Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Scholarship and Creativity in the Same Grave

For today’s posting, we’ll be referencing the video below, to which I am presently working on a response video.



Yesterday I finished a new video on the doctrine of hell, and chose to respond to this one next as a sort of test. The reader will note that this is a rather simple production: Many scenes are nothing but words; many are just images; some few are words with images. No voice work, just music in the background, a single song.

In contrast, compare my own first video, which was a response to a certain YT Skeptic:



Now for some background – a little lesson, as it were, in how stuff like this is done.

I’m no professional, of course, but for scale, let’s keep in mind that a typical film runs at 24 frames per second. That would mean, for an animated film, 24 separate drawings per second, though of course, that can vary according to things like speed and level of action, number of characters involved, background work, and so on.

There are also times when drawings are re-used repeatedly. Hanna Barbera was good – or should I say bad – at this; think of how often Fred Flintstone ran past the same couch and table set and the same window. Apparently interior décor in the Flintstone household was pretty low on the priority list.

A YT vid like “Beat the Bible Scholar” is certainly much easier, and correspondingly, much less demanding. My files for that film contain about 350 different jpgs, which were derived from maybe a third that many actual drawings. But I did more work involving coordination of voices, sound effects, and music. (It’s demanding, precision work of the sort I really enjoy, though.) And it took weeks to finish, as did the latest film on the nature of hell.

In contrast, I am now working on a rebuttal to the Mithra video, and, as part of my test, I will be sticking to the same format it does. Words and pictures. Simple background music. No voices. I started on it yesterday, using up 2 ½ hours. At the rate I am going, I will use a total of maybe 35 jpgs, and the whole project will be launched tomorrow after an additional 3-4 hours of work. And that’s a generous estimate which allows me to do other projects too, and eat lunch.

What’s my point?


If you check the Mithra video’s YT page, you will see that it has had over 123,000 views as of this date. It’s bad enough that it has such poor scholarship, and uses some Sufi mystic as a source rather than serious Mitrhaic scholars. But what makes it worse – and what this experiment has taught me – is that it is remarkably easy to grind out such poor quality productions in a very, very short period of time, and still get a huge audience that thinks you are a genius. (Just check some of the laudatory comments on the page.)


A lot of this puzzles me.

Why in the world would anyone want to watch a video that is mostly words? Why do the same viewers frequently eschew reading books?

Why does anyone even think someone like this video’s author knows what he is talking about?

Actually I know the answer to this already. As has been told in a book I read lately, The Dumbest Generation, this is just the natural result of a generation that has become accustomed to being dumb. They see no need to learn facts, or retain them, because everything, so they figure, is on the Internet and can be looked up at any time. Conversely, if it isn’t on the Internet, it must not be that important anyway.

A few words on a screen? Not much of a burden, especially when you get to listen to music and see some pictures in between to keep you from getting too bored.

If my own response were not a sort of experiment, and also a sort of parody, I’d be highly dissatisfied with the results. It has been very tempting to add some original art to my response, but no: I’ll only re-use older drawings, perhaps, or whatever graphics I can find online; I’ll keep the experiment pure, as it were….no matter how much it offends my creative sensibilities.

Bleah. What a sorrowful picture this is, for both scholarship and creativity. Jersey Shore, anyone?

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