1st September 2013

The Suspenders of Disbelief

What a convenient little item these would be. When watching the movie Signs, for instance, a viewer baffled by the fact that aliens who have mastered interstellar space travel are confounded by doorknobs need only don the Suspenders of Disbelief and Presto! It all makes perfect sense. Likewise, a Jean-Claude Van Damme fan watching Timecop for the hundredth time, wondering where on God’s Green Earth those “pods” disappear to when the Timecops make their jump would be immediately mollified by slipping on the trusty Suspenders of Disbelief.

Until such a magical artifact is invented, however, writers will be forced take a more critical look at their work, and keep in mind the importance of suspension of disbelief. Sometimes, for the writer just to acknowledge to the reader/viewer that they’re aware of a potential wrinkle is enough. In True Lies, when the Harriers get called in to wipe out the terrorists high-tailing it over the causeway, one of the pilots asks if their missiles will detonate the nukes. Arnie says “negative,” then looks at his partner as if to say “at least I hope not.” It was enough for anyone in the audience who was asking the same question to feel that the issue was acknowledge and just enjoy the show.

And then of course there’s always the tongue in cheek style action sequences where we’re really all just along for the ride and we’re not asking too much. Even that line, however, gets crossed too often. It can be tricky knowing how much is too much, and everyone has a different tolerance level, but it’s always worth reflecting on, and sometimes presenting to a test audience to gauge reaction.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m trying to figure out where I left that stupid time pod…