- Mar 17, 2010
But that's exactly the thing. I'm not even referring to only stories with twists. If you know, at any time, what's going to happen later, it colors your perceptions of the entire work as you experience it. There are key emotions that you will not experience by knowing the ending (oh, to be able to read Romeo and Juliet without knowing they die!) I've always thought that, were I to get complete amnesia, the only good part would be the ability to experience great stories again for the first time.boholikeu said:This is an interesting idea, but honestly, if a plot twist or ending was the biggest thing that elicited emotion from you, that artwork is pretty shallow. Elements like characterization and tone are much more important, and they are virtually immune to spoilers.Azuaron said:Back when Roger Ebert said games weren't art, there was a lot of argument about what, exactly, constituted art, with a strong faction saying art evoked emotion. In my mind, spoilers ruin the emotional experience. In my mind, spoilers are the equivalent of painting a mustache on the actual Mona Lisa, taking a sledgehammer to the Taj Mahal, or burning 80 frames, at random, out of the last copy of A New Hope. In my mind, spoilers destroy art.
If you still aren't convinced, consider this: most people know the endings to the classic works of literature and film, yet modern audiences still feel their emotional impact. This is because the art in Romeo and Juliet isn't in the fact that (spoiler!) they both die at the end; it's in the way that Shakespeare presents those events. By your logic, nearly every work of art would have already been "destroyed" years ago when the spoilers of their plot became common knowledge.
Good stories are worth multiple readings to experience all the different layers the author has worked in. But knowing the ending before experiencing the story cuts off the head, the first layer.
And I never said spoilers completely ruin a story. The Mona Lisa is still the Mona Lisa with a mustache. The Taj Mahal would only be a bit dented and chipped by a sledgehammer. 80 frames out of A New Hope is a bit more than 3 seconds. But the fact remains that spoilers detract from the emotional experience.
Let me give a spoiler-filled example.
When I saw Serenity, I was relieved when Book died. I thought, Good! Joss killed off Book. It was going to be him or Wash, so now it won't be Wash! I know, I know, I was naive. I had only watched Firefly, so I didn't yet know Joss' penchant for killing people. I happily continued the movie until the giant space battle where I became horrified that Joss was "killing" Serenity. Then Wash to the rescue, saving the scene, giving me a bit of hope and humor, "I'm a leaf on the wind," laughter from the crowd, "watch how I..." SNICK! Wash dies. After that, I wrote off the whole crew. Anyone, or everyone, could die. Zoe's stabbed, Simon's shot, Kaylee's darted. Joss has already killed Book and Wash, there's no telling if anyone will get out alive.
Now when I watch Serenity, it's a different experience. Every time Wash says, "I'm a leaf on the wind," I cringe, where before I laughed. Book's death is sadder because it's not Wash's salvation. Serenity's destruction is not cause for horror, since the ship is repaired in the end. When it looks like everyone's about to die, I don't worry. I know only Book and Wash give their lives to the movie. Do I like the movie less with subsequent watchings? No. But I do treasure my first experience.
Everything I experienced in my first watching could've been destroyed with spoilers. "When Wash starts saying he's a leaf on the wind? He's about to die." "The ship is completely repaired at the end." "Book and Wash are the only ones to die." Then I'm just waiting. I know these things will happen, but I don't know when. The movie becomes a game of patience. "Is this where Wash dies? No, no yet... Oh, here's where Book dies... Surely Wash doesn't survive Miranda? Oh, well, so he does... Ah, here, here is where Wash dies, and there he goes."