Sunday, July 24, 2011

Superheros

Friday afternoon my company declared Employee Appreciation Day. In honor of the occasion, they bought us lunch at a restaurant and a private showing of Captain America. Now, if I were paying, I would have preferred to see the new Harry Potter movie that was showing in the adjoining theater. But I wasn't paying and it was certainly better than an afternoon at work. I figured if Captain America really wasn't my cup of tea I could always go to the ladies room and not come back

Well, it wasn't my cup of tea, but it did move and I only found myself glancing at my watch during the last half hour. (How many explosions does one movie need?) But I found myself watching the movie as a writer rather than a viewer.

One of the problems with writing fiction is that you learn what makes good fiction and what makes it bad. You analyze it, especially when it isn't working for you.



One rule is that your audience has to care about your main character. I kept asking myself, "Why do I care about this guy?" And the answer was, "I don't." The script writers had given a nod to the rule by showing us how persistent he was in trying to join the military during World War II, while getting rejected over and over because of his physical limitations. They also showed--and told--us how he was beaten up by bullies. It wasn't enough for me, even though I kept repeating, "It's a comic book."

When he got rejected again, I didn't feel sympathy for him. I kept wondering why he didn't find something he could do and pursue that instead of stupidly failing over and over again. When a bully was beating him up in an alley and he needed to be rescued by his best friend, I wondered why he let himself be the victim. It was another case of the hero not being able to learn a lesson.

The way he achieves his dream is by being chosen for some mystical treatment that turns him into Captain America, taller and with muscles and strength and coordination beyond other men. He's handed his abilities rather than needing to work for them.

This is one of my pet peeves. I've seen too many people trying to game the system lately. People who work only enough to go back on unemployment. Families with a tradition of being on welfare who don't have the concept of any other way of life. People who don't want to follow the rules and who feel an exception should be made for them.

In the real world, no one hands you superpowers. Or, as one Red Sox commercial says, when you're grown up not everyone gets a trophy.

Americans don't seem to want to grow up. They don't want to take responsibility for their lives. They want someone to hand them the answers.

Yeah, we've run into a pretty rough patch recently. But whose fault is that? It must be those big bad bankers. Now I'm not condoning the whole thing that happened with mortgages, but no one forced you to buy a house you couldn't afford. Surely all those people with interest only loans or really low initial adjustable rates knew that at some point they'd have to pay back the money?

If you bemoan the loss of your job because it went overseas, why do you keep buying things with Made in China stamped on them?

I guess I'm grumpy today. Employee Appreciation Day notwithstanding, I hate my job. I took it when I got laid off, hoping it would be temporary and something better would come along. Almost two years later I'm still working that job and there isn't anything better out there. But I suck it up every Monday morning and go back to work because that's what grownups do.
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