Friday, December 27, 2013

Consuming Stories on Our Own Terms

A life-lesson reminder from a trailer.

A few months ago I caught the trailer for “The Blacklist.” I remember being intrigued. It looked like an interesting, entertaining idea for a show. I also vaguely remember thinking that I knew everything I needed to know about the premise from that short little four minute commercial. I must have forgotten that in the intervening months however, because when iTunes offered the Pilot episode for free I downloaded it and watched it.

That is 46 minutes wasted that I’ll never get back.

It is not that it was bad. In fact it was indeed the entertaining show I imagined it to be. The problem is that I had already seen everything I needed to see in the 4 minute version. My advice to others would be to watch the trailer instead of the Pilot, and then get on to the rest of the show. Pilots are all about setting up a premise, and this one doesn’t add anything that the trailer left out.

Then again, I am all about consuming stories as economically as possible… time-wise that is. I left commercial television behind years ago. I can’t remember the last time I saw a commercial away from YouTube. Why spend an hour watching a 40-42 minute story? Watch three episodes of your favorite show THAT way and you have spent one hour of your life letting sales-people pitch you products you likely don’t need.

And—as far as older shows and movies go—technology these days is there to save you even more time. Those older shows and films ran at a much slower pace. People spoke slower and they felt a need to have long pauses in between lines. These days, I watch a lot of those shows at 1.6 to 2 times speed. I can consume a classic episode in 20 minutes, a film in 45. When I watch Star Trek episodes at normal speed these days, it feels like they are caught in some sort of “time-slowing-down” zone—the most boring sci-fi plot-line imaginable.

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