Tuesday, December 20, 2011

That Holiday Feeling

Ferias Ex Machina….

As Christmas is only a few days away now traditional Holiday themes are inundating all narratives on all mediums but why?

In a traditional narrative whether it is still, sculpted, cinemagraphic or literary a composition is orchestrated in such a way as to draw the viewers into the piece. There is a level of intrigue as the thrill of uncertainty keeps the rapt attention of the audience. This is not the case for many 'Holiday' narratives.

Photo Credit
The majority of 'Holiday' narratives are composed with layers of positive themes; selflessness, family, change of heart, unconditional love and other similar themes.

While many narratives can utilize similar themes, Holiday compositions typically feature these themes at a relative superficial level. The dramatic twists and turns that otherwise would create a thrilling piece are sedate compared to traditional narratives. These narratives often rely on the Ferias Ex Machina. 

Ferias Ex Machina or "Holiday out of the machine" is where a seemingly unsolvable/inextricable problem is suddenly and abruptly solved with the contrived and unexpected intervention of some new event, character, ability or object particularly in a 'Holiday' composition. These are where the characters will have a revelation, change of heart, a random bystander offers help because it is the season, etc.

In a traditional narrative composition, if the Ex Machina approach is used it makes for a superficial or failed piece by modern standards. So how is it acceptable for Holiday compositions?

Many narratives span extensive time periods either within the singular narrative or within a series and inevitably draw on the 'Holiday' themes. Much like a straightforward Holiday composition, the narratives fall to the same superficial level of device yet, since it is 'Holiday' themed it is generally accepted by the audience despite the Ferias Ex Machina approach.

What do you think? Is Ferias Ex Machina a suitable device for a holiday narrative or should a piece strive to be more than a 'Holiday' composition?

Merry Christmas….


Amber said...

I'm going to give you my opinion, and it is definitely my opinion, only. I don't care for the holidays, in general, so I think the twists and hooks should be more of the norm. Ok, ok, maybe one story with the Holiday magic, but that's it. Keep in mind this is coming from someone who delighted in creating stories about an evil Santa Claus, etc. My view will probably not be shared by the masses, I assume.

All that being said...

Happy Holidays, Phil! :)

PW.Creighton said...

Ha, Actually I kinda agree with you Amber. I think too many stories rely on the 'holiday' device as a crutch for their story. Holiday stories have their place if it's not the primary device. HH back at you.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a huge fan of the holidays, so I'm not really into holiday stories, unless it's something like Die Hard. The original one was set a Christmas time. That counts, right? I just don't like the hype and commercialism of the Holiday, so I tend to just avoid it all.

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