Is it the words, or the medium?

by Clayton Mathis

Girl’s Day Out, at its most basic, presents us with a story, based on fact, about two girls riding through, what they found out later was, a mass graveyard created by a serial killer.

Ok.

But it’s presented in a way that makes us work for the details. The landing web page gives us a little detail about what to expect. We download a Flash movie, click on Poem, read, click again, and watch as words within the poem reveal themselves – giving us the facts behind the visual imagery.

Why?

Why choose this medium? My first reaction is “Oh, that’s kind of cool.” The more I think about it, the more I think this is just another example of “hey, look what I did.” While the format is, at face value, more interesting than a basic news story, I’ve read so many better examples of non-fiction narrative which brings the reader farther into the story.

In Girl’s Day Out we really have to click on all three parts of the Flash movie, Poem, Shards and Author’s note, to get to the bottom of what she was trying to accomplish. The author spells it out for us. It’s based on stuff she found out about a place she used to spend time.

So what?

If the author was a gifted storyteller she could have crafted a beautifully written narrative about the girls, the person who owned the stables, the area in which it took place, how they spent their summers, etc. Instead we’re left with this gimmicky half-story. I don’t even want to know more about what really happened. I feel like I watched a trailer that ruined the movie.

Girl’s Day Out gets in its own way. The format blocks what could be a fascinating narrative by using a medium which is “flashy” for the sake of being flashy. It’s like building a volcano for your school science project. Great, you made a volcano that produces baking soda-food coloring-vinegar “lava.” What did you tell us about volcanoes that we didn’t already know? What are you bringing to the table?

As a reader I want a perspective from the author. Whether that perspective is actually the author’s own perspective, or the perspective of a character in the story, I want to know where it’s coming from. It’s possible this writer just isn’t able to produce a narrative in that fashion, no matter the medium. But in this case the medium isn’t the message.

 

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~ by Clayton Mathis on January 18, 2011.

One Response to “Is it the words, or the medium?”

  1. I wouldn’t change anything about this blog post. I reread it and still agree with my findings.

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