Wednesday, November 15, 2006

postal scrotum: Gord on the suckitude of Korean dramas

My original post on the subject of Korean dramas.

Charles's reply and my reaction.

Gord writes:

You and Charles were rappin' about the ol' Korean Tv dramas, and I thought I'd inject some thing hinted at but not explicitly said (or so I thought):

I have about five groups of students split between two classes, who are writing plays that they're going to be performing in early December, as the final exam for their English Drama course.

Besides how energetic and interested they've been in the task of creating playscripts, thinking up characters and conflicts, and so on, there's something I've noticed, which is this: they've all deeply internalized two types of dramatic structures. One of them, upon which I find they rely much less immediately, is the Hollywood film.

The other, though, which comes to them much more naturally, is the Korean TV drama. In most of the groups, once we discussed, you know, stereotypes and representation and the pitfalls of racist and sexist character-creation, they immediately gravitated towards Korean TV drama-type stories. Twin brothers and messed up love triangles, long-unconfessed love, the death of the beloved, and these complex winding plots that seemed to have been conceived in *emulation* of the disconnected, winding plots of TV drama.

When I sat down with one group and talked them through how to unify their play, use fewer than two characters each, communicate more than just what was being said, and so on, they were all bowled over about how plotting the story ahead of time could result in a story so much more unified and, you know, comprehensible!

What I'm thinking is that, having internalized the apparent structure of these structureless shows, it actually looks like a natural dramatic structure to some people. (The way, say, punk music sounds like music to some people, heh.)

It also reminds me of a pet theory of a friend of mine about the melodrama in Korean TV, and the melodrama he's seen friends go through in relationships here... but I think some of that is a case of his friends having, well, quirky taste in women.

This isn't unusual in the development of a TV industry (or other entertainment industry). American TV shows from even 10 years ago look almost as clunky to me, and some Canadian shows still did when I lived in Canada 5 years ago. For that matter, some BBC shows still do. (The new Dr. Who, which I really dislike, being one of them.) It's kind of like how it took years and years of swing jazz before we got to the good stuff (which I define as bebop, hard bop, free jazz). Virtuosity is needed for anything very well-connected, and that takes time. When viewers' tastes change, the industry will allow the production method to change. One imagines, and hopes, anyway.


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