Sunday, December 04, 2011

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.

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 PUSS IN BOOTS 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?’

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!


brian t said...

You need to make yourself some 2-D Glasses, then. That's not a joke - you swap lenses so that you get a pair of specs with two "left" lenses, and another pair with two "right" lenses, and both pairs flatten the image.

Rinaldo said...

I used never to be able to see 3-D either, for similar reasons: farsighted, nearly monocular (one eye is much stronger than the other).

But the current 3-D technology works for me! Since the mid-to-late 1980s, when i was handed glasses for part of a "sensorium" experience, and I noticed they weren't the old two-colors cardboard type. So now I know what people were talking about with ViewMasters when I was a kid.

Loosehead said...

My wife had a massive cataract in her left eye, which also prevented her "getting" 3-D. When she eventually got our skanky health service to operate on it - I guess everyone else in the country who had life-threatening conditions had been seen to - it turned out she had a matching scar on her retina, and still couldn't "get" 3-D. Talk about unlucky, she could fall into a bucket of roses and come up smelling of you-know-what.
Strangely, the Captain EO brand of 3-D worked for her, but not the latest stuff.

Dan said...

At the risk of sounding like an old crank here... you're not missing anything.

3-D in a movie is... at best... not distracting.

And at worst... unwatchable.

Phillip B said...

Speaking of technical "advances" in entertainment, I failed to pass along recent news on the return of "Smell O Vision." Scientists predict writers will earn loads of money retrofitting sitcoms with the appropriate smells so they could stay on the air.

So I hardly wait to find out what the Cheers bar smelled like, and what cologne Sam Malone used.... but not so anxious to live through the literal stench of fart jokes.

Here's David Attenborough -no less - predicting the inevitable

So how's your sense of smell?

Jim said...

Kiss Me Kate? So you never got the chance to see Ann "The Movies are so crude nowadays" Miller coming out the screen at you screaming I want a Dick, a Dick, a Dick, a Dick, a Dick. Doncha love censorship.

Mike Botula said...

I never knew that some people were "3-D Challenged." But, now that you've shared your experience with us, and I've read the other comments, I'm sure it's only a matter of time before there's a 12-step program for people like yourself.

Jake Mabe said...

Consider yourself blessed, Mr. Levine. 3-D is a tremendous waste of time.

Dan Tedson said...

You have problems with those Magic Eye posters too?

Johnny Walker said...

"That effect where the screen appears larger seemed to work on me."

Haha. This really made me laugh.

I don't think you're alone, a large number of people can't appreciate the added story depth and more developed characters that 3D provides.

cshel said...

I can see 3-D, even though I'm vision challenged like you, Ken, though less so. But I always think I must be missing something, because what I see never seems worth wearing those annoying glasses. And even though they supposedly disinfect them, at the back of my mind while watching the film, I wonder if I'm going to get a MRSA infection from them.

Johnny Walker said...

Friday question, if you'd be so kind:

I saw an interview with Ricky Gervais recently where he said he felt it was important to like your characters, despite their flaws. He said specifically, "I laugh with David Brent because I like all my characters. I think it's important that you're not 'above' your comedy, that you're not having a dig at anyone in particular". How do you feel about this? Do you think it's important that a writer *likes* their characters, even if they're creating a monstrous comedy creation?

Johnny Walker said...

Links to the Ricky Gervais interview, for anyone who's interested:

I'm not a huge fan of his, but The Office was a master stroke.

Klee said...

Not missing much really however it can make an unwatchable movie passable like "Voyage to the Center of the Earth" with Brenda Fraser. Avatar was like watching a cartoon and the plot was awful. I heard James Cameron is releasing a 3-D version of Titanic. Big Deal! Just a ploy to make more cash!

YEKIMI said...

I also have an astigmatism but am very nearsighted [to the point of being legally blind without my glasses]. Sometimes the 3-D works for me, sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes it seems that the image "flips" on me, i.e. stuff that's supposed to be in the background all of a sudden seems to be front and center jumping out of the screen at me and vice-versa. Seems to be worse when they take a 2-D film and convert it to 3-D. And whether it was the old red/blue glasses or the current ones, I always end up with a gigantic headache. I guess a lot of people must have problems with this because the theater I am associated with has gotten so many complaints that they now will schedule 2-D & 3-D versions of the same movie just alternating playing times.

Mac said...

“What’s the point of making a cartoon look real anyway?’

Because only then will you truly believe in that sword-fighting cat. Likewise Avatar; without the occasional thing looking like it's going to poke your eye out, how else will you stay awake?

pumpkinhead said...

Earl is always on about his vision issues also. Is bad vision, like, something endemic to TV writers?

And how amazing that my word verification is Iaria, the medical term for your condition!

Also, I was reading something sports-related about you at some other site and someone named pumpkinhead posted a comment on it there, but it wasn't me. How amazing that two different people who follow you have the misfortune of having been named pumpkinhead by their respective parents.

RCP said...

This is very funny. Although I'm sorry you've been deprived of 3-D, I find it more disturbing that you used to skip as a child.

Jim S said...

I hear you Ken. I am mildly dyslexic, but thanks to years of special ed reading classes, it didn't become a problem - unitl the coming of 3D, latest incarnation. I have heard that 3D causes headaches for about 15 to 20 percent of the public and I fall in that category thanks to my condition.

Fortunately, this works to my advantage. I am also cheap and just don't believe in paying that extra five bucks to see a movie in 3D. I have a medical excuse that holds water with those willing to pay for the priviledge of 3D.

I am so thankful that Chris Nolan is going the IMAX route with the next Batman. That should rock.

xjill said...

I'm sorry you can't experience the opening scene of Hugo, that movie is gorgeous! For all you 3D naysayers, come and see me after you see"Hugo".

In other news, I was at a very large pub for Bedlam last night and EVERYONE in the bar sang along to the Cheers theme song during that Allstate commerical, it was great. Then when it ended 3 guys yelled "Norm!" It made me smile and think of you.

Sorry again about the 3D.

Tim W. said...

"Maybe drop out of society, sublet the Unibomber’s shed, sell Comcast cable in the wilderness."

Wow, if you own Comcast cable, you're rich enough to have someone killed and implant their eyes. I can give you a list, if you'd like.

And wouldn't it be ironic if you were asked to write 3-D movie?

Me, if the 3D is well done, I don't mind, but it's not usually something I really remember much or that enhances the movie. I thought it worked well for Avatar, but I've seen a number of 3D movies (including Puss In Boots), and can't say I liked the movie better because of it. In fact I probably couldn't even name them (other than Puss In Boots, because you mentioned it).

Rebounding said...

I only use one eye. I was cheated of the 3D experience as a child, too. I spent HOURS staring at the those ridiculous posters that looked like spilled ink that were supposed to resolve into a 3D dinosaur. I was cheated.

I actually got a little scared when the latest crop of 3D crap hit a few years ago. I dread telling my son (currently 3) that I can't attend a 3D movie with him because I'll be leaving on a stretcher with blood coming out of my ears if I am subjected to that.

Hopefully the neighbor dads will take pity on my son and take him with them when they go see Cars 3(D) coming in 2015.

YEKIMI said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
YEKIMI said...

I've heard that Andrea Bocelli has a problem with 3-D also.

Don K. said...

Hi. Recent lurker, long time admirer of your work.

I, too, cannot see in 3-D. I was born with a condition called Strabismus. It's a muscle imbalance behind the eyes. I see out of one eye at a time. Besides not seeing in 3-D, I can't judge distances either. I had an operation at age 2 to uncross my eyes and another one at age 10 for the same thing. Since I've never been able to see in 3-D, I don't know any different from 2-D vision. My left eye is 20/400 uncorrected while my right eye is 20/40. Until recently, when I have developed a cataract in my left eye, I would read up close with my left eye and switch to my right eye to look at anything further than 5 feet in front of me. So, I have monocular vision, not binocular vision like most people.

The best way I describe it to people is to say if you held up a life size photo of someone next to that person, a "normal" sighted person would see the photographed live person in 3-D but the photo version would be flat 2-D. That flat 2-D is what I always see. I just don't know any different.

So yeah, 3-D movies or 3-D anything (Captain Eo too, thankfully) is wasted on the likes of me.

Tim W. said...

Is it that a larger portion of the world cannot see 3D movies that anyone ever thought, or is it simply all of them, for some reason, are drawn to your blog?

HogsAteMySister said...

I thought I was the only one. Funky glasses should not be relied upon to upsell stupid 3-D cats and loser movies. And I am not bitter or twisted.

Lou H. said...

I have strabismus, too. I took up track and field in school because it was the only sport that didn't involve a flying ball that could hit me in the face whilst I was trying to catch or hit it.

So I can't see depth in 3D movies, either, and I'd make a crummy play-by-play announcer for any baseball team other than Houston.

But 3D is not as important to me as is a movie's writing or absense of Adam Sandler.

Pat Reeder said...

I could never see the old 3D, so I had pretty low expectations of the newer technology. Then my wife and I visited Moody Gardens in Galveston last summer, and they had several short nature films in 3D, so I tried watching a couple. I was amazed at the quality of the 3D effects in the first one. But by the end of the second one, we were both already starting to get eyestrain and headaches. We'd watched about 30 minutes total, with a break to change theaters in the middle. I couldn't imagine sitting through an entire 90-120 minute film that used it.

Bottom line: 3D blows you away at first, but after 15 minutes or so, it becomes an unendurable ordeal. It's the Celine Dion of special effects.

Anonymous said...

You're not missing anything. I can see it, but it doesn't add anything to the movie-going experience. Except a bad headache and a feeling of having been ripped off.

DwWashburn said...

I never could get my eyes to do the red-blue 3D. Columbia Sony recently published the Stooges two shorts in 3D for home use and included two pairs of glasses. Not only can I not see the effect with the glasses, I can't see the picture. It's just a jumble of lines.

The only 3D that ever worked for me (I have not seen a movie in a theater for over ten years - too much crap out there) is the episode of 3rd Rock from the Sun that they 3d'ed for sweep month. I could see depth in places but was still disappointed in my limited ability to detect it.

purplejilly said...

I hate 3D. It gives me a headache. I only watch 2D and refuse to see anything else. I understand I'm posting from a place of "3-D Privilege", because I COULD see a 3-D movie if I wanted to, and you are not allowed that luxury. However in my glorious opinion, you are not missing anything. I am hoping the 3-D craze blows over soon. This is one fad I am not jumping on the bandwagon for.

Mike said...

3D is seen with the brain, rather than the eyes: it requires significant mental processing. People born cross-eyed, who have the corrective operation too late in life (a few years old), never learn to see in 3D: the brain doesn't bother to learn. If your eyesight has been corrected so it's optically OK, you can teach yourself to see in 3D with significant effort.

Texas 1st said...

Try Read-D 3D with the polarized glasses, since the lenses are not requiring each eye to do something different, you might be able to see it. Please don't give up. There is a lot of good in 3D if people would stop trying to shove 2D-made-into-3D down our throats.

Dave Olden said...

"... Likewise Avatar; without the occasional thing looking like it's going to poke your eye out, how else will you stay awake?"

Mac, to what shots in Avatar are you referring?

(James Cameron made a specific effort to *avoid* gimmick shots like that).

rockfish said...

I failed my first driver's test because of stigmatism; it turned out that I'm one of those people who process their vision through one eye at a time. I can bounce back from 'left' eye to right eye; i can even try hard and look through both at once but its kind of a strain. Somewhere in the process i also started to become wall-eyed, like jack elam. You never know why jack elam always played a weird, goofy loner type until you look like jack elam.

Norm said...

I have YET to see a 3D film where it made a difference. A girl three seats down from me, during AVITAR, told my girlfriend and I she was getting vertigo from watching it in 3D. All the action in the very back of the screen is blurry.

I saw HUGO in 2D and the sun rose again today!

Does ANYONE own a 3D TV?

Deanna said...

I'm the same way! Captain EO was lost on me.

Cody said...

Don't worry, as this comic explains, you're not missing much:

DyHrdMET said...

not to blame you, but this is why 3D will never be mainstream. special hardware in order to enjoy it, and it's so subjective how the eyes will (or won't) process it.