I was on Sonia Mederios’s blog yesterday reading How To Build A Zombie where she asked what the most believable explanation for zombies was. The question was brought on by another blog by Rafael Pinero called Zombies Don’t Work For Me. For Rafael, zombies require too great a suspension of disbelief to be entertaining. This got me thinking about how different today’s audiences are.
Looking back on 80s movies and TV(AKA The Greatest Time Period in the History of Ever), much of it, by today’s standards, would be totally ridiculous. Back then I didn’t have as much knowledge as I do now and it wasn’t as readily available to find. Years later and armed with a smarter brain, I still have love for the majority of what I loved as a kid. Partly because of nostalgia, but mostly because it’s just really good entertainment, despite its gaping holes.
Is this a call for a mass dumbing down of entertainment? No, obviously what worked as little as ten years ago won’t fly with audiences now. There has to be evolution, but first and foremost it’s entertainment, not reality. I’ll use 24 as an example.
In its eight years on TV, the people in charge of the CIA-ish Counter Terrorist Unit (CTU) never figured out how to keep spies from infiltrating them. Their ineptitude might make you think they never tried. Who cares, I say. I’m glad there always a spy because One Man Army Jack Bauer would eventually find this person out. And of course he’d have to beat this person’s ass until he got the critical info needed to stop the terrorists. Now THAT’S entertainment.
Lethal Weapon is another good example. The last act of the movie has two detectives waging war on a heroin ring. On what planet would that ever happen without them being, at the very least, fired if not worse? If they handled things the way real cops do, it would’ve been a friggin’ boring climax.
Even my main man, Joss Whedon, is no different. Yes, I noticed Angel, a vampire who admits to not needing to breathe, huffing and puffing after an intense battle. I also noticed him not break a single bone when thrown from a skyscraper, but have his skin pierced by a bullet just like anyone else. And if I cornered Joss and asked for an explanation, I’m sure he’d come up with something or at least stall until the proper authorities took me away. The man is a genius after all.
Lest anyone think I’m coming down on them for being too critical, I’m not. Everyone, including me, has a threshold and whatever that is depends on your individual expectations. I just feel like we’re missing out if we want too much to make perfect sense. It limits where the entertainment can go creatively and it takes the focus off the most important part. The fun.
Do you think audiences in general are getting too critical? What’s your threshold?