Thursday, July 19, 2007

Seeing In Color

I took this picture one day when I was just wandering about my neighborhood. The color of the sky caught my attention. I really like the mix of blue and yellow.

It is amazing how much color can be seen in the world. My phone camera wasn't really able to capture the nuance of color that I saw in the sky that day. And that leads me into something that I've been thinking about for a while: how I evaluate the world around me.

Like the sky of that day, or even the picture I took, our everyday experiences have a wealth of color. But it is all to easy to sum them up as a whole into likes and dislikes. Sometimes we gloss over things making a sort of grayscale out of it. Judgments of black and white are made. The world is tinted by the color of glasses we wear.

As an example of what I mean, let's take movies. I have thought quite a bit in the last few months how I judge movies. Everyone is biased in their evaluations of movies. There are lots of factors that can influence how we feel about a movie. I think we can safely say that everyone wears their colored glasses. But sometimes I wonder if mine are shaded too darkly.

It is not uncommon for discussions of movies to come up at my work. And it is also not uncommon for two of my co-workers to bring up a certain movie that they like: Fantastic Four. When this happens I fear my contacts will get displaced somewhere up in my head because I roll my eyes so far back. I very much dislike that movie. The story (I won't be as generous as to say it has a plot) is about as complex as what you'd find in a coloring book. And there are some scenes that are so ridiculous, pointless, and bizarre (read: the bridge scene) that it makes me wonder if the people writing and producing the movie had any cognitive functions at all.

But I wonder how I came to this very colored opinion. There are many things that have influenced it, so lets start at the beginning. I've seen that movie only once, and that was on a date. I remember being asked by my date as we walked out of the theater whether I liked it, and I said it was "okay." I was definitely couching my answer because I didn't know what she was going to say. My opinion was already being influenced! She said she liked it. I wanted her to like me, so I was again influenced! I managed to find some things to say about it that I thought she would agree with. And later on in the school semester when I realized that she and I were not going to have a relationship, I was influenced again!

This movie was also painted heavily by the buckets of colored paint dumped on it by my friends. One of my good friends described his experience of watching this movie by saying that it "made [his] eyes bleed." I think I got some red on my opinion of the movie. Yes, from the eye blood.

Although I have also been influenced somewhat by the opinions of my co-workers, I've stood firm in disliking that movie. I have staunchly disagreed with the idea they presented to me that if I would just watch it more I would like it better. Actually, I think they might be right. But somehow I don't think that assaulting my brain with more IQ-dropping video would be prudent.

Of late I have used some the following criteria to judge my movies (this list is not quite comprehensive; just the main points are presented):

  • Plot - Does the story make sense? What sort of holes are there, and how big are they?
  • Character Development - Do the characters have depth, or are they very two-dimensional? Can you relate to them?
  • Writing - How good is the writing of this movie? Does the dialog suck me into the movie, or does it prevent my suspension of disbelief?
  • Acting - Do I see a guy acting, or has that character become "real" to me?

Other factors such as special effects, attractive women, or famous actors hold precious little sway with me in my overall movie judgement. I think that's why I like so many older movies so much. They may not have a couple million dollars worth of explosions or fancy CGI, yet they are not lacking in quality. But one factor that I find myself considering more and more these days is that of general entertainment. Did I have a good time watching the show? Even if it was stupid?

A good example of this is the new Transformers movie. When I was watching it in the theater I really did enjoy myself. And yet I agreed with pretty much every point that my friends have brought up in argument against it. There were plot holes one could drive a semi through (heh heh). I can only imagine how awesome it could have been if the makers didn't decide to regurgitate all over the second half of it. And yet... I enjoyed it. Overall I liked it.

There are many aspects of movies that I really cannot detect when watching them. But these things affect other people's perception of movies. A lot of technical aspects fall into this category for me. Lighting, framing a shot, what lens was used, and other such elements are usually hard for me to see if I'm not actively looking for them.

So how darkly shaded or lightly tinted are my glasses? I'm not sure if there is really a way to know for certain. In recent months I've tried to not be too snobbish about movies while not giving in to peer-pressure about ones I dislike either.

Movies are, of course, only one example of how my life is colored. I've also given this subject thought in context of relationships, games, books, food, and other things. I just hope that I'm not missing out on some of the most vibrant and amazing colors that are out there.