I can’t help being an irascible old so-and-so, because I am driven to it by coming across so many things I just don’t understand, and cannot see the reason for. Recently I accidentally came across a new version of Robin Hood on TV. I think probably all my life, as a childish romantic, I have enjoyed the various versions, written and in films, of the Robin Hood saga. This time however, Robin Hood’s merry men were fighting with martial art techniques, and performing not just clever feats, but unbelievable ones. My old brain fails to understand why it was necessary to jazz up the battle scenes in this way, when the weapons and armaments of a bygone age are every bit as interesting if not more so, than the total impossible gyrations, and jumps, leaps and bounds which would dwarf the high jump and long jump records. There was also another film, for which the title attracted me, which started off with what I took to be Buddhist monks in some sort of seminary. They were being taught martial arts and for a while this was amusing and then they went out into the wider world, where just the two of them were defeating an army of hundreds. I switched off, but couldn’t put the image out of my mind, that some producer was able to sell this codswallop, to a gullible public. If you want to tell a fairytale, that’s fair enough, the whole atmosphere of the story, written or visual, is clearly romanticism, so anything goes. But to take any story, which is about hoodlums, hoods, people in the 16th century, and just basic criminals, and give skills and astronomical abilities to the people in the story, totally outside any reasonable excuse, to me is absurd and can’t be justified. Entertainment should be believable within the overall context, smashing everything, wrecking cars, wrecking whole streets in car chases, is common, gets a hero or the criminal conveniently out of trouble, but defeats reason. We fortunately have Sky plus, a system whereby it is possible to record in seconds, or weeks ahead, and as a result have sufficient material for when we come across something that is totally stupid, to switch off, erase it and go to something else recorded. My problem is that this is happening more, and too often.
After looking at a Hong Kong version of Robin, I wondered why children accepted this, and what effect it was having on them. I looked at some research on the Internet and found a treatise on fundamental responses in young children. Cartoons of objects were shown to children in the first, fourth and sixth grades. The young ones responded to movement. Both older grades responded mainly in terms of intention they attributed to the objects, what they expected to happen next. Their responses to more difficult cartoons took into account movements and quantity change. What I write here, is very sketchy and elementary, my interpretation is that the older children, from experience, anticipate in advance what they expect to happen Whether I am right, I can’t guarantee. What I. have discovered, however, is that in cartoons and in films now, the action and the dialogue are a lot faster and more confusing to me, they jump from scene to scene rather than having a smooth progression, so that much is left to interpretation and imagination. It would therefore seem that the fact that children and adults are assumed to anticipate, is used by the entertainment world to allow them to portray stories in these complicated and juddering scenes, rather than in a smooth flow. Economy maybe is the basic reason.
One other aspect of a modern-day entertainment scene is that more violence enters into every aspect, be it in films or cartoons, than in the past. Even Tom and Jerry, who were castigated years ago for the level of violence, when really the scenario was so graphically unbelievable, while being highly amusing, people didn’t think of it as violence. But in some recent Tom and Jerry cartoons I have seen, kung fu or whatever, has found its way in. I believe that a lot of the gratuitous violence, incredible destruction, and totally unbelievable action in entertainment, is on the increase, and could well sub-consciously be accepted as the norm, when it becomes a daily diet.
It is for my readers to decide whether I am talking nonsense, an old man disillusioned with progress and moaning, or perhaps an octogenarian whose experience might at last be bearing fruit.