Thursday, September 9, 2010

How Writing Has Ruined My Ability to Enjoy Anything, Ever.

So last week, I was watching The Princess Bride with the hubs.

This is one of my most favorite movies ever. I mean, come on:

Cary Elwes!
Cary Elwes!
Cary Elwes!
True love!
Cary Elwes!
OK, so I probably watch this movie once a year, at an absolute minimum, but probably more like 5-6 times. It's my happy movie that I play when I've had a bad day. My sister and I used to walk around our block reciting lines from the movie. And yet somehow I'd never noticed it before but...

Princess Buttercup is totally a wuss.  

(OK, there are plot spoilers coming up, but if you haven't seen this movie then you FAIL AT LIFE so I'm going to pretty much disown you anyway.)**

OK, so they're in the fireswamp. And Westley gets attacked by an R.O.U.S. And instead of DOING ANYTHING like grabbing a a rock or whacking the thing with a tree branch, home girl literally stands by and watches as the love of her life gets eaten half to death. Lamesauce.

Then later, she tells the Evil Prince Humperdinck that she won't marry him, and he's like, "It's cool, sugarpie. I'll send out some ships to look for your BF." The fact that A: She believes that Westley would actually leave in the first place and B: She believes for even a second that Humperdinck would do as he says makes her a TOTAL idiot.

Look, I get it. Buttercup is supposed to be a classic damsel in distress. After all, it is a fairytale. And I'm used to ass-kickers like Katniss and Katsa and Hermione who don't stand idly by and watch their boyfriends get attacked by giant rodents. But Buttercup was so flat and annoying that I had to wonder...WHAT does hotty-mctotty Westley see in her anyway? I mean, one minute she's like ordering him around the farm, and the next they're OMGTOTALLYMAKINGOUT?? No way. Westley's way too awesome for that crap.

So I ranted and raved throughout the whole movie, driving my husband crazy about my complaints on the weak characterization and how Buttercup was the only character who wasn't remotely funny. Until finally hubs told me to shut up and enjoy the movie.

And then I realized that we'd had this conversation before.

The fact of the matter is, as writers, we're always looking at our characters, analyzing them, trying to figure out how to make them better. I know one of the main things I need to focus on in an upcoming round of revisions is characterization of two of my characters, because they're falling shy of where I'd like them to be.

But since we're always looking for how to make our own work better, and then we CP read and try to seek out the flaws, we start to lose a sense of how to just read and watch for fun. I've noticed that my critical reading skills have improved greatly, but my ability to escape into the world of a book has drastically decreased. I'm always questioning, always asking WHY? Why would a character act that way? Why would the plot go there?

I'm not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing. On the one hand, I'm a more active, conscious reader. But on the other, I can't just zone out with a book. And I miss that.

What about you? How has being a writer changed the way you read or watch TV/movies?

*Yeah, I skipped a few. But that would be a lot of pictures. For the record, it's: "Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles!" And Cary Elwes. 

**OK, that was a joke. Except it really wasn't. No really though, this movie is more than 20 years old and one of the most classic and quotable films of my generation, so I think a few spoilers are allowed.


  1. Oh yes yes yes indeed. Well, it has changed how I read at least. I find myself rewriting clunky lines in my head. I had to skip most of your post cos I need to read this book and I'm trying to forget the plot after watching the film years ago and I like to be surprised, but a wussy female character can really ruin any good story for me, tv book or otherwise. Something has to be REALLY good and I have to be unable to figure out how the writer/directer has done it in order for me to love something.

  2. So, this is one of my favorite movies of all time too. And I still love it, but looking at it now, it suffers from Twilight-syndrome.

    Buttercup is just too Bella for me. A bland, boring, empty vessel which all young girls can live vicariously through because she has no unique qualities (besides beauty). She can represent everyone because she is so generic.

    Also, in the beginning, she's a total bitch who delights in ordering Wesley around. Why would he fall for her, besides wanting to get her in bed?

    It's just true love, I guess. We can't question motives or desires when it's true love!

    I still love the movie, but Buttercup is my least favorite character in the film. The miracle workers have always been my favorite. HUMPERDINK HUMPERDINK HUMPERDINK!

  3. It's a syndrome, indeed! I find I have to tell myself to just "shut up and read."

  4. Ahahahahahahahaha! I always get mad at Buttercup during the ROUS scene! I mean besides just STANDING there, she then manages to fall over and get her foot stuck in the ROUS's mouth. LOL. But I sooooo heart this movie! I feel like it raised me I watched it so many times. True story...I named the love interest in my novel Ryan because of this movie--Im obsessed with the way Westley gives his speech "I am not the Dread Pirate Roberts, my name is Ryan..." I totally know what you mean about writing ruining things, but after awhile you kind of just turn it off and go with the and there...

  5. Same as Frankie-- and then she yells "WesLEYYY!" and I'm like "Come ON! DO SOMETHING, GIRL!"

    Our neighbors growing up weren't allowed to watch movies at our house b/c my mom showed them the Princess Bride, and Inigo says "you son of a bitch" at the end. THE HORROR.


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