14 July 2006
The 9/11 Flying Carpets… (Part IV - Real events; scripted events.)
How can you tell the difference between real events and make-believe or ‘scripted events’ that are ‘acted out’ by ‘characters’, some or all of whom may be fictional?
Also: A review of Plot Devices, Plot Holes, Literary Techniques, Suspension of Disbelief, Continuity, Rhetorical Remedies, Verisimilitude, Truthiness...
Part IV – How can you tell the difference between real events and the make-believe or ‘scripted events’ that are ‘acted out’ by ‘characters’, some or all of whom may be fictional?
Before answering that question, let’s review Plot Devices, Rhetorical Remedies and other terms and definitions used by the movie and television industries.
Narratology: “Narratology is the theory and study of narrative and narrative structure and (...) the way they affect our perception.”
The objects studied include “all kinds of narrated texts - both fiction (literature, poetry, etc.) and non-fiction (historiography, academic publishing, etc.), - as well as the dramatic structures, plot devices, characterization, settings, genres, and literary techniques.”
Continuity, Breaking the Fourth Wall, Suspension of Disbelief and Verisimilitude are important components of narratology.
Conceit: “Conceit is an extended metaphor, associated with metaphysical poetry, designed to push the limits of the imagination in order to portray something indescribable.”
Continuity: "Continuity is a very important aspect of any story. Per definition, it means the consistency of the characteristics of characters, plot, objects, places and events seen by the reader or the audience. To put it simpler, continuity includes everything about the universe where the story takes place - facts, history, common logic, laws of nature, etc. Ideally, these shouldn't contradict themselves."
Verisimilitude: “In literature, the term denotes the extent to which the characters and actions in a work of fiction exhibit realism or authenticity, or otherwise conform to our sense of reality. A work with a high degree of verisimilitude means that the work is very realistic and believable; works of this nature are often said to be ‘true to life.’”
“Verisimilitude is also the willingness to suspend one's disbelief (even if the events or fictitious representations might otherwise be considered preposterous) when the intensity of the story or interest in the characters overrides the need to believe that things are scientifically correct.”
Suspension of disbelief: “Suspension of disbelief is a willingness of a reader or viewer to suspend his or her critical faculties to the extent of ignoring minor inconsistencies so as to enjoy a work of fiction.”
“Suspension of disbelief is an essential component of live theatre, where it was certainly recognised by Shakespeare”.“The audience accepts limitations in the story being presented, sacrificing realism, and occasionally logic and believability for the sake of enjoyment [or to bring the story to a conclusion.]”
“Suspension of disbelief is also essential for the enjoyment of many movies and TV shows involving complex stunts and special effects. It's why many action movie fans are willing to accept the idea that the good guy can get away with shooting guns in public places or that cars will explode with a well-placed shot to the gas tank. It's also why many Dukes of Hazzard fans will accept the idea that a Dodge Charger can be jumped great distances with little to no damage to the car. Movies employing large amounts of CGI effects (such as the Matrix Trilogy or Terminator 2: Judgement Day) require a suspension of disbelief, as they are capable of portraying situations which clearly deviate from the laws of physics.”
“One of the most well known examples of suspension of disbelief is the acceptance that the iconic superhero, Superman, hides his identity from the world by simply donning a pair of glasses, wearing conservative clothing, and acting in a ‘mild mannered’ fashion, which contrasts with the large and in-charge personality of Superman. Not only is the disguise so thin as to be ridiculous, but the fact that the alter ego of Superman, Clark Kent, writes numerous stories about ‘The Man of Steel,’ and that his girlfriend, and later wife, is a constant source of Superman stories as well, which often involves her own rescue from the brink of death (which often involves her staring him in the face for several seconds), requires a high level of suspension of disbelief to accept that such circumstances could be a reality, where so few people discover Superman's secret identity. In the TV series, The Adventures of Superman, this absurdity was carried to an extreme. Lois and Jimmy were constantly suspecting Clark of being Superman, yet when obvious evidence was right in their faces (such as times when Clark was missing his glasses) they never saw the resemblance. (Noel Neill and Jack Larson, in DVD commentary, said their standard answer when questioned about this was, ‘We wanted to keep our jobs!’) In his book Superman: Serial to Cereal, author Gary Grossman pointed out the paradox that an audience was willing to accept the notion that a man could fly through the air, in defiance of all known laws of physics, and yet question the relatively mundane fact that his friends seemed too stupid to observe the obvious.”
Deviating From the Laws of Physics: Also deviating from the laws of physics, is the story of the two flying carpets in Al-Anarkia that with only a few drops of Magic Jet fuel left in them from Aladdin’s Lamp they manage to incinerate two 110-story skyscrapers. The buildings disintegrate and collapse at freefall speed. A third 47-story building on seeing the fate of its peers commits suicide collapsing symmetrically on its own footprint.
Breaking the Fourth Wall: “The fourth wall is part of the suspension of disbelief between a fictional work and an audience. The audience will usually passively accept the presence of the fourth wall without giving it any direct thought (...)”
The fourth wall is broken when "either a character or the scriptwriter addresses the audience directly so that the reader or audience may acknowledge what is being presented is fiction.” The repetitive use of ‘Breaking the Fourth Wall’ technique, however, extends “the world of the story to provide the illusion that [the audience] are included in it."
In the script for ‘The 9/11 Flying Carpets and the Magic Jet Fuel from Aladdin’s Lamp’ the Al-Cock-a-doodle-do ‘terror’ group characters break the Fourth Wall by bombarding the audience with written statements, audiotapes and videotapes almost on a daily basis to extend the world of story to provide the illusion that the audience are definitely included in the script- and they better watch out because Al-Cock-a-doodle-do is watching everyone (!)
Setting: “Setting refers to the set of locations (or the entire world) where the story takes place.”
Ficton: “Ficton is an imaginary world that serves as the setting or backdrop for a story.” A ficton can be identical to our world (save a few details) or different from it in every aspect - depending on the wishes of the author.
Backstory: “Back-story, the story ‘behind’ or ‘before’ the events being portrayed in the story being told; past events or background for a character that can serve to color or add additional meaning to current circumstances. Provides extra depth to the story by anchoring it to external events, real or imagined.”
“The dramatic revelation of secrets from the back-story is a useful term for forming the story, recommended as far back as Aristotle's Poetics.”
Backstory for The 9/11 Flying Carpets and the Magic Jet Fuel from Aladdin’s Lamp included multiple broadcasts of video clips and still photos of Osama Ben Gurian clutching a Kalashnikov and talking to his comrades. Also, a short clip of the alleged members of Al-Cock-a-doodle-doo doing gymnastics, jumping through burning rings… was shown over and over and over on Al-Anarkian TV stations such as FOX, ZNN (pronounced CNN) ...
What the television audiences perceive as news bulletins are mostly scripted movies designed to achieve specific audience responses.
Background narratives in Al-anarkia: The terrorists who don’t like our way of life; they waged war on us! Weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The axis of evil. We are the protectors of freedom. The Peak Oil! We must have undisrupted supply. China is a threat. We are the guardians of democracy. Israel is our ally: We must protect our Allies… and many other words and phrases strung together but completely void of any meaning.
Stock Characters: “A stock character is a fictional character that relies heavily on cultural types or stereotypes for its personality, manner of speech, and other characteristics. Stock characters are instantly recognizable to members of a given culture.”
Stereotypes: “Stereotypes are considered to be a group concept, held by one social group about another. They are often used in a negative or prejudicial sense and are frequently used to justify certain discriminatory behaviours.”
Social stereotype: “Social stereotypes are cases of metonymy, where a subcategory has a socially recognized status as standing for the category as a whole, usually for the purpose of making quick judgments about people.”
“Social stereotypes take the negative characteristics of some and apply it to all in a given, often arbitrary, category. They are a tool of propaganda and divisive politics.”
Stereotypes of groups by other groups: “Common stereotypes include a variety of allegations about groups based around: race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, or religious belief; also profession and social class (see social stereotype).
The main stock character used in The 9/11 Flying Carpets and the Magic Jet Fuel from Aladdin’s Lamp is the surly virtual genie Osama Ben Gurian personified as the ‘Dark Lord.’
The Dark Lord: The Dark Lord is ‘a sinister villain’ “with an entourage of henchpersons, usually bent on conquest of the world, galaxy, or universe.”
“A villain is an ‘evil’ character in a story, whether an historical narrative or, especially, a work of fiction. The villains are the bad guys, the characters who strive against the hero. Female villains are sometimes called villainesses.”
Psychological attributes: What makes a character into a villain is his/her capacity and willingness to act with evil motives.“A common psychological feature of the movie villain is a haughty overconfidence that leads to the unnecessary explanation of one's sinister plans — which is sometimes just a cheap plot device used by the author to explain to the audience details which he/she could not express by more natural narrative means.”
Sure enough, Osama, the surly virtual genie, and his Al-Cock-a-doodle-do fictitious ‘terrorists without borders’ group conveniently issue statements after statements explaining their reasons for the hatred detailing their plans to harm Al-anarkia and her interests.
Labeling: “In social terms, labels represent a way of differentiating and identifying people that is considered by many as a form of prejudice and discrimination.”
Stereotyping: “The most common method of 'labeling' people derives from a general way of perceiving members of a certain nationality, religion, ethnicity, gender, or some other group. When a majority of people hold a certain point of view towards a certain group, that point of view becomes a stereotype. That stereotype affects the way other people perceive the groups in question and the result is a 'label' that is metaphorically imposed on the members of the group in question. A member of a targeted group is thus 'labeled' by the larger society, and along with it, the nuances underlying the label, be it positive or negative, that aids in the formation of social stereotypes.”
Prejudice:The term Prejudice implies the process of ‘pre-judging’ something. “It implies coming to a judgment on a subject before learning where the preponderance of evidence actually lies, or forming a judgment without direct experience.”
“When applied to social groups, prejudice generally refers to existing biases toward the members of such groups, often based on social stereotypes.”
Allport’s Scale of Prejudice and Discrimination: Allport’s Scale of Prejudice measures the manifestation of prejudice in a society on a scale of 1 – 5.
Scale 1. Antilocution. “(...) a majority group freely make jokes about a minority group. Speech is in terms of negative stereotypes and negative images. This is also called hate speech. It is commonly seen as harmless by the majority. Antilocution itself may not be harmful, but it sets the stage for more severe outlets for prejudice. Examples are jokes about the Irish, French, blacks, gays, (...) Muslims etc.”
Scale 2. Avoidance. “People in a minority group are actively avoided by members of the majority group. No direct harm may be intended, but harm is done through isolation.”
Scale 3. Discrimination. “Minority group is discriminated against by denying them opportunities and services and so putting prejudice into action. Behaviours have the specific goal of harming the minority group by preventing them from achieving goals, getting education or jobs, etc. The majority group is actively trying to harm the minority.”
Scale 4. Physical Attack. “The majority group, vandalise minority group things, they burn property and carry out violent attacks on individuals or groups. Physical harm is done to members of the minority group. Examples are lynchings of blacks (...)”
Scale 5. Extermination. “The majority group seeks extermination of the minority group. They attempt to liquidate the entire group of people (e.g., Indian Wars to remove Native Americans [...] Ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, etc.).”
Prejudice Towards Arabs and Middle East. The script to pin the responsibility for the 9/11 events on the Arabs was written well before the events actually occurred- possibly as early as 1921. In Western media“Hollywood has been accused of using a disproportionate number of Arabs as villains and of depicting Arabs negatively and stereotypically. According to Godfrey Cheshire, a critic on the New York Press, ‘the only vicious racial stereotype that's not only still permitted but actively endorsed by Hollywood’ is that of Arabs as crazed terrorists."
“The 2000 film Rules of Engagement drew criticism from Arab groups, described as ‘probably the most racist film ever made against Arabs by Hollywood’ by the ADC. Paul Clinton of the Boston Globe wrote ‘at its worst, it's blatantly racist, using Arabs as cartoon-cutout bad guys’.
Jack Shaheen, Professor Emeritus of Mass Communications at Southern Illinois University, "in his book Reel Bad Arabs, surveyed more than 900 film appearances of Arab characters. Of those, only a dozen were positive and 50 were balanced. Shahee[n] writes ‘Seen through Hollywood's distorted lenses, Arabs look different and threatening.’”
“In his essay ‘Arabs in Hollywood: An Undeserved Image’, Scott J. Simon argues that of all the ethnic groups portrayed in Hollywood films, ‘Arab culture has been the most misunderstood and supplied with the worst stereotypes’:
“Rudolph Valentino's roles in The Sheik (1921) and The Son of the Sheik (1926) set the stage for the exploration and negative portrayal of Arabs in Hollywood films. Both The Sheik and The Son of the Sheik represented Arab characters as thieves, charlatans, murderers, and brutes.
“Other movies of the 1920s share a common theme of power-hungry, brutal Arabs ultimately defeated by white westerners:The Song of Love (1923) A Cafe in Cairo (1924) The Desert Bride (1928) “Simon singles out A Son of the Sahara (1924) as ‘the strongest subconscious attack on the Arab culture of all the Arab movies of the 1920s.’
“The same themes prevailed into the 1970s and beyond:
• Black Sunday (1977) concerns an Arab terrorist plot to bomb a stadium during the Super Bowl.
• The Black Stallion (1979) opens with Arabs mistreating a horse aboard a ship, then attacking a boy with a knife and stealing his life jacket.”
Billionaires, bombers, and belly dancers
“A report titled ‘100 Years of Anti-Arab and Anti-Muslim stereotyping’ by Mazin B. Qumsiyeh (director of media relations for the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee) specifies what some in the Arab American community call ‘the three B syndrome’:
‘Arabs in TV and movies are portrayed as either bombers, belly dancers, or billionaires’:
Thomas Edison made a short film in 1897 for his patented Kinetoscope in which 'Arab' women with enticing clothes dance to seduce a male audience. The short clip was called Fatima Dances (Belly dancer stereotype). The trend has shifted over the years and was predominated by the ‘billionaires’ for a short while especially during the oil crises in the seventies. However, in the last 30 some years, the predominant stereotype by far has been the ‘Arab bombers.’
“In a piece in the Los Angeles Times published July 28, 1997, Laila Lalami offers a 12-step guide to making a successful Arab-bashing movie, including such items as ‘the villains must all have beards,’ ‘they must all wear keffiehs,’ ‘they must all have names like Ali, Abdul or Mustapha" and "have them threaten to blow something up.’”“Jack Shaheen, Professor Emeritus of Mass Communications at Southern Illinois University, documented these trends in his book The TV Arab (ISBN 0879723092), which identifies more than 21 major movies released over ten years which show the U.S. military killing Arabs. These include:
- Iron Eagle (1986)
- Death Before Dishonor (1987)
- Navy SEALs (1990)
- Delta Force 3: The Killing Game (1991)
- Patriot Games (1992)
- Executive Decision (1996)
“In Reel Bad Arabs (ISBN 1844370194), Shaheen writes that ‘television's image of the Arab is omnipresent [and] is becoming a part of American folklore.’ He also writes that Arabs have ‘consistently appeared in American popular culture as billionaires, bombers, and belly dancers.’”Arab Muslims are fanatics who believe in a different god, who don't value human life as much as we do, they are intent on destroying us (the west) with their oil or with their terrorism; the men seek to abduct and brutally seduce our women; they are without family and reside in a primitive place (the desert) and behave like primitive beings. The women are subservient — resembling black crows — or we see them portrayed as mute, somewhat exotic harem maidens.
“The movies which Shaheen identifies as the three worst in terms of negative portrayal of Arabs in modern films are:
- Wanted: Dead or Alive (1987); ‘Arab thugs... plan to ignite Los Angeles... killing millions.’
- True Lies (1994); "Arnold S. INC." shoots dead Palestinians like clay pigeons. "
- Rules of Engagement (2000); ‘a film which ‘justifies’ US Marines killing Arab women and children.’ [Does that ring familiar?]
“In response to 9/11, previous negative portrayal of Arabs in the media (including their Muslim and South Asian counterparts) may have incited hate crimes against the Arab-American community.”
Plot Dump. “Plot dump, infodump, or exposition is a term used by the movie and television industries to describe a plot device by which critical elements of the plot, often involving the back-story, are not depicted directly but are instead elaborated in dialogue by one of the characters or by a narrator.”
In the script for The 9/11 Flying Carpets and the Magic Jet Fuel from Aladdin’s Lamp the infodump was delivered by the Al-anarkian TV and ‘news’ media in the form of endless coverage and spin, and through major speeches and interviews given by the Mock Caliph, Ja’far the Evil Grand Vizier, the Pious Black Slave, Al-Rumsie the lesser Vizier and a host of other characters involved in the plot.
Rhetoric. “Generally, rhetoric is an art of persuasion through language, but it is also very often used in narrative - to draw the reader's attention to the text and to make the characters' conversations more realistic [where reality and logic are otherwise suppressed]. Various rhetorical devices may be used in order to achieve the author's goals and make the audience/reader understand and accept the point that the author was trying to make.”
“Both the terms ‘rhetoric’ and ‘sophistry’ are also used today in a pejorative or dismissive sense, when someone wants to distinguish between ‘empty’ words and action, or between true or accurate information and misinformation, propaganda, or ‘spin,’ or to denigrate specific forms of verbal reasoning as spurious. Nonetheless, rhetoric, as the art of persuasion, continues to play an important function in contemporary public life.”
Authors manipulate the language of their works to create a desired response from the reader. This is the realm of the rhetorical devices.
A list of Rhetorical Remedies: Literary topos; Logical fallacies; Rhetorical figure; Ad captandum; Allusion; Anaptyxis; Ambiguity; Aphesis; Aphorism; Apologue; Aposiopesis; Archaism; Atticism; Brachyology; Cacophony; Circumlocution; Climax; Conceit; Eloquence; Enthymeme; Ethos; Euphemism; Figure of speech; Formal equivalence; Hendiadys; Hysteron-proteron; Idiom; Innuendo; Ipsedixitism; Kenning; List of pejorative political slogans; Merism; Mnemonic; Negation; Overdetermination; Parable; Paraphrase; Paraprosdokian; Pericope; Period; Perissologia; Praeteritio; Proverb; Rhetoric of science; Soundbite; Synchysis; Synesis; Synonymia; Tautology; Tertium comparationis; Trope; Truism; Word play.
Frame Story. “A frame story (also frame tale, frame narrative, etc.) is a narrative technique whereby a main story is composed, at least in part, for the purpose of organizing a set of shorter stories, each of which is a story within a story -- or for surrounding a single story within a story.”
In The 9/11 Flying Carpets and the Magic Jet Fuel from Aladdin’s Lamp the impact of the flying carpets against the Twin Treasure Towers are employed as a frame story for both the other events on 9/11, and all other subsequent ‘terror’ attacks throughout the ‘universe.’
Magic Realism. “Magic realism (or magical realism) is a literary genre in which magical elements appear in an otherwise realistic setting.”Common aspects of magical realist novels and filmsSome or all of the following elements are found in many magical realist novels and films:
- Contains fantastical elements
- The fantastic elements may be intuitively ‘logical’ but are never explained
- Characters accept rather than question the logic of the magical element
- Exhibits a richness of sensory details
- Uses symbols and imagery extensively. Often phallic imagery is used without the reader/viewer consciously noticing it.
- Emotions and the sexuality of the human as a social construct are often developed upon in great detail
- Distorts time so that it is cyclical or so that it appears absent. Another technique is to collapse time in order to create a setting in which the present repeats or resembles the past.
- Inverts cause and effect, for instance a character may suffer before a tragedy occurs
- Incorporates legend or folklore
- Presents events from multiple perspectives, such as those of belief and disbelief or the colonizers and the colonized
- Uses a mirroring of either past and present, astral and physical planes, or of characters
- Ends leaving the reader uncertain, whether to believe in the magical interpretation or the realist interpretation of the events in the story"
Deus ex machina. Deus ex machina is a Latin phrase meaning 'God from the Machine.' "It describes an unexpected, artificial, or improbable character, device, or event introduced suddenly in a work of fiction or drama to resolve a situation or untangle a plot(...) The phrase has been extended to refer to any resolution to a story which does not pay due regard to the story's internal logic and is so unlikely it challenges suspension of disbelief; allowing the author to conclude the story with an unlikely, but more palatable ending. In modern terms the Deus ex machina has also come to describe a person or thing that suddenly arrives and solves a seemingly insoluble difficulty.”
So, how can you tell the difference between real events and the make-believe or ‘scripted events’ that are ‘acted out’ by ‘characters’, some or all of whom may be fictional?
Plot Holes! Plot holes? Yes, Plot holes. Real events occur sequentially and without any logical gaps. “Plot hole is a gap in a storyline that goes against the flow of logic set-up by the plot. Plot holes are usually seen as weaknesses and flaws in a story, and writers try to avoid them (...) to make their stories seem as realistic and lifelike as possible.”“The viewing or reading audience notes a plot hole when something happens during the story that seems highly unlikely, or would be impossible to imitate in real life. If a bank robber's car is being chased by five or six police cruisers, and the bank robber successfully evades capture simply by making a left turn down a dark alley when all the pursuing officers ought to see this, that is seen as a plot hole.”
Discerning audiences almost always find plot holes no matter how well the scripts are written. Source of quotes: http://en.wikipedia.org/ emphasis were added.