Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Boring is The New Black. And It Always Has Been.

I like John Wilder's blog.

Can't help posting this clip. I love it.

That's why I added it to the Blogroll over to the right --->
the first day I found it. (And binge-read about two years' worth.)

Today's offering is another good one. He talks about a familiar Hollywood trope.
And I share his opinion, yet again. Our agreement so frequently is an indisputable measure of how brilliant he is.
(Although I do not share his fascination with PEZ. I would just buy a bag of candy, and forego the ritual of loading tiny candies into a sawn-off dispenser decorated with someone's head, because I'm a cut-to-the-chase kind of guy.)

Today's post put me in mind to reply there. But it got too long, so he lost a long comment, and I get a blog post. And now, so do you.

One of many differences between Hollywood scripts and Reality v1.0:

IRL, the hero-become-bum doesn't wake up, decide to turn himself around, and become Rocky.
He lives in squalor, catches a cold, works it into pneumonia, and he dies, right there in that rat -infested alley.
Every. Single. Time.

People IRL with their crap together never become the bum in the alley, because they're not that stupid to begin with.

To stab another trope in the heart, they don't get on the suicide mission with the Hero, not even with a parachute.
Because they never get on the Plane Ride Of Death to begin with.

Kids have fairytale storybooks.
Grown ups have movies.
Some of them are valuable, accurate, and teach valuable life lessons, or they're just hella good entertainment that scratches our cultural itch for a happy ending. (Not many of those lately, but the few we get tend to be exquisite.)

But the best life lessons don't make good theatre.
Stay in school.
Get married before you have kids.
Stay married.
Live within your means.
Save for what's important.
Make prudent preparations for tougher times.
Don't play stupid games; don't win stupid prizes.

There's a stack of those scripts in a landfill, because no one would pay money for such predictably obvious common sense.

Hollywood (like some blogs) has learned that Bad Decisions Make Good Stories.
"Tragedy is me stubbing my toe.
Comedy is you falling off a cliff."
- Mel Brooks

We've noted in these pages that the ironclad recipe for every drama, good and bad, is always the same as the template for every episode of Rescue 9-1-1:
a) Intractable forces of Nature
b) Human stupidity


"A rattlesnake crawls into the yard.
Marge left her three-year-old toddler playing outside unsupervised, so she could concentrate on her soap opera.
Let's see what happens next."

"The Coast Guard forecast a full gale warning.
But Biff has a shiny new 25' cabin cruiser to take out for his first day on the water, with no radio or safety gear.
What could possibly go wrong?"

That's not just Rescue 9-1-1 melodrama, it's every day life.
I work in the ER. Ask me how I know.

"An M-80 has a substantial amount of explosive force.
Timmy elects to hold a lit one in his hand anyways, because beer.
What happens next?
Tune in tomorrow to hear the sad ending of 'My New Nickname Is Lefty.'"

This sort of reality-that-isn't-news is true in courthouses everywhere.
And jail booking desks.
And unemployment counters.
And loan shark offices.
And every search and rescue call center, since about ever.
And casinos from coast to coast.
And on and on and on.

Take either component A or B away, and you lose the whole drama.
(And hey, good luck getting Nature not to be intractable.)
So that leaves the one variable that can always be changed.

Skid Row is full of people who jumped into "B", with both feet.

It's never to early to not make poor life choices.

But the world is full of people who realize that after they jump into the enclosure to pet the polar bears.

We call these people "examples".
And if fortune smiles on their efforts, we call them Darwin Award Winners, First Class (no offspring).
Because those genes aren't going to cull themselves.


Arthur Sido said...

It wouldn't fix all of our problems, but if we stopped trying to insulate people from the consequences of their poor decisions and/or poor genetic material it would go a long way toward righting the ship. Applies equally to our own country and to foreign nations (see: Haiti)

Borepatch said...

Or said more succinctly:

Yeah, yeah - who am *I* to point out succinctness ...

Anonymous said...

I also say this. I thrive in being boring ie thrifty. Live modestly but with good quality fresh food, no extravagant shopping, keep healthy hours, exercise, work, save, watch the rain and sunrise and listen to the birds and wind and enjoy time with family, contribute to community. It makes us rich in soul and, it would seem, happier than many a Hollywood type.

Old NFO said...

Gotta agree with Arthur!

Anonymous said...

Pain is the great teacher and stupid needs to hurt or we never learn. One of my most vivid memories as a very young child was my parents both telling me to quit fucking around with a lighted electrical switch but despite all the warnings, all the hand slapping, the spanking and stern talking to I just wouldn't learn. I simply loved screwing and unscrewing the little bulb. Finally I managed to put a dose of 120 volt current into my toddler fingertip and I was introduced to the magic that is electricity. Not only that but it made a dandy little blister on my finger that hurt for what seemed ages but I finally learned.

Today in society we not only don't allow people to feel the pain of bad decisions we insulate them from any consequences and give incentives for more of the same behaviors. Many people in the U.S. and abroad need an electrical socket experience or they're never going to learn.

Bear Claw Chris Lapp said...

I especially recently have told people for the millionth time, "Adversity is the greatest teacher, unfortunately". It taught me a lot but for blessings survived.

A Texan said...

As I often say to my kids, "You will learn something from every person that you meet. Sometimes you'll learn what to do, but far more often you'll learn what NOT to do."

They're already tired of it...but are beginning (as teens) to see some of the wisdom. Note that I didn't invent the statement, but I strive to not be the guy who teaches people what not to do.

Anonymous said...

You aren’t lying or exaggerating about the coast guard example. Something just like what you describe happens all the damn time. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to go get someone and the entire way out there we are bitching about ‘what the hell was this person thinking’. Our boats are built for it, we aren’t really in danger under almost any normal conditions, but it still gets really old, really quickly when you are getting your ass kicked out there because someone ignored all broadcast warnings telling them not to do that, as well as commmon sense, and ventured 20 miles offshore in a 20 foot boat. I often think the coast guard primarily exists to prevent Darwin from being proven right.

Aesop said...

I never lie.
And like Mr. Spock, my guesses are more accurate than most people's facts.
Comes from having a memory like a sponge for every bit of arcana out there, as a future Jeopardy! finalist.

John Wilder said...

First, Aesop, thank you again for the very kind words, I'd been reading your blog (quietly) for years before you saw my little place!

Ha, great post/comment! Think of all of that as evolution in action, as Niven and Pournelle noted decades ago.

Yeah, the fairy tale of the movie is just that - a fairy tale. We want to believe in the power of human redemption, which is why those movies sell. We so want to believe it, because we want to believe we can redeem ourselves.

Pretty lies . . .

The bright spot is The Mrs. hasn't told me I can't buy the T-34. It would look pretty good in the driveway . . . .

(Actually she's fine if I buy one, she just wants a 60's Mustang. Proof? I bought a 6.5 Creedmoor the other day and she had no comment. At all.)

Anonymous said...

Ah John, you should know by now that when they go silent, they're at their most dangerous....


Pat H. said...

All who have worked in the operating room, and probably in emergency rooms as well, know that boring is good and exciting is from bad to very bad.

I really disliked exciting days.

At the hospital I worked RNs scrubbed or circulated in equal lengths of time. I loved scrubbing, but it could be "exciting" from time to time. There's nothing like working to save a life while their blood fills up your shoe.

Anonymous said...

If stupidity weren't protected Obama would never have been elected twice. Or even once. The Democrats need to protect all those potential Darwin Award contestants or they would never get elected to anything.

MartinW said...

What movies did you have in mind when you wrote about some of the recent ones tending toward exquisite?

Aesop said...

Hacksaw Ridge
They Shall Not Grow Old
Start there.

OvergrownHobbit said...

Just a drive by to say that I'd found Mr. Wilder's blog, lost/forgotten it, and you reminded me of it today.

Thank you very much.