Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Suspension of Disbelief....Failing...

I'm a fan of "genre fiction", meaning things like SF, Fantasy, Alternate Histories, etc. This means, I choose (for the length of a story/novel/movie/etc.) to believe something that is not true. Some times it's easier than others...
One of the essential elements of writing fiction is getting your reader to trust you. You can tell a huge lie as long as it's told convincingly; you can make utter nonsense sound plausible, as long as it sounds good.

This is usually done by balancing fact and fiction--especially in something like science fiction, which SHOULD be an oxymoron. Science is all about facts, and truths, and things that people have worked very hard to test and check and prove to a pretty reasonable extent are true.

But sometimes, even in the realm of fiction, some lies are just too big. I mean, no matter HOW HARD YOU TRY you can't believe it. This might be the result of poor story telling, poor research, or just stuff that don't work at any level, fictional or factual. For example, the climax of Stephen King's "Insomnia" was utterly ruined because the hero talked about a scaly catfish. It was a FAKE catfish, not a real catfish at all, but...CATFISH DON'T HAVE SCALES. SO I lost all ability to suspend my disbelief, and the beautiful lie of fiction just became nonsense.

This brings me to something that has been bothering the hell out of me. There is an anime on Japanese TV called "Element hunters." My mother-in-law loves anime, and watches it without any apparent regard for genre, style or quality. This one just happens to come on at dinner time, so I am often forced to watch it...and this is the purest example of an utterly impossible lie to believe. I mean, from the VERY BEGINNING, I can not accept the premise of this story. Now, I know this is a cartoon. It's fiction for children, and of course, it should simply be accepted as nonsense, but...this is the limit.

Let's use the Wikipedia synopsis to explain:

In the year 2029, a large scale ground sinkage occurred in the Mediterranean Sea. Chemical elements such as oxygen, carbon, gold, molybdenum, and cobalt disappeared from the Earth's crust suddenly. The human population was decreased by 90% in sixty years. Researchers found out that the disappeared elements were drained into a planet "Nega Earth", located in another dimension. To save the Earth, a special team called the "Element Hunters" is organized. All of the members are under 15 years old, because young and flexible brains are needed to perceive "Nega Earth". As the story progresses we learn that the cause of the element dematerialisation was caused by a child shouting to the heavens "I wish the earth will disappear" this awoken something that was in the 11th dimension which has cause all the elements in earth to dematerialise and move to nega earth.



All of them. And what is the result? The earth is dying off. NOT, as one would expect, the immediate and total absence of EVERYTHING. I mean...wow. I can accept a lot in fiction--A LOT. Talking trees, faster-than-light travel, lots of impossible stuff. But...I mean, come on. All the elements are gone? What the hell kind of idiot thinks that's a good idea? And you know the WORST thing? The show purports to be educational.

Educational! Because the theme song teaches kids the names of the elements...and indeed, my MIL can now name a lot of elements. But, while teaching kids the names, they completely and totally fail at giving any idea at all of what they actually are. Meaning....EVERYTHING. Everything that exists is made of elements, and nothing else. If elements disappear, EVERYTHING does. Good god. The stupid, it hurts me...

Any time people tell me that Anime is valuable as a cultural item, I will throw this in their face and then point at the inevitable fall in Japanese science test scores and LAUGH AND LAUGH...

No comments: