This month, in honor of Thanksgiving in my country, I thought to have a running theme of things which I am grateful for, from the perspective of my entertainment. Of course, there are many, many other things I can be thankful for, but this is an entertainment blog, ya know? 😉
So, I am thankful for closed captions that enable my sister and I to enjoy movies and such together.
I am thankful for Walt Disney, whatever can be said of him, for the good that he did for our stories in general and for animation especially.
I am very thankful for my family.
And I am thankful for… crappy stories?
Hm, that’s an odd thing to be thankful for, eh?
You might be wondering why I chose that as my final Thanksgiving-based topic, especially published on Thanksgiving itself.
I suppose it boils down to my stubborn insistence on taking the bad with the good, and finding the good within the bad. Silver linings, bright side, glass half-full, that sort of thing. It’s rooted, I think, in how I am certain my life, and my character, would be worse right now if not for the pain and difficulties of my past. It is my fervent belief that, whatever Hell we go through, there is something in the end that will be worth it all.
…but crappy stories? Really? A guy who critiques so many stories as a hobby, and makes demands for higher and higher quality of such stories, this man, me, is actually grateful for the lesser quality stories?
And here are a few reasons why. 🙂
Knowing the sweet from the bitter
It is a personal belief of mine that we need to have variety in life in order to learn from it. Roller coasters go up and down and loop-de-loop. We laugh, we cry, we rage, we find peace. We would hardly appreciate sugar if we’d never known anything without it.
And how many stories can you name which feature a character who grew up in a society where things were done the way they were done and that was just the way it was done, until they suddenly encounter something new and different (and usually depicted as “superior” though that is not actually guaranteed) and they grow magnificently from this experience, gaining a new and greater perspective?
Crappy stories help us appreciate great stories. 🙂
Sometimes, every once in awhile, we just need something that is so easy to make fun of that it’s like shooting a lot of densely-packed fish in a very small barrel at point-blank range with a sawed-off shotgun. I am convinced that this accounts for half of Twilight’s popularity.
I am sure you can think of something that you like if only because of how you can laugh at it. 😉
Lessons learned anyway
Stories teach us how to live and why, and I could not begin to count the number of times I have found hidden jewels amidst the dross of mediocrity or worse. Storytelling is a tricky art, and when the surrounding story is so much lesser, it can make its more redeeming qualities stand out even more, like a single character you like, or a particular quote, or (you know it) the visual effects.
Mind you, it can require astronomical amounts of patience to get to it, but, point still stands. 😉
And on the note of how tricky an art it is…
Improvement through failure
We fall, we get back up. We fail, we try again. We lose, we learn, and we improve.
What’s that old saying? No pain, no gain?
I believe someone else is famous for saying, “Every pain is a lesson, and every lesson makes you stronger.”
How many times did Thomas Edison fail before he invented the light bulb? I seem to recall he said, “I didn’t fail. I found two thousand ways not to make a light bulb.”
And my personal favorite example: Kevin Feige. Head of Marvel Studios. The man whose brainchild is the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He’s actually been around the superhero scene for quite awhile, was involved in a number of superhero projects, some of which were good and others which really weren’t. He learned from all of that, good and bad alike, and behold the result! 😀
Everything about our society advances through failing at it first. Why should our storytelling be any different, eh? 😉
Material that sets expectations which can be played with
”Eh, it’s just another bland such-and-such with with no surprises-WHOA! That was unexpected! It was actually clever! It’s amazing!”
I’ll just leave it at that. 😉
Volume, to keep the construct from collapsing
Masterpieces are extremely difficult to achieve and costly to produce. Everyone who makes their money producing stories has bills to pay. To do that, they need money. To get money, the need to keep selling. To keep selling, they need something to sell. The need to keep the presses rolling, so to speak.
Crappy stories fill out the space in between the masterpieces, the hits, and the cult favorites, to keep all of these businesses in business long enough to hit gold again. If we didn’t have the lesser stories, we would fail to maintain the production of better stories.
I’m sure there are more reasons I could think of, but I’ll end it here, and bid all of you in America a Happy Thanksgiving, and the rest of you, my wonderful audience, a very good day! 🙂