d probably have met people online instead. (As a side note, I tend to relate your discussions as much to books as media because I just don’t watch that much media..)

Anyway, my s.o. and I have had this discussion many times, and we’ve identified an extremely mundane suburban lifestyle where people go home, mow the lawn and turn on the TV to watch whatever happens to be on, and then go into work the next day and talk about what happened on TV yesterday and their plans for laying new sod or repaving their driveway.

These are largely people who read very little and think less. They settle on political opinions and become dogmatic about them. They don’t discuss,debate or analyze. They go to pep rallys, their kids’ soccer games and when they retire, they don’t know what to do with themselves sans work. Many of them are very nice, kind and well intentioned people. But they don’t *think*. And damn it, there are a heck of a lot of these people.

To some extent, I blame media. I blame parents whose careers are more important to them than interacting with their kids, so they park them in front of a TV set for six hours a day and more on weekends. I blame educational institutions that are more about conformity than learning, more about socialization than critical thinking.

I think it produces the kind of people who make (and watch) TV shows and movies full of conventional stereotypes. It’s a chicken and egg problem.. I think that the media has actually created some of the stereotypes, but also that stereotypical shows have become the accepted forms of entertainment because most people just freaking don’t know any better, and if they recognize that they are dissatisfied, they don’t have the critical thinking skills to figure out why. And I think that the people who produce mass market entertainment have become lazy. Why take the time and energy to actually do good work when they can get acceptable ratings doing mediocre work?

I violently hate this! I’m a folk music fan who goes to live music events. Most of my CDs are by people I’ve actually heard and liked in person. I play three instruments with varying degrees of skill and seek out participatory music. I carefully choose the things I watch on TV- I never watch something just because it’s on- and I read ten times as many books as I watch TV. And I hang out with a group of people where the good books get passed around, and we have long analytical discussions about them. If we see a movie together, we discuss it in depth. Most pleasant evenings, whoever is around goes for a three mile walk (because we all need the exercise) and we chat about fiction or fandom or politics or social science.

Sigh.

Anyway, I don’t think all of the SF fan crowd are critical thinkers (some of them are just crackpots) but fandom does tend to attract a lot of people who for whatever reason don’t neatly fit into pigeonholes. Which includes a lot of creative, intelligent and analytical people who aren’t satisfied with unquestioning acceptance of the status quo.. And you’re attracting a bunch of them to your site, which is great :). Now if we can just drill a few holes in the heads of writers and producers and inject some new ideas…We can do it right after we shoot anyone who was involved with ST: Voyager or Enterprise (on the grounds that they’re beyond redemption).

Comments

  1. Jennifer Kesler says

    I’m going to back up a lot of what you say. I’ve definitely seen the whole “Mundania” affect. Some people have so much invested in getting their thinking done for them by someone else, that when you politely insist they actually back up their reasons for an opinion they hold, they really lash out. Viciously.

    That, in psychology, is very telling. It’s so defensive that it means they take asking for an opinion as an attack.

    The reason I’ve always been drawn to sci-fi (even though I don’t watch everything) is its potential to be visionary. Gene Roddenberry tried to show women and men who weren’t white as having a real place in future society. Even though the studios thwarted him, I thought a lot of the audience embraced his ideals. Now I wonder if I imagined that.

    But it seemed to me that all possibilities begin by someone showing they’re possible. Sci-Fi and other imaginative genres have a serious capacity to do that. But it’s a capacity that’s gone unrealized, and maybe only a handful of us have missed it.

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