Monday, June 20, 2011

Cue "Melo"-Dramatic Music

My husband & I recently started watching (on Netflix--I love it!) a TV show called Top Shot, about 16 marksmen (and women) who compete to earn a prize and the Top Shot title. As we watched, I noticed that the teams seemed stacked, with almost all the "professionals" (Marines, cops, etc) on one team and almost all the "competitors" on another team--which doesn't mean the teams were unfairly stacked except for in the amount of drama that they created.

(Funnily enough, the one woman on the show created less drama than the 15 men).

The team with the competitors was full of backbiting, whining about equipment, and enough melodrama to make me gag. Which made me start thinking about what all these melodramatic TV shows might mean for the future of books.

Think about it. 100 years ago, readers were content with narrative summary, slow plots, and being told that someone was surprised. Since the advent of television, readers want an explosion and a dead body in every chapter (it seems like, anyway), as well as plots so fast that the poor characters hardly have breathing room and showing surprise with that character's eyebrow shooting up into their hairline.

Not that I'm discontent with the way books are today, mind you. I like lots of action and showing instead of telling.

I'm just wondering what the TV of today will do to the books of the future. People seem to love the melodramatic "reality shows" that are constantly flitting across our TV screens. This isn't to say that all TV shows are like that. (Though, in all honesty, I prefer fiction to "reality shows" because the fiction isn't as melodramatic). But a lot of them are, and those shows don't portray reality--they portray people psyched about going on camera and getting their 15 minutes of fame, and maybe a wee bit more if they wig out. And what will happen if people increasingly accept these melodramatic shows as "real" life?

Instead of an eyebrow going up, a character is going to have to jump out of his socks every time to show surprise. Shock factor is going to go up in value. Even serious adult books could become like the Disney pop-show of the day--full of angst, petty boyfriend theft, admonitions to follow your dreams, and "grown-up teenagers" becoming an icon for the next generation to follow. Melodrama will rule instead of rational thinking. This might even be happening right now.

My imagination just might be going on over-drive here. But still, I have to wonder...

What do you think the shows of today might mean for the books of the future?

5 responses:

Galadriel said...

Ick!*shudders* that's an awful thing to think about. But in my favorite show, it's the quieter moments that say the most, the ones where nonverbal is so much more than verbal. Case in point--

H. A. Titus said...

Yes, I know. I sure screwed up my nose at the idea, but thought it made a meaningful post.

I love nonverbal moments that are laden with meaning. Doctor Who is excellent at that--probably why it's one of my favorite shows.

M. R. Pursselley said...

I think you probably have a very solid point here, Heather. Definitely something to think about.

Laura Elizabeth said...

I hate melodrama *shudders*. Melodrama makes Mary Sues and Gary Stues even out of good actors. A case in point would be the Little House TV show. They have the melodrama, and then they have that really melodramatic music in the background. Ugh. I am always trying to make sure my stories aren't melodramatic.

H. A. Titus said...

@Mary: Thank you!

@Laura Elizabeth: Excellent point--thanks for chiming in!


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