This has nothing to do with Sidekicks!. Promise.
No, what I’m upset about are reviewers who feel compelled to tell people that a “twist” exists in the plot of the book/movie/video game they are reviewing. It doesn’t matter if they reveal what the actual twist is. Once they’ve mentioned it, any halfway clever person’s brain will be on the lookout and will figure it out long before the artist intended. This severely diminishes the story’s impact, and as a side effect, the overall enjoyment of the thing.
HEY, I’M ABOUT TO DISCUSS THE PLOT TWIST FROM A 14 YEAR-OLD MOVIE THAT HAS BEEN WIDELY PARODIED IN THE MASS MEDIA. IF YOU’RE SENSITIVE TO THAT SORT OF STUFF, THAN, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, DON’T READ ANY FURTHER. TO PREVENT MYSELF FROM VIOLATING MY OWN RULE, I’M NOT GOING TO NAME THE MOVIE HERE. BUT IT STARRED BRUCE WILLIS.
Here’s an example. When The Sixth Sense came out, a co-worker of mine gushed to me about the movie. I waved her away saying, “I’m looking forward to seeing it. Please don’t tell me what happens.”
“Ok! I won’t! “she assured me, “BUT OMG THERE’S A TWIST IN THE STORY THAT YOU ABSOLUTELY WILL NOT SEE COMING!”
Guess what? Within minutes of Dr. Crowe meeting little, “I see dead people” Cole, I figured it out. Each scene just reinforced my theory. When the big reveal came at the end, while my wife was gasping with her hands over her mouth, I was sinking into my seat, sighing with disappointment. I would have liked to have been surprised.
Granted, my example didn’t involve a professional reviewer, but I’ve encountered the behavior dozens of times since then. When I read a review, I’m looking for consumer advice. Is the item worth my time and money? I don’t give a shit about how smart the reviewer fancies themselves. But now something that was key to the enjoyment of the thing has been taken away from me for the sake of the reviewer’s ego and laziness. Maybe they didn’t spoil the entire thing, but now my brain is looking for it. I don’t want my brain to be looking for it. I want it to be reading/watching/playing free of expectations.
I’m bringing this up now because I’m currently trying to enjoy a particular piece of pop culture. I’m not going to name it. For the most part, it’s brilliant. But my enjoyment has been curtailed by a reviewer who told his audience to expect a twist. I’ve only just begun the thing, but already my brain has two compelling theories for the “twist”. I’m not so thick that I probably wouldn’t have started putting pieces together as the story went along, but being primed from the get-go has altered how I’m experiencing everything.
Hey, reviewers, the whole point of a twist is surprise. We’re grown ups. We can handle surprises. Odds are, we enjoy them. Yet when you tell us there’s going to be a surprise, there is no more surprise to be had. You’ve just killed the artist’s intent. So, do you’re damn jobs without ruining the fun for the rest of us, will ya?