Your Characters Would Be Cooler If Only They Wore Designer Jeans Dept.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2013-05-24 14:00:00 No comments

Every so often I run down my arguments about why template-driven storytelling fails us all in the long run, because it displaces everything else. I typically get a counter-argument that runs something like this: Isn't the reason those formulaic works displace other, non-formula works is because they're just plain better?

Well, that depends on your definition of "better", doesn't it? If by "better" you mean "more easily marketed", sure. That's a definition of "better" which appeals to a salesman, but less so to someone who wants something truly interesting to read or watch. It's a little like saying the carcinoma cell is "better" than its non-cancerous neighbors because it does such a great job of multiplying.

Without realizing it, we've backed ourselves into a position where our storytelling and our cultural ecology are becoming increasingly utilitarian. These things exist to make money, to fill a pipeline, to kill a few hours of our life and give increasingly less back each time around.

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It helps to not demand, or expect, the same thing of a story that we get from a hammer or a screwdriver. One of the things Throbbing Gristle flirted with during their career was the freedom to be boring, through which they could find things which were really interesting. It didn't make them immune to the self-mythologization and audience-catering that most any other group, and it meant some of their records were duds, but it also made them into trailblazers of a kind. They could only embody so much of the future at once, but being able to embody any of it at all is still a step in the right direction.

Tags: media ecology promotion storytelling