Friday, June 24, 2011

Nitpickery --- Starcraft 2

So, I just watched an SC2 let's play on the net.  I don't own the game yet, as I am a cheapskate, but I wanted to see what happened.  I must say, I'm both giddy and appalled.  Giddy because I love the presentation and gameplay.  Playing the game isn't too different from the first so you don't have to learn a whole new setup.  The presentation is magnificent, and the characters look mostly creative (what is the deal with Raynor's arm?), and I love being able to explore the Hyperion as well access Zeratul's memories.  It's a great game that's got both dark elements, goofy elements, and yet an overall very satisfying experience.  I enjoy it very much.

That being said, my inner writer is going "GRRRRR..." because I like to nitpick.  Some of the writing in this game is absolutely weird.  Starting with:

Zeratul.  Now, in vanilla, Zeratul was great.  He was smart, cool, and hung out with the Templar with no problem.  Then in Brood War he suddenly became kinda stupid.  I mean, if Kerrigan was talking to me and said. "I'll be seeing you again, real soon", the first thing I would do is shoot her in the face.  She's the friggin' Queen of Blades and she's threatening you, and you're just going to ignore her?  Besides, Zeratul never even asked himself why a former human would appeal to the Protoss if her mind was free from the newly dead Overmind.  I mean, wouldn't she try to find her old human friends?  Well, to be fair, the other 'Toss didn't ask themselves that either.  

So now in SC2, Zer seems completely different.  He was previously dark and brooding, and towards the end of Brood War very depressed.  He was cool.  Now he's amazingly generic.  His voice isn't as cool, nothing he says really means anything, and he kinda just comes and goes without speaking much to Raynor.  Raynor is supposed to be his friend, and Zer just shows up, goes "DOOOOMM!", hands him the memory crystal, then disappears.  Can't Zer at least hang around for a mission?  Maybe at least talk to Raynor like a real person would?

It's a good thing the cinematic where Zer and Kerrigan were fighting looked dang awesome, because not a thing they said had any relevance.  It was like "Doom!", "Hope!",  "Fate", and "Prophecy!" without really saying anything the audience would understand or care.  

For that matter, nothing Kerrigan says in the entire game was interesting. In vanilla and BW, she spoke a little melodramatic but always in a more or less human, real fashion.  Listening to her gloat was actually kinda funny.  Now....just more of the Zer disease.  I can't really judge the new voice actor she has, because the lines themselves are just too dumb to really compare her to Glynnis Talken.  It's not her fault.

So yeah, I found those two characters to be the weakest part of the plot.  My other complaints are closer to nitpickery.  Next is Raynor.  Now, I really like the Raynor character.  For the most part, he was really good and enjoyable, and there's a cinematic where he's taking down Tychus that's pure awesome.  For the most part I enjoyed watching Raynor do stuff, and went along with his struggles, protesting, "Hey, Jimmy, don't you drink so much!"

My main complaint with Raynor is the lack of connection between his SC2 counterpart and his BW one.  He's the same character for the most part, only for his behavior concerning Kerrigan.  At the end of BW, we last see Raynor when Fenix has been killed, and Raynor swears that he's going to be the one to kill Kerrigan.  

How does he go from that to being "ooh, I'm gonna risk the lives of all my followers to go save her"?  It's really, really odd.  If they could have made some sort of logical transition, like having Raynor really freaked out about having to save her when he doesn't want to but then later realizing that he does need her to save the universe, that would have been a better way to go.

While this may be a lesser point, it's one I feel the most strongly about.  Mengsk.  While I would never like such a person in real life, as a character I found him strongly interesting in the original.  I loved watching his hypocrisy and how being forced to work for infested Kerrigan started showing off some of his true, more cowardly/crafty/selfish colors.  He was so rich and deep as a character that he was the character so dang fun to despise.

Now?  Nope.  In some ways he's just a generic bad leader who uses propaganda, and in other ways he's a replacement for the Confederacy.  While the propaganda storyline was actually pretty good, it tore down Mengsk by making the things he said pretty dull and trite.  He was actually good at making speeches in SC1.  Now he says stuff like "humans are great" and "I love everyone" and blah blah, all that bullcrap.  C'mon, where's he making his riveting speeches and stuff?  Can't it actually look like he's a decent leader so humans don't look like complete idiots for following him?

Now, for the other half, that he's a replacement for the Confederacy, you have to think a little.  Now, in one sense he's a bad leader who replaced a bad government: the Confederacy.  That's entirely fine.  What's not fine is him being note for note exactly like him.  He's his own type of dictator, not a carbon copy of them.  

Specifically, I don't like that he's behind doing experiments with Zerg/Protoss hybrids (which, if you recall one of the maps that came out between SC1 and 2, was actually something the Confederacy was previously doing).  I do expect him to want to fight and to improve the Dominion's standing in the universe, but come on.  I always liked the notion that Duran, the "former Confederate", was the one who initiated the experiments during that government, then abandoned them when the events of vanilla's Terran missions took place.  I really should give this plotline more time, but it really irks me.

And so Arcturus has his son, Valerian, who is okay in my opinion.  I look forward to seeing more of him and whatever he's up to.  However, I read that Valerian was created because "Arcturus' story had already been told".  This says one thing to me: that I liked Arcturus far better than the writers of Starcraft did.

Note how I hate these not as a gamer, but as a writer.  Writing Starcraft fanfiction was what gave me my start at learning to become a fantasy/sci fi writer, and I'm better off for it today.  That being said, I had a lot in my head of potential for all the characters that exist, and the only character in the franchise whose story has been properly told is Tassadar.  We know what motivates him and how his life turned out because of it.  Even characters like DuGalle or my personal favorite Judicator Aldaris probably have really great backstories worth getting into.

Crap, I should write a novel for Aldaris and see if Blizzard lets me publish it....

Anyway, to get to my point, I saw Mengsk with a lot of potential.  Like Raynor, he too had a moment where he hated Kerrigan enough to ally with the UED (his competitors for power) and the Protoss to try to get rid of her.  And she pwned him, allowing him to live only because she wanted him to see her taking over the universe.  This to me leads to a great storyline for him, especially since Mengsk previously allied with her to retake his home planet from the UED.  I see him something like "I sold my soul to give my worst enemy control of the K sector...I really need to ramp things up for when she comes back.  She's not taking my empire away from me again".

I really see this as leading to a change in Mengsk.  He becomes darker, more sensible, and less willing to make mistakes or disregard people ever again.  Honestly, it makes more sense for him to go Kerry-hunting rather than trying to run down Raynor all the time.  That way he could use his anti-Zerg policies for propaganda.  

Another thing about the whole having to have the rebellion, though this might be more subjective.  I always saw Mengsk as someone who would treat his subjects well enough if they just did what he said.  It's like in the first Terran missions: he was cool to Raynor and Kerrigan as long as they obeyed him.  He even showed some measure of grace to Duke by saving him from the Zerg.  Even in Mengsk's megalomaniacal selfishness, he didn't try to harm the people that made him a ruler for no reason.  He's willing to do things to make himself look good, unlike the Confederacy.  They were generic bad guys, and Mengsk isn't.  He's artistically evil.  Like Shang Tsung from Mortal Kombat, in a way.

I'll admit that's a personal problem, but it just seems that Mengsk can do more than be a prop baddie.  I just hope Valerian gets to do more later on and isn't treated as shallowly as his dad.

Okay, final rant point.  What's the deal with the Zerg?  I understand Kerry having to be an important character.  But I know I'm not the only person who thinks it's weird that the Zerg "aren't bad guys, just misunderstood".  I mean, at the end of BW everyone finally seems to understand that it's better to fight the Zerg than each other, and oops!  The evil race of critters that infest and destroy any species they come across is really just misunderstood.  How dandy.  How friggin' dandy.  Way to undercut the franchise.  I take it back.  This is the plot point that irritates me the most.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Write Club: The Art of Interpretation

I was thinking about this the other day, and I've noticed that people aren't very good at translating emotions when it comes to reading works that are written a century or more before.  I fault modern schools and attitudes for this.  While I realize that every generation has a different perspective on past eras than other generations, I feel like this generation in particular is trying their very hardest to translate emotions in the most staid, non-comprehending way possible.

Be aware, from this point on I get ranty.  If you want to skip the rant, scroll down to later on to get into my writing point.

A lot of the time this concerns race.  Modern America (as well as other countries, probably, but I'll just speak of my own) are very hyper-sensitive about race.  The slightest word can set off a firestorm of media lynching.  For example, a lot of people freak out because the n word is in The Adventures of Huck Finn.  Honestly though, everybody knows that Mark Twain was in fact anti-racist, and the n word was just said a lot more then.  While I feel like editing works to be PC is wrong, I'm okay with producing a censored version without the word for use in public schools.  That, however, is a subject for another time.  Actually, I don't really like that story for unrelated reasons, but that also is another topic.  I've already ranted on why I hate school chosen books.

Thing is, people do that all the time.  They see an offensive word or opinion and just freak out and say they're racist or sexist.  C.S.Lewis had plenty to say about women caught in the thralls of modernism, but he also had a lot to say about basically everybody else.  He wasn't biased, he was saying things that are true.  I find the things he says on modern women particularly poignant, and that's weird because he wrote them all like fifty years ago and they're still true -- it's possible that the real issue with "modern" women is not modernity but our attitudes about being modern.  I'm a chick, I get to say this.

The thing I find most ironic about this attitude is that the public picks and chooses who they call racist.  They don't mention that Queen Elizabeth I saw both black people and the Irish as inferior.  They say nothing about the fact Charles Darwin's next book after writing "The Origin of the Species" advocated eliminating "inferior" races.  They don't mention that the creator of Planned Parenthood was a huge racist and that a disproportionate number of abortions are done on black people in America.  Nobody bothers to connect these two notions that history books claim: that humans are descended from monkeys and that life began in Africa.  Okay, children, what's two plus two?  No, it ain't five.

I'm getting ranty.  Really, I'm trying to make a writing point rather than a political one, but I can't help it.  The world is turning me into a dang conspiracy theorist.  I really don't want to be save me....

So anyway, one of the dumbest examples of this intentional bad interpretation is the false claim that the book of Genesis describes creation twice and is therefore proof that the entire Bible is wrong.  This is the most stupid argument against the Bible I've yet heard.

What really happens is this: the first chapter of Genesis describes what God did on a day by day basis, then chapter two opens up with a new summary of creation leading up to a description of the garden of Eden.  How in the world is that proof against the Bible?  It's called writing style, people!  It's a device used plenty of times.

This particular writing device is done so that the author can explain a more detailed, organized description so that the setting and tone can be established.  This is the purpose of the first chapter.  However, this description, while putting everything in perspective, doesn't lead to the plot.  Hence a summary of creation that's not as detailed, but refers specifically to that which will lead the reader to what's going to happen in this story and what it's about.  The second part doesn't contradict the first, it only accentuates a different aspect of creation (the making of man) so that the story can continue.  Even nonfiction must have a sense of story, or else you get public school education.

Alright, ranting over!  You can come back now!

A really good metaphor for this whole topic is in the movie Collateral. Jamie Fox is a marvelous actor, and in this his character has a stutter that pops up when he's really nervous.  If you try to listen to the specific things he says, you're liable to get confused.  But if you step back just a bit from what he's saying, you know what Jamie is getting across.

So let's look at some writing and see how we can interpret it.  Note that as a reader or critic you should try not to so much judge the writing by what you know, but by the emotions and ideas the artist is trying to get across.  A critic once said that Robinson Crusoe was motivated by money, and if you don't want to turn out like that weirdo, remember what your writer is trying to say.  Don't look at small details and judge a writing by them alone as if they're some sort of big point to the plot. What is the message of the writer?

I prefer novels, but for the purpose of this blog let's look at some lyrics.  This is the song "The Sound of Goodbye", the link to which I'll go ahead and point here.  It's very poetic.

And the lyrics:

"Every face I see is cold as ice
Everything I touch is pale
Ever since I lost imagination

Like a stream that flows into the sea
I am lost for all eternity
Ever since you took your love away from me

Sometimes, the sound of goodbye is louder than any drumbeat"

Now, we are all (I hope) aware that the dumbest way to interpret this is in a more literal sense.  Take the first stanza for example.  Think about it.  Every face the speaker sees (let's call her Anna) is cold as ice?  So....she's like, touching people's faces and they're cold?  Wait, why are they cold?  Are only their faces cold?  So, like, everything she touches is pale.  So Anna touches something and it automatically becomes a more faded tint?  Is this like a parody of the Midas touch?  And how in the world is she supposed to lose her imagination?  It's right there in her head.  Or does she have a headache or something and she can't think of anything?

So you see, this is no way to interpret the song.  If I went up to you and started asking these sorts of questions, you would immediately go sour and start telling me I'm missing the point.  Perhaps I'm stubborn, and I say in reply, "Well, look, Anna is the one who said every face is as cold as ice.  What do you mean that's not what she's trying to say?  That's exactly what she's saying!  Why would she say it unless she meant it?"

Hopefully you would call me an idiot (and take away whatever drugs I'm apparently on) and say that it's poetic: Anna is trying to call to mind emotions by using extreme examples.  For example, by saying that every face is as cold as ice, she's could be commenting on two possible things: that people are unfriendly to her (their action), or that no one is appealing to her (her action).  It would be very dull and ignorable to just say "Oh, people don't like me" or "I think people are so unwelcoming these days".  Those statements are emo, and Anna's statement is poetic.  The difference lies in the wording, and whether or not Anna (or your given speaker) is connecting with you or not.

When Anna next says "everything I touch is pale" she is indicating a lifelessness on the part of her actions.  She is helpless, dull, and ineffective.  "Ever since I lost imagination" is extra poetic, and you can't really understand this line, I think, unless you see the context.  But in any case, it indicates that her power of thinking and seeing the things that do not exist yet or exist only intangibly has faded out.  She can't appreciate beauty, feel poetry, or experience love, all of which are generally intangible.

She is incapable of future thinking (because of course all imagination consists of a future) because she is so stuck in her present circumstance.    Well, I get that last part mainly from reading the rest of the context: Anna has lost her love, forced to say goodbye when she was unwilling.

"But no," Druggie me tells you.  "Where all you getting all this from?  She's talking about ice and streams, not relationships.  She's 'lost for all eternity'.  Breaking up with a boy isn't all that bad now."

No, but it feels that way, particularly if Anna was close to her love.  Here it indicates that Anna must have been close to the one she loved (note that we can't say for sure that she's speaking of a boyfriend), because her identity is being absorbed away into non-uniqueness.

"Where are you getting that?  A stream isn't lost for all eternity.  It's there!  See, look, there it is!"

Surely you get the metaphor.  The specific water that flows in a stream isn't there forever.  It's constantly moving, heading downhill the shortest way to the ocean, where the water from the stream will be mixed in with all the other water in the world, and there is no way of telling what stream that water came from ever again.  The loss of identity, of individuality.

"Okay, so what's this about goodbye being louder than a drumbeat?  I guess a goodbye would be louder if the drums were being played quietly and someone was shouting goodbye."

Stop, stop, stop.  That's, again, the dumbest way to interpret things.  Drums by nature are intrusive instruments.  They bang and keep the beat, acting as a harsh sound versus soft sounds like harps and flutes.  They violently go in, increasing intensity of a song and refusing to be subtle.  The goodbye that Anna faces is as violent as drums, and yet worse than them.  It bangs in her ears, refusing to go away.  Her life can't go back to peace, as this goodbye cannot be ignored.  It fills her ears more than any loud drumbeat could, drowning out any happiness or not so bad aspects of Anna's life.

See, you have to interpret this on an emotional level.  It would be too simple to say "my love left me and now I feel horrible".  It's harder to connect to that.  By using extreme language, Anna is conveying her pain and exactly how this feels to her.  We can feel her disconnection with life.

On the level of songwriting, this is exactly what I was talking about with Disney movies; the ones that aren't specific but connect more to the audience are going to be remembered.  We don't know specifically what happened to Anna.  We have no clue who or what her love is, or why they left her, or why they were so important to her in the first place.  For the purposes of a song, we understand Anna better by her simple appeal to our deepest emotions.

So in any case, be aware of the way you interpret things.  Remember to choose an artful way to interpret it, and be careful of getting too attached to specifics.  I might have been talking about a song, but this applies to other things as well.  For example, I looked at this discounted book by some weirdo chick, and it was something like "One Year with Nicholas Sarkozy".  That thing wasn't worth the one dollar it cost.

The problem with the book was the way the author wrote it.  She basically wrote little snippets of very basic things Sarkozy did, like shaking hands or relaxing at the end of a hard day.  You only had to read 3 (if that) of her trite little comments to understand exactly how she felt about the French leader.  Conversely, you could read the whole darn thing and not learn two cents worth about Sarkozy himself.

So, as a critic of a story or interpreter of emotions there are some things you should remember.
1. Don't base your interpretation on nitpicky details.  What is the overall purpose of the writing?
2. Interpret what the writer is saying/person is doing.  Your audience wants to know about them, not you or your opinion of them.
3. Try to see what emotion the writer is trying to appeal to.  How does the writer want you to feel?

So yeah, that's my rant for today.  Thanks for readin'.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The King's Speech: Beyond Nitpickery

I just want to point out something. I rant and rave and nitpick all about The King's Speech, but at the end of the day I haven't said the real problem with it. I've pointed out details, at flaws in storytelling, but the real problem of this movie is not storytelling. It's certainly not acting, nor is it writing. Well, actually it sort of is writing, but bigger than that.

It's symbolism. So think to yourself. What is a king's speech? What's anybody's speech? It's a symbol, more so because it comes from a king. It's a symbol of strength of a country, of belief in the future of a nation, or of the belief in the people of that nation. Specifically, the speech in the movie was a symbol that England was not going to roll over and let the Nazis defeat them. It was a symbol that England was going to fight and prevail, and if not prevail, then fill the Nazis with horror at the memory of having had to fight them.

Doesn't that sound nice? Doesn't it sound wonderfully strong and relentless? Deliciously barbarian and yet completely noble? Well, that's how it should have gone. The King's Speech had good actors and a good historical background, yet we can't judge a movie on its background, but what it presents. Yes, we all know that the King of Britain gave speeches, and it's true he was a stutterer that had to overcome it. Nevertheless, when you present the king in the movie as an overbearing emo kid that can't see out of his own personal sphere, you lose touch with the historical aspect of the movie.  Notedly, I've learned to be fine with embellishing history in movies. I love Braveheart, even though Robert the Bruce was decidedly more hardcore in real life and the Princess of Wales was a child when William Wallace was running about.

Actually, the movie I'm going to compare King's Speech to is The Stone of Destiny, a movie that came out not too long ago that was also about historical events at only a few years later setting: Scottish college student Ian Hamilton is upset with his countrymen and with Scotland's situation in general because everyone seems to have given up on being independent from Britain. He and three friends go to Westminister Abbey and steal the Stone of Destiny (AKA the Stone of Scone) to show Scotland that she is just as proud and independent as ever.

You will note that the Stone is the exact same thing as the speech: a symbol. It's a symbol of Scotland's kings and freedom. Okay, so we've got two movies side by side that are more or less historically accurate and both concern a symbol. Why then do I claim that Stone of Destiny is a far better movie than The King's Speech?

For the most part I find that the characters in Stone of Destiny are more endearing. They feel like real people. Each of them goes to steal the Stone for their own personal reasons, but also for Scotland: they feel this intangible, inexpressible love for their home, and even though it's the most silly thing in the world to think that stealing a dang rock from England will do much in the end, it's such a passionate thing to do. I understand their reasoning completely, even though they never explain this out. Moreover, their individual reasonings are perfectly human. Ian is tired of his country giving up and calling themselves "North England".  One compatriot wants to do something and be more than just a little nobody that everyone underestimates.  Another conspirator is a happy, humorous and entirely given to passion person, but at the end of the day he wants to be more than a joke. Kay is more sensible than the boys, but she too is swayed by her love of country. Everyone's reasoning is human and understandible. There's nothing fake about them.

Now, the lead actor from The King's Speech did a good job acting, and in many ways he was sympathetic. None of the other characters really are. I mean, you might think Geoffrey Rush's character was interesting, but I found it hard to sympathize with him. The primary reason for all of this is that all of them feel like stereotypes. You've got your "unorthodox" teacher-type, your wimpy and whiny preacher (some church dude none of the writers gave a crap about), your angry and ill-defined father type (the previous king), the "I must live my own life!" guy (elder brother David), and so on and so forth. How identifiable. Even the two cute girls that are supposed to be the current Queen of England and her sister are very dull and aren't given anything unique to do.

Of course, it's not all just about characters. My primary point is something else. It's symbolism. Okay, now in The King's Speech, they're about to get into the craziest war ever, involving the three most evil human beings to ever exist: Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin, and Mao Tse Tung. They're going to be bombed, they're going to see the horrors of prison camps, children will be sent out of cities, and they're going to fight and die for their country. This is no joke. They're embarking on a crazy journey to save all of dang Europe! I hope Europe remembers to this day that much of it would not exist if it weren't for England.

This is quite a weighty matter, to say the least. What the crap is stealing a stone compared to it? A stone doesn't matter. Who in their right mind would trade victory over evil for a heavy chunk of sandstone? Why in the world do I dare believe that a story of stealing a symbol is better than a story of preparing for World War II?

It's all in the symbolism. In Stone of Destiny, all of them believed in Scotland. They loved her. While they had their own motives for going to steal the Stone of Destiny, at the end of the day they did it for their country. Even in the face of Kay getting sick or Ian getting caught, they refused to give up, because the symbolism of the Stone was important. They treasured the symbolism with genuine love.

Okay, so how did they treat symbols in The King's Speech? First of all, the king himself is one. He is a symbol of England's...something. I actually don't get why England still has royalty even though the Prime Minister is the guy doing everything, but if a royal is important to England, well, let them have one. It's their business. Anyway, he's a symbol of England's heritage. Rush's character insists that he and the king be treated as equals, and refuses to treat the king if they can't be on a first name basis. Thus, symbolism takes a hit. If kings aren't something "above" the normal populace (not in value, simply position), or at the very least people entrusted with the spirit of England, then what good are they? Aren't they just fancy-pants people supported by taxpayers, then?

Now, this alone I'd be fine with, as one can say it was necessary for the King's healing that he have a more casual relationship with his speech therapist. Perfectly fine. But then they start doing other things wrong. First, they don't show the two most relevant groups that show how important the king is as a symbol: there's the positive group, namely the people of England that need protecting/encouragement, and there's the negative group, the enemy. If there's no one to protect, why does the king matter? And if there's no one to defend against, same question? They show a scene comparing Bertie's oral skills to Hitler's, and that was a good scene, but other than that we never feel terror at the Nazis, or at least at war in general. People are consumed in meddling politics, David's trangressions, and Bertie's emo whining. So....ain't there like a war or somethin' about to go on then? You have to look at the bigger picture, Donna.

Then there's the coronation. I hate the preparation part the worst of all. At one point, Rush's character is running through the coronation vows, looking through it to see how much the King actually has to say during the ceremony. As he's going through the long parts that the administrator of the vows says to the King, he goes, "Rubbish, rubbish, rubbish". He could have easily said, "blah, blah, blah" or whatever. By directly insulting the words of this vow, he's attacking and diminishing a symbol. Likewise, Rush is trying to provoke the King in another bit by sitting in the ancient throne of British kings, which is normally reserved only for ceremony and no non-royal posterior dare touch. Ironically, the Stone of Scone is actually inside this throne under the seat, at which my heart turned angry. I'm Irish, not Scottish, but they are my family. We're the only true Celts left in the world. Leave the Celtic symbols alone!

So thus Rush disrespects another symbol. His excuse for this is he's trying to piss Bertie off, because Bertie talks better when he's mad. This is a very materialist view: symbols don't matter because they aren't physically real. The vow is nothing but words strung together and the throne is a dang old chair with somebody else's rock in it. If disrespecting these is what it takes to make the King talk better, then it's worth it, right?

Wrong. After all, what is all this speech therapy for? For Bertie, the next King George, to give a speech which inspires his nation and encourages them as they embark on a crazy war. The speech, of course, is likewise a symbol. It's just a bunch of words strung together, just like that "rubbish, rubbish, rubbish" vow. Wait, if the speech isn't important, why bother giving it? It's meaningless words. Why bother having a king at all? He's some emo kid on the public dime.

See, the value of symbols lies in your treatment of them. Speeches inspire because they are like song. They touch upon our innermost being and communicate to us the things we hold dear. They reach past the boundaries of language and past the daily grind to reach us at our core, where our deepest emotions and most well set beliefs lie. The Stone of Scone isn't worth anything because it's a stone, it's worth something because there's a whole bunch of Scots out there that love their country and believe better things for Scotland. It's worth something because the people of Scotland give it worth. It's terrible to destroy the Stone or disrespect it because then you would be simultaneously disrespecting the Scots. If we adopt a materialist view and see things as only worth what they phsically are, then we will never see anything better. After all, if Bertie's worth only lay in his ability at the beginning of the movie, by what right would we have to believe anything better for him?

You say I'm missing the point. You say that The King's Speech is about a man learning to become a symbol and his emotional journey along the way. Whatever. It is difficult for me to sympathize with someone who can't see outside his own problem. He doesn't persue a good voice out of love, but out of obligation. This symbol has failed. It gave a speech, but in the end, it was not for England. The end of the movie swells with triumph, happy for the king. There isn't even a hint at the darkness that is to face England for the next six years.

Because of the way England does its monarchs, a king's value is only in his symbolism. If a king stands only for himself, what good is he? Maybe you feel weak. Maybe you feel like the world has caught you in its clutches and you don't have the ability to proceed, just like Bertie. The easiest way to cure yourself is to remember that life is about everyone else. Forget yourself, and remember them. Then you will be happy.