Thursday, January 8, 2015

Not What but How

   What we say is important. Having a point behind my words or a point behind my stories is important. That means that I am not just blowing steam, but actually spending my time for a purpose. However, just because I have a good point, does not mean that I should sacrifice storytelling. How I tell a story or how I make a point is sometimes as important as the point itself.
   Take, for example, the Star Wars prequels. I think they have a fabulous point to make about a pitfall of institutional religion (more on that in a different post). The problem is that the way the story was told is not that great. The acting is poor in spots, the dialogue is not that strong, and some characters can be annoying. Also, the point itself can sometimes be lost in frivolous battles.
    Why is it important in how a point is conveyed? How a point is conveyed can say a lot about how people think of the point itself. For example, a teacher can have wonderful grammatical principles to give to his students, but if he cannot give teach them well then the students will not learn them. If the teacher does not properly teach the principles, then what importance will those principles hold in the students' minds?
   Here's another analogy: a Jacksonville Jaguars fan is really excited that their football team had a winning season. This is a legitimate reason to celebrate and to tell to others. However, if the fan tells all her friends that her team is way better than theirs and, ergo, their teams suck, that message will be soured by the means. If, however, the football fan excitedly mentions to her friends that her team has a winning record after however-many-seasons, then she gives her friends a chance to celebrate with her, rather than be defensive about their teams.
   This also applies to giving movie reviews. Last year, I reviewed God's Not Dead and had a few critical things to say about it. I opened with the critical remarks, and then the rest of the review was nitpicked by fans thinking I was criticizing the entire thing. The way I worded my review and how I presented it caused people to make assumptions about my thoughts. It was not just what I said about the film which represented my views, but how I said them.
   I also listened to a podcast recently which reviewed The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies. They opened negatively, waxed on eloquently about the pitfalls of the film, and then squeezed in a few things they liked about it. Of course, most of what they said was with good reason. The film has many shortcomings, I acknowledge that. However, the way the statements were made (stating that this was obviously bad or nobody could keep from laughing at this part) discredits those people, belittles even, those who may have liked the film. Perhaps this is just me being thin-skinned, but I think that even when criticizing, there must be some measure of tact.
   Of course, most of humor nowadays entails belittling and making fun of stuff. Some stuff well deserves it, some doesn't, but it gets funnies made about it all the same. Maybe this is me just being ridiculous, but I think, to some extent, respect should be the first thought. Then, in relationship, loving jokes can be made. I don't know how that really works in an age were media can be thrown up on the internet where anybody can see it, but I'd like to challenge myself to be more respectful, even with things, or people, I dislike.

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