I recently introduced a friend to the Lizzie Bennet Diaries, and she loves it, as she should. As she’s become a real fan, I’ve been able to also watch her appreciation go through these three stages, as I also did.
When you first discover movies and TV and all the other media which give you a form of escapism through a story, you just get caught up in it and enjoy it for what it is. You have a difficult time discerning actors from characters, tend to be ignorant of the deeper aspects behind it and of the process of creating it, but you love it because the story feels real to you and you take it as seriously as you ever will.
This is, by the way, exactly what happened to me with MMOs. In City of Heroes, my first MMO, I was so involved I did all kinds of silly things I don’t do anymore.
As your love for this delves deeper, you get interested in what else goes on. You become interested in the actors and their work, in the writers and their work, in the choices made by directors. In games you become aware of technical aspects or min maxing, or features. You’re not simply immersed in a world anymore, because you’re uncovering the working process behind it.
It’s a kind of loss of innocence, and a kind of cynicism develops as you better understand that these things are very much created. And that sometimes the things you love were just marketed to you, or that the people who created it were only motivated by making money, or that the actors aren’t actually like the characters they portrayed. It’s the realization that it’s not real.
The third stage is more like achieving an informed opinion. It comes from realizing that not all the things made to make money are bad, and that there really are quality products out there, made with love and dedication. The knowledge of the creation process helps you appreciate the actually good projects and products, and better understand what the creators actually want to communicate to you through their creations.
Sometimes I don’t want to spoil the things my friends enjoy. When someone tells me “Oh man, Tokyo Drift was a beautiful movie” I feel bad saying “Actually no, it’s mostly garbage.” I feel like a judgmental bastard destroying people’s dreams.
But I think, overall, it’s worth it. There’s no need to be a dick about it, and there’s no need to be hipster about things, and we all do need to understand that some people just like different things… but this is sort of what education is for. It’s to free you from limited understanding of the world. It may hurt a little at first, but the knowledge you gain helps you protect yourself against being taken advantage of in your ignorance.
It’s like realizing that the world isn’t run by gods and having your worldview shattered… but the reality of physics and science and all these ways we try to understand the world is, in its own way, beautiful.