“No offense to the people who spent their time writing all of that, but why? Great movie, but not deep in the slightest.”
“This was a good movie, but Christ, you people are overanalyzing this. I guarantee you the writer was not thinking as hard as you about this when he/she typed those lines.”
These two comments came from reblogs of the same Tony & Steve gifset from The Avengers, showing their argument in the SHIELD Helicarrier. One is a response to something I wrote, the other is a response to someone else’s commentary.
I think this brings up something I’ve been wanting to talk about for a while. There’s something familiar about the reactions above; they are, by and large, the general reaction to fan culture. There’s an argument thrown at nearly every fan at some point in their life which basically amounts to “I think you’re reading too much into things that aren’t really there.” Shippers particularly will probably be familiar with this phenomenon. We’ve got a prime example of that here.
“Great movie, not deep in the slightest.”
Okay, fair enough. I agree The Avengers isn’t drowning in subtext in the conventional sense. But look, hey, this is the wonderful thing: that doesn’t matter.
If it makes you feel something, then it is valid, and worth talking about. From an early age in school we are encouraged not to fall into the “real people trap”— forgetting that the characters are constructs without emotions, drives or perogatives outside of the author. But I’ve never really bought it, because fiction, all fiction, from theatre to movies to TV to books to commercials, operates on a suspension of disbelief. They only work if for the time you are watching the film, you believe that the characters are real. If a work has done that, then congratulations, it has done its job. I wrote that post, and the other user wrote their post, because we looked at the film we were being shown, and believed, and felt something, enough to feel compelled to write about it.
Plus, trying to impose a hierarchy of various works is… I’m sorry, but it’s dumb. Who are you to say what is and isn’t worthy of attention, of affection? Who are you to dictate how someone should react to what they’re being shown?
“I guarantee you the writer was not thinking as hard as you about this when he/she typed those lines.”
No, you can’t guarantee that. But you can guarantee that you weren’t thinking that hard when you were watching it. Assuming that writers put less care and attention into creating their work than you do whilst watching it is a) absurd and b) kind of insulting. Just because you weren’t thinking about things like subtext and emotional development and continuity doesn’t mean that the people making the film weren’t. In fact, you know what, I’m pretty sure they were, seeing as its the way they make a living. And just because you don’t see something doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
(Furthermore, as a side note: because the movie in question is a comic book movie, there is a wealth of backstory and emotional investment that extends beyond the movie franchise itself. These comics have been around for decades, these characters have been developing for decades, and Joss Whedon, the guy who made this film, is intimately aware of that. After all, he’s a fan himself. I’m not saying he would have agreed with what I or the other user said, but you can be damn sure he had feelings of his own when he was writing it.)
Look. Culture is there for you to engage with, whether it is through literature or art or movies or cheap novels or cartoons or reality TV, it is ALL valid. I’m not saying you should write an essay after every movie you watch, but I am saying that there is always something for you to think about, to challenge and argue with and elaborate upon. If you choose to sit back and simply consume, then that’s fine, but don’t think you’re entitled to mock people who do otherwise. I can guarantee one thing about fan culture: if we care about something, we always have something to say about it.