03 February, 2011

Are movies and books competitors?

I'm a book geek, no doubt about it. I love learning new things and getting new points. Often they come from books. There's nothing wrong with that. It's just that I have started to develop this quality common to many book enthusiasts: I criticize movies and TV, and sometimes my arguments rest on a level of "I think most of it is just crap." Even I know that's not an argument, that's stupidity! All this got me thinking that maybe I just don't get it right. I've always felt that books and movies are somehow each others' competitors or replacements. Are they?

If we stick to fiction for a while, a book is a story with the structure attached, but the details missing. So, one ends up filling in the details and picturing the landscapes on the go. This makes it easier (at least for me) to mentally transport myself into the story and hop into a character's shoes. That way, I learn better and can learn easier to the emotions of a character. Due to the relative freedom of imagination in visualizing the book, I can always imagine myself into the story.

With movies, the situation is quite different. What's written in the script is played on the screen, and there's no way of denying that the story is situated in the Rocky Mountains, if that's what one sees on the screen. I have to enjoy a movie as it is, whereas a book I can enjoy more just as an idea creator.

That was the familiar part, me displaying movies as somehow "worse" than books. I shall now dive into the part how they are also "better".

I've been to many movies, which I've enjoyed thoroughly. The best ones have been always been able to create a wave of emotion at some point. I even remember crying, or at least almost, in some movies. The wave of emotion is something I've never been able to achieve with books. Books can be exciting, to the point that I spend a night reading instead of sleeping. But at best, they stimulate my intellectual brain parts.

Also, not many books make me laugh like a maniac. That's why I love comedy so much. A good episode of the Simpsons is really all I need to get over a bad day. It would be almost comedy just to video me watching the episode alone, laughing like I'm crazy. How often does that happen with books? Quite rarely. So it's not just about the deep messages. Hear what Mike Royko said:
“I never went to a John Wayne movie to find a philosophy to live by or to absorb a profound message. I went for the simple pleasure of spending a couple of hours seeing the bad guys lose.”
All in all, I guess I have to admit that these two forms of entertainment are not from the same sphere. Both tell stories but with a different focus. And they both have their uses. Seems like reality bested my literature-biased sense once again. Maybe, one day, I'll write a book about it!

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