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.
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.