If you look at television and film in an objective way, step back and view it as an outsider, an alien, maybe, who has never seen such things, you would be forgiven for thinking most people in the world are crazy peoples who waste their time being infatuated with nothingness. Let's be honest: In the grand scheme of things and how you exist from birth to death, is TV or film necessary in any way at all? No. But, compared with every other nonessential aspect of our world, they probably take up more time than anything else. We devote a lot of ourselves to being entertained, and that's cool -- entertainment prevents madness, I think. With a population this large, if we couldn't routinely distract ourselves, we'd all be slaughtering one another, Thunderdome-style.
Warner Bros. Pictures
Mad Max approves of Netflix binge-watching.
TV and movies keep us busy, and if they're really well done (or, conversely, if we're easily amused) they can hold our attention and even make us feel for the characters involved. That's pretty powerful when you think about it. But at the end of the day, these things are still stories. They're bits of fluff. Your favorite show is another person's Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. And they need to be consumed in a way that keeps that in mind, because when they're not, when TV and movies are viewed like life-and-death-serious situations, we get the really perverse culture that exists for some people right now, when distinguishing fantasy from reality is way too hard and people take things way too seriously.
If you know someone who's too wrapped up in a fantasy world, give them these four tips. Or maybe use them for yourself. These truths be harsh, but remember, it's for the greater good of your sanity.
#4. The End Of Spoiler Hatred
RKO Radio Pictures
You're going to hate me for saying this, but we need a moratorium on the hatred of spoilers. There comes a time when the onus is not on me, as someone who knows how a story plays out, to guard plot points as though they are state secrets on the off chance someone else out there has yet to see The Usual Suspects. Incidentally, Kevin Spacey is Keyser Soze. He played Chazz Palminteri like a fiddle!
Now, as a writer myself, a huge film buff, and a religious devotee of shows like Penny Dreadful, The Walking Dead, and Game Of Thrones, I get the hatred of spoilers. If I was in line to see The Empire Strikes Back and some dude came out Homer Simpson-style and let it drop that Vader is Luke's father, I'd probably curse him for a half-wit fuckstick, but I'd still go see the movie. I don't want you to tell me the whole story, but at the same time I get that you may experience things before me, and it's not your job to be a movie ninja to protect my delicate sensibilities.
New Line Cinema
"GET OVER HERE! THEY'RE TALKING ABOUT THE SEASON YOU'RE BEHIND ON!"
Nowhere is spoiler hatred more prevalent these days than Twitter. People live-tweet TV shows, even professional comedians do this, to share their thoughts on what's happening in real time. It's like a really weird version of VH1's Pop-Up Video. And on any given day (especially Sundays, when all the best TV shows are on) half of Twitter loses their shit over spoilers.
When did the government implement a mandatory Twitter enrollment plan?
Complaining about people on Twitter talking about things you don't want to hear about is like complaining that your hand keeps cupping your balls in the shower. If you don't want it to happen, just cut that shit out. No one's forcing it on you. And to suggest everyone else should fall in line with only what you want to hear is so at once myopic and bizarrely fascist that the idea of using Twitter at all should be offensive to you and your group of cultists.
"The bird encourages To Kill A Mockingbird and Mockingjay spoilers! Burn in hell!"
You can't walk into an AA meeting and expect people to not discuss drinking, and you can't use social media and expect everyone to not discuss things that are happening right at that moment. That's not to say you deserve spoilers, that I should tackle you and scream the horrible truth of Ned Stark's head coming off into your ear while you clench your eyes ever so tight and will me to go away, but come on.
We need to agree on a time frame for spoilers. If it's Monday, don't ruin Game Of Thrones for people who politely ask to not know what happened since they didn't see it yet. If M. Night Shyamalan's new movie just came out this week, don't explain how the twist is that someone smarter than him made The Sixth Sense. But if you're discussing Citizen Kane, go ahead and tell the world Rosebud was his sled because fuck you if you haven't caught up on film in the last 50 years.
Also, this horse never crosses the finish line. Deal with it.
I'd suggest TV shows get an episode worth of breathing space for spoilers. If the next episode has aired, then it's safe to discuss the previous one fully. If you haven't seen it yet, then you need to fuel up your DeLorean and catch up with the future; that's not everyone else's fault. As for movies, if that thing is out of theaters, it's out of contention. It had a theatrical run, it's been reviewed thoroughly, so it's not reasonable for people just to stay quiet about it lest some virgin stumble upon the secret. We all need to accept that media is consumed by millions of people, none of whom owe us jack shit. It's by courtesy only that people aren't kicking our doors down on Sunday nights to explain why Tyrion Lannister is such a badass.
But they really should. Just look at this shit!
#3. Extrapolation Is Pointless
Warner Bros. Pictures
Guaranteed you've experienced someone doing this in the past, and maybe you've done it yourself. Someone watches a show and likes it and then discusses it with a friend who did not like it. That friend will point out a plot hole or some other error in the movie, and it's totally legitimate and totally real, but the fan of the show will defensively begin to craft an explanation for maybe what happened, based purely on bullshit speculation. Why? Why do we do this? Stop doing this.
20th Century Fox
"In space, no one can run sideways to avoid giant wheel ships."
If you love Signs, and that's fine, some people even like being burned for sexual thrills, you can like Signs, but you just need to accept that, in the framework of that movie, it's completely illogical that aliens would come to a planet like Earth if water is toxic to them. They'd be the stupidest space-faring dipshits in the universe. However, many people have tried to devise reasons for why the aliens showed up over the years up to and including theories that maybe they were exiles from their home world, sent adrift with no supplies (hence their lack of even flip-flops to avoid puddles), and desperate to find food and life necessities. Isn't that a cool theory? It's not true, though, and do you know how I know? Because it's a movie that runs an hour and 47 minutes and then stops existing, so there was no before for the aliens and no after unless it was in the movie. It's pretend.
We can't make up our own story that exists outside the story to account for why the story sucks. Well, you can, but you can also lick your dog's butthole, just not sure why you'd want to since it's not going to get you very far. It doesn't add anything to the experience because it's not part of the experience. But we do it all the time when confronted with story inconsistencies.