Wednesday, December 03, 2008

3-D -- it's so unfair!!

From time to time I like to use this forum to tell inspirational stories. Tales of perseverance and courage, people overcoming insurmountable odds to achieve success in this cold hard world despite their cruel burdens. Today I will be telling my story. I share this with you in the hopes that others who share a similar affliction will take solace and even find the strength to go on as I have. If I can help even one person then my suffering will have been worth it.

This is very hard so I hope you’ll allow me a stumble or two. I’ve never actually admitted this in public. Deep breath. Okay. Here I go.

I can’t see 3-D.

It doesn’t work on me. Jesus, it’s terrifying seeing that in print. My astigmatisms combined with my far sightedness and depth perception issues prevent me from experiencing the full three-dimensional effect.

I was first stricken with this insidious misfortune as a child. Imagine, a mere lad, way too young to have developed coping mechanisms. Blissful and without a care in the world, I skipped into my local theater (Grauman’s Chinese), donned these nifty disposable anaglyph glasses and prepared to have the shit scared out of me by HOUSE OF WAX. But alas, my horror was not at the lifelike images popping off the screen, it was that images were so blurry I couldn’t distinguish Vincent Price from Phyllis Kirk.

Maybe it was that movie. Or those glasses. I rushed to my other local theater (The Hollywood Egyptian) and saw IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE. Sorry. For me IT STAYED ON THE SCREEN. And the same problem persisted. Fernando Lamas and Arlene Dahl seemed to be the same person.

I gave it one last chance. INFERNO starring Rhonda Fleming. Oh please let those breasts hit me in the eye! But no. Other than looking really cool in those glasses, I was incapable of processing 3-D.

All the great movies that followed and I couldn’t see any of them. CAT-WOMEN OF THE MOON, GOG, PARDON MY BACKFIRE, THE MAD MAGICIAN, ROBOT MONSTERS, and the scariest of them all – KISS ME KATE.

I felt alone. Isolated. And yes, let’s just say it – unloved. I tried to train myself. I’d wear those 3-D glasses everywhere. But the only thing that came alive was Picasso paintings. I eventually had to reconcile that I was never going to be like the other kids.

Fortunately, the fad faded. Save for some Deborah Walley vehicle that no one saw (if she’s not playing Gidget, what’s the point?) I managed to make it through the 60s relatively unscathed. In college when everyone was dropping acid and taking LSD I just put on my 3-D glasses and saw the same hallucinations.

And I was dating a girl with both eyes on the same side of her nose and I didn’t know it. She was very nice and otherwise I might not have asked her out.

My terror was rekindled in the 80s when strolling through Disneyland I happened upon CAPTAIN EO, the Michael Jackson movie. Yes, it was in 3-D but this was Disney. If anyone could perfect the process it was Walt. And yet, the illusion still eluded me. (Today you need to wear 3-D glasses to see Jacko in three-dimension even if you’re in the same room as him.)

I was heartened in the 90s when I was able to enjoy a film on an IMAX screen. That effect where the screen appears larger seemed to work on me.

But enough 3-D movies would come out to remind me that I was different and put me in my place.

I’ll admit it. I thought about chucking it all. Maybe drop out of society, sublet the Unibomber’s shed, sell Comcast cable in the wilderness.

But then I said, no! If some people with afflictions can look at life with rose colored glasses I can look at it with half rose and half blue.

And even though BOLT is now out in 3-D and I can’t see it, instead of feeling sorry for myself I say, “What’s the point of making a cartoon look real anyway?’ And Thursday night when selected theaters broadcast the Chargers-Raiders NFL game in experimental 3-D and I won’t be there, I won’t question the existence of God, I’ll just say, “Anyone who pays money to see that dog of a match up has a bigger problem than me!”

Suddenly I feel empowered. Relieved. Headache free. And now I’m going to the obscure video store. And I’m getting all the movies I missed-- . CAT-WOMEN OF THE MOON, GOG, PARDON MY BACKFIRE, THE MAD MAGICIAN, ROBOT MONSTERS, IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE. And even a few I was afraid to see like HAWAIIAN NIGHTS with Mamie Van Doren and Pinky Lee, and THE ADVENTURES OF SHARKBOY AND LAVAGIRL. And if I have to watch ‘em with one eye, fuck it!


Anonymous said...

I have diplopia and couldn't see 3D through the old blue and red glasses but can with the new polarized glasses system.
And there's a newer system that doesn't even need special glasses.
You might have better luck now.

rob! said...

"Oh please let those breasts hit me in the eye!"

are you TRYING to get flagged as porn again, Ken?

Richard said...

I never thought I'd have occasion to say this, and me both, man. Childhood eye surgery left me entirely without stereoscopic vision: I can't see 3D in the real world, let alone on a flat screen.

It feels great that we can say this in public without shame. Maybe our example will encourage everyone else to admit they've been faking it all this time.

(But the people who invented those Magic Eye puzzles? Hanging's too good for them.)

konberg said...

I think it's cool that your childhood local theaters were the Egyptian and Graumann's Chinese.

Anonymous said...

I never could see with the old-style 3D technology. (psst... it's far "sightedness," not sidedness)

But I went along with family to see JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH last summer (which had a preview for BOLT after we were directed to put the glasses on), and it worked like gangbusters from start to finish. So I would recommend trying again with the current movies.

VP81955 said...

"Oh please let those breasts hit me in the eye!"

If Rhonda Fleming could evoke that kind of response, imagine the effect of a 3-D "The Girl Can't Help It," with a 25-foot-wide Jayne Mansfield bustline assaulting you in three dimensions. Unfortunately for Jayne, the 3-D craze peaked a few years before that (and yes, pun intended).

Verification word: "morap." If Bill Drake (RIP) had programmed an urban station, that would have been its tenet.

Mary Stella said...

*sniffle* Ken, you, brave, brave man. Already you've helped others step up and admit their similar afflictions. Through it all, you sucked it up and went on to work in an industry that continually taunted you with 3-D pictures.

You know those framed prints that you're supposed to stare at until you see images emerge like planets, dinosaurs, etc.? I'm like Rachel Green staring at her ultrasound looking for the baby everybody else can see. The images never appear for me.

My verification word is unegleiv -- obviously a French woman ordering Scotch.

Tom Quigley said...

Ken, don't feel so bad. You belong to an elite group of people who could also never enjoy the novelty of 3D: Peter Falk, Sammy Davis, Jr., Andrea Bocelli, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Helen Keller (she'd also be missing out on surround sound)... I could go on but I've probably pissed a few people off already...

Anonymous said...

Ken, your forthrightness has inspired me. I have to declare before the world... I can't hear Dolby. There. I've said it.

The Minstrel Boy said...

got the very same thing ken. farsighted, with astigmatism. it did however make me a supernaturally gifted rifle shot, which came in very handy in the republic of vietnam. when they realized that i could shoot a pimple off a gnat's ass at 300 meters with open sights they wanted to see what i could do with decent optics.

still, no 3D movies for the kid.

Unknown said...

Oh Ken... same here. You wrote down exactly what I've been telling people for years, especially during the time we had a show on TV that had women strip on a gameshow as a way to count the score of two contestants. I was fifteen and adolescent boys left and right in school were so excited. Yet I (!) couldn't chime in. Those breasts never popped off the screen for me, but those boys were never more empathic about my problem than during that time. I was treated like a war veteran who has lost his legs, patted on the back and told that one day I might see it all in real life.

Maybe even touch them.

And boy trust me - I never looked back after that first time I was able to :-)

Anonymous said...

I've never heard of anyone who couldn't see 3-D. Interesting. If you take the glasses off during a 3-D movie the screen looks blurry. That sounds like what you describe when you have them on.

Anonymous said...

Ken, I feel the same way, in many respects about HIGH-DEFINITION television.

While some of the programs look great, do I really want/need to watch anything that looks like it has four coats of shellac on it?

There is a natural softness to things around us - especially for those of us with 20/20 vision (with or without correction).

The best thing I can say about most 3-D stuff (and some Hi-Def stuff) is: cute.

Anonymous said...

Andre DeToth, who directed HOUSE OF WAX, had only one eye, and couldn't see 3-D either, so you were seeing "The Director's Cut".

"Far-Sidedness" The condition of loving the old comic strip THE FAR SIDE.

Fernando Lamas and Arlene Dahl aren't in IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE, but they are one person,under the name Lorenzo Lamas.

I can see 3-D just fine, but I can't write in 3-D, as my work has long been criticized as 2-dimensional.

"I couldn’t distinguish Vincent Price from Phyllis Kirk."

Vincent was the taller, scary blur with the masculine voice.

Eric Curtis said...

On the bright side, you'll never know the true horror of Jaws 3-D.

Anonymous said...

Wait. Can you "see" the images on a ViewMaster reel?

Cap'n Bob said...

I can see 3-D, Ken, and it's no big deal. After a while it gives me a headache and I'm glad it was just a passing fad. But did you know the first 3-D movie was BWANA DEVIL?

Anonymous said...

So I'm guessing you can't try out the new Toy Story ride at Disneyland either?

Anonymous said...

"I can't see 3D in the real world, let alone on a flat screen."

Me three, RAB! My eyes naturally drift out like a Simpsons' character (though thankfully not stuck that way constantly--you'd never notice to look at me).

So no Viewmasters for me. They just made for a quaint--if entirely frustrating--attempt at binocular vision therapy as a kid.

"But the people who invented those Magic Eye puzzles? Hanging's too good for them."

Seriously, RAB? I ROCK at those things! You know how they tell people you need to relax and "unfocus" your eyes to be able to see the hidden image? Well, my eyes are ALWAYS diverged to some extent, so I can see those suckers immediately!

Score one for strabismus.

Buttermilk Sky said...

Wait, "Bolt" is a cartoon? It's not a quicky biopic about Usain Bolt?

When you hit the 3-D bin at the video rental store, don't bother with "Dial M for Murder." Even with Grace Kelly, it's a dud.

And the password is PRINCO. Evidently Prince has incorporated himself.

Anonymous said...

Come to think of it, HOUSE OF WAX, IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE, and INFERNO all came out in 1953. Your parents must have been really - ah - liberal to let you run about Hollywood Boulevard from theater to theater on your own when you were 3 years old. And isn't 3 a little young to be pining to have Rhonda Fleming's breasts hitting you in the face? Were you thirsty?

Anonymous said...

Cap'n Bob: The fad may have passed, but it's coming back big-time.

I quite enjoyed the 3D Journey to the Center of the Earth, and Beowulf before that. The technology has definitely come a long way.

I really liked Inferno, which I've seen a couple of times on TV (not in 3D of course). And what's so scary about Kiss Me Kate? Maybe that it's scary how great a songwriter Cole Porter was?

Anonymous said...

"what's so scary about Kiss Me Kate?"

2 words: Kathryn Grayson.

Pauline Kael refers to it's "Grossly embarassing moments, such as the one where [Howard] Keel tells Grayson, who is about to quit acting and go off with a Texan, that she belongs in the theater." The only place in a theater where Kathryn Grayson ever belonged was in the audience.

Cole Porter was indeed a great, great song writer, (I've appeared in KISS ME KATE on stage), but it's a measure of how out-of-touch with anything below his Park Avenue rich men's elitist playgrounds he was that he named the second female lead in KISS ME KATE "Lois Lane", blissfully unaware that that in pop culture, that name was already thoroughly taken.

Anonymous said...

Off-topic, but this is disgusting. From the stories told by Ken of writer/director Steve Gordon and "Arthur itself," Gordon sounded like a wonderful fellow, but I wish he could come back now and really kick the shit out of people:

Russell Brand doesn't get it. It was never about how drunk he was. True it contributed to some of the comedy, but it was only one trait.

Anonymous said...

What gets me just as much as that story is how they never even released "Arthur" in widescreen on DVD (though I'd never give up my fullscreen copy, because Christopher Cross autographed it after a concert), yet this is being made.

Anonymous said...

I guess you could say I have limited 3D capability. I have tried to watch the two 3 Stooges shorts that were filmed in 3D twice. Both times the other patrons in the theatres were dodging and swerving in their seats and I could see no difference.

However I am able to see the depth of 3D by using the red blue glasses on 3D comics and through View masters.

The best 3D moving effect I ever saw was an episode of 3rd Rock from the Sun. I believe it was the conclusion of the 2nd season. They had an hour episode where each of the stars had a fantasy dream. The process, which did not use the blurry system of the 50s but still used the red blue glasses, produced crisp and clear images. No effects of items flying at your face, but many good images that showed the 3D depth of the scenes.

Richard said...

Wait...I have something in common with Ken Levine and Charlotte Fullerton? I'm not worthy!

Rue said...

My older sister has a similar problem. Due to all sorts of eye issues, she has next to no depth perception (makes her horrible at any sports that involve anything flying towards you. She's fun to play ping-pong with.).

She discovered this as a kid, at Disney. She couldn't understand what the big deal was about Captain EO (neither could the rest of us, but that was for different reasons). Today, she continues to suffer, mostly in silence. Except when someone asks her to play ping-pong.

Anonymous said...

The fuss about Captain EO was that it proved Michael Jackson was an African-American at some point in his life.

P.S. Now I'm remembering SCTV's "Dr. Tongue's 3D House of Beef."

Anonymous said...

"joe said...
The fuss about Captain EO was that it proved Michael Jackson was an African-American at some point in his life."

No it didn't. It was all special effects. That's like saying it proved Angelica Houston had tentacles.

I remember seeing it and asking, "Why is that little girl pretending to be Han Solo?"

Anonymous said...

I don't get it, can't you just wear the 3d glasses on top of the regular ones? that's what I do (if I don't wear my glasses, the astigmatism ruins the 3d effect).

"let those breasts hit me in the eye!"

that's it, I'm requesting a re-reclassification of this site.

Anonymous said...

Welcome to 3D hell,. you are not alone!

I have astigmatism, near sightedness and a strange condition where bymy glasses prism the image in my left eye by a 1/4 degree... and I have servere color perception issues... I see almost no greena nd my red perception is about 10-20% of normal..... add to 3D movies the pain of streets lights being invisible against a background of normal city lights... not to mention the fun of coming upon a flashing light out in the middle of no where.. is it red or is it yellow?

Anonymous said...

... others have said it, but again: I also couldn't see the old 3D and have no problem whatsoever with the new 3D. In fact, i am a film critic in Germany and have become something of an exepert on the subject... I also would like to add: the best thing about films like "Bolt" or "Beowulf" is that they do NOT use 3D to make it look realistic. It's an artistic means.