Sunday, September 02, 2007

Hypothetically Speaking

You're watching a television show and it has a "To be continued..." ending. When showing the scenes to advertise the next part the announcer says:
Ben Cassidy is the greatest drag racer in all of Kunda County, but even he couldn't make it through Dead Man's Run without crashing. What chance does his cousin Will have now that he's been forced to make that run?
Now, being a rational, thinking human being with brain -- what do you think that means?

It usually means Will is going to get through Dead Man's Run in one piece, and get a slap on the back from cousin Ben. Sure, there's a slim chance that the plot will be that Ben shows up and pulls Will out of the burning wreckage. I figure in that case the advertisement would focus a bit more on Ben at the end, but there's a slim chance. More often than not, Will is going to come through in the end here. The trick is to make the predictable outcome exciting to watch unfold.

See, the reason they position Ben as "the greatest drag race in all of Kunda County" is to highlight the difficulty of Will's adventure here. If "the greatest drag racer in Kunda County" made Dead Man's run and ended up having to be pulled from a flaming wreckage, then man Will's in trouble isn't he? It'll be something to see if he makes it.

I suppose they could have the announcer say:
Local Schmuck Ben Cassidy crunched his car in Dead Man's Run. Can Will the much better racer survive the challenge?
But then what's the fucking point of watching?


  1. Yes, everyone knows that Will will win the race. Even the writers. But what if they decide to kill him off just to subvert our expectations? After all, these are the people that had Johnny die a random pointless death and made Susan a shell of her former self. In an enviroment such as this, we cannot predict even the most basic of fictional tropes.

    Besides, there may be what calls a "Writer on Board" leading to a "Dork Age" of "Dis Continuity".

  2. UP -- I took that into account they might try and surprise us. See "slim chance." I should've probably linked the post that set this one off. It was one that was upset that Hal was named "the greatest Green Lantern" and not someone expecting death. That's why I didn't put "he could die" under the slim chances. But yeah, there's a slim chance they'll kill off the character. That slim chance does not equal a good reason to expect it.

    For the purposes of serial fiction, advertisements add to the narrative. (Same Bat-time, Same Bat-channel, after all) There's enough of a chance of a "shocker" (but usually, the shocker is hinted at in other ways) to make it interesting, and sometimes they do do it -- but seriously, its not reasonable to approach every story with "The writer is lying to me" because a) they just don't do that often enough (those characters who died? Most of them were telegraphed through the traditional means, take Blue Beetle's final issue and Bart's plodding death) and when you expect them to do that you refuse to pick up on the narrative clues and teasing that makes the story work.

    In short, its a major creator-consumer communication breakdown, the like of which has not been happening at DC. They have been making unpopular decisions, but the writers have been consistent with their narrative clues and their own habits.

    The unpopular decisions make a buyer beware in many cases, but not when it goes against the grain of the narrative.

    Even the ending to AA wasn't a fucking surprise, they hinted that one a few weeks ago with the villains teaser (Newsarama posters realized it two months ago), and they released that teaser knowing full well that the reading of the following AA issues would be affected by the image of Granny Goodness standing over Hippolyta's shield.

    And the Countdown backup on Wednesday was released with the intention of coloring the next installment of Sinestro Corps War, I guarantee. It is just a way to ramp up the danger. It is not a sentence of doom or an expression of editorial feeling about Hal and Kyle. Its an advertisement for SCW that is meant to enhance the experience of people who are already reading.

    So your pessimism is unwarranted, as is that of the person who is certain this will cement Hal as the "Greatest Green Lantern Ever".

    After the storyline is over, if things get fucked up, then maybe we can discuss what and how they did wrong -- but seriously, I am fucking enjoying the shit out of absolutely every page of the story, and I am getting beyond annoyed at every post online that says "They'll fuck it up -- don't get too excited -- They WILL fuck it up and everything will SUCK" based on assumptions carried over from unrelated storylines that seem to be overriding the actual reading of the story.

    Its one thing when someone criticizes SCW based on what is actually in the story but condemning it based on prior work that really has no bearing on this is absurd, particularly when it is shaping up so well.

    Its one thing when its a writer who consistently fucks over this particular franchise, and when the start is weak, but these complaints don't even fit the past behaviors of the writers involved.

    The conclusion that Kyle will be fucked over (a) doesn't fit the story context, (b) doesn't follow the habits of the creators involved, and (c) is not based on anything that happened in the same franchise.

    There is no good reason to expect this stuff. That is my entire point here.

    Maybe its because I work shiftwork. This like blaming dayshift when nightshift fucks up. It makes no fucking sense.