Thursday, January 6, 2011

Next Stop: Ninth Grade

Jeff Bridges, as Kevin Flynn in the recent Disney production, Tron: Legacy, says: "Perfection is unknowable."

David Tennant, as Dr. Who in a 2009 Thanksgiving special for the series, says: "Adelaide, I've done this sort of thing before. In small ways, saved some little people. But never someone as important as you. Ooh, I'm good!" Adelaide responds, "Little people? What, like Mia and Yuri? Who decides they're so unimportant? You?"

I wonder this. Who, after Thomas Carlyle, subscribed to the Great Man approach to history as a vindicated academic discipline? Long before the cultural turn and all its friends, there's been no such thing as a one-man production on the historical stage. And the quest for perfection? Didn't that leave the realm of philosophy essentially the same time the discipline split from theology?

They say that as the size of a mob increases, the average intelligence of its members decreases. They say that news broadcasts are delivered for the average intelligence of a 14-year-old.

Must it be so? I'm not yet convinced it does.

More importantly, even if we take for granted that these ventures will be produced for 14-year-olds: why can't we be smarter than a 14-year-old? A computer programmer ought to be better than a typical user. A teacher who assigns "1984" should have read other dystopian novels, the rest of George Orwell's bibliography, know the historical s/he will have a leg up on his/her students. Did Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz contemplate perfection and come merely to that conclusion when they wrote Tron? Was "little people" the ultimate decision Russell T Davies could reach for Dr. Who?

When I wrote about Inception I asked what it is we're afraid of contemplating, why the American movie-going public needs its failsafes of video games and immortality.

Why do we need to restrict ourselves from enlightenment? From riddles? From ambiguity and contemporaneity? Don't tell me The People aren't smart enough. I say they're not trying hard enough.

No comments: