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Writer bias in books, TV, movies, and theater

  1. Dec 13, 2011 #1

    Ivan Seeking

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    Tonight I was watching Stephen King's Bag of Bones and noticed a common motif - a famous author moves to a small, remote town, and encounters X. What caught my attention wasn't the weird, small town motif [I can relate to that one! :rofl:], it is that so often the main character is a writer. Could this be because authors like to write about authors? Funny.

    Another one that I've noticed over years is that, according to many popular TV shows, the average person is far more talented, and is clearly trained in song and dance to a much greater extent than one would ever find in the real world. Perhaps the most cliché abuse of this motif is the "sing around the piano". Have you ever been to a party where everyone stands around a piano and sings? Does your family do this? Do you know or have you ever met anyone who sits down, plays the piano, and sings for the crowd? Given that most struggling actors, as the adage goes, are failed rock stars, it isn't surprising to see this bias.

    Funny enough, just recently I met a musically inclined family that in fact gathers around the piano and sings. I couldn’t believe it! That makes, one.

    Presumably the singaround was common before we had modern devices like wire recorders and Victrolas.
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2011
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  3. Dec 13, 2011 #2
    Stephen King has written WAY too many books about authors. The other big criminal in this department just now is Kathy Reichs, on whose books the TV show Bones is based. "Bones", the lead character, is a forensic anthropologist who writes murder mysteries on the side, which is what Kathy Reichs does.

    The earliest instance of this I know of was in a Chekhov play, Three Sisters, I believe: one of the characters is a writer. I wonder if others know of earlier examples.

    Actually this happens more often than you'd think, but with guitars, not pianos. I know people in three different cliques where a spontaneous guitar sing around is fairly frequent.
     
  4. Dec 13, 2011 #3

    Chi Meson

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    I'll just quote you to there.
     
  5. Dec 13, 2011 #4

    Ivan Seeking

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    Interesting. I knew people who would play the guitar and sing at parties but I never saw the crowd join in. As for the piano, never. This year was the first time I'd ever met a family that actually does this.

    As for guitarists at parties, the pair that come to mind first were failed rock stars that ended up playing the lead characters in the movie, Phantasm.
     
  6. Dec 13, 2011 #5
    Ever notice that just about all of the characters in Tolstoy's books are Russian?
     
  7. Dec 13, 2011 #6

    Ivan Seeking

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    Likewise, most of Disney's characters had four legs.
     
  8. Dec 13, 2011 #7
    There are, in fact, at least here in San Diego, nocturnally roving herds of kids who will meet at various places and one or two among them will bring their guitars. If they play a song everyone knows, random people will join in. I've seen stuff like this at the 24 hour cafes I frequent, as well as at the beaches: groups of kids sitting around one or two with guitars.

    The quality of anyone's contribution is not what you might see in movies, but the fact of a spontaneous sing around is real. In my experience, half the people I know have picked up a guitar and learned a song or two on it, toying with the idea of rock stardom. (It's an easy instrument to start on, there are huge numbers of songs that have only three easy chords.)
     
  9. Dec 13, 2011 #8

    Ivan Seeking

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    Well, apparently your friends are just a lot more artsy-fartsy than mine. :biggrin:
     
  10. Dec 13, 2011 #9

    turbo

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    I came of age in the 60's when the "bring a guitar" thing was pretty popular, and people actually did join in. I didn't get as many spontaneous singers as some others, because I absolutely refused to play stuff like "Puff The Magic Dragon".

    Actually, I didn't play much Dylan, Lightfoot, or Baez, either. That stuff was 'way overdone.
     
  11. Dec 13, 2011 #10
    Maybe it's not as true of math/science types, I dunno, but the desire to play guitar seems as ubiquitous as the desire to write poetry or paint/draw.

    You should be aware that when asked, a lot of people will deny they've ever tried anything artistic. In fact, they've actually dabbled in secret but feel they aren't good enough to show their stuff to anyone.

    If you pull a guitar out under the right circumstances (say if there's alcohol involved) you'll suddenly get a song or two out of people you wouldn't suspect.

    Jimmy Snyder won't admit it, but he can play a mean "Inna Gadda Da Vida" and, surprisingly, Lady Gaga's "Poker Face".
     
  12. Dec 13, 2011 #11

    Ivan Seeking

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    Just kidding, Zooby. I too definitely have an artistic side.

    I wasn't around much for the folk era, but I loved the music, esp including Puff!!! :grumpy:
     
  13. Dec 13, 2011 #12

    turbo

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    Guitar is the perfect instrument for impromptu music. It is portable with a very wide range that accords well with the human voice. Nobody ever hauled a piano to my parents' modest old home at Christmas-time. I never hauled out my trumpet for living-room improv, either. Guitars Rule!
     
  14. Dec 13, 2011 #13

    Ivan Seeking

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    One of my favorite silly movies is Galaxy Quest. It was as good of a spoof as any on the cliches of science fiction. One of my favorite gags was the timer for the "whatever" device that counted down to one [maybe two or three], and then stopped just before destroying the "whatever". Why did it stop? In the movies, they always stop just before detonating!

    Another one that was pretty good was Alien Trespass
    https://www.physicsforums.com/showpost.php?p=3362577&postcount=381
     
  15. Dec 13, 2011 #14

    turbo

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    Galaxy Quest is a classic. Maybe not just yet, but when another generation discovers the movie, it will be. In 10 years, expect midnight screenings in smaller movie theaters.
     
  16. Dec 13, 2011 #15
    I know this about you from stuff you've posted, but I'm betting more of your friends and people you work with have the same artistic side locked in a truck under the stairs, and you'd have to get them drunk for them to pull it out.

    The guitar hasn't gone out of style since the 60's, but I think Emo music has currently overtaken folk.

    There was a kind of resurgence in interest in guitar about 7 years ago when this song came out:

    [YouTube]j6XZsau7CSk[/YouTube]

    Everyone suddenly wanted to be this emo guy playing and singing this incredibly poignant song. (If you don't know this song, Ivan, I'm pretty sure you'll like it. You should listen.)
     
  17. Dec 13, 2011 #16

    Ivan Seeking

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    Beautiful! I love it.
     
  18. Dec 13, 2011 #17
    Thought you would. Zoobies are not sentimental, but that song gets the water works going for me.
     
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