I should start from the top because that’s what I do. My name is W. Morning Shyamalan, and I am the not-so-famous brother of the famous M. Night Shyamalan. Unlike my brother, my story starts at the top and runs chronologically. What can I say? I like plot devices that are logical, even telegraphed and obvious.
How do two brothers end up on such diametrically opposed paths? Well, it depends on whom you ask and how they tell the story, but this is my narrative so you are going to get it in a straightforward manner.
As my older brother, he was the person I looked up to the most and the one who I was supposed to learn from. He asked a zillion questions, most of them unanswerable to our parents. He was argumentative and oppositional, seemingly just to be so.
He rearranged things in our house to prove points. He made up stories meant to scare me and confuse mom and dad. Just imagine what a nightmare it was to babysit someone like M. Night. You might think Sixth Sense was the most creative film of the 90s, but really it was an adaptation on what he’d do to our babysitters, pretending to see ghosts and then trying to convince our neighbor’s teenage daughter that she, in fact, was dead.
At an early age, I knew I didn’t want to be like that, in fact, I wanted to be the complete opposite of him. Where he was quirky and unconventional, I wanted to be non-intrusive and easy to deal with. I saw the purposefully confusing way M. Night went about, and learned the joys of order. I would get to class on the first day of a new year and find another teacher who would ask “You must be M. Night’s brother, right?” with sad eyes, recalling the terrors of having them in their rooms.
For example, I would write stories about happy families and he would write extremely advanced, character-motivated ghost stories. I would do book reports on Abraham Lincoln, M. Night would “author” book reports about John Wilkes Booth’s childhood bullies. Who does that? At recess he would hide, or worse, be around.
As M. Night’s stories became more and more perverse, I leaned more and more into A to B to C stories. One of my favorite works is called “A Village,” where a woman grows tired of the harsh rules and monotony of everyday life in her small village and then keeps on living that way because, mostly, that’s how life is. It turns out in the end, she made due and found value in the everyday routine. She made her community better, by applying herself to improvements instead of trying to flee it or destroy it.
While I never received the commercial and financial success of my brother, I know I made a lot of the people around us happier, and for me, that was enough.
Also, you know what isn’t sustainable? A new and revolutionary plot twist in every story! Eventually people figure it out or you run out of ways to keep blowing people’s minds. But if you can create a structure and arc that is predictable and easy, well that is repeatable until the end of time.
Maybe I don’t have any Oscars, or any films on AFI’s all-time lists. And maybe I have never been introduced as a pioneer or a visionary, but no one ever talks about the people who have to clean up for the visionaries.
I know my family is thankful for me. I know my neighbors love me. And I know I sleep well at the end of every day, which is how and when you are supposed to go to sleep. The end.