Monday, May 28, 2007

True Drama

I’ll get back to more traditional economics stuff in the next one.

I watched a couple of movies the other night. A few of us play the “double feature game.” The idea is to pick two movies that fit really well together and then watch them both. So we watched Death Race 2000 and the original Roller Ball. At the end we were chatting about the movies and watching some of the commentary. The commentary was pretty predictable. “I was trying to show how violent society is becoming and how sports are really violence condoned.” The basic idea they seemed to be trying to put across in the interviews was the violence in sports is abhorrent and should immediately be stopped. The spectacle of sport is morally wrong seemed to be the basis of the argument.

Those who know me know that I enjoy sports, playing more than watching, but both. Some I was somewhat puzzled by these movie makers decrying sports.

Here’s what I see as the problem. Sport is the purest and most honest form of drama. The required element of drama is conflict. Without conflict there is no drama. Try to imagine a movie in which everybody got along and everything was ok. There’d be no drama. It would also be the most boring movie ever created. Now think about the best movie you’ve ever seen. The centre of the movie was a conflict, either between two or more people, between a person and a system, or between people and nature. Drama requires that people or things be seen to be trying to achieve different and often mutually exclusive goals. This sounds like a perfect description of sport to me. Two players or teams are trying to achieve mutually exclusive goals – winning.

The thing about drama, as we think of plays and movies, is that it often involves hidden agendas, betrayal, and emotional manipulation. In many cases there is extreme violence, except that it is entirely emotional rather than physical. Graphical portrayals of this type of violence are seen as high art rather than the grotesque spectacle that sport delivers. Interesting; fake and deceptive equates to high art while open and honest equates to gross spectacle.

What complete and utter nonsense. In sports we all know who’s on what team, there are clear rules defining acceptable behaviour, there are well defined penalties for deviating from that behaviour, and the conflict is open and honest. The only real difference is that the violence manifests as physical in sport and emotional in “high art”.

In an era in which we have virtually destroyed all conflict resolution mechanisms short of capitulation or extreme violence (war) we should be celebrating the one remaining honest representation of drama, sport.


Anonymous said...

this was nice for a change.
one statement i will never understand is when people comment and i have heard this a million times, i don't want drama in my is already difficult as it is...why make it tougher...

unfortunately, that's all rubbish.
who says life is tough and then again why is it so? perhaps it's your fault...people's choice of behaviours have consequences that so few take into account. so when things go bad, you get a list of excuses ready and the drama begins.

more and more, EQ (emotional quotient) is the more important driver in business transactions and let's extend that into economics. how fast people can adapt and change their behaviours to various situations will often dictate their personal and financial success. economic policy options may either be enhanced or weakened by how fast people change their behaviours to current and future economic conditions....somehow this is going into expectations and adaptive expectations...i didn't want to go there but oh well...


oh, go ducks go!!!!

Anonymous said...

the recent plunge in stock prices in shanghai due to an increase in the stamp tax from 0.1% to 0.3% should not be of concern since still so few chinese have their assets tied to the stock market. in any case, it was a prudent measure of chinese authorities to try to cool things off.

problem: many chinese expected this change, will this necessarily change things the way the authorities want to? probably not, this is one reason why i believe that another significant increase in the stamp tax will come before year's end - i'm guessing to 0.5% or even the bolder step closer to 1%. these taxes i am assuming were initially imposed to prevent quick short-term trades that result in wild flucuations in stock prices.

another issue lately has been the soaring dollar. i'm actually for it, conditions are ripe for a strong upward trend in the dollar and it helps my cause toward a continental (in this case, US and Canada, no Mexico yet) currency - something the David Dodge has hinted to and I believe secretly wants as well. There is a good case to be made for Canada/US linkup on currency.
I'm also a bit worried that Canada is heading toward not a soft landing but a hard one if the BofC screws up what it is trying to do. Higher interest rates - of the significant type - will lead to soaring bankruptcy rates across the country - real estate is all being built on debt, massive amounts of debt.

in addition, atlantic canada's problems continue, in the recent national real estate price reports, NB, NF, and PEI reported declining real estate prices with NS slightly on par.

i still think that the way the country is being governed is absolutely wrong. canada especially is a country built around regions, each region should specialize and diversify according to its strengths. atlantic canada should be pushing more towards europe and the eastern US seaboard, the latter seems to be doing fine, but where's europe in the equation? don't tell its hard, everything is hard but there are a ton of opportunities across the pond these days.
for instance, port of halifax is expanding and trying to take advantage of the bottlenecks in the western ports due to massive amounts of trade from asia. problem here is that it is a temporary thing. i would be or anyone would be nuts to ship things all the around to halifax then to ship it back to central and western parts on the continent. although shipping/transportation costs have declined dramatically in the past 25/50 years, they are increasing significantly in the past 5 years due to higher energy prices, storage costs and etc. halifax should be concentrating elsewhere.


snailman said...

OH Economist at Large,

Are you just upset cause i put you on crutches????


Anonymous said...

merging unbsj and nbcc is rubbish.

if people want a system to follow or perhaps study, try europe, especially germany where i have some knowledge about.