The Problem With 3-D: The Start of a Hate Bandwagon

The guy near the left corner kind of looks like Joe, and he's pissed off to be there.

Everybody loves a good fad. It’s something that pulls us out of our everyday existence, and makes us care about something that ultimately won’t matter years from now. Typically, fads are harmless. There are only a few casualties, including a couple of extra bucks wasted, and a couple of lives ruined by fascination, obsession, and denial. At least that was until recently. Now there are fads that actually stick around, get taken seriously, and become a part of the norm. Unfortunately, we haven’t developed a word to describe such a  phenomenon, but trust me, we will soon enough.

I consulted my good friend, Wikipedia, and he told me that the first public exhibition of a 3 Dimensional film was on September 27, 1922. The showing used a color-filtered dual-projection system that both amazed and confused the masses. Within a decade, 3D films became a niche in the film industry, with many waves of popularity forming and subsiding. It got popular again in the ’50s and again in the ’80s. Both of these waves can be easily described by it’s rampant popularity, the shoddy films involved, and the dismay from the people who invested money in the medium, once the fad went away. In the past decade, trailblazers like Robert Rodriguez, James Cameron, and Robert Zemickis have taken measures to make 3D movies popular again. The result? Money. And money = success. And yes, they have been successful in their mission. In the field of animation, 3D is becoming the standard. Regular everyday events are now being shown in 3D. Televisions are in 3D. Last year, 2 nominees for the Best Picture Oscar were in 3D. Suddenly, the fad is becoming something that nobody can avoid. It’s becoming something…bigger…stronger…and more dangerous to the creative process.

Before I start the engine to the hate bandwagon, let me first express my personal history with 3D media, and how it affected me:

1994- At some Walt Disney theme park, I am subjected to a screening of a Muppet 3D movie. Because I had bad vision at the time, soon to be rectified by a lens prescription, the experience was rather blurry. I have vague terrifying memories of a blurry orange blob spraying water at me. I was scared, wet, and confused.

I don't think so, Tim. I really don't...

1996- After receiving some glasses in the TV Guide, I was ready with bowl of popcorn in hand to watch an episode of Home Improvement…in 3D! However, only portions of the episode were actually 3 dimensional, and whenever it was, all the actors could do was subtly break the 4th wall by making things fly at us. I was jaded, disappointed, and all-around pissed. I spent the rest of the evening trying to do other activities while wearing 3D glasses. Playing Sega, reading Magic Eye books, doing homework, nothing changed. It was all just red and blue. If my memory serves me correctly, a couple of other shows attempted the 3D gimmick, with less than positive results. The creators should be proud when they know exactly when and why they made the worst episode of their respective series’.

2007- After an 11 year hiatus, I decide to give 3D another shot. It was Beowulf. And it was fucking awful. I remember thinking to myself, “Why would someone like Robert Zemeckis make something so cheesy just for the sake of having it in 3D?”. The box office breakdown answered the question for me. I kept my mouth shut.

2009- Because of the fact that I love gimmicky horror flicks, and I also love being suckered into things, I give RealD a shot with My Bloody Valentine 3D. The whole time, I kept begging for a decapitated head to fly at my face. This did not happen, and it made me sad. In fact, I found there to be no reason at all for the movie to be in 3D. There weren’t really that many moments that made me gasp and bless the medium. The movie sucks just as much in 3D as it would in 2D. It was on that same day that I discovered that RealD gives me a headache and makes me more than irritable.

I decided to give 3D yet another chance with Up. Wait, fuck that, I was STOKED to see Up in 3D. When we got to the theater, we realized that we were looking at showtimes for the 2D screening, so I made the decision to wait an hour and a half for the 3D presentation. That’s how adamant I was about how good this movie would be in 3D. The movie started, and the movie ended, and there were hardly any moments of awe, wonder or gratification for waiting so long. There was NO POINT to seeing Up in 3D. The environment kind of surrounds you, but every time I looked to the left or right, I didn’t see objects flying around me, or any environment other than a dark room filled with people wearing stupid glasses that kind of look like mine. All was forgiven, however, due to the movie being “pretty good”.

There was also a forgetful night in August in which Roscoe, Erin, and I decided to play Rad Racer for the NES, sporting the 3D glasses that came with my Nightmare on Elm St. box set. If you press the select button during the game, the colors get all fucked up, which apparently makes 3D possible.

Just looking at it makes me want to vomit...

After 2 minutes and 52 seconds, we turn the game off, in fear of having permanent retinal damage.

2010- People constantly ask me “Have you seen Avatar?”. “Have you seen it?” “Why Not?” “Oh come on” “No, I swear, this is the new revolution in 3D!” “No, fuck the other 3D movies, this movie changes everything!” “Why the fuck haven’t you seen Avatar yet?” “2 bean burritos and a Cheesy Gordita Crunch, that’ll be $4.06, please pull ahead.” “AVATAR!” “oh, you’re a filmmaker? Have you seen Schindlers List? Yeah? Well, what about Avatar?” and my favorite, “Stop being an annoying bitch and go see Avatar!”.

So I did just that. I watched it from beginning to end, in 3D. I was amazed. Truly astonished. My head was like a whirlwind. After walking out of the theater, I knew what had to be done.


I have talked to people who claim that my pessimistic views going into the movie skewed my opinion, but this film has made me start second-guessing my choices in life. Somehow, James Cameron was able to spend a billion dollars on a movie, and actually end up with a profit afterward. How exactly did this happen? Well, it wasn’t the awful and outdated script. It wasn’t the cardboard acting either. It was the 3D. Because of the fact that people were duped to be immersed into a “different world”, people have spent hundreds of dollars on screenings, committed suicide, and convinced their grandmothers, mailmen, librarians, local hitmen, and even pets to see this movie. I personally did not find Pandora to be all that encompassing. You know why? Because I kept looking away from the screen as a constant reminder that I’m in a fucking movie theater! Of course, you can just say to keep your head still, but fuck that, if there’s things flying at me, I’m going to look around! You can’t ask someone to stare directly ahead for 3 hours when shits going haywire everywhere. And whenever I look around, I get pissed that 3D is so damn limited. How can people be so impressed with this movie when almost everything about it besides the visual effects are complete garbage? You take a cookie-cutter story with caricatures instead of characters and a script that hasn’t been revised since 1998, and somehow it turns into not only gold but fucking platinum? If Avatar has done anything for the film industry, it has merely set out a cautionary message:

With 3D films becoming such a common medium, filmmakers are once again focusing more on getting people into the theater rather than making a worthy product.

Think about it, when video games started using 3-dimensional graphics, they suffered greatly from clunky control, ass-numbing load times, and overall terrible presentation. Despite these flaws, the games still sold more than the 2D games that were being created at the time, which often were sublime to the player in every way.

In the future, there will be more and more mediocre movies made in 3D, just for the sake of it being in 3D. Don’t get me wrong, these bad movies would get made regardless. However, with the addition of 3D, these awful productions will actually make money. A lot of money. It encourages auteurs to cut corners and make sacrifices in other, less important categories, such as story, plot, and characters. Movies are becoming moving paintings. People are just more interested in being swept away in a 3D environment.  Unfortunately, they don’t realize that life itself is in 3D. Yesterday, I was tossing a football around with a couple of buddies. It’s a pretty normal activity, many people do it, hell some even find it to be boring. Whenever I caught a pass, I didn’t say “Man isn’t this real life great, guys? It was like…the ball was coming right at me!”. We have been condition to remain unimpressed with everything planet earth has to offer. If that’s really the case, then why would the same scenario be met with satisfaction if it were a 3D movie?

In speaking of normalcy, everyday events are now being presented in 3D. Everything from concerts to Basketball games are being presented at your neighborhood cinema. Does the illusion of real-life presence make the band U2 more tolerable? When I watch the Final Four in 3D, do I actually feel like I’m standing on the sidelines? No. It doesn’t do that. But people believe it does. The fact of the matter is, you’re basically paying an atrocious amount of money on something that you could be seeing for free on TV, or actually be at in real life. My guess is that 3D is somewhere in between those 2 activities, but do we as humans really need that many options? Isn’t a big screen good enough?

No, fuck that, 3D can be on smaller screens too. Just watch this commercial.

The new 3D TV Glasses come in 15 colors and will cost you your left eye.

This commercial improperly advertises a 3D TV. The actors watching the TV are astonished by the 3Dedness, no doubt, but they are obviously not watching a 3D TV. How do I know this? They’re moving their heads! I find it hard enough the retain the illusion of 3D when I’m staring at a theater screen, but you have to be really damn focused to actually watch a regular TV in 3D, because everything your eyes stray from the screen, you are only presented with more disillusionment. This also leads me to wonder what kind of programming is actually going to be in 3D. Will cooking shows be more informative and helpful? No. Will the news seem more important? Well, unless some shit goes down, probably not. Will SNL be funny in 3D? Doubtful. Then whats the point of shelling out a grotesque amount of money on a 3D TV when there is hardly any quality content to justify said purchase? I’m sure many people will have this reasoning, and when they actually look at the cost, they will make up their minds. Fact of the matter is, 3D TVs cost 5 times more than a regular HDTV of comparable size, and the price of the special glasses that need to be worn are starting at 150 bucks. If you were to actually buy a 3D Television, you would need a large bundle of cash to do so. With only one set, there’s no point of even having the TV, as the other people in the room will be alienated, thinking about what they could be “seeing”.

This home 3D market is being ran into the ground by every major electronics company, but this is 2010, folks. We are all going to wait some time before we consider buying 3D televisions because we just shelled out a bunch of cash on an HDTV Blu-Ray clusterfuck, and we would also like to wait until the technology is cheaper. However, 3D is such a gimmicky and new medium still, that it seems like these companies can lose a considerable amount of money on these TVs.


Not only is the 3D fad jeopardized the quality of motion pictures for an entire generation, but it is also begging us to spend astronomical amounts of money so that we can have it at home. From what I can see, the theatrical market will flourish like it has been, but eventually, people will get bored, like we always do. On top of that, 3D TVs will become obsolete when there is no more money or inspiration to produce new 3D content 24 hours-a-day. This will lead to, yep you know it, the fad going away and hiding in the shadows. After that, I am prediciting that Yo-Yos and Pogs will make another serious run. Either way, at the end of this, we will all learn a lesson. And when we tell our kids about the big 3D crash of 2015, hopefully they won’t become curious about the medium and revive demand for shitty content presented realistically.



Okay, now I’m done.