Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people. - Eleanor Roosevelt



Friday, January 23, 2009

Show, don't tell

I was thinking... people who call themselves just artists annoy me.

OK. Every profession, including that of a con man, could be considered an art. I looked up the word artist to make my argument valid, and though there are several definitions, my argument holds plenty of water.

According to dictionary.com, art⋅ist   /ˈɑrtɪst/ Pronunciation [ahr-tist]

–noun
1. One, such as a painter, sculptor, or writer, who is able by virtue of imagination and talent or skill to create works of aesthetic value, especially in the fine arts.
2. A person whose work shows exceptional creative ability or skill: You are an artist in the kitchen.
3. One, such as an actor or singer, who works in the performing arts.
4. One who is adept at an activity, especially one involving trickery or deceit: a con artist.

A mechanic could have perfected his skill of fixing cars into an art. A plastic surgeon could be considered an artist, because he/she sculpts people's faces and bodies into something aesthetically pleasing (usually, anyway). A writer is an artist, because he/she creates an image with words.

Art is such an abstract thing, that to call oneself JUST an artist without specifying which kind, is, well, pretentious.

And it's pretentious, because especially when you take definition number two (A person whose work shows exceptional creative ability or skill) into consideration, you realize that "artist" isn't just an occupation-- it's a level of achievement and skill.

So, all you writers, painters, singers, actors, photographers, tattooists and others out there, who use their creativity to make the world a better place aesthetically-- a bit of advice: specify what kind of artist you are, otherwise, you have a high opinion of yourself which may be in its place; but it's better to let people make that conclusion on their own.

Show, don't tell.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Open Water. More than just a scary movie.

I've never been a big fan of scaring myself. The "adrenaline rush" that daredevils rant and rave about, and seem to be addicted to, is not something I want to induce with fear. Sky diving, bungee jumping, diving in shark-infested waters-- all that stuff just doesn't appeal to me and I doubt I'd get anything so pleasant as an adrenaline rush from doing them.

Scary movies also fall into this group of unappealing, supposedly adrenaline-rush-inducing things. It has been years since the movie Open Water made waves and won rave reviews for its raw style and simple story; a stressed out, workaholic couple go on a much needed vacation and have one heck of an adventure when they get left behind by their diving tour boat in shark-infested waters.

When I first heard about this movie, it, like any other scary movie, did not appeal to me. Moreover, it was annoyingly reminiscent in its style and popularity at the time of its release to the popular Blair Witch Project, which I never bothered to see. All around me, though, people were talking about Open Waterand reviewers were praising it. On the plus side at the time of its release, Open Waterproved that it wasn't necessary to have big shot filming equipment and George Clooney with Angelina Jolie in a movie for it to be big and incredibly entertaining. These are all good things to hear about a movie, especially when you, like me, want to be a writer who becomes an overnight success from something simple, yet genius. But nonetheless I had no desire to see what seemed to me like a modern-day and independent take on Jaws.

It wasn't until my sister's co-workers convinced her to watch Open Waterthat I ventured into scary, shark-infested waters for entertainment's, as well as curiosity's sake. I was nervous at first and had a bit of a struggle with myself deciding whether I should jeopardize my future relationship with the ocean or not, but I finally worked up the courage to sit down and watch this movie-- a little over four years after its release....

And. Well. I can safely and truthfully say I liked it. It was entertaining and raw in a good way. Albeit the actors were unknown, they were really good. I still need to explore the DVD's special features to understand exactly how such a movie was made, but I wouldn't be surprised if I found out that these two actors really were just thrown in the middle of the ocean and surrounded by sharks without lines to be memorized-- it was that convincing to me. I'm not going to spoil the end, but the ending was shocking, haunting and completely unpredictable.

I found after watching this movie that it is not meant to scare, or just give you an adrenaline rush, which I didn't experience. No. Maybe that was what its writer and director wanted it to be, a vehicle to scare, but I wasn't left with a fear of the water, or even sharks. My relationship with ocean waters and sharks is the same as it was before viewing this movie-- I only swim out enough to submerge myself and be able to touch the floor, and stay where there are a lot of people around. Though, I've cemented my decision to never go scuba diving, not because of the diving itself, but because of all the things that could go wrong because of human error and/or incompetence. I could get left behind on a snorkeling trip, too, I suppose, but snorkeling is generally done in shallower waters, and anyway, that's all I'm agreeing to in the future.

No. What I came out with from this movie was a realization and a newfound respect for how volatile life truly is. One minute you're stuck in a rut, doing mundane and boring things you don't think you'll ever miss, and the next you're not sure if you're gonna come out of a horrific situation alive to do those mundane and boring things you suddenly miss.

Open Water, to me, is a reminder that we should never work too hard to cherish the simple pleasures in our daily lives, because when we do, we might end up like Daniel and Susan-- shark bait.
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