Glances at Big Ideas

If I may relate a few very baseline concepts about the way things work: Nonfictional media is so very fascinating because, while it still very much tells a story, it’s created in the opposite way from fiction. Okay, maybe the documentarian, historian, or whoever has an idea of the narrative they want to present, but the way it actually happens is that they gather footage and information, then cut away all of the unnecessary content until what’s left is a coherent story.

If a fiction writer is a painter, then documentarians and journalists are sculptors. One carefully decides every flourish to realize a vision; the other, with equal care, removes the bits of reality they’ve gathered that have nothing to do with what they’re trying to say.

So fiction and nonfiction are mirror images: real and unreal stories created in opposite ways. The fictional has more of a visceral appeal to me personally, but I recognize and appreciate the validity of both.

It’s also worth noting that the whole “mockumentary” phenomenon is really interesting in that it tries to appear like it’s been created with the limitations that apply to the capturing of real events, and in that effort gain a kind of impact that people generally perceive reality possesses. Yet oftentimes the way real stories are related with the greatest impact is to dramatize them with all the trappings of fiction.

Not quite sure of the full implications of any of that, but I hope you’ll agree it’s important to ponder.

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Sports and Like Conduct

So the Superbowl was today (yesterday, but I’m still awake) and since that’s the one sporting event of the year that I actually watch all the way through (for commercials and food), I might as well give quick thoughts as to why I don’t really care about nationally televised games of skill.

Sports don’t appeal to me. I don’t quite support the idea of people dedicating their lives to a game which they then play at a professional level for lots of money while everyone watches. It doesn’t gel. I get that anyone could say that about the things I love, and I’m fine with that (though I’ll passionately defend myself and my interests). But I still don’t like sports. That’s not to say I can’t get caught up in them, and in fact my penchant for finding a narrative really does allow me, if I invest myself, to get somewhat tied up in the outcome of a game.

That said, I don’t bother following the culture because it all comes down to physical competition (the least interesting kind), and I like to be entertained by stories that are crafted, with real intention behind everything that happens. Many would say sports are far more real than any story ever told, but I hardly care when that realism comes at the price of meaning and entertainment. The best sporting event of the year doesn’t have a reflection of the brilliance of the best pieces of media. They have the potential to be visceral, but that hardly matters when the potential for everything in fiction is infinite.

Perhaps this declaration of disinterest would be more notable if it came from a skilled athlete, but though I do understand how a person could get truly invested in the world of physical competition, I made my decision long ago without ever realizing it. I’ve chosen the fictional, and haven’t found it even a little tempting to, over the course of my life, devote an ounce of my thought or fandom to something that comprises, I readily acknowledge, a massive swath of our culture.

The result: There is a world of small talk from which I’m excluded, and I’m not a sportswriter. This, in fact, will be the extent of my sportswriting.

Glad that’s done with. Now holy hell, did you see that Avengers trailer?!