Difficulties of Enjoyment

It’s been a while since I got to post anything, oh the wonderful tribulations of life. Nothing too notable, at least not right now. But in the moments between responsibilities, I’ve got to enjoy a number of great movies, music, and other media. Yesterday I spent time working on a post about Logan, because it was a fantastic movie and I think it is the best Marvel based movie yet. And the way that Disney is going to go with the MCU, I don’t know if we are going to see a Marvel movie like it for a while and I think it did what DC has been trying to do for a while by leap and bounds–just another reason to get rid of Zack Snyder, but that’s a rant for another day.

So why am I writing this post instead of finishing that one and posting it?

Well, a couple of reasons, but they stem from something I’ve noticed for a while and is one of the reasons I have continually found it hard to blog over the years. It’s really difficult to just enjoy a thing and share that with people. I’m not going to try and suss out the causation or correlation argument about this, but I think most of us can agree that people today, at least in the US, have an easy time raining on a parade simply because it’s not their parade or the parade they want.

Let me break it down a bit more.

One of the reasons I restarted the blog was that I found that I was part of that whole mechanism. I have friend who has similar problem that I do: If I enjoy something, I usually don’t have more to say than, “It was good/great/awesome,” but it I don’t like something, I can go on for hours picking a thing apart. And over the last few years I have worked on that to try and appreciate those things I like more. I have found I have to usually play devil’s advocate with myself because I need to build the argument to get to the details of what I like. The reason I’ve been doing that is because there is a lot of truth to the idea of “you get back what you put out.” When you trend toward negative criticism, it gets harder to enjoy those things you criticize.

Another aspect is the how we given opinion the same weight as fact in discourse. I recently discussed “what is horror?” at a lunch meet up with friends and friends of friends. And one person made the argument that a story must have a supernatural element to be horror and that psychological horror really isn’t. Instead of going into a diatribe, like I usually do per my love and educational exposure to the genre, I instead try to ask questions to probe the foundations of his argument. And it came out that he doesn’t find psychological horror scary and therefore it must not be horror. That’s an opinion and he has every right to feel that way, but it’s not a strong foundation to argue almost two hundred years of literary analysis and facts. We’ve lost, or at least loosing, the ability to prioritize which or our opinions are unyielding and what ones are open to change. We’ve had a long period were a number of forces in a number of facets of our lives trying to push us to make their opinions seem better, more intelligent, or morally just. And many times, those opinions are used to reinforce facts, so they blur. This how we get situations where groups become aggressively passionate and do insane and dangerous acts in the name of something they love. With that constant threat, it makes it hard to find the worth of sharing openly. I can even look to Twitter for this. I remember hoping on in ’08 and lots of interesting stuff was happening, people experimented with the platform, but these days it’s very sterile in comparison. We’ve created a subconscious censorship because we don’t want to make people feel bad, and not because they will get upset or sad, but because they could launch a maelstrom of crazy on us if what we say could upset them enough–which is an unknowable limit.

Finally, there is the whole spoiler culture of the internet. And it’s not just the people that come in a find ways to spoil stories for people and be rolls, but also, tying into the previous topic, the push back from that is everyone has to be spoiler free or have spoiler warnings. Which is really ridiculous when you think about it. Reviews for any story should be talking more about the elements of a book or a movie than just the plot. In fact, any review that talks more plot that characters, themes, setting, writing, and in the case of visual media, acting, directing, and cinematography, it’s a badly written review. It’s the quality of those elements that will determine how well the plot is realized in the end. Those are what a reviewer should focus on to help a consumer know what to spend money on. Anything deeper than that is really a critique, which requires the reader of the critique to know the plot because it will be taking about how those elements, plus the plot, all interact and interrelated and the artistry behind work. Now, if only we kept to that, we wouldn’t need spoiler warnings. But it’s assumed that anything written on the internet is a review, therefore must not talk about the good bits of the movie. That should not be the responsibility of those writing a blog as that, too, is a type of censorship. Going back to Logan, as I wrote, I debated if I need to say, “spoiler warning” at any point because what people consider a spoiler is also very individualistic. And talking out the people that die, to me, is not a spoiler. Everything that has come out about that movie screams, “People gonna DIE!”

It’s really incredible how hard we’ve made it to share enjoyment for things for people. I know I’m not the only one that feel this way, and that fact there are people are out there and sharing their enjoyment doesn’t negate what I’ve said. If we weren’t so worried about opinions being challenged, I believe there would be a lot more people talking and sharing new ideas and perspectives. But we have found so many ways to fortify ourselves from anything we don’t like that can we really be surprised by anything that happens these days. Because if we make this hard for a person to share what they enjoy in life, how the hell do we expect to work with each other to get through it?

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