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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Right or Wrong

I had Stephen King's Storm of the Century miniseries checked out from Netflix for almost a full month. I finally got around to watching it over a couple of nights a few weeks ago, and overall, I enjoyed its four hours. While I found some of the acting very hammy and the music just reeking of silly 1990s TV scores ("Hey, keyboards are awesome and you don't need live musicians! It sounds just like the real thing!"), I was quite taken with the final twenty minutes of it.

Without spoiling anything, let's just say the final quarter deals with the decision the town makes in dealing with the evil stranger that has come to town. There are plenty of reasons as to why they should have made their decision, while there are plenty of valid reasons to have done something else.

This kind of ambiguity of what the "right" thing to do is all over King's work. Frankly, I like reading books and watching movies that don't present the "right" thing to do as such a clear-cut thing. A decision has to be made, and there will be consequences. And more often than not, these consequences do not yield a perfect sunny ending.

I don't enjoy reading this stuff all the time (I'll take Back to the Future or A New Hope over the The Mist if I'm in the mood for something fun), but I do like it when writers and filmmakers present this. They don't want to just serve the masses with everything tied up in a neat bow.

Yet, based on the reactions of some people I know, it seems like if you like stuff like this, you might as well be into child molestation or bestiality. To be very blunt, that kind of condescending, snap judgment is just way off the mark. I don't know what the "right" decision should have been made in pivotal scenes in Storm of the Century, The Mist, and The Box. But the decisions that were made forced me to think about why they were made.

As I've said before, I'm not one to always watch movies or read books with down endings. But as somebody who sees movies and books as more than entertainment, I like it when there is something more than just something you turn your brain off for a few hours. Is that so wrong? I don't think so. And for those that just want to judge a complete piece of work based on a plot point should not think the whole thing is garbage. And they should not think the people that find merit in this stuff as horrible, threatening heathens.

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