A Bit About Me

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Along with my daily duties as founder and head writer of HumorMeOnline.com, in 2003, I took the Grand Prize in the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest (also known as the "It Was a Dark and Stormy Night" competition). I've also been a contributor to "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson" and the web's "The Late Show with David Letterman". I also occupy my time writing three blogs, "Blogged Down at the Moment", "Brit Word of the Day" and "Production Numbers"...and my off-time is spent contemplating in an "on again/off again" fashion...my feable attempts at writing any one of a dozen books. I would love to write professionally one day...and by that I mean "actually get a paycheck".

11 April 2009

"X-planation"...no wait..."'splaination"...no...um...oh just stop explaining it to me already, okay?

"Lucy, you got some 'splainin' to do!"

Sure, Ricky Ricardo said it often...and poor Lucy would sometimes accommodate him by trying to conjure up some far-fetched explanation for her silliest of lame-brained schemes. Now, the joke was usually on Ricky as he, continually, was the one in the dark while, we, as the audience knew what Lucy had been up to all along. Of course this was really Hollywood and we all knew better...but...Hollywood still has a lot of 'splainin' to do - and to them, we're all a bunch of Rickys to their Lucy.

Picture if you will...a dilemma of sorts. How do you interject complicated phrases which are commonplace to, say...a doctor, a lawyer, the FBI, the crime scene investigators, a brilliant scientist conversing with another...and well, you get the point by now I'm sure...in your movie or show but still get the point across to the lay person?

Certainly words that are way beyond most people's scope of reasoning are bantered about by people who know what they mean all the time. You wouldn't expect a doctor to explain to his colleagues each time he rattles off a chain of ten dollar words. You wouldn't expect the DOD to stop using acronyms ASAP just because their ASCON and their ASD can't figure out what their GORP over in CE is saying. You wouldn't expect there's a lot of explanation on film...but...if you delve deeper into the script you can tell that Hollywood must take us for a bunch of popcorn munching morons.

Without sounding condescending...let me explain...

...I really started noticing this quite a few years ago but I didn't think too much of it. But ever since I rented the entire nine seasons of "The X-Files" back-to-back and played them episode after episode, night after night...I began to see a common thread.

What normally would occur one week to another as the series aired wasn't exactly obvious - but when viewed in this repetitive fashion, I noticed something which was cleverly laced over like the so many layers of dialogue which made this show such a hit. Whenever Scully (the female FBI agent) would be doing an autopsy on some poor misfortunate soul who lost his life battling a Chupacabra or some bile-sucking creepazoid...she would say to Mulder (the male FBI agent) a whole string of very technical sounding jargon. Then Mulder would innocently ask, "You mean her flesh was literally being dissolved by this fat sucking vampire like a spider dissolves his prey before he eats it?" Of course, that's not the exact wording (far from it)...but you get the idea, right? Chances are good if she just mentioned something clinical about lipids and amino acids and recombinant DNA and whatnot - the whole point would be lost on the majority of the viewing public...and we'd pretty much be staring at the screen shaking and scratching our collective heads going "huh?"

Now, you do get what I'm trying to say, right? I mean, I wouldn't really have to simplify it further for you at this point...but apparently - when you slap something on film...even the most elementary of dialogue tends to be dumbed down in this way...sometimes to the point of comic proportions.

I don't know how many of you have ever watched the show "NUMB3RS"...but when I watched it the first couple seasons (I had to...long story) it just didn't have the finesse that "The X-Files" had. It was painfully obvious the whole premise was...pretty much astronomically impossible to take seriously. The show centered around a math genius with a whole slew of inept FBI agents who didn't even know what the words "triangulate his location" meant - and without this one agent's math-whiz brother to solve case after case on his blackboard in the father's basement...well, the entire FBI would just be a bunch of bumbling Inspector Clouseaus hopelessly trying to find the way out of the building each nite.

Then you have the extreme "duh" factor...where the movie industry clearly doesn't think we are as smart as any fifth grader. Not only do they insult us by clearly defining what a word is...but they take it one step further...they clearly insult us by making us believe the character being spoken to doesn't have a clue either.

Case in point: Most of us have probably seen the Spiderman films. Who wouldn't? They are fun - Spiderman's fun...there's nifty CGI effects, geek turned hero to save the day, bad guys get their comeuppance...just a fun time for all...right? Well...aside from Mary Jane screaming her face off each time and whining "boo-hoo, no one loves me as an actress in New York City" where you only have 20 billion people all sharing the stage with you, most of which have connections, are better actresses, or have a resume longer than you can hold that sustained eardrum-bleeding banshee yell of yours...it goes a bit silly with the characterizations. Peter Parker aka Spiderman...is supposed to be a brilliant guy. He was shown to be superiorly intelligent in the first film...his diametrically opposed, 'superiorly stupid' best friend's dad, who just happens to own a business where he can become an evil maniac on the side...covets him as a future employee. In the second installment he expounds exponentially - bouncing mind-boggling theories of infinitesimal knowledgeable know-how off of this prominent, world-reknown scientist ("Doctorpus" as I call him) who also has the wherewith all (and unlimited funds) to be able to build his own maniacal evil-doer side business at the drop of a hat as well. So, it is now established...Peter Parker is quite the intellectual...he knows his stuff. He could beat pretty much you and me at "Trivial Pursuit", especially those green Science questions. He'd whoop our butts at "Jeopardy!"...but...he doesn't have a clue what a symbiotic relationship IS in the third film...as this dialogue which takes place ensues:

Professor: "Don't let any of that get on you..." (pointing to the black
jumping threadlike blob under the glass).

Peter Parker:

Professor: "It has the characteristics of a symbiote...which needs
to bond to a host to survive..."

Now, I don't know about you - but I knew what "symbiotic" meant back in - well...a LONG time ago. My son knows what it is...my daughter knows what it is...if my cats could talk...THEY'D know what it was. How on Earth did they not realize good ole Spidey-boy would, too?

So, in one fell swoop (Spiderman pun clearly not intended - but highly suggested) not only do they insult our intelligence...but they insult poor Parker in the process. This is inexcusable in my opinion. Hollywood didn't used to do this. Did the witch in "The Wizard of Oz" explain to the flying monkeys why the poppies will make them all sleep? Did "Citizen Kane" have to whack us on the head to get us to know this story clearly was written about William Randolph Hearst? Did Dickens need to have the three ghosts come back twice in order to get the message across to Scrooge? I think not! They didn't need to do it back then in film and they really don't need to do it now. We're really not THAT stupid...the ones who are...well, there's always the opportunity to Google it when they get home IF they can remember that far into the future. For the rest of us...stop doing it!

"But, why?" they'd undoubtedly ask...because heaven knows it always, always, always needs to be explained even further. Because...well...frankly, my dear Hollywood...we do know a damn.

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