DebateThe incentive

The incentive

Reading time: 2:45 | There are only two stories to be told: the story of the dragon slayer and how the girl meets the boy.

We learn from film and theatre writers that the leading character must have a personal mission to drive the story. The villain is on the opposite mission; also driven by an incentive. The protagonist’s challenge is to slay the dragon, aka the villain. After the original plan doesn’t pan out, they will succeed in the showdown in most films.

In a love story, an antagonist is never a malicious person. Mostly they are an oddball, loveable but flawed. More often than not, there is no real antagonist. Mostly, there’s only a grave misunderstanding that needs to be resolved by the protagonists. Ideally, that comes with some change in their character or world views. Then they can happily live thereafter. Their incentive is to experience the wonders of love and be happy forever.

In Germany, more than 25% of the populace is critical of the vaccines against Covid-19. Less than 10% of the German public belongs to the right fringe and is outright racist and xenophobe. Over 80% of Germans want to play a role in climate protection.

What to make of these numbers?

Well, 25% of the population are flawed oddballs (let’s assume that for the story). Like any human, they want to see the light of love. But they show some weirdness and incompatibility to the rest of us. The other 75% don’t see the kindness and amicability behind the facade of their trippy opinions and bonkers action.

How to resolve that? Typically, in cinema land, the girl and the boy would fall in love after some delusions and confusions (we are past that, it’s our default state). But unfortunately, something goes wrong (in our case, that’s the COVID-19 pandemic). Now it takes some effort on both sides to overcome the dissent by adjusting the girl’s and boy’s views on things, their values, learning from mistakes, you name it.

Unfortunately, we are not there yet. On the contrary, we fuel the dissent with shallow and selfish arguments (the free world is in jeopardy) or preposterous comparisons to Nazi Germany and the Holocaust. We weaken bridges by imposing compulsory vaccination and selling that as a measure of the last resort, which is clearly a lie. In truth, we lost our stamina and want to end that as soon as possible. From a scientific perspective, compulsory vaccination is not required because vaccines cannot kill off the virus, as happened with smallpox. It’s all very twisted, full of misunderstandings and needs some character reckoning on both sides. Otherwise, there won’t be a happy living thereafter.

But the 10% of the people belonging to the far-right fringe are an entirely different story. They are villains on a mission, clearly in stark opposition to our society’s values. Like in a horror movie, they come back from their graves in the next sequel after we wiped out the Zombies in the first movie. It’s a dragon slayer story that is a long-time series with uncountable seasons and episodes. There won’t be an ending.

And the 80% of Germans who want to participate in climate protection? That would be a non-starter proposition in filmmaking because there’s no story to tell, even though there is a dramatic hero’s fall height. Sadly, we would reject that script. There are no exciting characters on mission anywhere, no dangerous villains in sight, and no conflict to be resolved. We would advise the writer to work on the leading characters, underline the incentive in case of success, and dramatise the dragon that must be slain. Then, perhaps, we would consider making a film from that script.