Ever start reading a book and within the first few chapters you knew, just knew exactly how it was going to end? (Now keep in mind that I reserve the word hate for use with truly vile, atrocious unforgivable crimes against humanity.) I fucking hate that.
If I’m going to invest the time away from my life, my family and escape to a fantasized world to soothe my imagination’s longing, is it really too much to ask that I not know the ending until I get there? Surprise me. Startle me. Confound me. Hell, confuse me. But don’t patronize me by catering to the lowest common denominator.
Maybe it’s the industry being terrified that trying new things will lower the bottom line. Maybe it’s that our culture is too inundated with the familiar that we as a whole, don’t want to be challenged. Are we really that enamored with predictability? If we switch on the TV we’re pacified with the umpteenth season of the Bachelor/ette. Is anyone surprised that in the group of attention hungry dude/dudettes there is at least one asshat? (at the very least) Do we really believe that true love will develop through televised group dating? Hey! That one Kardashian’s sister’s baby daddy still wont marry her and he’s still acting like a dick! Shocker.
…and the crowd goes ambivalent.
I just read today that a major production company is planning on making a prequel to a much beloved movie without even asking for any input from the book’s original author himself. Why? It’s quite simple, M O N E Y. Story apparently doesn’t matter. Content makes no difference at all. Let’s just take a name that we know is already successful and familiar to everyone, use and abuse it and shove it down everyone’s throats hoping they’ll eat it up. Unfortunately a lot of folks will do just that.
That’s why I avoid mainstream entertainment for the most part. Don’t get me wrong, authors like Dan Brown are incredible. I am most definitely a big fan. Many of his books take space on my shelves. However, I personally prefer to tread into more unfamiliar waters where I have absolutely no idea what the next chapter or scene is going to bring.
I don’t need to have my fictions spoon fed to me. I don’t need every answer to every question right now Now NOw NOW! Leave a few unanswered here and there, that’s okay. That makes the story all the more enticing to me. It lingers longer in my mind with the wondering.
I like scary movies where you don’t necessarily see the monster. I don’t need to see the blood and guts in every single scene. We already know how the young couple making out in the abandoned shopping center parking lot after the dance is going to end up. I don’t even need to provide a lame description for you because you’ve seen the same scene hundreds of times. Sure, a few small details may change like the chainsaw, the axe or the mask the deranged killer is wearing. Other than that it’s the same fucking thing over and again.
Scare me with atmosphere. Make my ears shudder with unexpected sound. Let shadows hide the nightmare in dark obscurity. Leave me reaching out with the answers just beyond my fingertips. Let my imagination stir and find horror in the not knowing. That’s what really scares all of us. Isn’t it?
Sure, a well timed BOO can do the trick and shock us at the right moment. That’s all in good fun. But that’s startling, not frightening. I’m more terrified of the unknown. Why did this happen? How? What did this? Where did it come from? Puzzling for the answers. That’s the fun part for me.
The frustrating thing is that even though I knew exactly how this particular book was going to end, I read the whole damn thing. I wanted so badly to be wrong. With every turn of the page I went down my mental checklist clicking off the answers with my imaginary No. 2 Pencil on my invisible standardized test. I guess if the book had been poorly written it wouldn’t be bothering me so much.
The problem is that it was a really good book. I enjoyed it. I couldn’t put it down. Man it pissed me off! Or maybe the problem really is that I need to unseat myself from my high horse and shut my big mouth. Not every book needs to be House of Leaves or The Straw Men. It would be so much cooler though. Right?
Shutting up now.