3 min read

Wolmania - Friday, January 7, 2022

Happy new year. So far it seems a lot like the old year, but I'm optimistic that things are going to turn around soon. In the meantime... #content:

My Batman Confession

My Batman Confession

I am strongly anti-spoilers for all creative works. Think of it this way: if hypothetically spoilers were harmless (or even good), then you could get that spoilery experience the second time you experience something. And if that something is not good enough to want to experience it all over again but this time with full knowledge of what you're in for, then you probably didn’t miss much the first time when you saw it spoiler-free. But art is often good in part because it surprises you - and embracing spoilers ensures that you get, at best, an attenuated version of that surprise the first time you see/hear something. So better to go in with as little information as possible - and then get whatever benefits accompany prior knowledge when you come back to it again.

I know a lot of people think of film criticism or book reviews as consumer reports for the creative arts - an answer to the question of where you should direct your hard-earned money and your limited time/attention. And there’s a place for that. I know it's very uncool these days to think that ratings, thumbs up/down, Rotten Tomato scores, etc., are good things, because they boil down a complex, thoughtful, creative endeavor into a good/bad binary, but as far as answering a simple question like "should I see this movie?" I think these are valuable tools. And for me, that's the absolute maximum amount of information I want to have about something before I check it out myself.

(Movie trailers and the like are interesting because they are theoretically sort of ancillary pieces of the art itself - in an ideal world they would reflect the artist's/artists' intention and serve as complements to the main event, providing additional color without spoiling the experience. In rare cases that's even true. But generally in practice, raw capitalism seems to dictate that movie production companies' marketing wizards seemingly go out of their way to give away crucial or delightful aspects of the work in the hopes that .05% more people will want to see it after knowing there's, like, a talking shark in it. And don't get me started on the weird thing where they put a 3 second ad-for-the-trailer immediately before the trailer.)

But just because we should know little or nothing about an artwork before we experience it ourselves doesn't mean nobody should be delving deeply into spoiler territory. We just shouldn't be engaging with that commentary until after we've self-spoiled by checking out the artwork ourselves. Art criticism is really much more rewarding, and much more interesting, when the audience has already experienced the art being critiqued. So it's about time we adjusted our cultural norms accordingly.

Oh right, this essay started out as a link to someone else's newsletter. I have to say, in this case it seems like David Friedman has only himself to blame. He should have bought the novelization and read it after seeing the movie, like Ryan North did. But with that said, this was clearly a time before people understood that spoilers are a total bummer, so I’ll give him a pass on this one.

In summary: no spoilers, please.

Item 2: a list

Popeyes Sides, Ranked:

  1. Biscuit
  2. Red beans & rice
  3. Mashed potatoes w/gravy
  4. Mac & cheese
  5. Coleslaw
  6. Cajun Fries

(List does not include regional/international sides that aren’t available everywhere, otherwise I would have to rank Cajun cheese fries fairly high up there.)

Item 3: a media recommendation

Keeping A Grocery Store Lobster As A Pet
How Is Leon?

Item 4: a photograph

Location: South Pole Telescope, Antarctica - Credit: Aman Chokshi

Photo is during a recent eclipse which unfortunately was only fully visible from planes over Antarctica. More fun photos here.

See ya!

Thanks for reading. I will write to you again next week.