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06 March 2007 @ 08:51 pm
Introspection on my approach to viewing  
I'm going to rewatch Maelstrom in a moment for meta purposes, but first some navel-gazing...


*frowns at notes* I think that cut tag covered the spoilers…

With Maelstrom, I broke with my usual habit of posting before I read anyone else’s thoughts on an episode. After my emo freak out last night, I needed reassurance, and I’ve been scurrying all over LJ. Fan reactions are really diverse, but it does seem like the vast majority of fans were spoiled for Starbuck’s death.

This has made me quite introspective about my own approach to shows I’m fannish about. I’m a pretty ‘hardcore’ spoilerphobe. I’ll avoid them at all cost and 95% of the time (99% until last night! *g*) I’m very, very glad I do, since I feel like I get a purer experience of the show that way and I have less time to form expectations that may be crushed, etc. Yes, I’m sure I do come across as ridiculously emo, but, *shrugs*, since I was tiny I’ve been living vicariously through fictional characters (in books, originally), but as I got older and more cynical analytical, it was harder and harder to feel that direct connection. The kind of connection that had me franticly rewriting the ending of Seven Little Australians to edit out the character death.

There are few instances when I feel so transported these days. Exceptional film will do it. Very exceptional music has been known to do it. Books far more rarely these days, sadly—though a few classics still retain their power. But my favourite shows still have that power over me—that hypnotic, sucked-in-and-away-despite myself feeling that leaves me aching for the characters I love. And it’s kind of like a drug, that feeling, the high you get, not immediately, but in the longer term, from walking the road with a character you know and love, only knowing as much as they know or as much as the creator has signalled so far.

The reason I find this addiction curious in myself is that I’m naturally an analytical person. Though it’s true I do combine that with sometimes excessive emotional sensitivity. The last twenty-four hours have highlighted to me the fact that this is slightly masochistic. Do we really need to ‘suffer’ to fully enjoy something? I know a lot of people would say no, but somehow I’m caught up in wanting that to some extent. I’m not saying that’s good or bad, it’s just… curious. And I haven’t really stopped to think about it before.

I was spoiled for Buffy’s death at the end of BtVS season 5. Only just. The day before the episode aired, my flatmate’s cousin (who should have known better given how much time she spent at our house watching the show!) spoiled me. It’s one of the rare occasions I’ve felt like punching someone. (In a movie of this event, you would have seen my fists clench at my side.) I’ve been annoyed about that ever since. Yes, it was still a fantastic episode and yes, I still teared up and felt somewhat emotionally transported. But I always wondered what that episode would have been like if I hadn’t known.

Perhaps I got some idea last night. Though I’m not comparing the two characters or the two deaths, because they’re incredibly different. I don’t think there’s any point to be made there; the circumstances in which I relate to both are different as well. But as far as plot twists go, major character death is the top of the pile, and experiencing that firsthand is worth a night’s sleep and the shedding of some tears to me.

For all the emo-ing I’ve done in the last twenty-four hours, I can’t honestly say I wouldn’t have had this experience. I thought it was an outstanding hour of television and it was certainly completely successful in blowing me away. The rarity of that these days alone makes this worthwhile.

I’m still left with the feeling that I’m a bit odd for enjoying both the visceral unspoiled emotional ride and the reflective analysis. I’ve had one half of that equation so far, with this episode, now it’s time to get to the other…

*dons meta cap and prepares to write*
 
 
Current Location: sofa of comfiness (yay!)
Current Mood: curiouscurious
 
 
 
ssmith_12ssmith_12 on March 6th, 2007 12:12 pm (UTC)
I completely agree!

100% !!

I had NO idea and I was literally stunned silent. (Quite the feat for a chatty thing like me :O)

K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Lois no morningsbop_radar on March 6th, 2007 08:45 pm (UTC)
Oh, I'm so glad I'm not completely alone!
I'm still feeling a little numb.
(Deleted comment)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Kara/Lee boxing hugbop_radar on March 6th, 2007 08:46 pm (UTC)
Mmm, it WAS! I flaked out last night midway through writing epic meta post. *still processing*
deaver: Kara Lee Hugdeaver on March 6th, 2007 05:20 pm (UTC)
As someone who avoids most spoilers like the plague (I learned my lesson with Buffy - where I heard about her death and was fairly disappointed - not that it wasn't good, it just wasn't what I had built up in my head and thus led to disappointment.) I went into Sunday's BSG with no knowledge of what was going to happen. And today, two days after watching, I am still feeling mildly like I've been punched in the gut. I doubt I would be this emotionally reactive had I been spoiled in the slightest.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Kara/Lee collapsedbop_radar on March 6th, 2007 08:48 pm (UTC)
Yes! Me too! Two days later, I still feel bruised. And I rewatched the ep last night and that was hard. I still choked up in some moments and I had to do a lot of jaw-clenching, even though I was trying to view for analysis purposes. (A little deluded--clearly I'm not quite through the shock yet!) And I really do think that I wouldn't have been this reactive if I'd be spoiled at all.
Becky: BSG Starbuckbeeej on March 6th, 2007 05:58 pm (UTC)
I knew nothing. I'd had no urge whatsoever to go looking for spoilers, and have really enjoyed experiencing the entire series completely pure. And while I was blown away, I don't think it hit me quite as hard as it did some, because I don't quite believe it. At least, I don't really believe that we saw what we think we saw. Nothing is ever exactly what it seems on this show.

Unfortunately, I've done spoiled my spoiler-free self by reading some spoilery rumors regarding the season finale. And I have no idea why, after all these months, I am suddenly so weak. ;)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Kara/Lee dreamybop_radar on March 6th, 2007 08:51 pm (UTC)
That's interesting. I totally agree that I don't think what we saw is quite what we think we saw... I'm not sure exactly what I think yet, but I think she'll be back in some way. However, I don't really have denial as a coping mechanism personally, and I just couldn't take that step back while actually watching--I DID tell myself 'this makes no sense, I'm sure she's not really dead' and I saw all the signs that left things open. But emotionally I was still in the moment.

I'm emotionally weak now--I will have to be strong with myself not to read spoilers.
(Deleted comment)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: bsg kara eeek!bop_radar on March 6th, 2007 08:53 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the heads up! Actually, that's useful, because I am so emotionally fragile regarding the show right now, if ever there's a time I'd look at a spoiler it's now. So it's better to be prepared and say 'no' in advance! *prepares to eyeflick away super-fast if necessary*
blowjobs for jesus: nonfandom rainy day bootskristiinthedark on March 6th, 2007 08:05 pm (UTC)
First, I can't wait to read your meta! As soon as a BSG ep is over, I start wondering what you'll say about it!

As for me, god, I don't know. Sometimes I think being prepared for a major event on a tv show is good for my psyche. I've been known to read the endings to books first, too, simply because I don't want to put myself into that world, only to have it hurt me (and I'm a little different from you in that books and movies - and music, to an extent - are more likely to transport me than a television show. Not always - I was terrifically wrapped up in Buffy and Angel both). That being said, I know I've told you I was unspoiled for her "death", but I don't think it made me sad when it happened, but rather touched me deeply. I really felt for her and understood what she was going through, and I guess, as crazy as it sounds, I felt happiness for her as she went into whatever she went into.

Buffy? I started watching it with the musical in season 6, so I KNEW going in she would die at the end of season 5, and it still made me cry for days. But I wasn't spoiled for the finale, nor the ending to Angel, and I am so glad, especially with Angel. That was just brilliant. I cried so much!
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Kara/Lee dreamybop_radar on March 6th, 2007 09:00 pm (UTC)
I fell asleep mid-meta, little k! It's EPIC. *stares at it* I think I'll have to post it in parts. (Oh to be able to precis like you!)

Thanks for sharing your response--that makes a lot of sense to me. You're a Kara-pov person, and it sounds like you were 'in' her journey. Rewatching last night I really saw how beautiful her death was. That gorgeous shot of her child-self smiling! And the light and explosions. She was radiant. But even so, most of me was still 'with' Lee screaming 'no, Kara don't leave me!'

And I really understand your point about it maybe not being good for your psyche to be unspoiled. With a fairly fragile psyche myself, I'm surprised that I'm so masochistic this way. There was a point, a very brief point, when watching BSG that night (and I really do have to emphasise that watching it alone in the dark at 2am was the worst possible way to do it--I was already overtired and emotional), where I thought it might actually trigger me into depression. Of course, I'm pretty well tuned to that stuff now, and I pulled out of that nosedive fast, but still... it's amazing how close to the 'edge' really big moments in books/tv/movies/music can take us.

The ending of Angel was one of the best things I've ever seen. I adored it and cried buckets and I thought I'd never see another show so dark... until this one.
Kate: Lee and Karamskatej on March 6th, 2007 10:36 pm (UTC)
I wasn't spoiled.

I have to say though (and don't hate me) I thought it was one of the stupidest episodes of BSG I've ever seen, and while Starbuck's death absolutely knocked me for six, I wish she'd had a better send-off.

I can't believe she's gone! BSG won't be the same without her. *kicks BSG*
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Kara/Lee dreamybop_radar on March 6th, 2007 10:47 pm (UTC)
Really?! Hee. I don't hate you--of course not. We often have different reactions. I loved it, absolutely loved it, but I had some problems with the whole 'what Kara needs to face is death' theme. Which I totally haven't got round to discussing yet in my meta post... *eyes it* Hey, you probably won't want to read that--it's long and full of praise for the ep! ;-)

BSG will NOT be the same. I still can't really believe it either.
sarmoti: BSG - Billy!sarmoti on March 7th, 2007 02:05 am (UTC)
I soooooooo agree. I really crave the full experience of a TV show, movie, book, whatever. If that means that I sometimes get punched in the gut, so be it, because the emotion of it all is what I signed up for, whether it's the happiest of joys or something really horribly painful. The best fiction makes me feel those highs and lows, but I miss out on that feeling that if I get spoiled.

As you know, I was spoiled for Kara's death, and even though I quickly learned to just accept that I was spoiled and stop being mad since there was nothing I could do to unknow it, I really wonder how I would've reacted to this episode if I hadn't known, and I sort of mourn the fact that I didn't get to experience that. So I'm trying harder than ever not to run into spoilers for the rest of the season so that I will feel the full impact of those episodes. I was spoiled for the time jump last year, so I don't want the big surprise ruined for me again!

So you can count on me for completely spoiler-free BSG banter. Everyone else can have their fun, and we'll have ours. Then after the finale we can all come together once again. :)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Kara/Lee dreamybop_radar on March 7th, 2007 02:09 am (UTC)
Ah, it's nice to know like-minded people! *sighs happily*

the emotion of it all is what I signed up for, whether it's the happiest of joys or something really horribly painful
Definitely! And the happiest and most satisfying of joys usually come after the pain.

You're right that when you are spoiled there's no point being mad about it--I've been in that position with other shows and let go of my anger and enjoyed it anyway, even if you always wonder what it would have been like.

It's not too long until the finale--we can make it that far again!! Yes, we can have spoiler-free banter! (Feel free to run my way when the cut-tags about spoilers start popping up all over LJ, as they are wont to do!)
(no subject) - bloodygoodgirl on March 7th, 2007 02:15 am (UTC) (Expand)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Lee is emo!bop_radar on March 7th, 2007 02:22 am (UTC)
For me, it's the fact that I've read so much that my standards are really high, and I read so critically that unless writing is exceptional, I always have some emotional distance between me and the text. I do think being an editor has played a part in that distancing--but I don't want to say that editing has ruined my reading because that's not true either. It's more that I developed a critical brain about writing to the point where editing was the logical next step. And along the way, I lost the ability to sink into a story, any story. Thankfully there are some books that still make my heart soar--and I reread them annually to reassure myself of that fact.

With film/tv, I have no clue how it's made. I don't know the technicals and I'm quite happy not knowing. I don't know how to write for tv. And while I'm happy analysing it, you'll probably notice that my analysis comes from a place of: what effect did this have on me the viewer? Not a 'if I was a director, I'd do it X way' place.

It's worth it! ;-)
(no subject) - bloodygoodgirl on March 7th, 2007 02:36 am (UTC) (Expand)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Karabop_radar on March 7th, 2007 02:54 am (UTC)
Wow, that's a great example of the type of film knowledge I don't have! And yes, it's exactly that--you get jolted out of the moment, even though you're still intellectually engaged, emotionally there's a distancing.
(Deleted comment)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!bop_radar on March 9th, 2007 04:36 am (UTC)
Hee! Well, I read (and write) a great deal of meta and everyone seems to think she'll be back in some way too. Which I do too, but I found this death tragic regardless. I suck at denial! Personally I hope she's not a Cylon, but we'll see...

My take on previews is that they are always misleading and I'm glad I don't usually have to suffer through them. I think that's why I was all 'GRR! What are you doing before my eyes you abomination?' in response.
(Deleted comment)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Kara glowybop_radar on March 9th, 2007 10:09 pm (UTC)
That's interesting--we couldn't have had more different reactions. I felt that the death was signalled from so early in the episode that I started grieving even before the death.

Though I agree that the preview jolted me out again. But that aside, I think the episode deliberately didn't allow for any catharsis because they don't want us to have that yet. I suspect that's completely deliberate--they want us to feel startled and 'left hanging', wondering what's really happened to Starbuck.
daybreak777daybreak777 on April 9th, 2007 10:45 pm (UTC)
Your post is so interesting that I’ve been thinking about it for a while. I have been unspoiled for everything ever up until I don’t know, summer of ’06. That’s a lot of unspoiledness. The only time I regretted being unspoiled was for LDYB2. I don’t think I ever got over that little plot twist.

*Spoilers for Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, the whole series*
*
*
You made me think back on Buffy season 5. Hmm. I was unspoiled for that whole series but I don’t even remember that death. There were so many other shocking moments in Buffy. Like Buffy’s first death and the vague panic when Angel says, “I have no breath.” I remember that like it was yesterday. And it was a new show then, so who knew what might happen? Tara’s death was shocking because I knew she was really dead. And Willow killing Warren. I still can’t quite believe that happened. I see it in my head but Willow! I liked season one Willow in her fuzzy sweaters. She was the girl next door.

So I knew Buffy’d come back so her death at the time wasn’t that shocking to me. I must be a TV cynic. Title characters in the fifth season don’t just die unless it’s the series finale. I don’t even need to be spoiled to know that. As for Maelstrom, I did let myself believe for a while that Kara really wouldn’t come back. Just in case. Ronald Moore has proven himself crazy enough to me that I don’t know what he or the writers might do or when. And honestly, I had to steel myself to it if it was true. Expect the worse. So you’re not the only one (apparently we’re not the only two) who gets emo over TV. I can still feel the gasp in my throat when Willow killed Warren. That kind of reaction is what good TV is all about.

I am still unspoiled for the series finale of Angel. Crazy, I know but I’m saving it.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Lois searchingbop_radar on April 10th, 2007 12:44 am (UTC)
Oh, I'm glad you found the post interesting!

There were so many other shocking moments in Buffy.
I definitely agree there! The first Angelus arc, when she killed him... and it's interesting that different moments hit different viewers more powerfully than others. I wasn't very affected by Tara's death at all, but Buffy's mother's death was a real shock, not in terms of it happening but in the way it was explored. And honestly, yeah, I was shocked by Buffy's S5 finale death. I didn't know if the show had another season, and I thought it was going to end there (and I kind of would have loved it to--because what an ending!). It had a huge impact on me--mainly because of the reaction of all the other characters.

honestly, I had to steel myself to it if it was true. Expect the worse
Yup, me too! I like feeling/expecting the worst and not being distanced and cynical about it. But it's so ephemeral an experience--it depends on the frame of mind and mood you're in while watching, the circumstances you watch under, what other shows you've seen, all sorts of things...

STAY unspoiled for the Angel finale! I was, and I'm glad I was. (But do watch it some time!)
daybreak777daybreak777 on April 10th, 2007 01:18 am (UTC)
Oh, Buffy's mom's death! *totally flashbacking*

That was kind of shocking but not really. She had 'almost' died a couple of times. And the way they did it with Buffy finding her at the end of one episode and then picking up with it the next episode, I had a week to get used to the idea. Because I knew she was dead from the moment Buffy said, "Mommy?"

Gosh, I've never taped or rewatched any of Buffy but some moments are as clear as day. I remember the lighting of the living room, the angle of Ms. Summer's body.

it depends on the frame of mind and mood you're in while watching, the circumstances you watch under

You're right. For me that happens with other shows. Yet I've watched BSG in so many moods. Sad, happy, excited, exhausted, stressed. I thought these feelings would distract me but nope. Soon as the intro comes on I'm sucked in. Few novels, TV shows or movies can do that to me anymore, where I don't check the clock, but BSG at its best can do it every time. It's like I'm not even in the living room, like I'm there. And when it goes off, I'm back to whatever I was feeling before (though now full of BSG thoughts). It's like I went to another place for a little while.

It's so cool! I can't think of another show currently running that has that effect on me. Ah, BSG.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: FNL Matt and Juliebop_radar on April 10th, 2007 02:02 am (UTC)
I knew she was dead from the moment Buffy said, "Mommy?"
*nods* It wasn't the fact of her death, because as you say it was framed so we knew in the episode before the death was explored--but I found the episode incredibly powerful. The stillness, the lack of sound, the clear bright summer light and the palpable shock in all the characters. (Xander punching the wall.) It was just so powerful. Far more powerful to me than Tara's death, which for some reason, I saw coming, but I never was that into Tara.

It's like I went to another place for a little while.
Yes, it's just exactly how you described. The BSG credits have a way of sucking me in Every. Single. Time. And sometimes the BSG universe is so bleak, I almost dread them, but then as soon as they come on, I'm mesmerised. And I end an episode overflowing with thoughts... hence my tendency to write extremely long post-episode meta and to develope insomnia in the wake of episodes.

I don't think there is another show quite as 'transportative' for me at the moment either--the closest would be Friday Night Lights. It's riveting television, but it doesn't have the epic nature or imaginative quality of Battlestar. It's a different kind of feeling, but it does mesmerise me very strongly.
daybreak777daybreak777 on April 10th, 2007 03:36 am (UTC)
Yes, it's just exactly how you described.

Exactly. I am so glad that I got an LJ. People who understand. Finally.

*hugs you*

K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Kara/Lee boxing hugbop_radar on April 10th, 2007 05:08 am (UTC)
Yup! *hugs back*