Doubt it —-> Crown it

March 7, 2011

Caboose: “I am a good storyteller.”

This class is about stories. The stories that we are trying to get across in our PSAs. All of those in the field of environmental communication have been working to try and induce change in their target demographics for so long, that some of the slogans and reasons for change are becoming tired. Yes, people know about climate change, and recycling, and how to recycle, and about conflict diamonds, and about inhumane treatment of animals that make McDonald’s hamburgers, and about natural fibers, and…at this point, they’ve all blended together. It’s all become a wave of white noise that annoys some people into changing, but puts a lot of people to sleep. The way to fix white noise is to change the frequency. Mix it up a little, sell the product in a new light, tell a different version of the ‘save the planet’ story. This isn’t Hollywood, we have fresh ideas. Ideas that, when presented in the right way, can actually get through to people and make a difference.

Tucker: “Caboose is the only guy I know of who had an illustrated field manual.”
Caboose: “Well, it helps when the stories have pictures! DUH!”

This is the point where we’re at in the semester. We have just about completed the slideshows, our stories with pictures. It has been a different task than what we have done before in our college careers, trying to get a message across in a certain visual medium that may not suit us well. It’s about trying to get the pictures in our heads to the computer, lining up the audio, adding effects so it’s smooth or flows nicely. They do help the original audiocasts by bumping them up, giving people a visual stimulus in addition to an audio one. This way, the stories are presented in a different context, so not only does it challenge our creativity in finding out how to make a good slideshow, but the viewer gets a welcome change to the daily enviro-reports. So far, it’s all gone fine.

Tucker: “For the first two months I worked with him, he thought you held grenades over your head, while they shot arrows at the enemy.”
Caboose: “That diagram could have been a lot more specific.”
Quotes from Redvs.Blue, Recreation, Chapter15

There’s our problem. What if the pictures we used don’t accurately convey our message? There’s a chance that what made sense to us won’t make sense to who’s looking at it, and then you have the situation described above. In a battle where the environment is the golden calf, we don’t want to send people into battle holding grenades over their heads, waiting for the arrows to come out. Some people prefer things to be spelled out for them, and we need to make sure that what we present isn’t to abstract or “arty” for them. Don’t you hate it when you tell a joke that ends up going over everyone’s head? Yeah, it’s kind of like that.

Then again, not everyone is Michael J. Caboose. They don’t need things spelled out for them all the time. There are those who can put two and two together and come up with a solution on their own. Some people can get subtle hints, and that might work better by a psychological standpoint. Prompting is the process of showing someone some signals, either directly or subliminally, that causes them to have a noticeable change in behavior. No, this isn’t subliminal advertising, we’re not trying to get you to smoke. Instead, just by showing certain types of images, we can influence people to want to make positive changes that will benefit them and the environment as well. It’s not hitting them right in the face saying “Do this, think like this, act this way,” which is definetely a turn off when trying to do something. It’s nice to find surprises that weren’t obvious the first time you heard or viewed something, but comes to you a few listens later and gives you that “Oh Wow!” moment.

Radiohead are one of the masters of subtlety. The artists just released their eigth album “The King of Limbs” a few weeks ago, showing all other bands what the new set point is. Being only 37 minutes, 8 songs long and varying differently from “In Rainbows,” it has been met with criticism. Too short, not exciting, what are they trying to prove, there better be a Part-2 coming soon. But, as people who follow the band’s work will tell you, the first listen is meaningless when it comes to Radiohead. They put so many intricacies in their art, that can only be picked up on when the most noticeable parts become ‘white noise,’ that you need 4-5 listens to begin hearing the songs for the first time and seeing how remarkable the songs really are. Not to mention that Thom Yorke is no ‘he who must not be named.’ If you can figure out what he’s singing about on the first listen, you’re a liar. His lyrics are all subtlety that requires a few listens to come up with an answer, and you’re interpretation is different from mine. The important thing is, you come to a conclusion of what the song’s about on your own, not because the lyrics are so plain it tells you what you should hear.

Frankly, if you want them to make another “OK Computer,” then go listen to OK Computer. They’ve told that story already, now they’re going to tell a new story, and damn are they good at telling stories. Who wants to hear the same story over and over again? If the story is told at face value, no one. If the story is tweaked and a few Easter Eggs are thrown in for the audience to find, people will want to look into it again. I actually prefer subtleties. Going back and finding something you didn’t notice before makes it worthwhile. It’s fun knowing the last time you viewed something will be different than this time. It’s fun changing your opinion about something and realizing what you once criticized is actually really good, once you strip down some of the layers. It’s nice knowing that the ending isn’t the ending; it’s an oppurtunity to listen to the story again.


One Response to “Doubt it —-> Crown it”

  1. Caron said

    Your blog is an opening to a different world. I will need to spend more time on it this weekend.

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