Friday, May 25, 2012

Nostalgia as the Downfall of Mankind

A while ago, Peter Jackson showed a small audience some scenes from his upcoming adaptation of The Hobbit. With The Hobbit, Jackson is pulling a Cameron and trying to advance the very nature of filmmaking. It was filmed at 48 frames per second (fps), which is double the usual 24 fps of movies today. That means it looks about twice as smooth; the midgets you see on-screen move almost as fluidly as the midgets you see in real life.

I recently went shopping for a new TV, and started paying attention to all the little quirks and imperfections that can possibly afflict an imagine on a screen. This ruined watching movies for a while, because I started noticing every flaw. My plasma TV leaves blotchy yellow phosphor trails behind fast-moving objects. The LCD screen of an iPhone blurs moving text. And giant IMAX screens highlight the flaws of shooting at 24 fps; if you pay attention, you can see the frames, and any movement causes a split-second double-image.

Shooting in 48 fps eliminates a lot of these problems that sharp eyes pick out. It's better in every objective way. More life-life, fewer quirks, and just prettier.

So of course, people lost their shit when they saw The Hobbit's new and improved technology. Except in the wrong way. They hated it. They said it looked like backstage footage, or even worse, like an old soap opera.

This is nostalgia getting in the way of enjoying something that is, by every objective measure, better. Kids saw their moms watching bad soap operas in high fps, and that smoothness was forevermore associated with dull plots, bad acting, and having to watch All My Children instead of something awesome like maybe Thundercats.

It's one sign of a broader phenomenon. People get attached to the familiar, hanging on for dear life even as the familiar becomes a choppily-rendered sinking ship. That is on fire. And full of zombies. With AIDS.

It's trivial when it comes to movies, but really can be deadly in other areas. One obstacle to hospitals advancing past recording information with pens and paper is that crusty old doctors and nurses would find it hard to use these "computer" things to reliably record information. Pens are just so gosh darn comfortable to use and learning is haaard, so all those people who die because of sloppy writing, what heroes they are, sacrificing themselves for shitty selfish nostalgia.

Conclusion: everyone should shut the F up about The Hobbit looking too good, because their complaining is probably killing children and kittens.



Darius Whiteplume said...

The wife deals with doctors who complain about EMRs, telling patients "I have to type on this computer instead of paying attention to my patient." She says it is their choice to not be able to do both. I for one, at University never took written notes as I was paying attention to my notes more than the instructor. Seeing that many doctors only pay cursory attention to patients anyway... you'd think either method would be suitable, but EMRs superior.

Phronk said...

Wouldn't ANY method of recording information take time away from the patient? Seems like an odd complaint that I'd probably argue is driven by resistance to change more than anything else.

I always took notes, doodled, and listened at the same time, though I'm not sure it was the best method. Paying attention to one thing is just hard. :)