Saturday, January 28, 2006

So What, I Flinched?

For a long time, it was difficult for me to watch less-than-stellar TV or movies. Continuity and logic issues always drove me nuts. Most writers have a problem with entertainment, because they’ve trained themselves to pick apart the writing, find the flaws and think about how to fix them, or even analyze why something works.

Oddly, the longer my writing career has gone, the more tolerant I am. I only watch TV shows that really, really hook me. Like, two-episodes-of-Alias-on-DVD-every-night-until-all-four- seasons-are-done-unless-my-Netflix-timing-is-bad, hook me. If something hooks me that well, I don’t care if there are logic flaws or continuity issues or problems with characterization. I’m very tolerant of mediocre movies, too, because I use them to disengage my brain. Unless they’re Catwoman or War of the Worlds bad, I can enjoy the show.

So when I’m watching something fictional, especially something suspenseful, I allow myself to get fully drawn into it. When something sudden happens, I jump—even if I was expecting it. This always makes my husband laugh and point. “Ha ha, you jumped and I didn’t.” My question is, why is that bad?

We’re primitively conditioned to jump. If a sabretooth tiger is going to leap out of the bushes, jumping might get you out of the way. If a fist is coming toward your face, it might save you a black eye. It’s just good fortune that those of us who get picked on for flinching, or who pride themselves on not flinching, don’t have to worry about such things as a general rule.

Also, if a bit of entertainment makes me jump when the writer/director/editor wanted me to, that’s a GOOD thing. I feel sorry for anyone who holds himself so distant from what they’re watching that they aren’t surprised or affected by it. Entertainment is one of our few pure pleasures, and should be allowed to be such.

Unless not flinching is your entertainment. If so, well, go ahead and laugh at me.

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