A crime against both truth and beauty.

Hope you don’t mind rumination about truth and storytelling.  I reference one of my screenplay ideas here, maybe writing this will enthuse me to return.

My complaints about Hollywood are pretty esoteric.  Ionizing radiation is a fairly occult field and doesn’t come up all that often.   But computers are ubiquitous.  edohiguma and other IT professionals put up with a lot more than I do.

And now, new commenter firehand tells us the SyFy channel doesn’t know “you CAN’T get semi-automatic fire from a bolt-action rifle”.  That’s not merely stupid…it’s sick.  Sick.  These are supposed to be professional storytellers.  They don’t know what you and I do, okay, fine.  But they don’t even know what they are doing.  They don’t know how to tell a story.  Betraying the truth is nothing.  But there is never, ever an excuse to betray the narrative.   

Storytellers should always lie like a rug, when it enhances the story.  (This obviously excludes documentaries.  And if “based on true events”, you need some standards.  Because I’m pretty sure the Brits broke Enigma, not Matthew McConaughey.)

Take edohiguma’s complaint about Code Duello.  (Zing!  Code Duello!  See what I did there?)  Why not show realistic computer hacking?  Because watching an actual “Dance of the Code Monkey” is extremely boring. 

My personal “truth enhancement” is a teen protagonist who hacks…in real time…in binary code…by drumming.  His fingers blur over the pads of a custom keyboard which assembles binary bits or chunks.  “The “0” and “1” pads are nearest the home position, and spiraling out from there are “00”s and “11”s and “111”s, etc., to the long strings.   Oh, we need to work in some foot pedals, too. 

Naturally he also plays great music while he’s hacking, his system generating tones from the pattern of unfolding code. 

I admit:  this is an incredibly stupid idea.  Now you admit…it’s stupidly awesome

…all but the most pedantic of viewers will forgive liberties with reality as long as the result is wicked sweet or awesome.

The horny teenager is half Turing, half Mozart.   He has to be awesome because he has to save humanity.  And he has to save humanity because he’s the one who endangered it in the first place, by accidently falling in love with a computer virus.

Which lie would codemonkeys prefer?  How about it, edo?  What’s more entertaining, my over-the-top Sturm und Drang fantasy or their pretend-this-is-plausible mummery?  I’m a rad specialist.  So I carp about Bones‘s radiological mistakes, because its very premise is  forensic methodology.  But do I complain about the gamma-ridiculousness of The Incredible Hulk?  Never, because the Hulk is awesome.  

So if you lie (and you’d better, if you want an audience) lie big.  Lie awesome

Which brings us back to SyFy’s betrayal of both truth and beauty.  The bolt-action rifle is more beautiful, in a narrative sense, than the semi-auto one.  It’s better for both the performer and the audience.  Anyone who’s ever seen a proper Western knows its iconography:  the lone, heroic figure staving off a horde.  And he works at it; he puts something of himself in every single shot.

It’s a timeless trope.  Witness:

A bolt-action rifle is always dramatically superior to a semi-auto one.  (Just as a semi is better than a full automatic).  It’s fine to give your hero the less dramatic weapon.  He may absolutely have to have it to succeed.  It may illustrate or support the story better.  (There are reasons why you don’t see this extremely dramatic weapon much anymore.) 

But what’s absolutely wrongheaded is to select the stronger narrative device (the bolt-action) and then use it in a less dramatic fashion (semi-auto).  And the sheer perverseness here?  In order to make their drama marginally worse, SyFy has to lie about the weapon.  It’s like an expert chef who willfully garnishes with dirt and cockroaches.   I don’t understand how people can even get to such a headspace. 

SyFy sucks, that was obvious when it renamed itself “SyFy”.  No doubt it’s stuffed full of leftist wannabe tyrants.  Probably typical spoiled children.  Now we know that they’re also aggressively incompetent.

So thanks for the comment, firehand, infuriating as it was.  Let’s cleanse our palates with some proper rifle tall tales:

Note—if you’ve not seen Quigley, you’ve missed yourself a treat.  Here’s an extended scene of awesomeness:

But to close a rifle post, we should all bow our heads in honor of Chuck:

About wormme

I've accepted that all of you are socially superior to me. But no pretending that any of you are rational.
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16 Responses to A crime against both truth and beauty.

  1. Edohiguma says:

    It’s not just the hacking. Many shows, especially police shows, eventually have the cops do something with a computer. Often it’s just looking at surveillance photos. And then some nut sitting at the computer frantically types on the keyboard for several seconds to make the image bigger and stuff….

    Hellooooooo… today’s photo processing software works with a mouse. Photoshop has been working like that for… I’m not sure how long PS has been around, but it’s certainly more than 11 years (and that was, I think, version 6 I worked with back then.) Nobody types around on a keyboard to make an image bigger!

    I also love how they can turn massively pixeled surveillance photos into super sharp, clear images in those shows. It doesn’t really work that way.

    SyFy has gone down the crapper. They cancel the shows I like and, to add insult to injury, they’re NOT going to run Blood & Chrome.

    Heck, I love Body of Proof, but sometimes I wonder who writes the scripts. The scene with the “Beretta Bite” was ridiculously dumb. The Beretta Bite exists, usually happens when you manage to get your finger or some skin into the chamber and the slide bites you. Or you manage to somehow get it stuck in the side and the slides bites again. However, Dr Hunt got the “bite” between her thumb and index finger and that is impossible. In order to do that her grip would be so totally off that her test firing would never have worked to begin with.

    And in one episode Hunt was like “Those are 3rd degree burns”. I looked at what I could see on screen and was like “No sister, that’s a human prop arm with some black color smeared on it.” I’ve seen 3rd degree burns, they look A LOT different.

  2. Firehand says:

    Yeah, ’cause THAT’S where the magic happens!

  3. Edohiguma says:

    If you haven’t seen Quigley, you haven’t lived. Not just rifles, but also Seleck-stache.

  4. Edohiguma says:

    Also, the really funny thing about the sniper scene at the end of SPR is that a church tower would never have been a position to fight from. It can be easily spotted and engaged with a tank, as it happens in the movie. Why Tom Hanks’ character, who, in general is making pretty sound decisions (except for when he takes their medic on an assault on an MG nest, which was one of the dumbest things I’ve ever seen) would put three men into such an exposed position, I don’t know. It was just silly. A spotter would be in there for surveillance, but he’d likely not engage and would eventually abandon this position, because he’d quickly be behind enemy lines and they would find him and blow him up.

    It also violates the most basic rules for a sharpshooter. The guy sits up there firing away round after round. He never relocates. You always relocate after a few shots (often even just after one), because you don’t want the enemy to find you. And if you stay at the same location happily blasting away you will eventually be found. And then you’re dead. Not to mention that there’s even an MG up there, which is basically a bullet magnet.

    • wormme says:

      All true. But it was also an exciting and cool-looking scene. And I’ve long since given up on film and TV holding up to even cursory examination. That’s why I’ll always skip over the so-called “thought-provoking” movies in favor of the latest Transformers schlock. Audio-visual spectacle, that’s mainly what I want from the audio-visual medium.

      However, going back to script-writing would re-sensitize me to all the stupidities. It was like watching cheap sausage being made, noticing for the first time all the unappetizing fillers.

      • Edohiguma says:

        Agreed, it was certainly a load better than this awful pile of chicken droppings that was Enemy at the gates.

        • wormme says:

          I heard raves about that movie, so it was very disappointing. It seemed almost good, which I don’t like at all. It’s like milk that’s almost fresh. Urrgh. I’d rather know instantly the moment the milk jug opens.

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