Thursday, January 20, 2011

Other People's Kids

I love kids.

Okay, perhaps a caveat. I love my kids. In a general way, sure, I love all kids. I totally tear up every time I see one of those soldier-comes-home-to-surprise-kids videos. (Oh fine. Can't resist):

I'll give you a moment.


Sometimes, when what you think you're getting is cuddles and rainbows you end up with this:

I think it comes down to expectations. When I'm with my kids, I know them, they know me, we've got a groove going. If someone freaks out and throws a temper tantrum, I know they're out of control and they know I won't put up with it. We understand each other. When it isn't my kid though, I've got no idea what behavior is normal or not. Should I ignore it? Should I cut it off? It can get kind of uncomfortable. Routine for me might be wildly harsh for another parent.

Note: I'm not super harsh. But we've got rules. My kids have worn bum grooves in the time-out spot.

This happens with books too. You pick up a book with some guy on the front, bending his lady friend in an almost unbelievable back-bend, and you think you know what you're getting. "Aha!" you might think, "mushy, cheeseball and probably a bit smexy." Then you either put it down with a shudder or giddily tuck it into your bag.

So if, for instance, in the middle of said book you run across a stray alien invasion, and suddenly the romance plot is waylaid by the immediate need to save the earth, well you might be a bit put off.

A year or so ago the hubs and I (still seeking an excellent nickname for him) were watching Eagle Eye. If you missed it, I'm not surprised. All in all, I think it was pretty okay. At least, I was intrigued and entertained for much of it. But then, at the pivotal moment, it pulled off its disguised and revealed itself to be a traditional sci-fi thriller al la iRobot, but without Will Smith.

Nothing wrong with that, its just I'd thought it was more of a big brother, this-could-be-reality type movie. The distinction was maybe slight, but as a viewer, I felt gypped.

Let's tie all this rambling together, shall we? Don't confuse your audience. Don't promise them one thing, then pull the old switcheroo. Surprise is good though, right? Of course! Turn expectations on their head! Make new genres! Fight the good fight!

Don't just substitute one cliche for another, or think you've got a new concept when you're just trying to rebrand an old one.

I'm sorta guilty of this, I think. Its hard to be completely fresh and original. Still. Even if what you've got is derivative drivel, own it. Be proud of your work, but label it what it is.


Amanda the Aspiring said...

I totally agree about Eagle Eye! I was expecting Big Brother, and then it was just a super computer. I still liked it, but I think a more Big-Brother-like scenario would have made me happier. =)

Also, I'd like to let you know that I've awarded you the Stylish Blogger award, so if you accept awards/haven't already received this one, you can pick it up here: =)

Renee Collins said...

You're killing me with that soldier video!! Oh gosh, those things hit me right in the heart. I started tearing up before I even watched it. I'm still trying to compose myself.