ROFL: Random Outbursts From Lar! LarryNocella.com

21Feb/11Off

The Girl with the Drag on and on and on and on…

Don’t you go hate when you think something sucks and everyone else loves it? I'm sure it's happened to you: some item of culture (a movie, TV show, book, band, etc.) achieves massive popularity, your friends rave, critics drool, but when you finally check it out, you’re severely unimpressed. In fact, you think it stinks.

Then the paranoia begins. You start wondering if there is something wrong with everyone. Or if they’re all playing a joke on you. Maybe you worry about yourself. Now you know how those stock characters in conspiracy movies feel when they're carted away screaming, “I'm not crazy! You're all the crazy ones!”

I've been in this situation more often than I like, and sometimes I've wished there was an objective way to prove something sucks. Not that a suck-o-meter device would change anything, but it would at least provide some vindication, or prove that I am crazy. I'm so convinced that the award-winning movie Gladiator sucked, that it would make a suck-o-meter's needle redline and the glass on the display crack.

Unfortunately, there is no objectivity in opinion. The only way to get impartial is with numbers. Five will always be greater than four, but you can't say in a way that everyone will agree that Gladiator sucked and Spartacus: Blood and Sand rules. However, if I can express my opinion in numbers, maybe I can make a point.

So let's consider a different case. I've searched for years for what it is about Saturday Night Live that makes people think it's worth watching, because I just don't get it. I've concluded its longevity is due mostly to its time slot and tradition, because it sure can't be the alleged comedy. When I've been forced to watch it by people who insist it's funny, I notice even they don't laugh, but that late on a Saturday night, when most people are more than halfway intoxicated, what else is on besides infomercials?

While sometimes funny, it’s objective fact that SNL pushes a joke to its breaking point and beyond. Prove it? No problem. Comedy rotates around threes. In any joke the first two guys who enter a bar set up the base. The third guy triggers the punchline. On SNL, a joke setup takes at least seven steps before the punchline finally breaks. If a guy says a silly phrase that's mildly funny, he’ll say it at least twenty times. All of these numbers are way beyond the required limits that natural selection has determined are necessary for the generation of comedy. Okay, that sounded a little nerdy but whatever! It still proves SNL beats dead horses, then beats the dry bones, then beats the bones' pulverized dust before moving on to the next skit. It's a fact.

"Oh, whatever," you say, "You snob. We still like it." Sure, you're welcome to, but that's why I don't: the repetition. I find myself yelling at the screen: "Okay! I got it!" You can like SNL or not, but you can't argue numbers.

Case two. I'm trying to explore why anyone would enjoy the novel that has lately dominated the bestseller lists: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson. I have a several reasons for not liking this book, but I'll express it in numbers. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo doesn't get moving, that is, it doesn't create any intense conflict, until around 75% of the way through. Until then, it's all tell and no show about a financial reporter. Yawn.

Imagine a two hour movie that didn't get interesting until 90 minutes (75%) in. Would you watch the whole thing? Fortunately, the movie The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo achieved the rare feat of being better than the book. How? Because the movie got right into the action.

Why? Why? Why? What is it about this book? I could understand if it hit the bestseller list and bounced down. But why has it hit and stayed? Is it the momentum of fame? Are strong, smart and capable women characters (Salander in the book) so rare that the presence of one is enough to prop it up?

I don't know, but I swear, I'm not crazy!

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Larry Nocella writes The Semi-True Adventures of Lar blog at LarryNocella.com. He's the author of the novel Where Did This Come From? The world's first CarbonFree(R) novel according to Carbonfund.org. The book is available on Amazon.com as a paperback and Amazon Kindle eBook. It is also available for other eBook readers.