The Obligatory Valentine's Day Post (2nd Edition)

Let me start off this year’s obligatory Valentine’s Day post by saying one thing. I read last year’s obligatory Valentine’s Day post and I’m proud of it. I can’t really add a lot to it, but I’m still going to wander around a little and see what ends up on the page.

Just the other day I was reading an introduction to a short story collection. The writer made the comment that most of our fiction revolves around two themes. War and love. I’ve had that thought before myself, but I’ve never heard it articulated as well as he did. His reasoning for the dominance of these two themes? They’re both very intense and stress the characters in interesting ways. And of course we want to read about interesting characters and interesting situations. If we want tedium we have everyday life. (In case anyone is wondering, the stories focused more on the war aspect. And the editor who wrote the words I’m interested in was Harry Turtledove.)

It always interests me that these two themes are so popular in our culture. (And most other cultures as well.) The best stories make skillful use of both. And even in every day life they’re pretty well entwined. You don’t really get one without the other in one variation or another. Watch any television or movie drama and you’ll see it.

I guess when you talk about screen dramas you have to differentiate between the ‘soap opera’ style and the more serious style. The soap opera styles make it the most obvious. I don’t watch this type a lot, but The OC, and Desperate Housewives are the ones that come to mind first. Couples are constantly getting together and splitting up because the writers know that the stable relationships just aren’t that entertaining.

A ‘serious’ style entertainment drama is usually slightly more subtle. They tease you with the chemistry between the characters, but the world always manages to keep them apart. When they do finally get together, something always breaks them up. Star Trek is a good example of that. You could always be sure that any lady who caught Captain Kirk’s eye was going to have to die. This is why I fear for Kate on Lost. They’ve got a good triangle going, so she may be safe. But there’s a new lady in the picture, and Kate did just hook up with Sawyer.

Of course this only applies to dramas. The key difference between a comedy and a drama is that the boy gets to keep the girl at the end.

Lest the Future Mrs. W read this and get ideas, I have to add one thing. What I want in my entertainment and in my actual relationships are very different. Leave the battleground love to the entertainment industry. I prefer to come home to a good stable relationship, with just a little sizzle. (That means wear heels to bed, not picking a fight.)

This totally did not end up where I thought I was going. I'm going to have to think on it some more.


Blogger Michael said...

But Kirk did have one great love in his life...The Enterprise.

8:09 AM, February 15, 2007  
Blogger W said...

Yeah, Kirk loved her. But she always really belonged to Scotty. He's the one that knew her intricacies and took care of her when she was ailing.

1:24 PM, February 15, 2007  
Anonymous the Librarian said...

Just read both obligatory posts. I would have to agree with most of what you say . . . in both. Hmm. Hidden depths.

5:15 AM, February 16, 2007  

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