Scott D. Parker
Why do you consume a story?
I use the word ‘consume’ because you could watch a movie or TV show, read a book, or listen to an audiobook or podcast.
My wife watches quite a bit of the true crime shows on TV and various streaming services. She likes to learn the intricate details of how the investigators discovered the culprit and, in most cases, land the perp in jail. She’s way more logical than I am and these shows give her a sense of order and justice. That drive for order is a large reason why she and I both enjoy BBC TV shows and other crime and mystery programs as well as books and movies.
But when it comes to established stories that have more than a twinge of nostalgia, I really enjoy the feels. How does the story make me feel?
I ran across this twice this week. The smaller version is my re-watch of the 1996 Mission: Impossible movie. My twenty-year-old son hadn’t seen it so we all watched it together. The way the movie is constructed—with its descriptions of how they’re going to break into various places and the spy stuff—is something I really dig. In fact, I found myself grinning like a goofball throughout the entire movie. Well, except for the vault sequence. Watching it again, I was in rapt silence.
By the end, I was buoyed by the story and ready to, I don’t know, hang by a wire from the ceiling. The story works, but the feels are fantastic.
The same is true for the Obi-Wan Kenobi finale this week. And spoilers are coming.
I’ve said it before but I think my favorite time of being a Star Wars fan is that initial era from 1977-1980. In those years, the galaxy was wide open and not some family drama. And I associate that feeling most with the first half of Star Wars, while the action centered on Tatooine. As such, I really enjoyed the Obi-Wan show.
From a logical point of view, the writers delicately threaded this series through established canon and I think they did a great job. It’s a testament to how much I enjoyed the show that even though I knew who lived, I found myself constantly on the edge of my seat. Will young Leia survive? Will Obi-Wan be killed by Vader?
But the finale proved to be one of my favorite Star Wars things. We got an epic lightsaber battle between Obi-Wan and Vader, complete with Hayden Christensen looking out from a seared-open Vader mask. We go a neat and tidy button on Obi-Wan’s infamous phrase to Luke: Vader betrayed and murdered your father.
And we got some fantastic character moments, a feat especially impressive considering the action. In fact, it was the character beats in the final ten minutes that really struck me and brought the tears. Oh, and the inclusion of Princess Leia’s theme from Star Wars? Icing on the cake. That piece of music ranks as one of my all-time favorite themes in the entire franchise and it was used so well.
That last shot? [won’t spoil this one] Perfection.
So, with Obi-Wan, in my mind, I got the logic of the storytelling but I also got the feels. That’s what often sends a story over the top for me. It’s why I enjoyed Jurassic World: Dominion so much. It’s why I dig La La Land, Toy Story 3, any random episode of New Amsterdam, and John Scalzi’s book, Redshirts.
I want the feels, and any story that delivers is a winner in my book.
How about you? Do you want the feels or is logic more your speed?
P.S. I wrote this piece late afternoon on Friday. Last night, I watched the new Baz Luhrmann "Elvis" movie. Add one more to the feels list. Except this one was tragic. My wife and I just sat there for a few minutes while the main credits rolled. I had teared up at the end. So we just sat and listened and thought about the creative spirit of Elvis Presley.
I don't know about you, but when I take in a story in which a creative person is tamped down or abused or taken advantage of, I feel my own creative spirit wanting to burst out and soar.
P.P.S. Since I watch every new episode of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds on Saturday morning while enjoying my weekly do-nuts, I only saw the latest episode, The Elysian Kingdom, less than an hour ago. Adding this one to the Feels List. Oh my, did the feels wash over me.