The death of well-written characters and plot

Most teenagers are on TikTok, the video app with short attention-grabbing videos that reel people in. Dances and funny skits now rule many phone screens across the world. Before short videos like this on TikTok and Vine, people had to suffer by watching 2 or 3 hour movies. Oh, the horror! Having to sit still and endure the length of a well-written movie sounds like a nightmare.
I’m not being totally sarcastic. Sitting still has become a struggle in recent years, especially with the amount of quick action in our lives. People have shorter and shorter attention spans as we go along. According to Cross River Therapy, “The average human has an attention span of just 8.25 seconds according to recent studies – 4.25 seconds less than in 2000.” I am just as guilty of a small attention span. It’s come to a point that I have to be doing multiple things at once to truly feel entertained. This causes movie writers to speed their movies up to provide more stimulus.
With short attention spans, it’s hard to get attention and keep it without big moments. If there is more action and more happening, people are more likely to pay attention. The problem with this solution is that there can’t be big moments in every second of the movie. There needs to be dialogue and some sense of plot. Unfortunately, instead of fixing this with well-written plots and characters, most writers are now making the dialogue more dramatic and the characters more dreamy. Making the main character the one in the prophecy is a common trope, but is accepted widely among movie fans.
However, making the main character, her best friend, her sidekick, and the rat she found in the dungeon all part of their own prophecy is overwhelming. Characters can be important without being the center of the universe. Many popular films abuse this, such as “Star Wars.” Almost all of the characters end up being either chosen by a prophecy, or important to the plot despite being a random person.
One example of this is Rey in “The Rise of Skywalker”. Throughout Rey’s time in the “Star Wars” franchise, she is simply a person wrapped into the chaos and destruction of the events. However, in “The Rise of Skywalker,” she turns out to be a descendant of Palpatine and a necessary totem to the evil plan. When done correctly, this can work. But the Skywalkers were also ‘chosen ones’ and it is simply overdone in this franchise.
Along with the bad character development and backgrounds, dialogue is affected by the decline in writing as well. Jokes are now being put in every calm moment in movies, despite the total lack of need for this much humor. Dialogue is a very important part of films.
The main example of this that I’ve seen is the new spin-off show of “Willow.” My dad and I love the movie “Willow,” and were excited for the show, hoping for a continuation of the story in a way that brought back the nostalgia of the original. We were in for quite a shock when the first episode was chock full of action.
Some spoilers ahead! In the first half of the episode, the main character is put in an arranged marriage, rebels against it, and then her brother goes missing. In the last half, we go on a fantastical journey in which one character dies and the previously ditzy blonde is actually the girl in the prophecy we saw in the first movie. That is the FIRST episode. I started watching the second and for the first five minutes, Willow, the main character in the first movie, is throwing out jokes that are unfunny and unnecessary. The whole series hasn’t been released yet, so the first episode may have been an attempt to hook viewers before they lost interest, but it was still terribly rushed.
The same thing that is happening to “Willow” is happening with other media as well. Movies are getting more and more concise. Going to the movie theater helps with this, making it difficult to go on phones and watch TikTok without the embarrassment that comes with ruining a movie.
However, streaming sites are now very popular. All of the movies premiering in a theater are guaranteed to be on a streaming site after they have run their course. This renders having to sit still unnecessary, because why would someone drive to go sit in a theater and watch a movie when it can be done cheaper and easier at home? While streaming sites do have a monthly subscription, $10 a month for unlimited movies sounds much better at face value than $16 for one movie.
While I don’t want to act like the future is horrible, I do think we can look back on past movies that brought people joy while not sacrificing quality. I want to go watch a movie that grabs my attention, but doesn’t have to explode things to keep it. Characters and plot need to grow beyond the shallow pond writers have them in.