Posted 2003-01-24 15:41:15 by
Perhaps my favorite scene in Signs is the one in which Morgan reads, from a book found in the “non-fiction” aisle, that aliens advanced enough to travel through space to meet us are likely to be vegetarian because they would see the benefits of such a diet.
That's a particularly clever jab (I hope) at a phenomenon that's been ticking me off a lot lately: authors inserting allegedly superior forms of intelligence, e.g. gods or extraterrestrials, into their stories so that they can preach platitudes like “violence never solves anything.” The quintessential example of this idiocy, as far as I'm concerned, is the director's cut of The Abyss. This probably isn't the place to go into it in detail, but damn, those omnipotent aliens sure are hypocrites.
Perhaps worse is when the author hides behind the mouthpiece. In a lot of cases, authors appear to be using characters to express opinions that they don't, for whatever reason, want to come directly from them. You can generally tell this is happening because it's a highly debatable issue and yet none of the characters in the vicinity of the speech have an intelligent response. The socratic method is a lot easier to implement when you're controlling both sides of the debate.
And when you straddle the line like that, noone can raise a counterargument with you, because “the views of the characters do not necessarily coincide with the views of the author.” But, guess what? Morons are still being convinced of your warped point of view -- sorry, I mean your character's warped point of view -- left and right, because of your portrayal of this character as intelligent.
Nah, now that I think about it, attributing your own opinion to a god is worse.
Unfortunately, when authors are more subtle with their preaching, the readers take over the job of infuriating me. Look at the fervor over Lord of the Flies. I've heard people cite it -- the book -- as “evidence” that humans are evil by nature. Far too few seem to realize that it's not gospel. It's just this one guy's well-expressed opinion.
You're gonna have to wait a few thousand years for it to be gospel.