Inspection- When Writers are Bored
After last night everything I could have written has already been written and said. Tired of virus talk, Trump tweet bumps, Bernie bashing, Joe jabbing? So is the writer! Welcome to “the writer was bored” edition! And, yes, I will get to politics.
So much drama recently. Maybe God is bored?
Many times my wife and I have been watching some TV program and I’ve turned to Millie and said, “The writers were bored.” That can be good. That can be bad.
Bad… there was a program on for a short while called Continuum. We enjoyed the first season. The premise: in a very corporate future our heroine goes back to our time to stop convicts about to be executed. The ‘terrorists’ went back to change history to derail corporatism.
Yes, I used “heroine.” May we always give credit to our heroes and heroines; no matter what gender. Some gender neutral term once used to just mean men seemed inappropriate. I LIKE giving women credit when they shine; as they so often do.
We liked Continuum because, as with all good Sci Fi, it also covered a lot of contemporary issues. The genre may do this better than any other because through what ifs SciFi can contrast what is with what could be. But I think the writers must have been bored for the second season of Continuum. Every character had 2-3 or more duplicates; all with different motives.
Think that might get confusing? How right you are! Their time travel, time altering, show, Continuum is now history, predeceased at least one season by any semblance of an overall plot.
I wrote my own shows since the 80s, my first column fall of 1972 and a book called Autocide. A very abbreviated list. To me it seems pretty obvious when the writers are bored. Some of my best work has been when this writer was bored.
What do you think so far?
It really matters why and how bored writers refresh their plot palette. My wife likes Supergirl. I found the scripting mundane at first, but somewhat watchable. Now everyone is super hero. Still bored they tacking on multiple opportunities for confusion with multiple characters from alternate Earths.
The writers of Rick and Morty: one of too few recent shows that tickles my appreciation for really great writing, has an episode where our heroes go off to Atlantis. They start by saying any storyline from the Citadel of Ricks is lame. Of course that episode was about what? Yup, The Citadel of Ricks. Rick and Morty consistently fires a bazooka that blows apart dramatic walls.
The other day I watched a rerun of Scorpions. The main character had a sudden major medical condition during which he dreams of his team living different lives. The adventure was finding their way back to doing what they did so well: work together to solve problems. For those who haven’t seen Scorpions is kind of like a team of super genius MacGyvers.
There have been some incredible, great, musicals recently: Wicked, If/Then, Pythons and Mel Brooks have found new life in old scripts. But sometimes boredom creates less than decent. I know there’s a musical about the planes still in the air post 9/11. Haven’t seen so can’t comment. But some bad concepts are so irresistible I swear eventually there will be a 9/11 musical with Busby Berkley-ish dives off the towers.
Bad is just BAD.
Bored writing mixes up the scenery, the circumstances, but stays true to the basic core of the overall story. It doesn’t cheapen what should never be cheapened.
Then we have deus ex machina: a term derived from theater centuries ago when they weakened the plot using a device to physically lift a character out of the scene. It’s like that magic wand that suddenly appears merely to shift the plot.
Since then deus ex machina has morphed from just mechanical devices to many kinds of senseless awkward transitions. I think Frank Baum may be an early example of this with his huge clock dragged on, off and on again of the pages in his many Oz-ian books… why? We can make up reasons, but the clock is unnecessary. TV shows have adopted a soap opera variation of deus: switching from mini-story to mini-story instead of following a main plot. A fellow critic called it lazy writing.
I miss the style of writing that’s follows a singular plot, like when we’d follow Kirk or Perry Mason to a situation, drama follows, then resolution.
Too much of today’s writing treats us as if we are all severely ADHD.
I miss that in politics and social issues too. I swear all the horrific ‘writing’ is the product of untalented, bored, writers. We jerk from topic to topic, outrage to outrage. The media has a lot to do with this. Politicians and pundits attempting to distract us have a lot to do with this. Texting and tweeting have a lot to do with this.
Are obscene emoji-based gestures the next ‘advancement’ in non-communication? Why are we so determined to become some moronic version of Dorothy and her companions skipping down the road to drooling idiocy?
I really don’t care to know about every tweet, or the ‘horrors’ of Obama saluting with a cup of coffee in his hand, every Gerald Ford-ish fumble. I tire of accusation-driven rhetoric. I tire of accusation-driven rhetoric. I tire of accusation-driven rhetoric.
See what I did there just to amuse myself?
I’m tired of admitting one might be wrong being viewed as weakness. I especially tire of those who use accusation to cover for what they do.
I long for the complex rhetoric of a Lincoln/Douglas debate, at least Nixon v. Kennedy, the original Firing Line? I long to read in-depth news in regular newspapers. I long for more focus on a singular topic, less chasing the next toxic butterfly-ish distraction, no more poking bees nests for political gain, less politically convenient, comic book-like, ‘scandal.’ I tire of poorly written political mini-dramas.
In comparison all the bad script writing I was complaining about seems great literature.
Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 40 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks, and into the unseen cracks and crevasses, that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
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