“…just watch the show.”

It took me a minute to gather my thoughts.

I was talking about the Tom Hanks movie Saving Private Ryan with a young friend of mind and it seemed like we were having a good discussion with a lot of give and take as we shared our individual thoughts and opinion. I’ve always been a fan of large-scale historical epics and while Ryan wasn’t as lavish a production as The Longest Day or 55 Days at Peking I was most impressed with the attention to detail (no M48 Patton tanks doubling for German Panthers) or Tom Hank’ compelling portrayal of an all-too-human army captain caught between a perilous mission and profound combat fatigue … but a comment made mid-discussion by my young friend startled me into a socially awkward silence of a minute or two.

He didn’t care much for some parts of the screenplay – that he felt like the early scenes in the movie depicting the carnage at Omaha beach really didn’t “further the narrative all that well” and that he was unhappy that there was such an elevated level of violence.

Fortunately, my voice produced a bored “Really?” while my internal dialog screamed  “Then why the hell did you go to a war movie?”  as it came to me that we’ve turned into a nation of movie critics. The word “entitled” tends to get overused, but it seemed appropriate  – if we don’t like reality we can change it and still call the result a historical film depicting real events.

…and yes I realize that:

  • It’s just entertainment
  • movies have always tweaked history

…but this Color-forms(t) approach to screen-writing seems counterproductive but then this whole line of reasoning may be just me in “cranky old-man” mode. One of the reasons I’ve avoided organized fandom is the way viewers will quibble about scripts which leads me to think that if we’ve not become a nation of critics we’re become a nation of screen writers convinced that we’re much better screenwriters than the person with their name on the credits-crawl.

This excessive analysis kills the viewing experience for me For example I am binge-watching Star Trek: Enterprise and I am just now starting season three and the Xindi story arc. Many complain that this season-long story arc “ruined” the show, but as I’m watching it I’m thinking of it almost as a historical record of events chiseled in stone rather than sketched in pencil…and that I need to wade through the bloodbath on Omaha beach before traipsing across the Normandy landscape looking for a lost paratrooper.

…but then that’s just me.

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