The Stupids of Storytelling
October 29, 2010 § 8 Comments
I yanked that line from John Ochwat who commented on my blog post about Romantic Ninja Fight Music. He said, “That video was full up with the stupids.” I agreed with him. This week I re-discovered a song that I haven’t listened to in years. I heard it first before the heightened time of Youtube. Oh, the dark ages when we had to rely on music channels to watch music videos. In South Korea, where I grew up, they had a music channel based out of Hong Kong: Channel V. Anyway.
I was excited over this forgotten song: Your Woman by White Town. Loved the song and the memories associated with it. I wondered what the music video would be like. The song has a renovated, old-timey depression era, silent-film type of feel to it and that’s what kind of story I saw in my head in context with the lyrics.
I ended up severely disappointed and confused by the visuals. They were in black and white, which is what I expected, but I found the story inconsistent and disjointed. It overwhelmed the words. I watched it three times in an effort to “get it.” This was the artists’ interpretation of the song. They wrote it. Maybe I am the one getting it wrong. I’ll put it up and you can all tell me if I’m an idiot or not.
I love stories in all forms: music, books, art, dance, and films. As a writer, I take deliberate mental notes when I see or hear something that helps move a story or make it more beautiful. I also take notes on what I think does NOT work. The Ninja video Mr. Ochwat commented on is a great song and the leading man and lady are certainly attractive enough, but I think they spent all of their budget nabbing the Oscar-winning heroine. There was no money for a continuity director to find gaping plot holes. (FOR THE RECORD, BRANDON FLOWERS AND CHARLIZE THERON, I LOVE YOU!)
One director who I think does a fantastic job in storytelling is Wes Anderson. (CALL ME, WES. I’LL BAKE YOU A RED VELVET CAKE!) His films (Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, pictured here) are quirky and endearing. The characters and storylines are sometimes so odd and quirky they have potential to be distractions. All that could be overwhelming for me, movie watcher. What I adore about his shots are how simplistic, symmetrical, and beautiful they are. His music is subtle and scores the mood perfectly. I am no film student, but this is something I’ve noticed and appreciated. The story is there and supported, not overwhelmed, by music and visuals. Stellar performances from the actors all around. Always.
I’ve mentioned Sean Ferrell’s NUMB on the blog several times only because I cannot forget it. It has stuck to me and I admire Ferrell’s storytelling. There is a lot going on plot-wise and thematically, but the story isn’t overwhelmed by either of these things because (I think. This is just my opinion) his prose is so simple and straight-forward. You aren’t distracted by the words and can focus on the meaning behind them.
Again, these are just my opinions. Lately my own storytelling stupids involve cheese ball dialogue, so I’ve tried to read and watch a lot of smart, male dialogue. I’m a woman – in case you wondered – and want to write realistic man characters. I’ve had a few beta readers say, “A dude would never come out and say all that.”
What are your story telling stupids and how do you try to catch them?