Last week I ran through the ideas I’ve had beating against my skull trying to get out. As I flicked through the different options I’ve been making notes on, I came to the realization that so much of what I’ve been wandering around, has a huge flavouring with the effects and exploration of power.
We all see and feel the effects of various forms of power every day. From news reports detailing the machinations of parliament we see on TV all the way down to who controls the remote at home(always my wife) power in so many ways pull and push our lives. I’ve looked at some stories I’ve been reading or watching (Film and TV is still story telling) and in so many cases, the protagonist is butting up against a powerful foe in the form of government or dealing with ‘the bad guy’ while working within a powerful frame work. There are always rules that have to be obeyed or a tyrannical Empire to be overthrown.
The Empire comment shows that Star Wars is, as always on my mind, and the tight rules to obey comes from Star Trek. All the actions taking place are shown as the struggle to achieve good things against the enemy. The rebels are fighting for freedom from the oppression of the Empire and The Federation are exploring the universe to expand their knowledge and to welcome other races into their group. Both noble ideals but it’s the power within the stories which creates the angle.
Just read the stories with the power in the tale coming from the opposite direction.
Star Wars becomes a tale of an inclusive, civilizing group wishing to defeat a band of terrorists who are hell bent on mass murder and destruction who are totally rejecting the rule of law in favour of chaos whereas Star Trek becomes the tale of the ever expanding, race absorbing force who refuse to provide any form of help to those less fortunate than them and who aren’t a part of their group in case they interfere with the way that species is supposed to develop. The Prime Directive means you only show yourself to people when they have reached a point that they don’t need your help. If they were meant to die, they’ll die.
Not so comforting.
Now I appreciate that this is still a pretty basic way of interpreting the two tales but it shows how the power of the story teller and the angle you look at the narrative can have an enormous effect on how things are created.
In short, who has the power?
The power makes the narrative swerve and buck in whatever way it so chooses. It can make one set of events appear either noble or reprehensible. You can be given a whole tale of intrigue and struggle but depending on where the power has been applied, you could be backing the wrong team.
Just think about every story you’ve ever read or film you’ve ever seen. If you look at things from the other side, is the story still the same?
Batman and Iron Man become tales of egotistical playboys breaking the rule of law for revenge or just because they can. Captain America is a story of two sides wanting to achieve the same thing, the creation of a chemical super soldier. The one who is successful helps to destroy the entire country of the one who isn’t.
Every story places the power somewhere to create the weight of what is to be unfolding. Writing my own novel, I tried to hold the question of power as a constant shadow running behind the narrative. Are good decisions really good decisions? Are actions happening because they are the best thing to do or do they simply maintain the power of those who are in power? All the time you read a story or watch a film, be sure to really think about the way power is leaning on what is being said. Are you able to see the actions of a savior or a tyrant?
Certainly has the power to change the way we all look at things.