About a fortnight ago, I went to see the movie Avatar. As we left the movie, my brother, Captain Film Major, asked me, "What'd you think of it?"
In all honesty, I admitted I couldn't say. Now, me not having an opinion on something is a strange thing. If I don't have an opinion on something, I can usually generate one in 5.4 seconds. So not having one about Avatar was a bit weird. But I knew why I couldn't say anything. "I was seduced by how pretty it was."
Yes, the first time I saw Avatar my initial impression was, "It's pretty." I'm just easy like that. Go ahead, make you jokes. My ego can take it, I think. (Since seeing it again -- long-ish story involving 3D glasses-- I've moved past it's beauty to still give it a 9 out of 10. [Captain Film Major, if you're thinking of mocking that, you can just bugger off. I liked the movie.] Anyway...)
You're probably wondering what this all has to do with books, because I didn't come over here to write a movie review. Shocker, I know. What I'm curious about is the blinding effect of the beauty.
I know that this is not a groundbreaking revelation: People's judgment may be obscured to altered by the attractiveness of the subject at hand. Yes, I know, our species can be a little shallow like that at times. But, that doesn't tend to happen to me. At least, not with this medium.
Sure, I've seen paintings that commanded my eyes. I think we all have. And music can move me to tears. But this would be the first time that the prettiness of a movie warped my thoughts. And now I feel compelled to wonder, does my mind get warped by the Pretty when it comes to books as well?
It seems logical that sometimes we'll suffer through boring plot or repugnant characters for the sake of beautiful or well-crafted writing. We suffer through a lot worse in our lives for the sake of Pretty. Besides, I don't think most people read those books they were assigned in class because the books were just ever so fascinating. Instead, the caliber of the writing kept folks going.
Even Shakespeare is like that sometimes. Every now and then I look at a monologue and think, "Dude, was someone doing a costume change here and you needed three minutes? This speech isn't moving the plot along at all. Why'd he bother?"
But, you know, you miss those thoughts the first read through, because it's Shakespeare, and it's pretty, and it's eloquent, so you let the words wash over you and it doesn't matter that the speech serves no purpose. Okay, maybe if you aren't a Shakespeare geek, you're thinking, "No, he could have cut that whole act. The pretty isn't blinding me on this one." But I get a little blinded, and I think even hard-core Shakespeare fans have to admit to a little Pretty-blindness every now and then.
Does this happen to you? Do you get blinded by the prettiness of the writing and overlook the other qualities of the piece? What book was so pretty it blinded you? How much do you let the prettiness of the prose compensate for the other aspects?
Also, if you're keeping track, this happens to be my 200th blog post. I hope you enjoyed it. :D