A BIG THING HAPPENED ON TV AND IT GOT HULK THINKING ABOUT SPOILERS AND THE 4 WAYS THAT PEOPLE LIKE TO CONSUME ART.
THIS ONE’S A GOOD ONE 🙂
8 thoughts on “HULK VS. SPOILERS AND THE 4 LEVELS OF HOW WE CONSUME ART”
Hulk argues the levels as a progression then claims the progression does not suggest relative merit then immediately refers to our high and low selves implying relative merit. Hulk confuses this reader.
In large part, the confusion results from the conflation of consumer and creator at the fourth level. Obviously, creators also consume and at different levels (e.g. PTA loves porn, Sandler, and “Heavyweights”), but the fourth level seems apart from the progression. Many (most?) media creators jump into the fourth level without formal development of the other three.
Masters of the fourth frequently apply their considerable techniques at lower levels (e.g. Michael Bay). Bay knows exactly how to trigger what he wants at the base level, but when he clearly attempts to operate at the other levels, he doesn’t seem to fully understand his goals much less the means to achieve them.
For those who doubt of Bay’s self-awareness, a knowledgeable critic like Ebert clearly adjusted his critiques to the different levels (opening the can of worms that is relative star-ratings and list-rankings), but when given the chance, he created largely for the lower levels with a few knowing nods to the higher ones.
Anyway, the fourth level seems more of a separate entity both by virtue of agent (consumer/creator) and application (can apply to any of the three levels).
Also, the weird part about the Babel analogy (Hulk read Ramonet?) is that there isn’t an outside force introducing division: everyone gathers on the internet, only to feebly sequester ourselves among the like-minded, refusing to acknowledge different groups: more Europe before The Great War than Babel after the scattering.
Reblogged this on dan-harris.net and commented:
I AGREE WITH FILM CRIT HULK. THIS ONE IS A GOOD ONE.
I read this article several days ago. Last night, I watched Upstream Color, My wife, bored and distracted, got up and left part-way through and asked if I was enjoying it. “On some levels, yes,” was my response. So, I liked the movie, but I’m not sure why I liked the movie.
As soon as the credits began to roll, I realized three things: 1) Shane Carruth makes interesting films. 2) Shane Carruth’s name appears many times in his movies’ credits. 3) Not only did FILM CRIT HULK just write an article that spoke to the inability of most people to understand and articulate their feelings towards a film, but it just happened to me!
Help! Why did I enjoy this film?
HI THERE! FIRST OFF – SOME BIAS: SHANE IS A FRIEND AND HULK AND HE HAVE RULE ABOUT SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE, BUT QUITE HONESTLY, HULK LOVES THE MOVIE TOO. THE THING ABOUT SHANE CARRUTH IS THAT HE DOES MAKE MOVIES THAT AIR ON THE MORE CEREBRAL SIDE. THIS IS OKAY. CINEMA IS A SPECTRUM AND THERE IS PLENTY OF ROOM FOR FILMS JUST LIKE THIS. SO A GOOD DEAL OF CARRUTH’S FILM’S ARE ABOUT “FIGURING OUT THE PUZZLE” SO TO SPEAK OF WHAT YOU ARE ACTUALLY SEEING, BUT THEY ARE SO DENSE AND PACKED WITH THEMATIC INFORMATION THAT THERE IS A LOT TO GET OUT OF IT TOO. IT DOESN’T QUITE MANIPULATE YOUR EMOTIONS, BUT IT IS STILL RATHER EMOTIONAL IF THAT MAKES SENSE.
AND WITHOUT DIPPING TOO MUCH INTO EXPLAINING THE MOVIE (AS FIGURING IT OUT OVER TIME WILL BE FUN FOR YOU) UPSTREAM COLOR IS ONE OF THE BEST EXTENDED METAPHORS ABOUT TRAUMA THAT HULK HAS EVER SEEN (THE END IS ESSENTIALLY ABOUT RECLAIMING THAT SELF AND INNATE INNOCENT PART OF YOURSELF AGAIN)
Thanks for the reply.
He definitely prefers to show and not tell.
On Netflix, I believe the movie was in their Sci-Fi/Fantasy section, but partway through I was thinking it should fall under Horror. (Maybe Thriller.)
Thank you so much for this article Hulk. I am an animator of 2D characters. I feel I often go to deep into looking at art in demeritment of my craft. Perhaps behaving like I’m type 3 while still having a lot of 2
I have had the feeling for a long time that there should be a big community where everyone should try to become atleast type 3, and encourage people who spend a lot time being “fans” of something to make their own work so as to atleast shoot at type 4. I have never been able to articulate these feelings until now, and I thank you profusely for this
You think I should give it a shot creating a community that aims to do that ?
Hulk, sorry to do this but I made the comment before I read the whole thing. I was quite struck by the final conclusion, I am definitively someone who estranges himself from people who dont consume the same way I do, and I was very moved by the idea of accepting everyone, this seems bigger than me or my wishes and I would love to do that, seems like a much better aim for a community. How do you feel about that prospect? I feel I should atleast start a blog where I aim to do that with all that I’ve consumed and has affected me deeply
(Reposting this comment from Badass Digest in a “hope you see this” effort.)
When it comes to most forms of media, I consider myself somewhere between the first and second levels: I don’t yet have the intelligence to “analyze” films, TV, books, et al in the way outlined in your description of the third level, and though I’ve watched/read/interacted with enough different media to not consider myself a fully first-level media consumer, my reactions (emotional or otherwise) can sometimes fall into the first level without me ever realizing it. (I suppose I have a long way to go towards building up my intelligence in that regard. In a bit of irony, I blame the Internet at large for distracting me from that.)
One exception to the rule, and one you might find interesting, comes in the form of pro wrestling. I’ve watched the artform (and don’t let anyone ever tell you pro wrestling doesn’t count as an artform) for over fifteen years, and I can say with certainty that your four levels of media consumption match up, in a way, with the average wrestling fandom.
Level 1 – What some “smart” wrestling fans will refer to as “marks”; in other words, these fans either believe in pro wrestling as “real” or just don’t care. Either way, they have the visceral, naïve reaction to what happens on-screen.
Level 2 – I’d consider this a level between “mark” and “smart mark”; these fans know about wrestling’s scripted nature (and maybe a bit of backstage dirt), and their reaction to wrestling comes largely from knowing about it while still trying to enjoy it from the “mark” point of view.
Level 3 – The “smart mark”, or “smark”; these fans not only know about the scripted nature of the artform, but they actively analyze it from both sides of the curtain. They follow rumors about backstage happenings and try to connect them to what happens on-screen to see if one influences the other. They look for underlying “stories” to every match, characterization within feuds, in-match “psychology” (the “why” behind the actions in the ring), metaphors for different feuds/storylines, and other such analyses often considered limited to the realms of literature, film, and television. This is basically as close as anyone not working in the business can *generally* get as a fan, though some fans manage to achieve the next level strictly because they’ve studied pro wrestling long enough (e.g. famed wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer).
Level 4 – Since I’ve used your guidelines up to this point, I’d consider Level 4 the “professional” level; in other words, the people on this level have actually worked within the industry in a way other than generalized, low-level “behind-the-scenes” stuff (e.g. setting up the ring). The people on Level 4 have worked as referees, promoters, in-ring talent, writers, directors/producers (for shows such as the ones WWE and TNA produce), or any combination thereof. These people understand the what and the why of pro wrestling better than most because they’ve had a hand in creating it.
And much like your analyses of your four levels, pro wrestling also has its “rulebreakers” when it comes to these levels of fandom. A number of fans would argue that Vince McMahon himself, while ostensibly a 4 due to his status as (essentially) the head of WWE, has lost touch with the audience to such an absurd degree that he now sits on 3. As noted above, Dave Meltzer has accumulated so much knowledge about the pro wrestling world via his reporting on it for a few decades that many would consider him a 4. I’d consider myself Level 2 and leaning towards Level 3: while I have enough intelligence to analyze wrestling on a level beyond gut reactions (most of the time), I don’t consider myself smart enough to make the sort of analyses that would put me in Level 3.
(Believe it or not, columns such as yours have helped push me towards a 3, especially the one about “tangible details”.)
Then again, I’m someone who has a lot of trouble “reading between the lines”, so to speak. I don’t have the smarts to pick apart characterization and such in film, TV, et al until someone else points it out to me, so I go with a gut reaction in those cases. Wrestling utilizes “broad strokes” characterization and storytelling, which makes it easier for me to pick it apart than most other forms of media.
What would you recommend I, or someone else such as myself, do to break out of 2 and into 3 — beyond “watch more”, anyway?