October 24, 2016
There is a supposition that every story worth telling has already been told. Many movie producers and writers and TV execs are banking on this fact, and are now just telling us the same stories over and over again with slight variations. Superhero movies are an extreme example of this. For example, between 2002 and early 2017, there will have been three different reboots of the Spiderman series, spanning seven films in total, with three different actors playing Spiderman. I love a good radioactive spider as much as the next guy, but it seems as though movie producers could get a little more adventurous.
I am by no means saying that there isn’t a value in reimagining a story that has already been told. What I am saying is that we as consumers of media in all forms should look to step out of the box and search out a story we’ve never heard or seen or read before. This is one of the big reasons that I think “the book was better than the movie” is almost always true. When we interact with a story we’ve already read and had the pleasure of guessing at what is going to happen next, knowing the end is kind of a letdown. There is a risk in taking on a new story, but I think it’s worth taking.
I recently took one of these risks by watching the movie “The Lobster.” This movie is almost indescribable, but at its core it’s a story about people going to find love at a retreat center with the caveat that not finding love will get you turned into a creature of your choosing. This was a story that I had definitely not seen on the big screen before, and it was narrative that I had some trouble wrapping my head around. What I think separated the watching of this movie from watching the most recent iteration of the “Jack Reacher” series is that I had no idea what was coming. I had no expectations going in of what the outcome would be and because of this I was continually creating possible endings for the movie. As people who work in a field often based on storytelling, this creation of a possible narrative as we move through an unfamiliar story is an impactful exercise.
I will admit that I have been drawn in by the comfort of a familiar story with familiar characters many times. You will most likely find me on a couch watching the Gilmore Girls reboot on November 25. More and more, though, I will look to engage in some on-the-fly narrative building while engaging with an unfamiliar story, and I hope you will too.