April 24-Weird Wednesday

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I have a problem with suspension of disbelief. Everyone has experienced this phenomenon; it happens when you’re reading a book, or watching a movie or TV show. The creators try to build a world where certain things happen, some things that might be outrageous or even impossible in real life, and as long as what happens in the story makes sense in that particular world, we as the observers and consumers of the story will “suspend our disbelief” and accept those things can happen and continue enjoying the story. Suspension of disbelief is necessary if we’re going to watch stories about people fighting with laser-swords, or swinging from buildings, or having ghosts mess with them, or doctors having enough time to talk for hours and sleep with each other between taking care of patients. As long as that activity makes sense in the universe the creators have built, we’ll go right along with it.

As more of a side note, this is why I’ve never been particularly fond of musicals. Don’t get me wrong, though. I’m a very music-oriented person, and there are some musicals I like. I just can’t believe in any universe people can spontaneously break out into choreographed song and dance. That can’t happen.

My point is not that I have a problem suspending my disbelief that these incredible things could happen, but that I suspend it TOO much so that I have a problem separating what’s real and what’s fantasy. That may or may not be the definition of schizophrenia, but don’t call the authorities just yet. I know the difference between what’s real and what’s not, but if a movie or TV show is really engaging I have lingering feelings about it, like it leaves an imprint on me. I guess the best way to explain it that little bit of paranoia you get after watching a scary movie. You might get extra-aware of everything going on around you, or peek behind doors, or wait until daylight to take a shower for fear of psychos. It’s like that, but with MOST movies for me.

A few years ago I saw Star Wars: Episode II, Spider-Man 2, and a baseball movie starring Kevin Costner as a middle-aged man who could pitch really fast and makes it to the major leagues all in the theatre and all in the same week. For a while after that I found myself sitting on the couch, noticing the TV remote was out of reach, then concentrating so I could levitate it over to me with The Force. Or I’d toss something across the room and be disappointed it wasn’t faster. Or every time I saw a tall building I’d also picture myself wall-crawling up to the top and jumping around just like a spider can.

This may explain why in my previous post about inside jokes I mentioned I like to think sitcoms are real, but the only episodes we see are the interesting parts of the characters lives. I know every episode is interesting (or at least they try to be) because the writers write it that way, but I’ve suspended my disbelief enough to accept The Janitor on Scrubs could get away with being so cruel and keep his job, or accept that people can always manage to sit in the same booths at the one and only bar they ever seem to go to (same with coffee shops). However, I look at everything in the world more critically after I watch The Matrix

Explain that, psychiatrists!

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