Well, do you?
I remember watching The Forth Kind not long after it came out in 2009 with my Dad. I was around 15 years old at the time, and even though it doesn’t seem that long ago, my love, passion and knowledge for films had not yet fully developed. The film, which is kind of filmed partly as a mockumentary, actually really scared me (I owe my owl phobia to that film), and I have to admit, I thought it was true.
At the time, my 15 year old brain didn’t know there was such a thing as a mockumentary, or I guess I’d just never thought that you could do something like that, present something as fact…when it was actually fiction.
It’s crazy to me to look back now and remember that I believed it was real, despite my Dad telling me it in fact was fake. Obviously I realize now that the film was fictional despite the ‘these events really happened’ claim films so love to say (something to that affect at least.) I wonder how many other people watched that film, or others like it, and thought what they were being told was real?
It’s kind of scary to think about how much power something like a documentary or a newspaper holds over people. Most people will believe almost anything if you present it to them in the right way, without even a second thought. Now that I am wiser (but still not that wise) I take everything I read with a huge pinch of salt, even the things I hear on BBC News which is supposed to be unbiased and entirely factual. I always try and remember that at the end of the day, unbiased or not, they are telling you only what they want to tell you.
Despite the fact I now take apart and analyse everything that I read, see or hear, I still believe in aliens (don’t worry, not solely on the basis of The Forth Kind.) And I’ll admit, I only have to watch a documentary on conspiracy theories and I’m jumping on the bandwagon straight to Area 51, but at least now I have the knowledge and understanding that anyone and anything in the media can make things up, or be made up. I can make my own decisions on whether to believe it or not.
Recently it was the UK season finale of the TV series, Fargo, inspired by the Coen Brother’s film of the same name. The series was great and I won’t get into everything I loved about it now (I could go on for hours) but there is one relevant thing I want to mention. Like in the film, before the start of every episode this superimposed text read- “This is a true story. The events depicted took place in Minnesota in 2006. At the request of the survivors, the names have been changed. Out of respect for the dead, the rest has been told exactly as it occurred.”
Now obviously, for a number of reasons, this isn’t true. Before I had even researched this to confirm my suspicions, I had seen the film before and read that the show was going to take on a diffrent story. So if both we’re true…how could there be a different plot, with different characters?
The sentence, “The rest has been told exactly has it occurred,” was another obvious reason for me that this could not actually be true, or at least, they we’re watering down the facts a little bit. How could you tell everything exactly as it occurred? How could you get the exact dialogue people used, when in fact some of those people would now be dead? Oh yes, 19 year old me has learnt the error of her past ways. You can’t get nothin’ past me anymore.
So if this was really all fiction, why did they bother putting that at the start if people we’re going to find out the claim was completely fictional anyway? Noah Hawley, the show runner stated that using this allowed him to tell “a story in a new way.” And I honestly think it does just that. As we’ve seen from 15 year old me, if you tell someone something is true…well, they’re most likely going to believe it. Or at the very least, they’re going to at least try and believe it. And that’s a great device for writers and people like me who want to make, or do make, lying to people, a living. Now of course, we don’t do it in the newspaper or tabloid way, but we still make a lot of stuff up, and it helps if people at least want to believe it. Otherwise, what’s the point in reading/watching it?
I love to immerse myself into a fictional story, with wonderful fictional characters and lands and even planets and creatures and time zones. Stories allow you to recreate the past and change the future, it’s nice to pretend that it’s all real once and a while.
So basically, the purpose of this post was…well, I’m not so sure. But what 15 year old me has taught 19 year old me is pretty important. Don’t believe everything you read, unless of course, it’s fiction. Then believe everything.
It’s much more enjoyable that way.