real-life update: break-in and book snobs

My house was broken into on Tuesday. Well, technically someone only tried to break in — a neighbor saw him and shouted, causing him to stop before he could get through the window he’d broken. (The neighbor then chased the would-be thief down the street some distance until he got into a car. This is why the police now have a description of the guy.) Breaking into someone’s home is not cool; breaking into their home and scaring their cats is even less cool.

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Yesterday Paul and I watched The 6th Day on Hulu. I’ll leave you to figure out the humor in that for yourself… (It’s a good movie, by the way. Plenty of car chases and gun fights for viewers who just want an action flick, but the story addresses difficult moral/ethical questions about biotech that is fast becoming a real thing.)

And that leads me, indirectly (because of movies in general), to something I’ve been wanting to discuss here for a while.

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I see this image frequently on Pinterest and elsewhere. Its message is obvious: reading makes you think about all sorts of deep, worthwhile things, whereas watching television makes you not think at all, because books are full of ideas, and television programs contain only sex and sports. The mind of a person watching television is blank

If that’s what you believe, though, you’re doing it wrong.

When I watch something on television, I think constantly. I pay attention to details of cinematography and to how the screenwriters make use of the various elements of storytelling… I enjoy crime dramas (especially if they also contain SF/F elements to some degree or another), and I always try to solve the “whodunit” before the big reveal.

I am definitely not mindlessly absorbing whatever is on the screen. Chances are, neither are you, when you watch television/movies.

I suspect, though, that images such as this one are just another part of the book snobbery I see all the time online. “My paperback smells better than your Kindle!” Well, I’m sure it does, but not all good books are even available in print. Most of my print books — of which there are thousands — are in storage. This house is barely big enough for two humans and several cats; there is no room for the many bookshelves required to hold all our books, and I will not get rid of most of them just so I can display the remainder and thus prove myself a Real Reader like the book snobs. (Also, no one can look at the outside of a Kindle and know what you’re reading. I was not joking when I said I used to get death threats for reading sci-fi.)

Book snobs want you to believe that print books are always better than e-books — so much better, in fact, that e-books are inherently bad and not worth reading. Book snobs also want you to believe that other forms of story — story told with a visual element instead of words alone — are bad for you and will cause your brain to deteriorate into mush.

It’s fucking elitist, is what it is. Oh, if you can’t afford to buy books in hardcover all the time, you’re not a Real Reader. If you sometimes like to watch movies instead of reading, you’re stupid and don’t know how to think for yourself. Do we, as humans who value Story because Story is what makes us human, really need this divisive bullshit?

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About Thomas Weaver

I’m a writer and editor who got into professional editing almost by accident years ago when a friend from university needed someone to copyedit his screenplay about giant stompy robots (mecha). Having discovered that I greatly enjoy this kind of work, I’ve been putting my uncanny knack for grammar and punctuation, along with an eclectic mental collection of facts, to good use ever since as a Wielder of the Red Pen of Doom. I'm physically disabled, and for the past several years, I’ve lived with my smugly good-looking twin Paul, who writes military science fiction and refuses to talk about his military service because he can’t. Sometimes Paul and I collaborate on stories, and sometimes I just edit whatever he writes. It's worked out rather well so far. My list of non-writing-related jobs from the past includes librarian, art model, high school teacher, science lab gofer… Although I have no spouse or offspring to tell you about, I do have six cats. (The preferred term is "Insane Cat Gentleman.") I currently spend my time blogging, reading, editing, and fending off cats who like my desk better than my twin’s.
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