The Eye Generation Prefers Not to Read All About It

Schwartz is describing how the two main characters in the student film will sit on a couch, simultaneously reach for popcorn and inadvertently touch hands, when Kit Reiner of Silver Spring and Max Simon of Potomac — both 18 — cry out, “Just like in ‘Lady and the Tramp’!”

And Schwartz could take it no more. “Stop!” he yells.

“Try to think less about which movie scene you are reminded of and more about the way people really act in real life. Everything isn’t related to a movie!”


To most of the workshop students, life has become totally visual. They are members of not so much the Me Generation as the Eye Generation.

“I really don’t like reading a story. I like seeing it,” says workshop student Craig Patterson, 17, of Grove City, Ohio. “I almost always prefer the movie version of a book. Movies can capture the beauty of an image more than books can.” —Linton WeeksThe Eye Generation Prefers Not to Read All About It (Washington Post (will expire))

Hmm… a reporter sits in on a summer film class, and is shocked — SHOCKED!! — to learn that the students who are motivated enough to pay for it are likely to think in visual terms. What is this world coming to?

To be fair, the subhead is “Students in Film Class a Microcosm of a Visually Oriented Culture,” so the WashPo makes it clear these are not random students. And even among English majors (who one would think are more likely than the average student to be interested in reading), I do often notice that even students who are excited by writing often approach a first-person narrative as if they are describing a movie. Thus, they write “A big smile spread across my face” or “I gave him a puzzled look,” conveying the interior state of their first-person protagonist from an external, visual point of view. Most have never considered alternatives, such as quoting dialogue (“You remembered the violets!”) or the protagonist’s unvoiced thought (“Was Smitty trying to use a 20-gauge reamer on a blown gasket? God, what I wouldn’t do to get away from these clueless hicks!”). If you plan the story to SHOW why the protagonist likes violets, and even if you don’t actually stop to explain what a 20-gague reamer is and why a hick would think it was appropriate to use on a blown gasket, when the protagonist’s reaction to the violets or the reamers convey information about character, setting, plot, etc., then the details have done their job.