Veni Vidi Venting: There’s Too Much Good Shit in Entertainment for This Adult

I am fully aware of how petty and first-world this actual problem is, but shut up because this is my article, and also, thanks for reading it. I’m a gamer at heart, soul, and brain holder. I also love being geeky with movies and shows. And therein lies the problem.

There’s so much good shit out there it’s maddening.

So close and yet so far away…

I remember the days (oh yeah, I’m this old) when there were pretty much two good shows per week, and you had to wait seven days before you could see either of them. Now, and I’m blaming YouTube for this, there’s access to so much good content that it all comes out at once. I need to put aside 14 hours just to watch the entire season in one go, so I don’t inadvertently run into spoilers on my social media. 

For a lot of people out there, that’s fine. Do some homework, maybe get ready for tomorrow, put a load in the laundry, shower, then put on three to four hours of the show you want to watch until it’s over in a couple of days. But then there are people like me. Full-time job? Check. Dependent animals that will die if not catered to apparently every minute of the day? Check. Living alone because I haven’t found someone willing to put up with my shit daily and willingly help around the house to lighten the load through dividing and conquering? Check.

Accurate depiction of me being “sad and alone” in my house while cooking.

Self-deprecating jokes aside (but never far), I got other things I gotta do on the daily, and it’s as hard as a weeb at an anime girl convention to keep up with all the delectable content out there. 

Don’t think about that last thing too long.

I should be forced to carry this sign with me at all times.

Anyway, all I’m saying is this: “can we take a year off, please?” Like just a year of really crappy movies that we can still watch, but like, not need to put 50 hours in each because I am backed up, man. As of this writing, I still haven’t seen either Bubba Facebook or PiecePipe (I think those are names of things) because JESUS they are as long as this sentence.

And that’s just for the shows and movies where all your effort comes from sitting silently and maintaining eye contact with the screen. Video games are on a whole nother plane of existence. I haven’t beaten most of the games I started in 2016 because every game is 50 hours of beautiful story, expert acting, and gorgeous visuals. But my ADHD mind needs to look at every possibility when there are choice prompts. So I save, make a choice, go back, make the other choice(s), see what the results are, then determine which one I would rather complete the story with. I also prefer to complete as much as possible on a first playthrough, so I get the whole intended experience the devs were going after. So even a 10-hour game becomes 20 on a first playthrough. You can imagine how wonderfully painful a game like Red Dead Redemption 2 can be to someone like me. And we’re not even including any subsequent playthroughs to complete trophy sets or unlockables.

When you catch your reflection on the loading screen.

I love games and movies and shows a lot. I think that is evident. So I love that there are this many good options out there in such a short amount of time, but it’s kind of like winning free pizza for a year: you get real excited and dive in, only to get so full you worry if you’re ever going to enjoy another piece.

Am I the only one on pop-cultural burnout? Have you guys been able to see everything all the time on the first day and keep up with all your favorite shows and stuff regularly? Please validate my tribulation and say you’re not.

Doctor Strange Multiverse of Madness Trailer Leaks Online (Spoilers)

Because we now have phones with 4K cameras and Twitter exists nothing is sacred anymore. And so we now have the leaked Doctor Strange Multiverse of Madness trailer that apparently plays as a second after-credits bonus with Spider-Man No Way Home. Based on the fact that all the leaked "butt cam" footage has Japanese subtitles I'm assuming the Spider-Man film is already out for everyone over there.

Spoilers from here on out!

My initial thoughts are based on some really shitty camera and audio...

This trailer is going to be a nice tease and we get some little hints that Wanda and Strange will team up, but they may not be working towards the same goal. Johnathan Major's Kang the Conqueror shows up with a little surprise for Strange... an evil Doctor Strange who's clearly a variant that did some naughty shit in the multiverse. While I haven't seen Spider-Man No Way Home yet so I don't know how that sets up this film. I'm pretty excited for a Sam Raimi Marvel film that could be dark and maybe a little scary? Although, It still feels like a generic Marvel film based on the pixelated trailer available and I'm not getting the Evil Dead vibes I was hoping for. Instead, this feels more OG Spider-Man Raim which is fine too. Hell, I'd settle for Darkman vibes.

Looks like we get Gargantos throwing a bus at Doctor Strange and maybe America Chavez? Again hard to tell with buttcam footage. You know what...I'm going to give you a chance to stop here and wait till Marvel drops the HD version. It will be a better experience and it will probably drop by the time you find this article so why not.

No? Cool here it is. Multiverse of Madness hit theatres on May 6th 2022.

The trailer in the Tweet will probably will get taken down FYI.

Thought this tweet was pretty funny.

SPOILERS and YOU: A Guide to "Twists"

Vader is Luke’s bad guy. Rosebud was the name of a 2-hour long question. From the beginning, Bruce Willis was in the movie the WHOLE time. 

We live in a time of SPOILERS everywhere. One of the big questions about it, if you haven’t heard, is "Does knowing the twist of a movie or video game actually ruin the whole story for you? Or was the whole thing only hanging on the twist alone, making the story weak by comparison.”  Well, much like buttholes, everyone has an opinion. And I have a butthole because I’m one of those "everyones." So, let’s explore my… "opinion" in this article, which I’m certain no one asked for.

Here’s a short story for you to set up the discussion:

A woman walks into a room with a glass of wine, sits next to her husband, and says, “I love you so much. I just want you to know that I couldn’t make it without you.” The husband says, “Is that you talking, or the wine?” The woman says, “Neither. It's me talking to the wine.” (pause for laughter)

This is an example of subverting expectations, otherwise called "the twist." This twist is what can be "spoiled" for an audience if they know about it before experiencing it. 

Let's science this bitch.

Expectation subversion a commonly-used tool in telling jokes. You set up the story and tell it in a way that forces the audience to logically think of how it's going to end. By the end of it, you have presented a "twist," forcing the audience to rethink the story and see it in a new way with new information. In joke-telling, you have to make this new information work without the need to think too long about it. It needs to hit quickly, register fast, and invite the audience to laugh at the jab. The audience laughs not because they were tricked but because they feel rewarded for deciphering the information correctly. 

And that's the word I want you to focus on when it comes to the twist: the REWARD

Ok, lesson over. 

Now my big question: Is giving key information about a story actually spoiling that rewarding experience?

Let’s take that concept of reward and try to contextualize it to a shared experience. Given the subject matter, I believe many people familiar with this website and its contents have completed a little unknown Indie video game called Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. If not, get the hell off the internet and go play this masterpiece of a game and have your life changed forever. NOW! If you prefer to trudge on, please be forewarned: MAJOR ACTUAL SPOILERS AHEAD! Let's do this.

So after Nathan Drake dies… ok, just kidding (always wanted to do that). 

Zoran Lazarević: A mug only a mother can love... after a whole bottle.

The entirety of Uncharted 2 tells you the story of Nathan Drake and company trying to blah blah blah. If you made it to this part, you know the story. The point is that the focus of the story always sustained itself to one primary objective: finding the Cintamani stone. The only character that actually knew what was going on was the antagonist, Zoran Lazarebitch (great joke, and I don’t know how to do the accented c on my keyboard). When you finally realize what all the cryptic information about the stone actually meant and what it did, it was a proverbial "kick to the nuts."

I’ll never forget what I felt when Drake said, "You gotta be shittin' me," after realizing the stone's true purpose. When he knew something was up, I knew something was up. When he received the new info, I figured it out with him. Granted, he was quicker than me to grasp the concept, and then he told me, but I was there for the ride every step of the way. WE earned this together. And everything in my soul felt that reward. This is subversion done correctly.

So, for Uncharted 2, is knowing this key information spoiling the rewarding experience?

Well... EVERYTHING about the information gained in your first playthrough affects how you experience the story on the second playthrough. Noticing the twist being foreshadowed throughout the game and putting the information together actually AMPLIFIES the reward felt each time you play it. That’s why so many people play the game multiple times a year even to this day.

That's why I'd refer to this as "good" subversion.

Now for an example of bad subversion (dun dun duuuuuun). For this one, I'm going to exploit my headache-inducing memory at the expense of making my article work: Game of Thrones' series ending. (Sorry, Michelle!) Obviously, SPOILERS AHEAD.

Honestly, this would have been an improvement.

Unlike Uncharted 2, the Game of Thrones series is all over the place. There are characters making decisions on things everywhere for different reasons all the time. When they eventually act on those decisions, their actions are arbitrary at best. If you think about their actions for more than half a nanosecond, you'll notice toward the end of the series that all the characters started acting in different ways (like complete dumbasses) than we recognize because they needed to get to the predetermined (bad) ending the show-runners created. The result was that every character's decision was forced to trigger that "twist effect.

When the subversion itself is done well, as in Uncharted 2, the media in question gets noticed and elevated to artistic ranks. It’s no wonder why everyone is trying to capitalize on this "expectation subversion" mechanic. But when you continue to do the "expectations" part for years and then "subvert" only in the final minutes, it has an opposite effect on the people taking in the information: they feel no reward and, instead, feel cheated.

So how does knowing Game of Thrones' key information affecting that rewarding experience?

The setups were cheap thrills that kept me watching through the end of the series but then left me feeling punished for retaining all that info by the end, making me a sad, sad boy. Many current shows are actually guilty of this same tactic. And that’s by design. Not the sucking part, but trying to keep people guessing and then forcing the twist at the end. Bad subversion.

By the way, if you're loving this topic, dive into it more in this video from Overly Sarcastic Productions, which inspired my article: Trope Talk: Plot Twists.

So, knowing the twist in a story will absolutely change the experience. That said, it can either hurt or enhance your experience. If I spoiled the punch line of the joke at the beginning for you, it wouldn't have had the same impact. It would have weakened your experience and cheated you out of a laugh. Knowing the end of Uncharted 2 won't lessen the impact of such an incredible story because you need the whole story for the impact to matter. In contrast, knowing the end to Game of Thrones does spoil the ending because you know that the cheap thrills they give you aren't leading to a rewarding payoff.

People will experience things differently, that much is known. People also want to have control over how they consume those experiences. When someone changes that organic experience for someone else by forcing information on them about a story, it can rob them of the intended emotions created by the storyteller. Everyone has the right to choose what information they want going into a story, and that’s always fine. But please keep in mind not everyone thinks like you.

As a writer, I create stories that I hope will "wow" the audience. I want the reader to enjoy the journey, and I hope they'll want to return to that journey and experience a new kind of joy each time. Even if knowing the big "twist" doesn’t ruin their reward, it would deny them that FULL experience I initially intended. It robs them of that gut punch from the reveal, something that storytellers usually work very diligently to create. So, to all the people that get a rise out of spoiling things for others, I say this:  

Don't be asshats… um... please

You made it to the end! This is for those of you that didn’t TLDR.

 

What stories have you had spoiled for you? Or what are some great, or terrible, twists that you'd like to praise or vent about? Let's chat in the comments, but let’s try to keep things spoiler-free. (You know, like I didn’t.)

 

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