A+ Resources For Students
Higher and Standard Grade English Tips
In this article Todd Seavy discusses the problems of making a new Star Wars movie.
As a writer/editor at the American Council on Science and Health, I often criticize “crank” scientists who cling to a faltering theory long after it has become plain to all sane observers that the pet idea just doesn’t hold together logically. They are pathetic, quixotic figures. We science fiction fans are not so different, though, when we struggle to rationalize away the contradictions in our favourite fictional universes.
The fictional universes depicted in movies like the Star Wars or Star Trek series tend to get very complex (for beginners: the former features Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, the latter Captain Kirk, the Enterprise, and a loyal crew made up of people like engineer Scotty; if you get them mixed up, you are worthless). That complexity means that - inevitably - the occasional “continuity error” occurs. In normal movie parlance, a continuity error means one of those embarrassing moments when, say, the bandage on an actor moves from the right hand to the left hand between scenes due to a mistake by the makeup department. For science fiction fans, though, continuity refers to the overall logical and historical coherence of our beloved fictional universes.
If Scotty witnesses Captain Kirk’s death at the beginning of Star Trek VII, it is extremely troubling to some of us - those who care, those who have intellectual integrity and the discipline of logic! - if Scotty is awakened from suspended animation approximately seventy years later in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation and asks whether Captain Kirk is still alive. Scotty should know that Kirk isn’t! Something is wrong! It doesn’t add up - yet it must! It must!
For you see, any story must have a certain amount of internal coherence if we are to achieve suspension of disbelief. And we must achieve suspension of disbelief. For most people, that just means that a given fictional universe must hold together for the space of two hours: if the main character in a conventional romantic comedy, possibly some movie for girls featuring Meg Ryan or someone like that, says at the beginning that she is an only child, she should not have a sister present at her wedding at the end of the movie. Stories like that - about boring, conventional people with their petty love affairs and their tawdry sex antics, people whom one could not trust when the chips were down and an Imperial Battle Droid were attacking your spaceship! - are relatively easy to keep consistent. It is only the grandeur and majesty of a fictional universe the size and complexity of one like the Star Wars universe, the Star Trek universe, the DC Comics universe, or the Marvel Comics universe (and perhaps soap operas) that is truly difficult to maintain.
Yet sometimes the editors and writers responsible for such series barely care about maintaining continuity, so busy are they with more mundane tasks such as writing entertaining dialogue and coming up with interesting new characters. That is why such universes desperately need the obsessive, crank-like fan, the fan willing to concoct rationalizations that make sense of the apparent continuity errors. Indeed, without such fans, I question whether the continuity of these universes could be maintained at all. The fate of entire fictional worlds, the very cohesion of the space-time continuum, hinges on the selfless efforts of fans like myself to keep track of what the hell is going on and explain the slip-ups by the so-called “professionals”!
Scotty, for example, must have been so addled by his time in suspended animation that he temporarily forgot that Kirk was dead (that’s the explanation fans came up with, and it’s now accepted as canonical by the Trek staff themselves, I believe). Aaaah, that’s better. All is consistent. All is well. (Or at least, all is well with that particular slip-up - on the other hand, the latest Star Trek TV series, Enterprise, is in the middle of a two-part episode, even as I write these words, that is designed to explain once and for all why the Klingons in the 1960s Star Trek series are swarthier and have less-lumpy foreheads than the Klingons in the movies and the newer Trek TV shows. It is important that we know.)
The anxiety caused by such contradictions, when they are left unresolved, is not so different from the anxiety certain religious literalists inevitably feel when they start noticing little contradictions in their sacred texts (exactly how many people were crucified simultaneously with Christ?) or the anxiety some political ideologues feel when they first realize that their philosophies may not cover every imaginable contingency (how does one achieve equality in the workplace if none of the Inuit living in a given part of Alaska have the computer skills modern firms need?).
Few people, it seems, are comfortable with a degree of uncertainty, with saying “On some details, we just don’t know, and the whole theory may even be in error.” In come the rationalizations to save the day, much like the crank scientist adding new mini-theories on top of his rickety old one, each less plausible than the last but all aiming toward the sacred goal of making it all hang together just a while longer.
Adapted with permission from an article on metaphilm.com
Other Tips Pages
|Revision Tips:||GCSE English, GCSE Maths, GCSE Geography, GCSE Science, and Exam Revision Tips|
|Coursework Tips:||English (general), Higher and Standard Grade English, Maths and Science .|
|Other Tips:||Stress management and tele-tutoring.|