The four levels of consuming art

Sometimes writing can be transformative, not just in the way it’s written but in the ideas it conveys. I’m not sure if I’ve ever written anything of that caliber, but I know I’ve read plenty.

Here’s one.

Film Crit Hulk’s gloriously caps locked article “Film Crit Hulk Smash: HULK VS. SPOILERS AND THE 4 LEVELS OF HOW WE CONSUME ART” is, in my eyes, a must read. It discusses why some people cry out against spoilers while others maintain that a good story cannot be spoiled. That alone would be enough for a good article, but Hulk goes further in explaining the issue and illuminates the four levels of how we consume art. Reading those was eye-opening for me.

To quote Film Crit Hulk, the four levels are:

1. THE FIRST GROUP ARE PEOPLE WHO EXPERIENCE MOVIES IN A STATE OF CHILDLIKE NAIVETY.

2. NOW, THE SECOND GROUP OF MEDIA-CONSUMERS ARE THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE SEEN A LOT OF MEDIA AND THUS MOVED PAST THE FIRST GROUP’S INNATE TRANSFERENCE, BUT THEY STILL SEEK TO RECAPTURE THAT CHILDHOOD NAIVETY.

3. THE THIRD GROUP OF MEDIA-CONSUMERS ARE PEOPLE WHO CAN TRANSCEND THAT DESIRE FOR A PURELY CHILDLIKE EXPERIENCE BY CONTEXTUALIZING THE EMOTIONAL EXPERIENCE INTO A CEREBRALLY COHERENT PROCESS.

4. THE FOURTH GROUP OF MEDIA-CONSUMERS ARE THOSE WHO ABSOLUTELY UNDERSTAND THE CRAFT OF MAKING MEDIA.

For those of you who haven’t read the article (yet! You really should), the way to traverse the first three levels is to consume a great deal of art, whereas the fourth can only be attained when you begin to create it.

Now it makes sense why I can enjoy silly harem anime and vapid pop music, while other times weeping at the majesty of a well-told tragedy or an inspirational drama. Now I know why the stories I thought were immune to spoilers seemed that way – it’s not that they were in fact immune, it’s that even if my ability to enjoy them on a first or second level was sundered, I still had the third to lean back on. Where novels are involved, I even increasingly have the fourth.

Feel free to reply with what level you’re at for different media, or your opinion on spoilers, or to tweet me in reply to either. If nothing else though, read the article. It’s a good one.

3 thoughts on “The four levels of consuming art

  1. Think I read about half of it? The parts that involved the different levels of the consumer, and I think I can safely say i’m somewhere between 2 and 3.
    I’ll take some spoilers in stride, but others i don’t want any part of. For instance when I was reading the Negima English releases, I would tend to avoid any articles relating to the Japanese releases. Hell, I’d been reading the stuff for 7+ years, I don’t want a bombshell dropped on me that far in the race!
    Other shows/series that I’ve committed less time to like CSI or NCIS, go nuts. If its something important, I probably wouldn’t be able to tell. By the point in the series that the spoiler becomes relevant, its already reached the point of being irrelevant anyways. Decipher that
    [spoiler]THE WORLD IS ROUND.[/spoiler]

    TLDR – Spoiler paranoia increases as commitment to the series increases for me. I feel like that’s a safe assessment.

  2. I can still enjoy the story even if it is spoiled. However, I greatly prefer that it doesn’t happen since I want to experience the narrative firsthand. I don’t even like to watch a trailer of shows that I really want to watch. Just a personal thing.

    On an unrelated note though, as I don’t know where to put it, I have been having problems getting to RandomCuriosity lately. I would last a couple second in the site before the browser forcibly changes to http://learning-forex.com/fx-analysis/technical.html . I have tried using both Opera and Chrome as well as a mobile browser to access RandomC, but nothing changes. It only happens since yesterday, so it might only be a short period hiccup, but I just want to let you know.

    • I’m in the same boat generally. I prefer to enjoy things on both Level 2 and Level 3, though if the former is taken away then at least I’ve still got the latter. It’s not ideal, but at least it doesn’t tooootally ruin the experience. Usually.

      As for your question, send any technical questions on RC to divine(at)randomc.net.

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