Friday, September 14, 2012

Why We Shouldn't Be Afraid To Make The Hard Choice

Okay, I have to start by admiting something. this is hard to say...I watch...the Clone Wars animated television show.

Yes, I admit it. It's terrible. Not because it's animated, cause hey, there are tons of good animated shows out there. (Avatar the Last Airbender anyone?)

No, the reason I'm embarrassed to say I watch it is that the writers seem incapable or contractually obligated to avoid making hard choices.

First off, when they focus on the major characters such as Obi-Wan or Anakin or any of the ones that appear in the movies there's no tension because you know these characters will live no matter what happens. The stories involving them are almost invariably trite and at best rise to the level of pretty adventure stories with very little soul.

The few redeemable moments for the show come when it focuses on the clones and their lot in life. I mean, think about it, here is a group of living beings that were created for the soul purpose of waging war. The clone centric episodes focus on the cost of war, of what it means to be a soldier, of what it means to put your life on the line for something you're not sure you believe in. They put the focus on themes that I find interesting and wish to see explored in greater detail. But only if they're willing to make the hard choice.

What do I mean by that? Let me give you an example. In a recent arc I was watching the clone troopers were being led by an four-armed Jedi who spent their lives callously. I was really enjoying it right up until the end when it was revealed that, hold onto your seats, the Jedi isn't really a Jedi he's a traitor who's getting ready to go over to the other side. Gah!

They took what could have been an interesting villain and transformed him into a mustache twirling git! Worse yet, they undermined the whole theme they'd been working on for the entire arc. Instead of the story being about the lengths war will drive some leaders to and the callous nature of command it became a story about a traitor manipulating others without any great reason why he was doing it. Again, gah!

The writers failed to make the hard choice. If they'd made the villain a true Jedi then it would have cast doubt on every action taken by the Jedi from that point on and the clones willing subjugation to them. I mean, come on, this is almost an entire race that was bred to be willing and compliant soldiers. Setting things up so that they start questioning their place in the war and their reasons for fighting it could have led down some interesting narrative paths, and showing the Jedi as less than noble or even callous at times would have made them more multi-dimensional as well.

This is why I think writers and authors need to be allowed and not afraid to make the hard choice, the one that takes them into unsafe territory. If we don't allow ourselves to do that, if we play it safe in our stories then we miss the opportunity to tell those really great tales that will be remembered, that will have an impact.

Don't be afraid of the hard choice.

(And yes, I writing this to remind myself as much as to tell others to do it.)

No comments:

Post a Comment