Tuesday, March 3, 2009

I’m gonna be sick

If I’m not very careful, this could become the most disgusting article ever to appear in this paper. Nay — in any daily newspaper. At least, I hope you agree with me that it’s disgusting. You might think I’m just out of touch.

Here’s the problem: Let’s call it, um, regurgitation. And I’m talking about in movies and on TV, not in real life. In real life, regurgitation is usually not an option. In movies and TV, it is always an option, and I think it’s an activity that need not be shown.

In the good old days, when hula hoops were new and hot dogs were a nickel, fictional characters did not regurgitate on screen. They seldom did it in novels, for that matter. Now it’s everywhere, almost every time we start a story.

Whether you think of it as tossing cookies, vomiting, hurling, ralphing, puking or throwing up, it is meant to provide a touch of shocking realism on screen. At least, I suppose that’s why it has become so ubiquitous — the people in charge think it will be grossly funny or realistically gripping. It’s not. It’s disgusting.

Even though I’ve included TV shows and novels in my whining here, it’s really movies that have become most saturated with it. (I must find different words … soon.) I can’t think of a movie that I’ve seen in the last several years that did not feature this abhorrent act, and usually it’s in the first half. “The Reader,” a wonderful recent film, features its young hero retching his guts out (sorry — violently regurgitating) almost before you have time to dive into your popcorn.

That, of course, brings us to another aspect of the complaint. It’s not easy to enjoy stuffing movie snacks into one’s mouth while watching this trend that I’m unhappily describing. Keep in mind that if you shell out wads of hard-earned money to see a movie in a theatre these days, the event, the activity, the tossing of cookies will be shown on a huge screen with surround-sound enveloping you — a presentation many times larger and louder than in real life. And, of course, the concession stand is now open.

Here’s a suggestion. The next time you watch a TV drama or any fairly recent movie (comedy or drama), pay attention to the phenomenon. See if it happens, and see if you think it was absolutely essential to the character or the plot development.

Seriously, how can it be essential? Unless the story concerns a plague that is identified by massive regurgitation, then we do not have to see it, hear it, be grossed out by it. Do we? The character could do it off camera and then tell someone that it happened.

I’m certain that it is simply a trend in modern movie making. There have been other trends, also designed to provide a shock, a jolt, of realism — profuse blood flow, slow-motion gunplay, head-butting. Of course, more mature (old) viewers have complained for decades (maybe forever) about sex and profane language in movies. Admittedly, the complaining has not decreased the incidence of those trends.

However, you do see what I mean about vomit being an option, right? Think of the most egregiously violent scenes in movies, such as the massive shootings of Bonnie and Clyde in their car and of Sonny Corleone at the toll booth; the fight scenes of Rocky and Rockys 2,3,4,5, etc.; the gunfights at all of the OK corrals. Those were crucial, pivotal, downright necessary to the telling. On the other hand, we can be told that someone has hepatitis or is drunk or has the flu or whatever other million things evidently make all actors regurgitate … can’t we?

Let’s all work together to aim for a Tell, Don’t Show policy. If you don’t agree with me yet, maybe now you’ll notice the trend and come to my side of the argument. I must admit that many people are fans of this thing I find so revolting. Fans, I tell you. But I’m optimistic that you’ll join my parade.

Once you do agree, once you are disgusted and insulted by the gratuitous displays, do this: Send an email to the production company of the offending movie or TV show. It’s easy — in that email, simply say “Please stop it,” and then link to this article you’re reading now. Simply paste this URL (http://dowriteright.blogspot.com/2009/03/im-gonna-be-sick.html) into your email.

Just think: Together we might be able to curtail this Linda Blair Pea Soup Phenomenon, this if-you-drink-you-must-puke mindset.

A Stephen King short story and then movie, Stand by Me, featured a whole crowd of people vomiting. Let’s turn the tide. Let’s collectively say, Don’t Stand Anywhere Near Me.



rebeccaberry23 said...

I am pleased to have finally discovered a blog that is worth reading! Thank you for your wit and your obsession with grammar. I was petrified to write this comment (knowing a mistake would be caught). I find errors everywhere, even in my own words. Your blog and comments, on news-record.com, are very interesting. I look forward to reading more of your insight.
Rebecca Pfafftown, NC

LUNASEE(* said...

i feel the same way about sex scenes. not sure if it's for shock or if people are desensitized...there's a word for ya!...but enough is enough. it's borderline porn...and it's on daytime tv and nighttime tv and almost on commercials. we get it...they did it. now what? i too get nervous typing comments bc i know you know all there is to know about the big G...grammar that is. ;P

John said...

COUNTERPOINT - Jeff Goldblum, "The Fly", 1986