Monday, September 30, 2013

Object of Disaffection

A fairly large portion of the viewing public watched the Breaking Bad series finale last night and the modern-day desire to praise one thing by bashing another was on full display on Twitter. A bunch of dickwads who are so emotionally unstable that the three-year-old series finale of Lost is still ruining their lives, attempted to praise the finale by shitting all over the finale of Lost. Teflon writer Damon Lindelof retweeted them, and they are collected here.

This is the kind of nonsense I've been going on about these past few posts. What purpose does this serve? Why are so many people incapable of just liking a thing without putting something else down? Why is the desire to personally attack someone so strong that they go out of their way to do it? Would Ron Moore get the same attacks if he was a presence on Twitter? Why did the Lost finale so affect people that they've become raving, insane assholes? Seriously, people, if the only way you can love something is by hating something else, go into politics. This is pathetic.

There is a psychological disorder on display here. I'm just not sure what it is. But it's the same psychological disorder that has these Star Trek people going nuts. Why do so many people want to share hate and anger? Shouldn't we want to do away with that, especially given what's going on in the world? Entertainment isn't a contact sport. It's supposed to (it's in the word) entertain. Illuminate. Make us forget about horrible shit. Make us understand and cope with horrible shit. It's not supposed to make us turn on people. Is it? Or is this about a preemptive strike? If you hate something, you are on the offensive and you make those who love it defend themselves, hence the defensive position.

I suppose it's partly proximity. The person who gave you two hours of something you didn't like three years ago can be told, to his Twitter account, that he pissed you off. With two hours of television. And that makes you want to keep poking at him. Because he's not a real person, right? It's the Internet. It's all anonymous. You've been bashing this guy in message board and blog comments for awhile now. This is the same. It's not like he's going to do anything to you. And even if he said something, then you can go to your job and regale your co-workers with how you got Damon Lindelof slightly miffed. So you WANT the attention, and it doesn't matter if it's positive or negative. It's easier to get negative attention, hence the weirdo, juvenile tweets. The crowning glory, of course, would be if you could make him attack you back, because then he'd be forced to leave social media altogether. And that's a win for you guys. Somehow.

I've often marveled at how famous people who make lots of money and get attacked don't just go, "Well, screw you. I'll just break an ankle jumping off my Walter White-sized piles of money." Too many of them crave that critical attention, and their insecurities are on display at that point. Damon Lindelof doesn't seem to have that type of insecurity. If he does, he is a master at hiding it. He's clearly comfortable enough with who he is and satisfied with what he's accomplished that he can tweak these idiots. That's a rare thing.

While a lot of people would like to make the assumption that critical attention and mainstream success are enemies, I'm pretty sure the 10.3 million people who watched the Breaking Bad finale made AMC do a happy money dance. That's up, by the way, from the 1.2 people who watched the show premiere. That's a net gain of 9.1 people, or around 850%. Movies that don't make money don't automatically suck, movies that cost a lot of money don't automatically suck, movies that are indie darlings aren't necessarily great, etc. It's a case-by-case basis and if you're lazy enough to fall back into the "if it makes money it sucks" jazz, then your opinion is invalid.

Of course, the Internet pre-judges EVERYTHING. We see trailers and clips and interviews and behind-the-scenes stuff so much that by the time the thing airs or is released, there's no perspective there anymore. It's not anyone's fault, I guess. The monster has to be fed. But I haven't watched one clip from Gravity. I didn't watch any behind-the-scenes stuff from the Star Trek movies and avoided all spoilers (I should get a special award for that, based on the number of people whose goal was to make sure people knew all the spoilers, regardless of whether they wanted to or not, which is really super shitty, by the way, and you should all be ashamed of yourselves unless you're a ten-year-old).

So when people go to see something or watch something, they are already too well-versed in it. And that's just sad.

We speculate over everything. Tear everything apart. We're expected to be critical before any magic can happen at all. We already have expectations. We don't just go on a journey, we predict where it will take us. And then when the journey's over, we hurry to read myriad critical reviews to see if their takes line up with ours. If we were correct about our predictions, we Tweet and Facebook all over about how smart we are. It's a dreary sporting event at this point. It's all about winning and losing. There are even the critics who may not like something that everyone loves, and then they brace for a bad day on the Internet (although I think that deep down, some of them relish that attention because remember, negative attention is where it's at).

We talk everything to death until we've just beaten the magic right out of it.

JJ Abrams has been criticized (mind-boggling, really) for his "mystery box" approach where he tries to keep as much a secret as possible. This drives people absolutely barmy. As he said recently, you find out about Khan in the middle of the movie. And if people wanted to know everything going in, there were certainly enough ways to find that out. Unfortunately, that just allowed giant asshole trolls to go out of their way to spoil the movie for people who were trying to remain spoiler-free and for that, they should be put in Internet jail for ten years. I think Internet jail should be dial-up AOL in 1996. Enjoy that, guys.

Abrams is not trying to put one over on you, you daft morons. He's not being coy because he knows how much you want it. Not every story exists only for the third-act twist, or the Big Surprise. He's actually PROTECTING your movie-going experience, that sense of wonder that you, apparently, NO LONGER GIVE A SHIT ABOUT to such a degree that you'll ruin it for others.
When I saw Star Wars (yes, I am old because I saw it in a theater when it first came out, so deal with it), I didn't know anything about it. I lived in a small town and we had one movie theater but it was Spanish at the time, so we had to go to the big city to see movies. A friend of mine had seen it and when I asked him what it was about, he said, "Some guy saves a princess." That's all I knew. Some guy saves a princess. And then I saw it, and that's when I decided that I just wasn't going to be the person who was armed with all the information going into a movie. Same with Raiders of the Lost Ark. Knew nothing. And then magic.

I got magic from the Lost finale. And the Battlestar Galactica finale. And the Breaking Bad finale. All without speculating or trying to figure out how the shows would end.

So exastra23 (whose latest response is in the comments of the last post), I will just say this.

I'm glad you liked Millennium. I hope there was some magic there for you, because that would make me very happy. But that doesn't mean we're going to agree on everything. I'm never going to think the Star Trek movies are bad. Ever. No matter how many blogs and videos you toss my way. It's not going to happen. In fact, it just reinforces how much I love the movies. I feel that way with everything I love because when I have a visceral reaction to something, I can then examine WHY I have that reaction and that makes me love the thing even more. And usually, there are similar themes. But we all have elements that we like in stories and in characters (which I keep trying to explain to you but you seem resistant) and HOPEFULLY, we don't allow anyone to shake us from that. You trying to divest me from that is kind of sad, really. Why are you so hell-bent on taking away my experience? Are people who do this just miserable? I don't think so, because I know a lot of people who do this and they seem perfectly happy in their personal and professional lives. So what is it? Why is it so important to have somebody hate something with you? There has to be a reason you (and forgive me, but you just happen to be here. I'm talking to all of the people who do this) want to change my mind.

Like I said, I wasn't trying to convince you that the movies are good. It was for the people who feel battered and weary and question whether they even like the movies anymore. What a horrible thing to do to someone, to take away that magic just because they don't agree with you. While we can go pretty much everywhere on the Internet, that doesn't mean we should. You're not required to post your dissenting opinion everywhere. Conversely, I'm not required to post a positive opinion everywhere. If I read a blog that hates something I love, the LAST thing I'm going to do is post "I loved it" in the comments. This seems like common sense to me, so I'm confused.

I hope you can see my point of view on this.

I just don't want to analyze everything to death. No wonder we're all so jaded and tired all the time. No wonder we can't live in the moment, what with the Internet part of our brains whispering, "But how is your opinion going to translate to the blogosphere? How can you write a funny tweet about this? What photo meme can you post to Facebook?"

Honestly, if you want to know how to be on the Internet, watch how Damon Lindelof constantly handles himself with grace and humor in the midst of a pointless three-year snark war against him. Anybody who can continue to create in this environment should be commended. I can't imagine what it would be like to have that kind of visibility (although I wouldn't mind giving it a shot, I'm pretty sure I'd be more on the Bob Orci side of things) and still be creative, true to who you are as a writer and to the property.

The noise of the Internet, of the fans who think they're owed something individually specific, seems to have only one goal: To drown out the creative voice. The only thing that can save it at this point is if all of these people can find their own magic again. But I think they may all be too far gone for that.


exastra23 said...

Thank you for explaining.
I do understand that “we all have elements that we like in stories and in characters”. That is not in dispute. I was not trying to hurt you, and I regret that side effect. I wanted to give you something to think about, a different way of interpretation.
I didn’t consider this as taking away the magic, but I see your point of view on this now. And part of me is sorry for that. See what you did there? You showed me a new way of looking at this. I don’t feel deprived because of it. Now I understand the psychology of people like you who choose to like new Trek. It makes a kind of sense to me now. I had good intentions.
My intent was to reveal that your impressions may be misguided.
Maybe I was misguided to think I should (or could).
I didn’t consider my attempts to divest you from that and taking away your experience as sad, but I can see how you might think so. I don’t entirely disagree with you being upset with me, but my goal was NOT malicious.
Maybe my interference is seen similar to giving spoilers that diminish an experience. In which case, I get your desire to reject that, and I can relate.
But a drug addict values their addiction experience—a deluded person enjoys their delusions. That doesn’t mean we should leave them to it without correction.
If I’m wrong about something—or might be wrong, I prefer someone tell me, show me the alternative perspective to reconcile with.
I was overly optimistic that you might care that you might be “wrong”.
You keep thinking this is all about hating. It is really about being made aware of things you might not know, and open to changing your mind.

On a separate note:
You chastise me for being patronizing, demeaning, insulting, snarky. But look at your own response to those who disagree or attack you. Dickwad. Me. Really?
You also complain that I’m defensive to the point of not seeing or refusing to see a differing view. But what about you? Kay doesn’t want to have her own cherished illusions/ conclusions—the magic—undermined.
From your vantage, there are no problems with Abrams Trek. From mine—my approach, there are plenty. If you don’t see it from where you are, then you don’t. I do see your point, that you have a right to your view. I agree with that, but not what your view sees.
I won’t apologize for that (no reason to). But neither should you.
My name is Sean Stubblefield.

exastra23 said...

You wanted the psychology of haters explained?
Here: there is no singular psychology at play. Some of us enjoy dissecting/ deconstructing the magic. Not to tear it apart, but to understand it more. Most of the cases of accused hatred ARE based on loving to hate, on tearing others down to lift themselves up. Sadly, many don’t appreciate/respect the viewing experience, and enjoy beaten the magic right out of it—either ignorantly or deliberately. Much of that hate is seeking attention. They feel power in taking power from others. There is a sense of empowerment and solidarity in “misery loves company”. Some of them actually embrace the dispute as a reason or opportunity to hate, because they are negative and miserable people. Many of these types like to stir up trouble, to kick the ant hill. Most are expressing a love for something by hating or “hating” its opposition. It isn’t meant as malicious. Their anger comes from a sense of betrayal, that something they want to love isn’t love worthy to them. A lot of us feel like that news anchor in the movie Network—we’re mad as hell and we’re not gonna take this any more. But in many cases, there is a psychological disorder on display here, when they take these disputes so personal, as a personal affront. They cannot separate themselves from the thing the love/hate.
Much of the compulsive need to post dissenting opinion—or any opinion—comes from deep narcissistic or sociopathic insecurity about not being seen and heard. Or maybe a lack of self restraint or self filter. Some of us are hoping for discussion, debate.
It might not be for ruining someone’s love, but question/explore the basis of it, to consider contrariness.
But hating is not what I’m doing. I’m not angry. I don’t hate Abrams Trek. Nor you for liking it. I simply think they are doing it wrong.