How Future Stories Will Be Told?

How Future Stories Will Be Told?
Arts & Culture
Scott Lachut, PSFK Labs
  • 22 january 2009

Wired columnist Scott Brown informs us that the traditional model of storytelling is broken.  From Brown’s perspective, our tried and true formulas like Joseph Campbell’s “Hero’s Journey” and Freytag’s Pyramid that involve a simple narrative structure – beginning, middle and end – no longer adequately convey the multidimensional complexities of our plugged-in, have it your way in an instant style world, but thankfully he has already compensated for all of that. He offers us his new dramatic model – Brown’s Ziggurat (in 4-D!)tm. And even goes so far as to test his theory on one of our generation’s seminal tales, “Die Hard.” Using his modern methodology this is how the film would play out:

John McClane, NYC cop, arrives in LA to reconcile with his estranged wife—but we already know all about their failing marriage from the ARG we’ve been obsessed with for the six months leading up to the movie’s release. (McClane’s potemkin Tumblr blog was especially illuminating.) With exposition rendered obsolete, we open instead on a Sprite commercial, which transitions seamlessly into furious gunplay. We don’t even see McClane in the flesh, but our handsets are buzzing with his real-time thumb-tweets: “in the air duct. smelz like dead trrist in here lol.” The film then rewinds to McClane Googling “terrorists” to read up on his adversaries. We then flash-cut to the baddies’ POV, which we’re familiar with (and sympathetic to) thanks to the addictive Xbox hit Die Hard: Hard Out There for a Terrorist. This is all part of the Action-Happening Plateau, an intensifying mass of things and stuff leading up to the Mymaxtm.

The Mymax is not a lame old Freytag climax but a hot Escher mess of narrative possibilities suggested by you, the audience. With a mere click of your handset (and a charge of 99 cents), you furnish a Youclusiontm to your liking. This is how McClane somehow ends up defeating terrorists—and winningAmerican Idol—with his ultrasonic melisma. McClane and Holly then celebrate by making a sex tape. (Awww!)

A rather humorous exercise in imagining one possible dystopian future for our cultural diversions that in spite of its exaggerations, touches on a number of underlying truths about our attitudes and expectations of entertainment these days. Brown also hints at our increasing willingness to accept (or perhaps our numbness to) new forms of commercial intrusion from product placement to outright sponsorship in exchange for free flowing, nonstop action. And if art truly does reflect society then maybe Brown’s vision is already being realized and we just haven’t caught on yet.  

Wired: Scott Brown on Why Hollywood Needs a New Model for Storytelling

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