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: