Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Narrative Choices

Now Playing: Trocadero - Heart with Wings

The 100 came back a few weeks ago with season 3, and though I tried to stick with it, I got really annoyed, really quickly.

Ever since season 2--but even some decisions in season 1--it feels like the writers have been specifically tailoring scenes, dialogues, and episodes to pander to their audience, or pointlessly shock them, or basically just have entire arcs and character deaths and pivotal decisions happen because of what they think will keep different parts of their audience watching.

That may not sound like a bad thing--after all, if they made shit no one wanted to watch, then, wtf are they doing in a storytelling medium distributed to an audience? But when it's this blatant, it feels contrived. Not because I don't want them to listen to their fans. A lot of good can come from it--in fact, I'm certain they chose to include LGBT characters (like Clarke and Lexa) and a ton of women in a variety of roles because of feedback from the audience. But at the same time, when they overdo it in their plot choices, the story loses all credibility.

It's not something that has ruined all the show. The 100 has surprised me a few times and ensured I'd keep watching all the way until this point. There's a decision made at the very last episode of season 2 that felt both shocking and earned. Like something Clarke (and to an extent Bellamy) would do, given past decisions, character development, and the scenario that was presented to us. It all aligned perfectly. But just an episode earlier, there's a decision Lexa makes that is utterly nonsensical and pointless given earlier moments in the season.

Character deaths seem to happen on a checklist of "how do we shock the audience/keep getting those Game of Thrones comparisons?" The decisions and interactions seemed to be grounded on giving fuel to the stupid shipping wars. Every now and then on Tumblr and Twitter, you'd see the writers and series creators having to explain character motivations because, just within the context of the show, they, at bestdon't make any fucking sense and, at worst, completely fuck with established personalities or previous character development.

It got me thinking of Legend of Korra. And Avatar: The Last Airbender in general too. While they had controversial decisions and occasionally failed episodes, they managed to listen to their fans without completely pandering to them rather than letting the story unfold naturally. The creators (Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino) never went out of their way to please anyone, but they didn't ignore criticism either.

Basically, when the Avatar creators said, "we're doing this because it feels true to the characters and story," I believed them.

I don't believe The 100 creator and writers anymore.

I'm not sure how I would handle it in their position. I wouldn't ever want to pander to anyone--that kinda feels like the basic destruction of my artistic credibility.

But plugging my ears and shutting out all the feedback feels, uhm, Stephenie Meyer-ish. (Or actually. Responding to the feedback with an extended, "but you just don't get me!" is Stephenie Meyer-ish. As Life and Death proved. So I guess I'll never go that far).

Actually, Jason Rothenberg and The 100 writers seem like the exact opposite of David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, who have, for years and years now, ignored the very real, very important criticism Game of Thrones has accumulated. Especially from the people who stuck by the show even when it repeatedly disappointed them.

Then in season 5, Benioff and Weiss put out the most contrived, insulting, and gratuitously offensive rape scene that didn't even make any sense within the context of previous narrative choices. And a ton of fans just said, "fuck it. We're done."

They still have an audience and they won't really suffer any true repercussions for their choices. But just based on artistic merit, their extreme isn't any better than the extreme of The 100 writers. How is balance so difficult for people to achieve?

I'm mostly jumping ship for that reason. It's come somewhat close to offending me (mostly with what they did to Anya), but not enough to make me drop it like I did with Game of Thrones after season 5.

No, it's just that I don't think I can keep watching The 100 when I just don't believe in any of it. I don't believe in these characters anymore. I don't believe in the story anymore.

Admittedly, I'm also partially doing it for that stupid fucking A.I. plot that got shoved in at the end of season 2. Shut the fuck up with the "and then the A.I. went sentient and launched nukes and killed humanity." (And she has a holographic avatar, is Battlestar Galactica Number Six-ing it up with Thelonious, and for some inexplicable reason has the platform the size of a briefcase. ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?)

Ughhh. Lazy shitty cliches. Nonsensical choices. Kill me now.

This whole thing makes me sad.

Are the majority of franchises I get into bound to thoroughly disappoint me at some point?

No wonder I like stand-alone work so much.

Oh! Oh! But speaking of A.I's, I recently got back to a franchise that hasn't disappointed me yet. I started rewatching Red vs. Blue again.

I know "hasn't disappointed me yet" doesn't exactly sound like a ringing endorsement and I'm not claiming I love every singular second of it, but it does strike a cord with me. I adore this show.

I'm finishing up volume 10 right now. It's been a blast.

I got into the show when season 5 was wrapping up, then followed along the next two seasons before drifting away from it. Not for any real reason. I just kinda forgot to catch up until now. Thank you, Netflix.

Season 6, Reconstruction, might be my favorite so far, just because of the almost mythic aspect surrounding the backstory of the A.I. Alpha. I'd forgotten that the show just got better and better as it went along--plus it has a kickass soundtrack.

Although of course 9 and 10 are amazing too--mostly because Monty Oum's (sigh. I miss his work) great animation and choreography is showcased perfectly with the Project Freelancer agents--which has more female characters (woo! NEED MORE) and a hundred percent more badasses than usual (although I still love you, Blood Gulch dumbasses).

Tex and Carolina - the best.
Oh, and, I talked about this with my dad and briefly with someone else, but I realized: it's no wonder I'm so fond of f-bombs. Season 5 finished in 2007. Combine that marathon with my middle school years and it's no wonder my cursing went haywire. Reading Chuck Wendig's work lately sure isn't helping either.

I know there's a lot of people who find cursing immature and offensive. Not me. I need to filter it out a lot when talking to certain people. But weirdly, no filtering is needed when I'm writing. It feels wrong when a character who isn't as fond of curse words as I am spews them out, even if it is technically warranted.

I am noticing I tend to love the potty-mouth characters slightly more than everyone else. (Thanks for sharing my love of cursing, Yukiko. You make revisions slightly less painful.)
~Becky

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