Log in

No account? Create an account
The rules for discussing/critiquing fiction - The Fucking Bluebird of Goddamn Happiness [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

[ userinfo | livejournal userinfo ]
[ archive | journal archive ]

The rules for discussing/critiquing fiction [Jan. 17th, 2010|03:52 pm]
[Current Mood |bitchybitchy]

I am writing this entry solely so that I can tag it and link to it every time I get into a debate about what a movie/book/TV show "means." These rules seem obvious to me, but from what I see on journals, they apparently aren't. Actually, screw "rules" - it comes down to one rule:

If it's not supported by the content of the original, it isn't a valid subject for debate.

In other words, if someone says to me, "The ending of The Prestige makes no sense. Why did they burn down a warehouse?" and I point out that the warehouse was full of dead clones and that person then says, "Oh, I get it now!" then I have pointed out something supported by the content of the movie. But if someone says, "I don't understand why the Christian Bale character would leave his daughter with the Michael Caine character" and I say, "Well, clearly he wants the Michael Caine character to raise her to be the queen of Bohemia," then I am speculating with nothing to support this theory.

I feel it is necessary to point this out because I have seen any number of debates of late wherein one party says, "This plot point makes no sense," to which other people then jump in, not by pointing out some bit of foreshadowing or subtle point that explains the quandary, but with speculation, reinterpretation, and extension into conjecture completely unsupported by what is shown on the screen or written in the text. This is not in and of itself a bad thing - I've had more than a few movies that I have actively chosen to ignore a portion of what screened in preference for my superior take. But you can't use such preferences as a matter of debate for what was actually put before you. Yes, your version may be better. You don't get to use it, or your speculations about what was happening "offscreen" and never mentioned, as proof that the story was much better than it really was.

Even worse? When the whole debate devolves into hashing out something that never happened in the original.

Please. Share your "in a better version" of the story with the understanding that it's not a defense of the original. The flying monkeys will thank you.

[User Picture]From: ba1126
2010-01-17 09:01 pm (UTC)
As a kid I was terrified of the flying monkeys. (Love your icon)
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-01-17 09:07 pm (UTC)
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: kathrynrose
2010-01-18 12:20 am (UTC)
This is one of the biggest problems I have with fan fiction.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-01-18 12:33 am (UTC)
I don't have an issue with fan fiction per se, It's a nice pursuit of ones imagination. It's only when the writers/readers try to hold ff out as canon that I want...to get a cannon.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread) (Expand)
[User Picture]From: bart_calendar
2010-01-18 12:25 am (UTC)
But... there are many parts of the Star Wars films that are impossible to defend/understand/appreciate without creating some uniformly agreed on conjecture.

Because, otherwise, we have to assume that George Lucas ruined much of our childhood by making shit up out of his ass.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-01-18 12:35 am (UTC)
There are only three movies. The rest is bad drugs.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread) (Expand)
[User Picture]From: kmg_365
2010-01-18 12:28 am (UTC)
As I was reading this, one thing kept coming to mind: the prequels. Not critiques of a movie, but definitely not supported by the original movies. ;-)
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-01-18 12:36 am (UTC)
Yes, and if one was to discuss those nonexistent products of our collective bad nightmare, one would have to criticize them on the faults they actually display, including timeline boning, and not make shit up.

Even if one is George Lucas.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
From: williaej
2010-01-18 01:21 am (UTC)

Then how am I supposed to explain Matrix:Revolutions?
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: jeriendhal
2010-01-18 01:37 am (UTC)
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: ccr1138
2010-01-18 02:31 am (UTC)
LOL. If we'd stuck to these rules on SFMEDTWO we'd never have had any conversations.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-01-18 02:44 am (UTC)
No, we speculated, but it was recognized as speculation, NOT critiquing the original. People need to understand that there is a difference. Or face abuse by me. And the flying monkeys. ;-)
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: mishamish
2010-01-18 02:43 am (UTC)
The *OBVIOUS* exception to this rule is when watching the movie makes you remember that you are actually a fictionkin of something represented in the movie, in which case, you can explain the movie however the hell you want, because you know what REALLY happened.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-01-18 02:47 am (UTC)
No. You can go off and have your own version of what really happened. But if you are engaging in critique, talking about your alternate life and history is still Right Out.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2010-01-18 08:10 am (UTC)
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: sestree
2010-01-18 12:01 pm (UTC)
Yes, your version may be better. You don't get to use it, or your speculations about what was happening "offscreen" and never mentioned, as proof that the story was much better than it really was.

That's what fan fiction is for. I hated the way in Star Wars they explained Leia remembering her mother ... why couldn't they have said she remembered her 'adopted' mother -- or anything else but how it was explained?

However, that's not what I think critiquing is about. The fact that George Lucas probably should never write dialogue? that's pretty black and white with little gray area ... and substantiated by what's on the screen.

Then again some people would disagree with that comment .....
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-01-18 02:43 pm (UTC)
The original version of the story had Leia's mother hiding out with Bail Organa. That got chucked out the window in favor of death.

You know, they could have fixed it by Bail insisting on having holograms of Amidala to show baby Leia. (Which, notice, is not me saying, "well, they probably had...." It wasn't in the movie, so I'm not defending it as a story feature.)
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread) (Expand)
[User Picture]From: oakdragon
2010-01-18 06:26 pm (UTC)
What would your stand be on bringing in deleted scenes and alternate endings? I've seen quite a few movies that had bits make more sense after seeing these features. There are times when the existing film will retain an artifact of a deleted scene, such as Sigourney Weaver's unzipped uniform in Galaxy Quest (she'd unzipped to distract the alien grunts with cleavage).

Speaking of Siguurney Weaver, one series no one has mentioned yet was Aliens. I remember picking up a lot of the background books and was fascinated by the alien life-cycle presented in the "carving" painted by Giger. The symbiotic nature of the creature had been a nice touch. It reminds me of much of our developing knowledge of viral life-cycles bacteriophages and the like. It made a lot of sense too. By actually making use of the host DNA, it caused each generation to be better suited to living in the host's environment.

This wonderful bit was thrown out of the window with the second movie, good as it was. The introduction of a Queen made it so very mundane (literally).

The one good thing about Aliens III was that it seemed to go back to that idea of the adult being based upon the structure of the host.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-01-18 08:25 pm (UTC)
They are enlightening as to what the intent was, but not really valid for critique purposes - except maybe to increase the irritation with how bad the movie is.

The exception to that is extended or alternate versions, released in their entirety, such as Lord of the Ring or Blade Runner. Then the new version can be judged on its own merit.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)