You Are A Character

Far more entertaining than it deserves to be, unless you’re a 10-year-old boy, in which case it’s only the greatest movie ever made. Village Voice on Dragonball Evolution.

Dragonball Evolution is not a great film.  It can be fun if you mentally “squint” and ignore the obvious implausibilities, cliches and blatant manipulations to get you to side with the good characters against the bad, and to be caught up in their concerns.   Ten-year-olds may not know enough to recognize these manipulations, in which case they may love the movie.

“Good” movies are nearly as manipulative; they just do a better job of hiding it.  Those who make movies simply must manipulate us if they are to entertain us; we are quite clearly bored by most of the reality around us, and usually even by detailed truthful tellings of the most dramatic real events around.  But since we do not enjoy a story when we are too clearly aware of its manipulations, movies must be crafted so as to not force us to notice them.  We usually cooperate to “suspend judgment”, so that manipulations can be visible on the periphery of our awareness.

Let me suggest that humans are much like story characters.   Since others like us better if the story of our lives seems to fit with standard human ideals, we try to appear to so fit.   But since it is expensive to actually fit these ideals in great detail, we instead manipulate our cheap surface words and acts to give a loose appearance of a fit.  The expensive details of our lives, however, instead better fit the non-ideal necessities of who we really are.   None of this works if our hypocrisy is too obvious, but thankfully we tend to cooperate to squint and avoid seeing each others’ non-ideal realities.

You are a character in the story of your life.  Evolution has formed you so that you, mostly unconsciously, craft the character you project to be likable and interesting.  The crafting of this image is done via manipulations that are just good enough to not force most folks to notice them.   Perceptive folk may notice them more, but usually also know they will not be rewarded for calling our mutual charade.

Even so, I choose to try to see through our deceptions, to the less ideal, dramatic, and sympathetic people we really are.  And I hope to live to tell about it.

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