The truth about modern society is that we are all so easily amused. I was recently watching some old videos from Comic Con 2013 and 2014 for my own personal delight. I found myself taken aback by the whole thing. For one, now that I re-watched the panels of my favorite TV shows and how much they actually spilled versus what was actually in the episodes was shocking.
Most of the questions and discussions during the panels hardly said anything about the season to come. In fact, in film panels the clips, the cast, and the producers hardly show or tell us anything. How is it that people spend thousands of dollars to stand in line for five hours in order to see an actor, or a panel, and end up with nothing. The answer is pretty simple: humanity.
Producers take advantage of one aspect of the human race which is our level of amusement. They know that if we are waiting for something for five hours when they show us anything from a five second clip to a minute teaser trailer we will be so bored from the slow pace movement of a five hour line that our brains will explode with whatever they say or show us.
However, if you look back at Comic Con 2010, 2011, 2012 and further back it appears that those Comic Con panels showed and gave more information than recent Comic Cons.
Let me give you an example of the fall in our Entertainment–mainly Media. Take a look at an old TV show from “The Munsters”, “I love Lucy”, or even “Mission Impossible”. Each television show has a set of complex characters–even I love Lucy! How can it be that Lucy has more layers of character than Oliver Queen from “The Arrow”?
Modern society has changed the concept of Entertainment. What once was fueled by characters, story, and dynamic has been replaced with action, CGI, and physical attractiveness. Let’s take a look at a recent film which sold out in the Box Office. You can take Guardians of the Galaxy as an example or Horrible Bosses 2. Guardians of the Galaxy is based on Marvel’s comics which makes the film fall under a distinct verdict and expectations. Guardians of the Galaxy is obviously an action movie because most Comic book adaption are, but do the characters in the film have the same level of complexity as the characters in the Comics? I argue that they do not. Look at the Xmen films for example–Xmen (2000) vs Xmen: Days of the Future Past (2014). The value of the films may have gone up in special effects and budget but the plot is ten times more loose than that of Xmen which based its focal point on its characters rather than fitting in as much action back battles. Xmen focuses on the dynamic of its world and its characters and try to make them real human beings. I am not saying that the movies are terrible and do not Entertain because action and fighting is a form of entertainment. What I am arguing is that the quality of story has dropped significantly over the past ten years.
As a screenwriter and a novelist there is a clear distinction between both medias. For one, in a novel there really isn’t a book that can place plot over characters or the other way around without creating a good balance. There are several books that deal with one or the other as their “main” character–yes an idea can be a character. There are Plot driven stories and Character driven but that does not mean one is over the other. However, in recent films and television shows there is an unbalance or lack of balance when it comes to plot and character. American television is branded as being full of two key elements: thrill and horror. “The Walking Dead” is a clear example of the two elements placed together to create a “good” show. Now, I am not saying “The Walking Dead” is a crappy show I actually admire it very much, but not every show can pull of plot and character development like this one. Take for example “Grimm” which has season by season been adding more and more action to its story in effort to boost a higher rating and audience number.
In the area of Comedy we have reduced to the use of slap stick humor or vulgar speech to gain humor. I am a fan of slap stick humor–“The Three Stooges” is one of my all time favorite shows. However, too much is just too much. Even the “The Three Stooges” had other humor like jokes, word play, and so on that fueled its comedic effect. To illustrate look at any AFV (America’s Funniest Home Videos) show from 2012 and up and almost all the videos shown are just people getting hurt. I find myself just yawning throughout the whole 30 minutes of the show and just wondering why I’m watching in the first place.
I feel as if I am the only person that at the end of a season or episode feel as if “that was it?”. There are few television series that are still engaging. Sorry, but Doctor Who has recently fallen in its ability to keep me on my toes. I already know what’s going to happen, and I already know how to solve the mystery. Once Upon a Time has also done this by lowering its standards. “Never assume your reader is stupid” is a key idea taught to almost all writers and I feel as if TV show Producers are treating this generation as if we are stupid.