If you have not noticed, the stories in the media tend to serve us the same tropes over and over again. There are no original stories, but the packaging we’re served can be quite amusing. This isn’t a bad thing. If you go back to ancient traditions, stories were meant to circle the same intentional lessons – but it was the storytellers who were most important in bringing them to life and keeping people interested. That part seems to be the problem these days. It’s why I’ve come to enjoy being what I call “media adjacent.” It’s become much more enjoyable watching how other people talk about media.
People have been focused on Game of Thrones over the past month and a half. Scrolling through Twitter I could see all of their collective cheers and jeers. Following the reactions was liking following the pattern of a traditional story, including the point of despair where everyone thought all was lost. Of course, that breaking point was Daenerys making a sudden heel turn – after being the great hope for viewers who forgot her father was the Mad King and that her first act of power was burning a rape victim. Apparently the finale made up for that action by being altogether fine. But you should have read the reactions in articles and blog posts and everything before that point.
The more interesting commentary, however, was for Avengers: Endgame during the first weekend of release. People weren’t talking so much about the movie as they were condemning people for talking about the movie. Never before have I seen so much literary output on the value of keeping a lid on spoilers or, conversely, the value of spoilers in a world of triggers. Both have their points, whether it be the element of surprise being important to the writer’s intent or the fact that people with legitimate trauma might appreciate not walking into a theatrical minefield. Of course, the approach to spoilers that walks away with the trophy for most passionate, well-articulated, but also truly awful take was one that likened being mindful of spoilers to consent culture. After all, consent culture is concerned about respect for other people. It’s about asking before acting. Of course, this also likens people who spoil things to rapists. Somehow the act of talking about the events in a story is something akin to an act of power, violation, and violence. It was a pretty offensive way to talk about not wanting to know how the white people beat the big purple guy and bring their friends back. And, really, those discussions lasted longer than the ones about the movie itself, which is pretty telling about the actual value of the movie in people’s eyes.
Which is why I need to key in on the next big cultural media property. Not to watch it, mind you. There’s no point in that. We’ve all heard that story before. I’m much more content with hearing what people have to say about it, how they process it, and also how they want to shame people who want to enjoy it in a way that they themselves don’t. It’s really the most unpredictable and original (so far) story that I have access to without it being actual drama in my real life.