Why Writers Don't Matter

Why Writers Don't Matter



while I was doing research for my next video on that other really popular HBO drama I stumbled across a post on reddit that completely distracted me it was a video of director David Sandberg going over the mistakes in his own movie Shazaam a basic rundown of the video is David explaining how each scene of a movie has challenges that exist outside of written materials such as pacing or plot points for example sometimes you have camera crew awkwardly standing in your shot so you need to turn them into shoppers that for some reason don't react at all to a man flying just feet in front of them or how sometimes you need to have your main cast strangely wear winter coats indoors because the villain shows up and there wouldn't be an opportunity for them to change later I guess there's no such thing as a coat rack in this house there was another section though when David Sandberg talked about the character of Darla and the difficulty surrounding one of her scenes the actress faith see Herman wasn't able to make it on set with her other co-stars on a particular day due to scheduling issues so David chose to film her separately on another day to justify the separation in universe Darla is shown to be ridiculously slow at putting on her velcro shoes therefore keeping her from being outside with the rest of the cast quick easy fix right well this little tidbit by David Sandberg is where things get really interesting but working with movies has kind of ruined video essays and film analysis a little bit for me because you just never know if something was part of a brilliant plan or if it just happened to turn out that way because a problem had to be solved on the day inches am Darla has a clearly defined arc early on we see her being the slowest of the foster kids which is of course the set up to the payoff of her getting super speed powers later on yeah yeah yeah yes what David Sandberg addressed was the phenomenon of people inserting symbolism into a piece of fiction that the creative source did not intend to be there nowhere in David's mind or in the script was there meant to be a narrative arc built up around Darla starting out slow and then gaining immense speed but does the lack of intent on david samberg's part actually make Darla storyline any less symbolic if the audience perceives symbolism does it come to exist these questions and the overarching topic surrounding it gave me the perfect excuse to put the Chernobyl video on the back burner and dive into a subject I had been wanting to talk about for a while now internal validity in fiction I know not the sexy topic that you thought we'd be getting into but trust me you might actually like where this is going internal validity in fiction references how well the fictional material doesn't accurately telling you about itself to make things more simple let me give an example a fictional work that demonstrates low internal validity is ant-man in the beginning of the movie we are told that the technology that powers ant-man suit allows him to shrink while still maintaining the same density and weight as if he were regular-sized when I took over this company for dr. Pym I immediately started researching a particle that could change the distance between atoms while increasing density and strength so you have the force of a 200-pound man behind a fist hundredths of an inch wide you're like a bullet however later in the movie we see Scott laying running on a pistol and writing an ant even though he's supposed to weigh as much as a fully grown man the reason why ant-man has low internal validity is because the movie does not give reliable information on itself what the fiction tells the audience does not match with what the fiction shows the audience now you savvy writers out there may recognize that this all sounds a lot like internal consistency which is where the rules within the fictional work continue to exist in function as they did previously unless otherwise indicated and you savvy writers would be correct internal consistency falls under the umbrella term of internal validity but the difference between the two is that we're internal consistency is mainly concerned with understanding the rules of a fiction internal validity is concerned with understanding all facets of a fiction and to get what I mean by that I feel that another explanation is in order and we can look to our friend that keeps on giving Game of in season 3 episode 7 when Tywin and Joffrey shared the throne room they have a conversation that gives the audience information about dragons in the history of Westeros when I was handle the King under your father's predecessor the skulls of all the Targaryen dragons but kept in this room the skull of the last of them right here it was the size of an apple the biggest was the size of a carriage yes and the creature to whom it belonged died 300 years ago so we know from multiple sources that the largest dragon was balerion the black dread in the books which the show was based off of Valyrian was used to take over Westeros 300 years prior to the events of Game of Thrones finding up pretty nicely with what Tywin said the creature to whom it belonged died 300 years ago except in the books Valyrian didn't die 300 years ago in fact he lived almost 100 years after the Targaryen x' took over Westeros but his George R Martin says the show is the show in the books or the books there are many differences between the world that the show establishes and the one that the books do billions age and death is just one more except when you consider internal validity things become a lot less simple in season 2 episode 6 where Tywin is unknowingly talking to Arya we get this little gem from him Aegon Targaryen changed the rules that's why every child alive still knows his name 300 years after his death wasn't just Aegon riding his dragon it was Rhaenys and Visenya to correct student of history Arya Rhaenys rode meraxes Senya road Vega I'm sure I knew that when I was a boy here we have Tywin admitting that he did not know fundamental details about the founding members of Westeros his knowledge of the history of dragons and House Targaryen is a bit lacking so since internal validity references how well a fictional material doesn't accurately telling you about itself we are presented with a bit of a problem concerning balerion and therefore the history of Westeros do we believe Tywin statement in the throne room which stands in opposition to the source material or do we assume Tywin is misinformed because of what we saw of him in season 2 leaving room for the source material to still be correct there's not a clear-cut answer for this but either way this example shows us the far-reaching implications of internal validity a 94 year period of world history is left in limbo because the method the show used to convey information about itself was unreliable Tywin has low internal validity and because of this uncertainty we of the audience have to come to our own conclusion and find answers in the patterns that we see in the picture this becomes especially difficult when concerning animation do you ever wonder why we're always like wearing gloves that's a really good question internal validity causes us to think about the truth that the fiction is presenting us and how it relates to everything else within the fiction if all the characters are wearing gloves do they recognize it do they coordinate about it beforehand is Bobby zamorski the first person to realize it watching an extremely goofy movie with internal validity in mind might make the audience turn this innocuous statement about gloves into a question of groupthink freewill and whether or not these characters are self reflective of their own circumstances of course in reality we know that all the characters wearing gloves was just an efficient stylistic choice because the artists have told us as much characters were Walt Disney addresses this very issue he says we didn't want him to have Mouse hands because he was supposed to be more human so we gave him gloves so in addition to saving time and providing color contrast gloves bring non-human beings life making their grand gestures stand out but a lot of the time we as the audience don't get such a background on what appears in a fiction and we are left to our own devices to decipher what the fiction presents to us this is most famously occurred with Pixar movies across a wide variety of subjects things as mundane as the mountains in the film cars which are literally shaped like automobiles have left people wondering if the cars sculpted these mountains in their image and if so how and if not did the landscape naturally learn to match the life that inhabits it on the flip side you have the complexity of the Pixar theory an argument that all Pixar movies take place in one timeline because fans started noticing how the films shared objects and circumstances but it's not just Pixar interpretations of internal validity have affected audiences across multiple fictional platforms fans of Avatar The Last Airbender have I petha sized that the show's world is smaller than Earth's with lower gravity because of how the characters are able to be blasted through buildings and thrown dozens of feet with no serious injuries fans of Pokemon have tried to parse out how mcCargo can exist when it's pokedex entry says it's almost twice as hot as the Earth's core internal validity has caused the Lord of the Rings fan base to grapple with the fact that orcs may or may not dine at restaurants with menus considerations of internal validity become almost impossible to ignore when truly invested in a piece of fiction investigating what a fiction states about itself and how accurate those statements are is a fundamental way of learning about not only the fiction but the message that it is trying to present fortunately fictions quite often have a thesis statement at their beginnings and end so that we as the audience don't have to do too much digging for meaning with great power comes great responsibility I will never forget these words with great power comes great responsibility conversely though some fictions never outright come forward with their message demanding the audience consider internal validity to decipher what the fiction is actually saying about itself allegorical movies like the Babbitt duck and mother don't give you the answers to what they are truly about so it's incumbent on the viewer to unpack the symbolism on their own but this is the difficulty that comes with internal validity a concept built upon scrutinizing fiction against itself there is no clear-cut line for audiences to know which fiction gives its message away and which fiction begs the audience to find it and because of this blurry duality people sometimes see meaning in patterns and symbolism in places where they were never planned to be this is what David Sandberg was talking about with Darla and the interpreted symbolism of her story arc and other creators have voiced their opinion on fancying unintended symbolism or rather I should say they have written their opinions down when award-winning author Bruce McAllister was 16 years old he sent out questionnaires to accomplished writers one of the questions included do readers ever infer that there is symbolism in your writing where you had not intended it to be if so what is your feeling about this type of inference and believe it or not teenage Bruce McAllister actually got responses Ray Bradbury responded to him by writing one critic thought my vampire family story homecoming was intended as a parable on mankind in the Atomic Age under the threat of the atom bomb I was mostly amused after all each story is a Rorschach test isn't it and if people find beasties and bed bugs in my ink splotches I cannot prevent it can I they will insist on seeing them anyway and that is their privilege still I wish people quasi intellectuals did not try so hard to find the man under the old maids bed more often than not as we know he simply isn't there another response given to Bruce McAllister was from Pulitzer and Nobel Prize winner saw Bela when asked if readers infer symbolism that is not intended he said they most certainly do symbol hunting is absurd but I think the best response to Bruce McCallister's question came from Joseph Heller who you might know as the author of catch-22 when asked about readers inferring symbolism that is not intended he said this happens often and in every case there is good reason for the inference in many cases I've been able to learn something about my own book for readers have seen much in the book that is there although I was not aware of it being there Joseph Heller's answer honestly almost requires a double-take not only is he saying that it is good that the audience creates symbolism on their own he is saying that he learns things about his book from other people how is that even possible well I think it's because Heller thinks very similarly to philosopher and writer Roland Barth who believe that writings and fiction could exist in such a way that the audience becomes part of the creative process but before you get ahead of yourself Barth wasn't talking about stuff like fan fiction he meant that the audience would take an active role in the construction of meaning within the fiction the audience could create subjective interpretations of the fiction regardless of what the creator intended because that is what symbolism is symbols by their very definition have no intrinsic meaning we place meaning on them and the meaning can change from person to person and culture to culture the okay gesture means one thing in America with something very different in Europe same thing for the middle finger in America versus Japan Roland Barthes once said the birth of the reader must be at the cost of the death of the author Barth wasn't advocating for killing writers he was advocating that writers relinquish their authority over what can or cannot be in fiction what interpretations are wrong or right and allow subjectivity to flourish which would give the the opportunity to actively engage with the fiction rather than passively watch it from behind a transparent divider Joseph Heller believed that he could learn things about his own fiction from others because every individual experiences and interprets meaning in a unique way writers get to choose what appears in a fiction not the meaning behind what appears are truly engaging living fluid fiction is one where no person can tell you the right way to understand it creator or fan we can choose to agree about our interpretations or even disagree but no matter how many people are on your side or against you your interpretation is your own if you want to believe that how from malcolm in the middle' is actually Walt from Breaking Bad in witness protection that's your prerogative are you right No are you wrong no because that is the point your experience with fiction is unique to you regardless of correct or incorrect was Darla's story arc in Shazam meant to be symbolic no can it be interpreted that way well that's up to you thank you all for watching and for anyone who didn't hear my announcement I opened myself up to do editing if you have a short story or a novel that you want edited or you want guidance and coaching on writing feel free to contact me through email I offer stuff like developmental edits where I work alongside you chapter by chapter novel critiques concept development first impression edits and as I said before coaching opportunities and if you're worried about pricing you can probably relax I want to make things as affordable as possible for you guys if you are interested email me with yours on rrah word count and name to get more information as always it was a pleasure and I will talk to you all again soon

20 Comments

  • chenille75 says:

    David F Sandberg The F is important because David Sandberg is another director, the one who made Kung Fury

  • amir ellert says:

    Very interesting, and great video!
    Recently I also came to the conclusion that I have to push my writings a bit further from my drawer, because of the reasons mentioned here: my stories aren't truely complete without someone (besides me) reading them. The readers are like this invisble yet prominent rib to my style.

  • ziammarino says:

    No, writers DO matter.
    But a good vid nontheless.

  • Simple Person says:

    I wonder what hidden meanings are in this video.

  • Create & Chill with Jess says:

    My favorite example of this is in the show Gravity Falls. In the commentary, the creators have revealed that there was a lot that the audiences noticed that was never fully intended to be there, and they were able to go back and add in and reinforce the meaning that the audiences had created because if the production schedule. It's super interesting, because it's a show that sends audiences in search to solve a mystery through small clues throughout the series, and by the end of the show even carried over into the real world. Definitely worth the watch for both the show and the commentary.

  • Sahil Dahiya says:

    Amazing video! Although, I would recommend you to take a look into the lore of Dark Souls too when talking about internal validity. Especially the decision to cut out material from the final game to keep things more ambiguous. Now, this decision might have been motivated by the limitations of the consoles. Regardless, people to this day look for clues and hints throughout the game to comes up with concrete theories.

  • A Thing By Jacob Warner says:

    The one thing I really wanted when I started writing my first full-fledged novel was that audiences would take an interpretation about it; being able to point out what it says about itself or about me where I haven't been able to. I remember when I presented the pitch for the story to my sister, she said it sounded like a self-reflection type of story, and I really like that she phrased it as such, because I saw that as reason enough to write out the story with the sole intent that it'd be dissected as a way of giving me others' explanation of me and my way of thinking.
    I write so that others can tell me about myself in ways I can't figure out.

  • Das Gupfanör says:

    In your time making YT videos have you ever looked at attack on titan ? The anime or the manga, it would be cool if you could give your opinion on how the story is written.

  • Das Gupfanör says:

    15:51 Video ? Not great not terrible

  • Raphael Marley Alves says:

    great video omg id love you to talk more about mother!

  • Zedekai says:

    Excellent video. Hope you grow quickly! You deserve it

  • Elfor Landstander says:

    Holy crap, this was one of the best videos I've ever watched on the subject of Death of the Author. Loved that quote by Joseph Heller. Meaning or symbolism depends on each individual interpretation, and the best writers are the ones who are open to interpretations other than their own.
    Great video.

  • rambo the best says:

    what should the ok sign mean in Europe?? I'm european myself, and I always used it as the "got it" sign… I don't think it has a completely different meaning here

  • Ernesto Torelli says:

    The video is a bit messy, like you didn't make up your mind wether the subject was wild fan speculations, serendipitous emerging meaning, death of the author, or internal validity. Not that there is no interesting subject matter, it just feel unfocused.

  • Shoot Me Reviews says:

    An interpretation maybe cannot be 'wrong' in the sense that as long as the viewer gets some enjoyment out of it, their perspective has validity. However, an interpretation can be arbitrary, or even objectively incorrect. For example, when people say that the final act of Minority Report occurs solely in Anderton's mind, this is an example of an arbitrary interpretation. It's not specifically wrong, but nothing in the text of the film supports it. It's just a theory people can use to filter their experience of the film arbitrarily – a way they prefer to imagine it, rather than actually recognizing something in the movie itself and identifying it. As an example of an incorrect interpretation, I'd suggest that an interpretation based on a viewer's misunderstanding of the story would fall under that category. For instance, I knew someone who mistakenly thought that the true crime book in The Bone Collector was written by Denzel Washington's character (it wasn't), and that he therefor knew all along what was happening. My friend's misunderstanding of a basic plot element lead him to interpret meaning in character behavior that simply isn't there.
    So the viewer can be wrong – and is wrong more often than the writer. You could just as easily make an essay titled "Why Viewers Don't Matter".

  • Merumya says:

    Well, that title sure ticked me off, as I totally disagree. A good writer, especially in film, makes HUGE difference. Qay more than one or two millions more in budget for CGI.
    Sadly, the video wasnt really about the title, but I liked it anyway.

    Now to the video:
    Redgarding your first point about "things inserted that got meaning afterwards":
    Thats what I hate about "analyzing" art. People (especially teachers, professors etc.) interpret so much shit into art… And they usually only get away with it, because the artist is DEAD and cant just tell them: "No, I didnt mean to do that. My green just ran out and it was a sunday, so i couldnt go and buy some. So I painted it in red, because fuck it."

    The Disney example shows, that it often is just made up interpretations. Id say same goes for the Pixar thing. They shaped the damn mountains like cars, because it was a fun little detail, an easteregg people can find and laugh about, and nothing to over-analyze.

    Btw.: Where are you from, if Im allowed to ask?

  • pukkandan says:

    No mention in JK Rowling?

  • sarrjel says:

    Writers do matter. People have made opinions on everything for thousands of years. It doesn't mean anything.

  • 2003leonard says:

    But to what extend does internal validity actually matter? It doesn't change the message of GoT with the hiccup of Tywin's knowledge of Aegon and his sisterwives. And seriously, who cares about that small detail? Perhaps he was just trying to seem a bit nice, staiting he didn't know as much about a certain 300 year old thing as this little girl, even though he maybe knew?
    And Antman, it-… Okay, yeah, I can agree with you there. Certain rules were set and they could have not broken them by introducing interesting and creative ways of fighting in that size. But still – it doesn't change the story, so why should we care?

  • Blocky Oxwinkle says:

    Another fantastic video as always and one day I hope I can sign up for the editing stuff. I always write on pen and paper for a first draft as it helps me form a much more polished second draft. This whole video really speaks to me as I have an issue with wanting total control of my works. I understand and enjoy how they can be interpreted, but I've always found it hard to let go of the control. While in school I did 3 separate graduation projects on Screen Writing. But the more I studied the more I realized how rare it is for a screenplay to translate to the screen. So I delved into writing a book instead since I lacked the talent to make a graphic novel or the funding to make a TV show or movie. What I've since realized is that even then I have to make comprises, whether it be for pacing or whatever. But I always realized that I couldnt make anyone think a certain way about the story, that it was out of my hands. I'll always remember taking to a friend about an idea for a scene in a story where a character gets killed by their best friend during a political power struggle. The character's name was Sesa and he remarked it was like Julius Ceasar. I hadn't intended that when I named the character, I hadn't even thought of the death scene at the time. I just picked a random name off a generator. This use to get inside my head and make me overthink everything, but now I'm older and I see it as a good thing, a story can sometimes build itself and the audience is a major part of the puzzle. This video really helps me contextualize everything as I break down my own barriers into writing

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