The tragic romance Five Feet Apart gets in on the teen weepie fad that was set in motion by The Fault in Our Stars, afflicting Cole Sprouse and Haley Lu Richardson with cystic fibrosis that prevents the young lovers from making skin contact. But before the film gets into all the hankie-dampening, it falls in line with a different and decidedly more sinister trend.Badgers, coke and Zac Efron: why Hollywood gets club culture wrong Read moreThe film opens on Richardson’s character Stella recording a vlogpost for her YouTube channel, where she explains what cystic fibrosis is and describes the many emotional trials of living with it. Making simple videos about her daily struggles provides the hospital-bound Stella with an outlet at a time when she exerts little control over her life, much in the way that doodling makes一一合数三打一肖 the romantic opposite Will (Sprouse) feel a little more alive. The difference between them, however, is that Will’s artworks make him seem deep, like he’s got something going on upstairs; Stella’s online journal flattens her out.Writerly types talk a lot about the importance of showing and not telling –the idea being that it’s always more compelling to watch someone demonstrate their internal state than to hear them talk about it. In Charlie Kaufman’s screenwriting satire Adaptation, the script sage Robert McKee warns the pupils at his famed story seminar: “God help you if you use voiceover in your work, my friends. God help you! That’s flaccid, sloppy writing. Any idiot can write voiceover narration to explain the thoughts of the character.”The vlog is our 21st-century voiceover, a physical occasion providing an excuse to have characters spell out everything in their head instead of leaving their words to float in a non-space. It is a scribe’s crutch, a gimmick that tries to pass off laziness as a with-it modernity.The main offender remains last summer’s Eighth Grade, in which middle schooler Kayla regularly pontificates on such topics as “being yourself” and “confidence” through free-form oratories on YouTube. That film had the presence of mind to interrogate why young Kayla makes these videos and the hazardous influence that constant self-presentation can exert on a young girl’s psychological wellbeing. But even so, the film also used its handful of vlog interludes to lay bare the subtext of each scene and Kayla’s reaction to them. As she nervously saunters into a pool party where she’s certain she will be the uncoolest kid on the scene, we hear the disembodied voice of her idealized YouTube-self preaching a false gospel of self-empowerment. Connect the dots, la-la-la-la-la. Facebook Twitter Pinterest This same oversimplification marred the otherwise enjoyable thriller A Simple Favor last year. Anna Kendrick’s Stephanie is a self-proclaimed “mommy blogger” (the phonetics alone should be enough to bar this phrase from the public vocabulary) caught up in the drama of Blake Lively’s mysterious, entrancing Emily. Again, Stephanie checks in with each new beat of the story to guide the viewer with her commentary, an oppressive method of rigid structuring. We know that Stephanie’s happy when she tells her adoring public she’s happy. We know she’s worried when she tells them she’s worried.The concept itself isn’t completely bankrupt, and the entertainment industry has already got evidence to prove it. Netflix’s American Vandal had a keener sense for the millennial-era realities of internet use than most, and contrived a method of turning telling into showing. We get snatches of school weirdo Kevin McClain’s tea review vlog in an illustration of his eccentricity; the audience learns who he is by watching him be himself, rather than getting told. The excellent First Reformed ditched the digital element and went as far as it could in the opposite direction, using the diary entries of priest Ernst Toller as a confounding influence rather than a clarifying one. He shares his thoughts with us through bleak koans and dense philosophizing, and we feel farther from comprehending this hardened, layered man than before.In Five Feet Apart, Stella’s vlogging represents cinema’s attempt to approximate the noxious reality TV construct of the confessional interview, in which talking-head segments allow personalities to articulate their reactions to whatever has just happened. There’s an implied assumption of stupidity here, that either viewers won’t be smart enough to synthesize meaning from acting and writing, or that the acting and writing won’t be competent enough to convey that meaning. Either way, storytelling becomes a lot easier and duller when characters have an excuse to splay out all their interiority for their own camera, having been forbidden by good taste to do so for ours.