In the Avengers movie , the evil antagonist Loki finally meets up with Mean Mr. Green, also known as Hulk. Loki demands that Hulk pay obeisance to him as a GOD.
In that instant, Hulk grabs the spunky evildoer and uses him to mop up the floor. A few thwaks and whomps later, Hulk stalks off, leaving Loki embedded deep in stone. And as he walks away, he mutters something under his breath.
When the movie first came out, the line made me laugh. Hulk mutters, “demi-god.” And it’s perfect. For Loki is not a real god, he’s someone who thinks he’s a god. A half god. He’s like a demitasse (half glass), only half full. And in that one word Hulk sums up the loser, Loki, as someone who just doesn’t measure up to his own ego.
I saw the movie again a few weeks later, and noticed that something changed. I didn’t think much of it then, but seeing the movie again a few days ago reminded me of that change. Hulk doesn’t say “demigod” any more. He says “puny god.” Two words. And these two words don’t mean the same thing as demigod.
Why would the director / producers make this change, especially when the movie has already been released? And what does this say about the film industry, and about our society in general?
The best reason I’ve heard is that the word was changed because too many people didn’t know what “demigod” means. In order to please as many people as possible, the producers altered the language so that it would be more accessible. Too bad that the words don’t mean the same thing. A “puny god” is still a god, only small. In the original language, a demi-god just isn’t a god at all. But more people understand the word “puny” than “demi.”
What does this say about film in general? It says that our reactions are being analysed at the finest detail. Only by watching and analysing reactions to every line of the film, even after its release, can the producers have noticed that the laughs weren’t as great as they wanted. No doubt they tested alternative language, and settled on one that worked better than before. It means that our emotions are the true product, and that the film is only a mechanism designed to reach into our hearts, and wallets. There was a time when the creation of a film was considered an art form – no longer.
And what about us? The artist who created the script put in “demigod” because it was the best word to use. But most people couldn’t understand that simple word. Not only do they not understand, but they can’t be expected to go and learn what it means, so that they can smile at the memory of that scene. Or better yet, they can watch the film again, and appreciate the true humor that the writer has woven into the story.
Instead, we make our movies, our stories, and all other aspects of our society a little bit simpler. Big words are bad. We don’t trust politicians who use them. And we don’t want to see big words in our lives anywhere else. And that’s too bad, because, sometimes, the best word to use is a big one.