Ninjas Killed My Family
Twenty three days out and we already have homework from the Man. Boyko wants us to think about the most interesting piece of communication that we’ve come across this summer.
One night we were stumbling out of a bar and there was this guy asking for money. He had a bunch of signs and one of which read: Ninjas killed my family. That was the funniest sign I’ve ever seen and I would’ve given him money, but I didn’t have any one.
A while ago a friend told me about the concept of breaking the fourth of wall. In traditional storytelling, it’s set up so that the audience is looking into a self contained world where the characters live. When breaking the fourth wall, you include the audience and they become part of or participate in the formation of the story at best. But usually, they break the 4th wall by giving the character the awareness that they are in a self contained story.
Usually beggars spin an incredibly sad stories (collecting nickels for their chemotherapy) to part us from our change. But somewhere along the way we’ve been taught that by helping them out we end up funding their drug addictions or funnel cash to the local gangs and so on. Each story combined with the hundreds of beggars we see make us cynical about their intentions – which makes it easier for us to walk by a starving person on the street. To combat the resistance we’ve developed, their stories become even more tragic and more desperate as they spin the story tighter around themselves to create authenticity.
That’s why his sign was so good – that guy understood the mind games we’re playing with each other and called it out. It was honest, insightful and simple.