This post is yet again quite “media” related. In this case, the focus is on a very nondescript split second (or maybe like 1 or 2 seconds) “in between” scenes from a decades-old movie called “Wayne’s World” (you might want to contrast that title with the somewhat longer title of this post 😉 ).
“Wayne’s World” uses a story-telling technique which is very rarely used in films, but one which is very powerful if the viewer stops to think about the message. I think I first saw this technique used by Woody Allen in one of his earlier films, where he interrupts the flow of the movie to do a very short interview with Marshall McLuhan. The technique basically boils down to this: the actor (usually the main actor) speaks to “the camera”, as if the camera were a person also taking part in the film.
The split-second moment I am referring to happens when Wayne has been complaining about the way his life is unfolding before his eyes (I think while he is walking across a parking lot), and the camera starts turning away from him … which he immediately recognizes, as he drifts off camera — and therefore he suddenly stops complaining, so that the camera-person will not be “put off” by his negative attitude. He talks to the camera, apologizing … and then the view returns to him.
This is, of course, absurd. “Wayne’s World” was not captured as a result of some random camera in some random parking lot reacting to some guy named Wayne. Not even this split-second in the movie was random. It is a very significant moment in the movie, but will probably hardly ever be mentioned anywhere (besides in this post). Imagine if Wayne had not changed his “negative” behavior — through this moment in the film, we are led to believe (yet again) that Wayne is a cool dude, and that the reason “Wayne’s World” exists is because of the way Wayne is (and not because of hundreds of other people or millions of dollars spent in making the movie). The viewer who notices this thereby becomes acutely aware of how surreally absurd this notion is.
The message is this: Moments often pass by without anyone being acutely aware of their passing. “Wayne’s World” is essentially a story told from one person’s perspective. There are billions of people in the world. Each one of these people’s lives is made out of innumerable “freeze-frame” moments, some of which will pass by unnoticed. I remember vaguely when the movie came out — I didn’t watch it then, I didn’t watch it until maybe a decade later. I’ve watched it a few times, and I watched it again a few days ago. This split-second freeze-frame moment in the movie seemed new to me — it had passed by more-or-less unnoticed (by me) for several decades.
Many such freeze-frame moments in our lives are truly momentous, insofar as they involve important life-changing decisions. I wonder, for example, whether the choice of this or that politician may have led to the infamous Corona virus, or perhaps the war in Ukraine. Could some people have prevented either of these events? Did some people play influential roles leading to either event? Did you? Did I?
Probably not. Yet remember, remember the good old story about the flap of a butterfly wing that can cause natural disasters on the other side of the globe.