Monday, February 25, 2008

If You Want to Send a Message...

...use Western Union.

That was the old saying that Marion Zimmer Bradley used to use on her rejection slips if she considered a story to be overshadowed by a heavy-handed Message from the author.

I was thinking of that this weekend as I was watching Waterworld. When the principal villains were first referred to as the Smokers, I thought it meant they smoked their prey out of their refuges or some such.

And then we actually see them, and there they've got cigarettes hanging from their mouths. Now I've got no great use for tobacco, and was very glad when Indianapolis went smoke-free in public places. But it was just a little too heavy-handed, a little clearly obvious -- especially when combined with other imagery of the villains as being part of a certain anti-environmentalist mindset.

I think it could've worked, had it been handled more lightly. There are many things that can be done humorously that would fall flat in serious drama. But I do not get the feeling that the Smokers were being played for laughs, letting the message slip in as the audience is laughing.

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