Originally posted on my Steampunk blog: Nicholas L. Garvery

For my first movie review I decided to write about Steamboy, thinking it would be easy. However I found myself writing a long review, and half of it was about the blatant moralizing in the story. Now don't get me wrong, I think books or movies with a moral or lesson are better than a mindless action movie or adventure book. Call them a book or movie with a reason.

However there's a right way and a wrong way of moralizing a story, and
Steamboy got it all wrong. The moralizing is in your face, biased, patronizing, and condescending. It insults a viewer's intelligence.

You want to moralize your story? Great, but be subtle, give both sides of the argument, and make it thought provoking. Let people arrive to their own conclusions, and if one argument is really better than the other, you'll see that your readers or viewers will agree with your line of thought. The fact they arrived to their conclusions by themselves will make it more rewarding for them, and the lesson will stick in their minds for much longer.

It's a good thing that I decided to write reviews. While watching a movie or reading a book with the aim of reviewing it I notice things I would otherwise overlook or forget about. I think about what I like and dislike about the writing style. This helps me improve my own style.


» Nicholas L. Garvery

Views: 129

Comment by dave bartram on August 1, 2011 at 12:54pm
Couldn't agree more. I enjoy a story with a point, or a message - but I like to be left to make up my own mind. I don't think Steamboy is quite as bad as all that. I can think of worse, but it does certainly ram the point home, repeatedly.
Comment by Nicholas L. Garvery on August 2, 2011 at 3:53am
Thanks for commenting Dave. I think what irritated me most with Steamboy is the message itself. It's very socialist and pacifist, and I'm a realist. Those theories sound good, but in practice don't work.
Comment by dave bartram on August 5, 2011 at 4:46am

I don't know whether it was socialist so much as humanist. The message that great science gets used for good and ill is, however an important one. I consider myself a pragmatist, but as a pragmatist I recognise the value and importance of ideals and idealists. Take an obtuse example - without Greenpeace making idealist gestures there probably wouldn't be any whales left by now. I wouldn't say that socialism doesn't work, however, but that's a political discussion and probably left well alone.

I know what you mean about the message though, well, not this message, necessarily. I can't pick up a childhood favourite - The Chronicles of Narnia - as it feels like being beaten up with a Bible and the desperate need to get the message across strangles what little story there is.

At least Steamboy works as an adventure. I don't mind the message, and think, ironically, its a realistic scenario in which an inventor would try to stop his invention being used for purposes with which he doesn't agree.

The deeper irony is that it is the technological advances of war that often fuel the fires of peacetime invention, not the other way around. Although more ironic still, the Pax Brittanica was a time of remarkable invention and discovery. 


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