Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Professional Critic, Vacation Edition: Day 2

This post spurred self-righteous science fiction geeks to come out of the woodwork and lambaste me for expressing my opinions on my own blog. I won't lie, it was fun. Plus, it generated a record number of comments. Eight. Don't laugh.

Why I Can't Appreciate Science Fiction
posted 3/28/07

One of the downfalls of being a Professional Critic is that I have a real problem with suspension of disbelief. My inability to suspend disbelief has made it impossible to appreciate the entire genres of fantasy and science fiction, and many episodes of "real life" dramas such as ER wherein helicopter rotors lop off the hands of nasty surgeons and in later episodes, crush said nasty surgeons to death.

Do you remember that? In TV jargon this is called "jumping the shark." If you're a child of the 70s as I am, you will no doubt remember the Happy Days episode in which the Fonz, for reasons I don't remember and were perhaps more related to the ratings than any plot device in which sharks would normally appear (though the show was set in Milwaukee, they were somehow in California) jumped a shark on water skis (again, strange. The Fonz was known for his manly motorcycle). The recent Grey's Anatomy where Meredith falls into icy water following a ferry crash, had no oxygen to her brain for like 45 minutes and yet awoke from her ordeal unscathed save for slightly lanker than usual hair, would be a good example of jumping the shark.

My problem with shark jumping is that instead of feeling dramatic suspense, I feel impatient that the character has not yet died. Due to the ludicrous nature of the plot turn, I have immediately ceased to care. It is the same with science fiction and fantasy. I never watched Star Trek of my own volition, in any of its iterations. Though I am vaguely aware of the characters: the pale robotic guy, the husky voiced ball bustin' captain, the weird looking big violent guy with the messed up looking face, and the dewey-eyed drip in the clingy catsuit, I think of them all as characters on the same show--an idea that strikes horror in the hearts of fans, who insist these shows are different from each other. Okay, if that makes you feel better, then sure. They're different.

Something happens to me when I hear a made up language or see a character wearing a stretchy pantsuit, shouting about their proton gun, or the Nembutal Universe. I think, this is ridiculous. Then I stop caring and wait for a violent end. Fantasy is just as bad, if not worse. Unicorns prancing through the sun dappled forest, giggling pointy-eared elves popping out from their little houses carved from the bases of gnarled old magical trees, maidens' heaving bosoms sproinging out of their corseted bodices. Where's the ornery village dragon when you need him?

I was forced to watch all eighty-seven Lord of the Rings movies with friends. You know who you are. I think you meant well. By the fourth hour of each of the movies, it was my most fervent wish that the evil sorcerer Gargamel kill all these earnest Muggles and feed them to his evil Vulcan Jabba the Hut before taking off for Tattooine in the Battlestar Galactica. Just please, let it be over already.

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