Years before I saw my first Hitchcock film (The Birds on TV) I knew Alfred Hitchcock as a sort of mischievous uncle who would visit me each week and tell me a funny politically incorrect story.
Alfred Hitchcock Presents and later The Alfred Hitchcock Hour came on at bedtime, so my brother and I never got to watch it. But Mom would let us watch the intro. It was all quite tongue-in-cheek before we knew what that tongue-in-cheek was. Hitchcock's shadow would step into his signature caricature to a cartoonish macabre version of Charles Gounod's "The Funeral March of the Marionette."
He came off as a very polite, proper English gentleman who never took himself too seriously.
I'm not sure where Alfred Hitchcock first explained the difference between suspense and surprise, but I first heard it in a 1973 documentary TV series called The Men Who Made the Movies.
He referred to the storytelling technique in terms of "pictures" because that was his medium, but it's useful in any form of storytelling.
"There is a distinct difference between 'suspense' and 'surprise,' and yet many pictures continually confuse the two. I'll explain what I mean.
We are now having a very innocent little chat. Let's suppose that there is a bomb underneath this table between us. Nothing happens, and then all of a sudden, 'Boom!' There is an explosion. The public is surprised, but prior to this surprise, it has been an absolutely ordinary scene, of no special consequence. Now, let us take a suspense situation. The bomb is underneath the table and the public knows it, probably because they have seen the anarchist place it there. The public is aware the bomb is going to explode at one o'clock and there is a clock in the decor. The public can see that it is a quarter to one. In these conditions, the same innocuous conversation becomes fascinating because the public is participating in the scene. The audience is longing to warn the characters on the screen: 'You shouldn't be talking about such trivial matters. There is a bomb beneath you and it is about to explode!'
In the first case we have given the public fifteen seconds of surprise at the moment of the explosion. In the second we have provided them with fifteen minutes of suspense. The conclusion is that whenever possible the public must be informed. Except when the surprise is a twist, that is, when the unexpected ending is, in itself, the highlight of the story."
Because of my early exposure to Alfred Hitchcock, all of his movies, even Psycho are cozies for me. He made brief appearances in all of his films, initially to save money, and later, just for fun. That little wink helped me to surrender to whatever happened next. As hard as he worked to shock, surprise, or scare me, I knew that it was all in good fun.
I didn't see the documentary Weiner until after I published The Catalonian Candidate, but listening to his interview promoting the film on Here's the Thing with Alec Baldwin helped me understand some of the psychology of campaigning in the age of social media.
It helps if a candidate has sex appeal. It helps to stay in contact with voters and supporters through social media.
If one of those voters or supporters is female and starts to flirt, do you play along joke style or point out that the communication crosses a line and is inappropriate?
If you draw the line, does your (former) supporter turn on you?
It's not a question most people have to face.
I once made the same technological error that Anthony Weiner did. I hit the tweet button when I intended to hit the IM button.
I was tweeting a link to a piece I'd written about Gone Girl, not a picture of my briefs, and I didn't have a follower from Breitbart News who went by the fake ID Publius, but anyone in the world who chose to follow me could have viewed that message.
Weiner is a serendipitous train wreck of a documentary about a politician simultaneously asking for forgiveness and your vote.
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