You know, the ones with interchangeable actors and actresses, a plot line with little development or internal consistency, humorous and completely unrealistic dialogue, with crackerjack special effects … especially explosions.
We pay a lot to watch a blockbuster because the more you pay, the more value you receive, right?
We enter a dark and quiet place to do so, as a visual reminder that we are escaping from whatever the world is throwing at us.
We get to suspend our disbelief, let someone else “drive” for a while, and just enjoy the comedy, the thrills, the adventure, the mystery, the horror … the sheer bigness of it all.
We relax, knowing that the hero or heroine will prevail, even if only a few stars survive to the final credits, and that size and power do not matter if your heart is pure, your motives are altruistic, or you know how to crack a good joke in the middle of horrendous scenes of destruction and carnage.
Summer blockbusters exist for two related reasons:
1) To make us go “oooh”, “aaahh”, and “Oh My God!”
2) To make tons of money for someone other than those watching the movie.
Documentaries are more serious ….
They often feature people we have never heard of or who are not of particular interest to us, at least before we see the film. The plot lines are non-standard because they follow real life instead of the hero’s journey on which so many movies are based. The special effects are usually minimal or standard and the dialogue is awkward, stilted, and not all that funny, just like real life communication.
Documentaries are often quite reasonably prices or even free, although they still struggle to reach an audience of any significance.
We enter that same dark and quiet place to watch the documentary, but find no escape from our worldly concerns. On the contrary, we usually leave the viewing area more worried than we were when we entered.
We try, but fail to suspend our disbelief at the needs and challenges which exist in our world. We realize that the cavalry is not coming, Gandalf will not magically appear with an army, and the good guys don’t always win.
Documentaries exist for two related reasons, as well:
1) Because someone cared about something really on our world and wanted to share it with others.
2) We need to know, to understand and act to make the world better than it is.
Please feel free to discuss the ethical aspects of these thoughts as you stand in line for tickets to the Next Big Screen Thing.
Looking for some popcorn and a cheap seat to the theater of life in the Heartland ….