Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Fiction of Love and the Power of Fiction

"It's a quarter after one
I'm all alone and I need you now

Said I wouldn't call
But I lost all control and I need you now"

Need You Now (2010) by Lady Antebellum

The same song's in the video below, but in Simlish.

Please watch before reading because this post is all about it.

Short stories are the hardest to tell. How does one convey the ideas native to the condition of being human where even the simplest, basest concepts can spark a thousand years of dissent and inspire a thousand libraries dedicated to defining their finest points? How does one do it with an economy of words on paper be it prosaic or poetic? Where does one find room within the confines of a frame in a painting - or within the time constraints of a short film or a song? It's a difficult proposition to tell a short story indeed, and to discover one which speaks to our loftiest ideals, darkest fears and most consuming desires - there's really nothing quite like it is there? No gem shines so bright as a gem of fiction, a lie, which speaks the truth like it's the single clearest thing in the world.

That's because they speak not to our minds, but to our hearts - and our hearts understand like a child would. Ask the mind about the nature of love and then ask the heart. The mind cannot comprehend it because it is indefinable, unquantifiable and unexplainable. The heart cannot answer you either but oh, it'll give you the wickedest knowing smile, that smug bastard.

The video I shared with you up there is one of many trailers for the latest expansion pack to the life-simulation game, Sims 3, and it focuses on the new professions available to the artificial people in the game. The guy Sim is obviously an inventor and his partner's an architect. The story is charmingly simple. He built a time machine, waved goodbye to his proud and supporting wife and travelled back in time. The device malfunctioned and he could not return - that sequence with the expectant look on her face, the door of the machine opening up and revealing that it's empty, and her expression in reaction to it said it all. So what did she do?

She fixed the time machine and went after her man, journeying through different time periods and having wacky adventures with the Sim versions of the band members of Lady Antebellum while trying to hunt him down - but ultimately, she returned alone to their shared laboratory workspace, defeated and forlorn. She went to bed, dreaming of happier times... when he was unexpectedly coughed up by the time machine. He goes to her, waking her up to reveal to us that she is now an old woman, all wrinkly with a headful of white hair. She had kept the device operational and the lab in the exact same condition he left it, never doubting that he would one day return. He saw that she had aged in the short period of time he spent away and he was clearly taken back. But the moment when he caressed her face and she, with her eyes closed, was enjoying the feel of a hand which she had not felt for so many lonely years - I felt my eyes welling up because it was just that beautiful.

And all that happened in a two-and-a-half-minute video made using a computer game, without any dialogues, narration or subtitles whatsoever set to a song translated to and sang in a nonsense language. The heart and climax of it lasted all of 15 seconds but it spoke of a lifetime's worth of loss, tragedy, joy and love.

The video affected me so profoundly that I immediately called Phoebe to tell her how much I love her, because I just wanted to do that so badly after seeing it. And it made me realise that I really do want to grow old with her. How did I come to these complex emotional conclusions from watching what is essentially an advertisement for a PC game?

Oh, I can't explain it. I can only give you a knowing smile.

P.S. Phoebs just told me that the Lady Antebellum song is actually pretty popular in a mainstream-ey kind of way. I wouldn't know since I have not listened to any radio stations in years. I literally heard it the first time when I saw this video. Oh well, I kinda like country. Michelle Branch is one of my favourite singer-songwriters after all.

A sucker for romance,
k0k s3n w4i


Phoebs said...

i couldn't imagine growing old with anyone else but you :3

Terri said...

aiyo hunneh, what you got from the video is more than what the video itself gives lor :P you big old softie!

Michelle Chin said...

Phoebs and Sen Wai: Go get a room for lovey doveyness! LOL!

Jen said...

You're such a mainstream snob!

Anyways, just after I watched this video, I was on my way home in the car listening to very mainstream radio when "Need You Now" played. And immediately after that? A Michelle Branch song!

Now if that wasn't a sign that I should comment on this post, I dont know what is.

k0k s3n w4i said...

Phoebs: *hugs*

Terri: bollocks. what i wrote was evidently the straightest interpretation of the video T^T the moment of anagnorisis in the narrative was pure genius! very few stories can make me believe that love really can really overcome anything.

Michelle Chin: you're in that room now :P

Jen: nope. i'm an indie snob. if i'm a mainstream snob, that implies that i only care for mainstream music :P from what i heard, that lady antebellum song gets so much airplay that it's just a matter of time before it's played adjacent to every song in the loop. i just heard michelle branch's new EP. disappointing :(

Glo-w~* said...

I love the melody but not so the words. It's about a guy and a girl who broke up because a fight or something and essentially booty called each other because the girl was emo at 1.15 am and the guys was drunk at that time too. "I'd rather hurt (being with you) then feel nothing at all" because "(they're)so alone and I need you now"

yeah, i'm one of those freaks who read too much into lyrics *blush* still I love the melody~ tralalalala~*

k0k s3n w4i said...

Glo-w~*: i care a lot about lyrics too (since i quote songs so often in my posts), but this time it sort of mattered less to me because i heard the song for the first time in simlish. plus, it's the structure of the short story in the video that got my attention anyway.