4 Harsh Truths That Will Improve How You Watch TV And Film
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.
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.
The End Of Spoiler Hatred
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.
"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!
Extrapolation Is Pointless
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.
"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.
You Can Love To Hate
I'm super guilty of this, and I rest it solely at the feet of The Walking Dead. I like The Walking Dead, I really do, and on a weekly basis I will tear that shit apart. I mercilessly mock every terrible decision the characters make, every stupid plot twist, and every slow-as-molasses story development. Because I like it.
But not as much as "Coral" likes to constantly disappoint his father.
I want The Walking Dead to be awesome; I think the comic is pretty great and has had a lot of interesting storylines. On the show, I thought Rick's wife, Lori, was so awful that I watched in rapt anticipation of her getting eaten each and every week. And then when she died I did the same for god-awful Andrea and her inability to make even one rational, not stupid-as-a-bag-of-wet-hair decision. I cursed them for staying on that farm for what seemed like 30 straight episodes, and I cursed every episode where zombies were reduced to not a monstrous scourge but mild nuisances that can be dealt with so easily you don't need to stop reading your magazine.
"Go on, Michonne. It's your turn to walk the dead."
Anytime someone takes to social media or just has a discussion about what they don't like about a show, inevitably the haterade crew will pop up with their insightful remarks. "You're just a hater. If you don't like it, don't watch it." This misses the point entirely. A more dramatic reading of this is like saying if your kid does something foolish and pisses you off, you should kick them out since you don't like them. That's not what's happening at all. It's precisely because you do like a show or a movie that you get frustrated when dumb-fuckery is afoot. You're emotionally invested in the characters and storyline and it upsets you, even if it's a little silly to say so, when the characters are subjected to something idiotic.
Game Of Thrones is arguably one of the most violent shows on TV, and many of its scenes, even if they are fictitious, are hard to watch. This season the rape of Sansa Stark caused huge waves, with an actual senator hopping on board the boycott bandwagon. The scene was so violent and so needless, the story goes, that this senator and others like her will boycott the show for its glorification of such disgusting acts.
To start with, the show isn't glorifying anything; the scene was meant to be disgusting, the book series is actually much more violent and offensive, and it was done on purpose because the author wanted to reflect just how depraved and horrible humans can be in horrible situations, but that's neither here nor there. The other thing to consider here is that boycotting TV is a lot like deciding to feng shui your bathroom. It may make you feel better, but no one else on Earth gives a shit.
Fact is, the people who boycott TV shows are people who don't really want to watch the show to begin with. Duck Dynasty was boycotted after it was revealed Grandpa Munster was -- shock -- an intolerant hillbilly. Thousands of people who never watched the show in the first place vowed to never watch it again. The American Family Association tried to boycott NYPD Blue back in the 1990s to protect citizens from Dennis Franz's bare ass, and it ended up being one of the most popular shows on TV. They were also in on a boycott of Fifty Shades Of Grey, which by all accounts sucked ass anyway, and it's still one of the highest-grossing movies of 2015 so far.
An actual scene from the actual movie.
You'd be hard-pressed to find a boycott that actual fans of the thing being boycotted had orchestrated or participated in. No one boycotts what they like, so arranging one will attract only people who would never contribute to that show or movie's success in the first place, meaning you're really accomplishing nothing at best and, at worst, you're giving more attention to the thing you don't like and making it more popular.
Spoilers spread rampant through the Internet like the virus that created the Planet Of The Apes. (Whoops.) But you can protect yourself by reading 4 Tactics For Preventing Spoilers Before They Happen. And be sure to not listen to the soundtrack of a movie before you see it. See why in The 5 Most Ridiculous Ways Studios Spoiled Their Own Movies.
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