New World Rules Breed War!

Mark Federman, Chief Strategist, McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology rephrases Marshall McLuhan’s phenomenal statement, ‘The Medium is the message….’ Federman submits, ‘… the personal and social consequences of any medium…any extension of ourselves - result from…’ innovations ‘… introduced into our affairs by each extension of ourselves, or by any new technology.’


More or less, the ‘world of screenplay story’ created by the screenwriter in the opening scenes, is an extension of himself. Also, extensions of ourselves in a shared cultural space; but what if the screenwriter creates a world with certain screenplay story’s objectives. That will of course be a peculiar world to gain audience sympathy or empathy. Obvious with the fact that the world of the screenplay story, an extension of all of us will be ‘strangely’ repackaged or described to entertain us.


To that extent: whatever the screenwriter’s purpose or objective, "The medium is the message," so are we, the message. That is how we become part of protagonist’s everyday life or Ordinary World, before she or he risks confronting anything or anyone. We sympathize or empathize with the screenwriter’s protagonist, whose Ordinary World, routine or everyday life is suddenly shaken by some external interest.


Such a disruption will of course be caused by the protagonist’s antagonist. Eventually made to experience a different life, protagonist cannot feel comfortable in the new situation, circumstance or social or cultural change. That is because it is the protagonist Ordinary World versus New or Special World. These are two distinct world that must be differentiated: where he or she comes from versus where he or she is forced to enter and live through the duration of the screenplay story.


Ordinary World gives the screenwriters’ audiences a chance to connect with protagonists, before stories begin to unfold. More so with character-driven stories, where the Ordinary World has a few rules are set up by the screenwriter. When broken, evolved or manifested, the Ordinary World spells out differences with Special World, before lights FADE-OUT in the screenplay.


Ordinary World also helps audience recall how protagonist and other characters started and completed their character growth or arcs. Accordingly, Ordinary World differentiated from protagonist’s New or Special World makes more meaning for the audience. It also builds audience’s enjoyment with book end, where characters are put in similar scenes, places or among same people at the book-end as seen in the beginning Ordinary World. Certainly, helping to really highlight how characters and their world have changed.


Ordinary World does not mean long overview of protagonist’s backstory; not a place for pages of description. Therefore, your screenplay’s first ten pages must present the protagonist’s reality or true environment forced by some inciting incidence to cause departure for the Special or New World.


It doesn't matter if the Protagonist's Ordinary World feels or tastes like our real world; but it should contain an accurate interpretation of the protagonist’s peculiar or different kind of world. It could be a mountain side cave, underwater or outer space. However, it must be presented according to its character and outlook; whether evil or good.

Consequently, it would not be a surprise to any movie audience, if characters in a certain Ordinary World behave peculiarly according to its rules and regulations. Otherwise any uncompromising counter to the rules of the New World will breed conflict or ‘war.’


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