Prequelitis (and Related Ailments)

And in a burst of cosmic irony (God must have a sense of humour), despite what I wrote yesterday, I get randomly inspired and a post leaps almost fully-formed into my head (*ouch*).

For a while I was following the tv-series Gotham (a prequel focusing on not-yet-Commissioner Gordon’s experiences dealing with the messed up and corrupt state of the system), but realised after a while that keeping up with it was seeming more chore than entertainment. It had its moments, but overall I was finding it boring*; events were presented as being significant and dramatic, but it felt like nothing was really going anywhere.

It suffers from prequelitis: the condition where you are unable to achieve significant depth of drama because everyone knows how things will work out eventually. Some non-prequels even subject themselves to some degree of this through their framing device (for example, the narrator is relating their past experiences, either to another character, or to the audience).

Another example would be the Star Wars prequels—whatever happens, the audience already knows that Anakin will become Darth Vader, the empire will take over the galaxy, and that things will generally end up how they are at the start of A New Hope**.

The show apparently sprang from the premise “What if Gordon was the one investigating the murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents?”, which is an interesting thought, but again, doesn’t really change anything about the status quo. As the saying goes, “If you’re going to flash, flash hard”****. Upend the established order. Embrace the alternative-universe take on the material. Make the inciting question something like “What if only one of the Waynes was killed?”, or “What if Bruce was killed as well/instead?”, or even “What if Batman is an actual vampire? Even a sparkly one—can you imagine it?—his costume covered with sequins. That would be hilarious!”

Be brave. Sure, the audience may not like it, but they won’t know what’s coming next. Even if everything else largely turns out as normal, starting off on a wild tangent primes the audience to expect the unexpected.

* I freely acknowledge that other people’s opinions may differ. Rose Red found it too grim/gritty, which is sadly the modern audience’s expectation for anything related to el hombre murciélago. Sadly, I don’t think the Adam West goofy camp, or even the Burtonesque kooky gothic, would succeed in the current climes, where anything not sufficiently serious is labelled a “guilty pleasure” or is only enjoyed “ironically”.

** There are various other problems [with the Star Wars prequels] that other people have already gone into in great depth. The only one I will mention (predominantly related to films) is the phenomenon of success → more money. Often what makes a film great is the effort that goes into working with/around limitations; lack of budget/technology forces you to really think about what is needed to make the story work, and how to do it. After the first film is a success, the studio throws money at any ___quels, with the result that the crew can become indulgent, and the resulting films feel flashy but insubstantial. There may be amazing spectacles***, but like cheap takeaway food, half an hour later you’re hungry again.

*** No, I’m not specifically talking about the ones you get for watching in 3D (though that is another example of the issue).

**** A cliché from the world of cricket commentary. Essentially, if you’re going to play a risky shot, don’t make it even riskier by being half-hearted about it.


Think Before You Post

I am an introvert.

Right now, you’re probably thinking “Yeah, tell me something I don’t know.”, and (assuming you know me reasonably well), you’re probably right.

The thing is, like most ways of categorising types of people, it doesn’t actually tell you very much (other than that I choose to align myself with that label). “Introvert” refers to a collection of personality traits with a common theme; so you can assume I have a sufficient quantity or magnitude of these traits (or deficiency in the ones associated with the label “extrovert”) that the label applies.

But which traits? And to what degree? Well, the particular one I want to address today is introverted thinking*. This is the tendency to consider ideas thoroughly before sharing them with others—the polar opposite of “thinking aloud”.

This, coupled with an insidious dose of perfectionism, makes it very difficult to be a blogger (or any sort of writer). The flowing lines of wit and wisdom that scrawl themselves across my brain never quite seem to make it as far as the pen/keyboard.

So why blog at all? Why does someone so intent on keeping their thoughts internal attempt to share them with the world (or at least the small niche who reads this)? Why not keep a journal? Well, I’ve never really felt comfortable with a journal. Besides having the same problem as with a blog (i.e. not wanting to express thoughts until they’re perfectly rounded), why waste paper if no-one but me is going to read it? After all, I can think faster than I can write.

But introspection can only get you so far**. Often, expressing thoughts into words—whether spoken, written, or typed—helps drag them into a semblance of order. It forces you to be coherent, rather than the stream-of-consciousness and random associations that go on in your brain where you can find yourself thinking about something else entirely almost before you’re even aware of it.

Obviously, there’s still a measure of self-censorship in terms of avoiding getting too personal in a public forum, but the sense of an audience (even if largely an imaginary one) is a helpful motivator. Even more so, the opportunity for discussion, should it eventuate.

It’s not like there aren’t plenty of things to write about: day-to-day life, current events, movies, chance remarks; anything can inspire a (usually extensive) train of thought—I have a list of ideas for topics. It’s just a matter of becoming clear enough about what I want to say, and then shoving my ego (which insists it’s not good enough***) aside in order to say it.

So, here are some more of my thoughts, presented in the hope that it’s not just me that finds them interesting. 🙂

* It’s been said that introverts are those who will think carefully and then—maybe—act (whereas extroverts are those who will act and then maybe think).

** Or occasionally (i.e. frequently) round in circles.

*** It’s sneaky the way pride sometimes disguises itself as humility; sometimes when we’re thinking “this isn’t good enough” what we really mean is “I want to present myself as better than this”.