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09 May 2004 @ 11:50 am
The End of the Surprise Ending  
Just in case you guys missed it... *g*

Today's online issue of the NY Times features an interesting article about spoiler leakage and the effects the insatiable hunger for previous knowledge has on fannish perception as well as on the production policies of genre shows.

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/05/09/arts/television/09NUSS.html?pagewanted=1&th

Various Whedon and J.J. Abrams mentionings. Losts of pretty quotes like the following ones:



However, for television writers laboring over intricately constructed plots, spoilers can be a special torment. "They beat me up; they took my lunch money," sighs Joss Whedon, whose productions (including "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and the recently canceled "Angel") have been longtime sieves for inside information. "I tried to fight them for years, including this year. And I lost. I tried to keep Christian Kane's appearance on `Angel' a secret, and I made the cardinal mistake: I filmed with extras." Extras are on the set briefly, and once they leave there's nothing to keep them from talking about what they saw there. "The only way to rid yourself of spoilers is to try to make work that people are not interested in, and that's not a method I'm going to try," Mr. Whedon concluded.

For Mr. Whedon, the death of television surprise is the end of what he calls a "holy emotion." Surprise, he argues, "makes you humble. It makes you small in the world, and takes you out of your own perspective. It shows you that you're wrong, the world is bigger and more complicated than you'd imagined." He continued, "The more we dilute that with insider knowledge, with previews that show too much, with spoilers, with making-of specials, the more we're robbing ourselves of something we essentially need."


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Cavendishcavendish on May 10th, 2004 11:15 am (UTC)
help ...
arrgh ... this is the 3rd time I posted it (always correcting mistakes) and still is is full of them ...

well, it will have to do the way it is, but please note that it needs to be
"Whedon’s purpose for making TV" and
"the word complicated with it"

(among other things ...)

sory,

and PS.: I know that you are not in a talkative mood today but I would really like to know what you think of this :-)

F.
Cavendishcavendish on May 10th, 2004 11:52 am (UTC)
holy television ... or did I get something wrong here <i> again</i>
Hi there!

Thanks for posting the above article. Especially one part of the Joss Whedon quote you posted got me really interested:

For Mr. Whedon, the death of television surprise is the end of what he calls a "holy emotion." Surprise, he argues, "makes you humble. It makes you small in the world, and takes you out of your own perspective. It shows you that you're wrong, the world is bigger and more complicated than you'd imagined."

I think this is a strange and noteworthy view on TV (art and the function of art in a society in general ) that is proposed here, though not necessarily one clearly put:

TV, he says, “takes you out of your own perspective”. This point is reminiscent of rather left wing views which had criticised television (or any mass produced art) for doing the exact opposite: To rather not disturb you, because if disturbed, you might begin to ask questions, begin to think or do other unpleasant things.
Whedon’s approach may thus be pretty revolutionary: Using surprise” as a means of showing you that life is “more complicated than you'd imagine” would, I think it, rather disturb you, and because generally people do not really like to be disturbed, tv-shows that genuinely aim at this can (at least if you accept this argument) never be as successful as shows that do not. (Hence, accepting this line of thought, also the cancellations)

Whedon’s purpose for making TV would be a didactic one: To change the viewer, to give him a new, a different perspective

But to which aim, one may ask! Whedon again provides an answer: To make you “humble”. To fill you with a “holy enmotion”.
Whereas the first thought stuck me as rather aiming at enlightenment of sorts, and seemed to be rather left wing, this strikes me odd. Lets forget about the religious wording for a moment (strange for a atheist though), and look at the idea: Art that gives you a notion of s.th bigger than you, s.th. that makes you small: In short a glimpse of the sublime. The Alps. A cataract. A very romantic notion. The famous “child’s sense of wonder”.

But wait: The sublime may be called many things, but I have never associated the word complicated with it. Nor unpredictable. Angel is not representing anything sublime, neither is Buffy or Firefly. No, the world according to W. is not awe-inspiring, it is, and this is an understatement, complicated. There are no easy solutions in Whedon’s Universe.

But how complicated is the world: I guess this is the main question here, and the answer given will be decisive for evaluating the role of Art and television Whedon proposes: Either the world is more complicated than people with readymade solutions (politicians, priests and alike folks) want us to believe and we should rather question anyone who offers simple or simplistic views of the world and an easy solution to problems. Or the world is so big and complicates that you can not understand it in general and so we better trust our leaders who know better!

What will it be, Mr. Whedon?

F.

Bimo: DRD_bewarebimo on May 11th, 2004 01:09 am (UTC)
Re: holy television ... or did I get something wrong here <i> again</i>
Somehow I knew that the mentioning of the words "television" and "holy emotion" in the very same sentence would cause an interesting reaction from you. I greatly enjoyed your cultural/drama theory approach to Whedon's statements and I'm really looking forward to discuss it on Wednesday :-)

Oh, and don't worry about the multiple postings. I, too, have cursed the lack of a proper editing option for comments on more than one occasion ;-)