Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Series to Reboot: Pushing the Credibility Envelope

The concept behind Series to Reboot is simple.  I take a film franchise, hopefully a long running one, and chart it through to its 'reboot' or 'relaunch' or 're-imagining' or 'Bayhemularity' (Bayhemularity (n): the point at which Michael Bay directs or produces the latest installment/remake of a film.  Not to be confused with Uwe Bollvent Horizon.), providing thoughtful criticism.  Failing that I mine it for comedic potential (read: abuse).  My main focus is something I call the Envelope of Credibility, which is the limits of a film or film franchise's acceptability to its intended audience based upon willing suspension of disbelief.  This concept is determined by many factors, including entertainment value, mythology, logic, drama, gore and fanboi worship quotient (FWQ).
In order to understand the thought process let me provide a quick set of definitions:
Credible/Credibility: Things are credible if they are believable, but for our purposes this is easily or comfortably believable.  Fiction requires a "willing suspension of disbelief" but each person has his or her own amount of disbelief suspension.
Plausible/Plausibility: Something is plausible if it is worthy of belief.  Note that this is not exactly the same thing as believable, merely worth of it.  When one is offered an explanation for something, but no direct proof, they might say it is plausible if it sounds believable.  For our purposes plausibility is less than credibility, but part of it.  A work that provides something that seems like it could happen, such as a hero getting shot in the arm but still being able to fight on, wincing in pain all the while, is plausible.  Drama requires that we sometimes exaggerate a bit, but still keep things plausible.
Possible/Possibility: Things are possible when they are within the limits of ability as set by reality.  It is possible that a monkey could randomly type out a grammatically and logically correct English sentence if put in front of a keyboard with no coaching or training through sheer random chance, but not very likely.  Thus we would not say it was plausible.  For our purposes possible/possibility refers to the last acceptable action before willing suspension of disbelief is shattered and the audience calls "bollocks".

A part of all of this is the concept of Conditional Reality (see: Conditional Reality ).  Specifically the notation that in the absence of an explained reality, such as the accepted rules of space travel in Star Trek, the viewer will be forced to default to their own reality.  The inevitable clash between the work's reality and the audience member's reality creates a dissonance that leads to a loss of credibility as defined above

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