I watched “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” for the first time last night. It was outdoors under, projected onto a barn, with a fire burning for warmth. The evening was great. (But somebody turned an exceptional tale into a soap opera of movie. I’ll spare writing about what the movie did to the heros Elrond, Faramir, and Theoden. )
Watching the way the movie changed from the book, I was reminded of the way losers view winners. I used to play a lot of multiplayer computer games. I’ve found that both in games and in life, many people believe that personal success comes from one of three things - anger, some magic personal attribute, or treachery.
Mindless anger is not your friend. It makes you do stupid things, and is a very good thing for your opponent to have. Yet many people believe that if they get angry enough or passionate about something, that the emotion in itself guarantees victory. I have seen movie-watching newbie after movie-watching newbie work themselves into an angry passion, and then unceremoniously get stomped by someone with skill. One paintball game, a guy on his first game stood up from behind cover, began screaming at our concealed enemies. He was properly splattered out in short order.
My younger brother is a crack shot. Last year at the national matches he finished thirtieth in the nation out of eight hundred and fifty contestants. Watching him shoot, you would think that he is personally a magnificent shot, and yet what you do not see is the hours he spends outside on frosty mornings or hot summer afternoons practicing. The huge vast majority of people skilled at things are that way because of hard, smart work, not a mysterious “attribute”.
My youngest brother is a skilled computer game race car driver. One of his favorite things is to get kicked out of an online race by the other drivers for “cheating” - Obviously anyone that can defeat top of the line Ferraris while driving a Ford Mustang must be cheating. This same pattern can often be seen in left political/economic debates - “these people have more money than we do; therefor they cheated, and we are entitled to take their stuff”
They are Distractions
All of these things are distractions from what really brings skill. And the sadness of their prevalence in movies is that people subconsciously believe that these are the ways to skill/success, and they miss the real path.
Perhaps, the reason for these bad ideas’ widespread appearance in films is that they are easy to portray. (“Never ascribe to conspiracy what can be explained by stupidity.”) Anger, personal magic, and treachery are all “easy” things. You can work yourself up to passionate anger in a moment, but spending an hour a day practicing in grueling conditions is both hard to do in real life, and impossible to film.