Where do we get off saying “spoiler alert” in a charming tone of voice?
It’s the fault of Americana, I think, not actually social media. Social media’s the tool, but tools are benign until we do something. We choose to ruin things for ourselves.
Like, you know, like my current big annoyance here, like, is the film Everything Everything.
First off, let me say that I have never seen the film. Never meant to see it, and I have no plan to see it now. There is nothing inherently wrong with this film. It may even be an excellent film. I may see it someday if it’s ever shown to me, and I will probably see it without bias. I don’t know. The film is not the problem.
The reason it annoys me, see, is because I had never heard of it — never heard anything about it — till a few days AFTER it came out when I saw some dick-wit on the internet writing a piece of cultural commentary explaining to me exactly what I would feel about it. What I would feel about it if I wasn’t such a moribund mouth-breather with my thumb up my bum, pretending to be a person, but failing because I have the gall to NOT have the self-flagellating instinct to watch every movie ever made with the express purpose of finding flaws.
That was the tone I perceived in this piece of commentary.
They already knew what I ought to feel about this film, if I wasn’t so clearly a piece of useless meat with the culture of the clod of dirt which I will eventually revert to and, in that way, fertilize some pumpkins and achieve the best I could ever hope to achieve in my life.
Honestly, where do we get off perpetually ruining the process of discovering for ourselves? I don’t even look up what movies are coming out anymore. I used to. Yeah, I used to spend good times glancing through the newspapers — remember those? — and speculating about the posters for up-and-coming movies that I had never heard of before. I might start imagining what could have inspired these images, and maybe start my list of films that I particularly wanted to see in the next few months. Maybe I’ll see them. Maybe I won’t. But the important part was to start to be interested so that I could mention to my friends that I thought a good movie might be coming out soon so that they could warn me against it, themselves, in person, with the expected abuse of loved ones, like we have always done before.
I never even do that anymore. Because I know that it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter because of all the freaking speculation, and all the freaking commentary. Before the movie even comes out, it’s had judgment passed on it by a hundred thousand strangers who see fit to implicitly judge me by my interest. And then, as soon as it comes out, no one has the courtesy to restrict themselves to reviews anymore.
Remember those? Reviews? When grumpy old men would tell you, in their educated opinions, whether a movie was worth the price of admission, and they’d fucking leave it at that! They would never stoop so low as to even try to tell you whether you should believe in the cultural movement that the film supported or derided, because they had the respect to assume that you would be doing that for yourself! And if the message in the film went straight over your head, then it wasn’t for you, so screw off, you wanker!
I barely even go to movies at all anymore, because I have no interest in participating in that cycle. In that culture that leeches all the possible enjoyment from the experience of just taking a few hours out of a hot afternoon to take advantage of the air-conditioned interior of a movie theater and watch whatever got most recently churned out for your enjoyment. I might even decide that the film wasn’t worth the price of admission, but that it certainly was a convenient place for a nap. And it might be that all I want to do is leave it at that.
Simple pleasures. Or not as simple. But the point was that I got to choose for myself. I got to have my own opinion.
That was movies, once upon a time.
Oh, how naive I feel now.
Now, it doesn’t matter what movie I go see or how casually I choose to be about seeing it. The mere fact of buying a ticket to a film is a political act in which I have cast a vote for some culture that I might never have heard of in the first place. I don’t even have to buy a ticket. I can just rent the movie on Amazon. Or sometimes just say its name in public.
I have a lot more examples, because I like literature, and I like films. I like to watch them. I like to talk about them. So I have plenty of possible instances that I might talk about to explain exactly how annoying it is to me that we are all so eager to ruin everything for each other.
I could, for example, tell you about how I only mentioned to one person when I went to see Alien Covenant, and that I went by myself, at a random time, to a theater I had never been to before. Because, frankly, I like that franchise.
I know that Alien Resurrection was a sack of warmed-over-dog-doings. I know that Prometheus looked an awful lot like the intellectual masturbation of some filmmakers who couldn’t give a toss — or, rather, could give only a toss — about things so vulgar as “fans of the franchise.” I realize that the words, “Alien 3? Not too bad, really,” make no logical sense in this physical universe. I know all that.
But I don’t care. I like the franchise.
So I went by myself, and I read no reviews of the film before hand, and I have never sought any of the commentary about it afterwards, because, frankly, human beings are jerks.
Not individually. I mean, you aren’t — probably. But get you into a crowd, and threaten the clan where you feel accepted by stating an opinion that doesn’t fit into its creed, and you turn into a horde of hissy cats, ready to slice up anyone that you perceive to destabilize the stability of your world.
It got so bad that, when Star Wars: The Force Awakens rose onto the horizon, I declared myself dead for a week, in order to avoid being ostracized before I even knew what I thought about the film, because I might have said something dangerous, like “you know, I sort of prefer blue lightsabers. Just thinking about it, you know?” The hardcore fans would have been all over me, declaring which comics shops I could and could not safely enter because of my clear allegiance to the other side. Which is rubbish in every way.
I miss the days of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows. Back then, you could stride into the street with confidence. Didn’t matter that you were a slow reader. Didn’t matter that you’d only hopped onto the Potter Train a month ago and had only read till Prisoner of Azkaban. Didn’t matter that you still got called a muggle by your closest friends. Back then people had respect. They would ANNOUNCE before they planned to talk about the book, and they would let you get the hell out before you heard anything you didn’t want to hear, because back then people had respect.
I should have said “the Hogwarts Express” instead of the Potter Train…
I don’t know.
I feel like we’ve lost something. This extends to so much of our culture. We are a spoiler-heavy culture. We don’t even need to experience things. Things. People. Stella’s got something to say about that — about looking up spoilers for the people around us. It’s all the same. We can saturate ourselves with social commentary about the world around us without ever experiencing any of the things we’re forming opinions about. All the thoughts and culture that humanity has yet devised readily available to each and every one of us from the comfort of wherever we decided to park our ass till the next biological demand.
But there is a downside: no more snappy chats with our witty mechanics, since we’ve eliminated any need to put wear on our cars.
I don’t know. Maybe I’m just old fashioned, but I sometimes like to break up the process of passively absorbing fatalistic spoilers- and accusation-based culture with, you know, experiences.
I know. What am I thinking, right?
Sorry. Got off on a rant, there.
Come adventure with me.
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