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Friday, June 12, 2015

This Is a Story about 'This Is a True Story'

It is Friday, it is hot & muggy out (at least in the part of the 100 Acre Woods I reside) and so I'm going to focus on something of a little lighter fare than economics or politics but still something that as a viewer of movies and television should annoy you.

A couple days ago at my local library I rented the first season of the TV series 'Fargo' based in concept at least on the famous Coen Brothers movie back in the late 1990's.

On the FX show just like its classic cinematic predecessor, both tell the story of murder and kidnapping for ransom gone horribly wrong.
And at the very beginning, even prior to opening credits the following message appears:

“THIS IS A TRUE STORY. The events depicted took place in Minnesota in 2006. At the request of the survivors, the names have been changed. Out of respect for the dead, the rest has been told exactly as it occurred.”

As I watched the first episode, I was curious to see what this was based on, so I tried to look up any and all Minnesota officers who were killed in the line of duty by way of gunfire, as was depicted in the show.

In 2006 --  no Minnesota police officer was killed in any way close to how the program depicted.  

Nothing for at least 5 years prior or since..
That got my curiosity up a bit more.. I spent another half hour doing online research based on the little clues and hints I thought I picked up..


Then I found an article from a few years ago that solved the mystery and made me feel furious:

"As in the film, this (the FX show) is a lie. 

The Coens revealed that their story, set in 1987, was fictitious, inspired by several actual cases that they strung together and set in that peculiar polite and snowy state where they grew up. 

The true crime device was and is meant to strap viewers in so they will accept twists and turns without being thrown off the ride."

If you are creating fiction and the reader or viewer knows this to be, then you are free to express your ideas - plot, characters, etc with complete freedom.

If you create a work of fiction but preface with 'inspired by actual events" then beyond the events which the plot is based on, you also retain your creative freedoms

When you put a preface that 'This is a True Story' and other than name changes, its being told exactly as what happened then you better God Damn tell a truthful and accurate story!
You may think 'so what?' but that is an Ignorant position to take

You the viewer are being exploited and manipulated.  A person watching what they believe to be real people dealing with real tragedy will identify and sympathize with the victims in a way that transcends the connection they might feel to characters they know to be fictional. 

So now we know that not only was the plot of the film 'Fargo' bullshit but there is no real 'Marge', the pregnant police officer with the endearing quirky personality that represented the only source of goodness and wholesome purity in the whole film.
We the viewers and readers of the world are consistently manipulated and duped and to be even remotely conscious of the myriad of ways its being done is simply exhausting..

Entertainment in itself is molded with few exceptions as a passive-participation so you and I don't have to think, just enjoy the presentation; the show.

And the few times we are given little breadcrumbs of thoughts, they turn out to be manipulations and strategic plot devices.

Absolutely nothing you see on TV or film is real..
Two people involved in a passionate love scene probably in real life despise one another and gag at the smell of the other's breath..

Those scenes that take place over a meal or someone eating..  Notice they all eat very slowly and off camera there is a bucket to literally spit out the food because you can't keep eating roast beef or flapjacks for 50 takes..

Those scenes where two people are driving in a car... 95% of the time it is on a soundstage and the other 5%, the vehicle is being pulled by another
All fights are fake, any action scenes use stunt doubles and even body doubles are brought in to depict breasts onscreen when real actress won't do it..

Christmas movies are made in summertime and Halloween films made in the spring..

But we as audiences accept all the tricks and visual effects..  
The last bastion of reality left is to make a truthful story when declaring boldly 'This is a True Story'

And now that's all garbage too..