You know that friend of yours who wants to tell you about a new movie, and you ask them not to, but they insist what they’re describing isn’t important to the plot, even though it’s a shot by shot description of the ending? Do you have a friend like that?
I have a friend like that, and when he’s not around, I have the internet. Boy does the internet love ruining movies.
Let me put this very simply: I really enjoyed The Dark Knight. It was by far one of the best films I’ve seen in years, and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone on that, so naturally, I’m excited to see The Dark Knight Rises. But lately I can’t visit a blog, go to a news site, or even glance at my Facebook feed for two seconds without somebody posting a picture from the movie or describing scenes in intricate detail.
The coverage has been ridiculous. Day after day there are stories about costumes, set pieces, vehicles, casting choices, and locations, and the film nerds eat it up, never satiated with how much they know about the movie. It’s become so ubiquitous that I have to avert my eyes every time they show another picture. No, I don’t want to know what Bane’s makeup looks like, I didn’t even want to know that Bane was in the film. This is a serious issue people!
Now perhaps you think I’m being too much of a purist or a neurotic, but consider this: there is so much information online that I can imagine viewers bringing a clipboard to the movie to make sure everything they read about is there. “There’s the costume – check. There’s that scene from the trailer – check. There’s Anne Hathaway in leather – check.” (I’ll be honest, seeing the last example didn’t bother me that much.)
Audiences are deconstructing the film before even seeing it. I can appreciate piquing your interest with tidbits of information, but no film has ever been enhanced by knowing about it beforehand. The idea is to watch the movie in its linear assembled form. That’s what story telling is, so if you want to get the most out of your Dark Knight Rises experience, it’s best to simply let Christopher Nolan tell you the story. Trust me, he knows what he’s doing.
Now I have a very cynical theory as to why people are reaching for so many details. You see, The Dark Knight was an incredible film. It was so good in fact, that audiences (myself included) have a hard time seeing how Nolan can improve upon it, but that’s just it. All those people overindulging in revealing tidbits are subconsciously destroying their own movie-watching experience. They don’t want it to be as good, so they won’t let it be as good. How can you enjoy a film when you know so much about it? Every new detail acquired destroys a little more of the surprise, which is partially where a film’s power comes from, and by knowing its secrets, its twists and turns and visions, we feel like we have taken away some of that power.
Sure, that last paragraph was a little dramatic, but do you do this with other arts? Are you desperate to know what font the new Jonathan Franzen novel is in? Do you want to hear random base chords from the upcoming Arcade Fire album? Is it essential to read exactly how many bubbles there are in Dale Chihuly’s latest glass installation? (A weird example.) No, you don’t need or want to know any of these things, so stop doing it with The Dark Knight Rises.
I realize people will argue that the production is releasing these details to generate buzz, and that sopping them up is only natural, and in a way, that’s completely right. But does it really take the power of an overactive marketing department to make you want to see The Dark Knight Rises? Isn’t it enough to know that the movie merely exists, and will be out soon? That’s all I need.
There are blogs I’ve temporarily stopped reading because they are showing too many pictures. There are Facebook friends whose status updates no longer appear in my news feed because of their incessant reporting. And in rare moments of frustration, I’ve even thought of keeping a roofie next to my computer, so if I accidentally see something from the film, I won’t remember anything. (That’s what they do for prostate exams!)
So please internet, stop reporting so much on The Dark Knight Rises. You can see it when it comes out. Go report on something else, like the latest Katherine Heigl film. I hear she plays a bounty hunter!