Saturday, February 19, 2011

The problem with overexplaining

One of the biggest issues I always had with Spielberg's movies is that he makes sure even the dumbest of the viewers will understand the subtleties of the story. You won't see that in most of his movies, since his over-explanation is usually well blended with the script. But that is clear in Artificial Intelligence, which was a Kubrick production originally (as far as I know). It seems to me that the last 20 mins were added by Spielberg just to make sure that the message he wanted to send was crystal clear. And this annoys me because part of the intellectual pleasure given by the arts stems from solving the challenge myself. If I'm watching a brainy movie, I want to use my brain.

But I'll concede that expecting my intelligence to be respected by a Hollywood movie is like expecting a deconstructionist philosopher to make sense. It just won't happen. I do, however, expect that from people that try (or at least intend to) appeal to my brain. Which is why I hated this xkcd:


You see, as soon as I saw that the guy was offending pole vaulters from a balcony, I got the punchline. Hell, it would've been 100 times funnier if the last 4 panels didn't exist. But no, Randall had to go all Spielberg on us and explain explicitly.

And you know what's the worse? He did it because he was too lazy to draw the pole vaulters. If, instead, he used the last 4 panels to have a single extra long horizontal panel with a pole vaulter in the far left poking the guy on the far right with his *pole*, it would've been 1000 times funnier.

*I don't know what the guys at xkcdsucks had to say about this post, and maybe their criticism is the same as mine.

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