I’m not seeing the new Avengers movie this week. I haven’t even seen Black Panther yet. And it’s not because I’m just too hipster to see the thing that all my friends like, it’s because I have a major balance disorder and I have learned my lesson about what I can and can’t see in movie theaters. The answer is mostly can’t. You don’t want to know how many times I was sick in the five days after The Last Jedi–and sure, yes, we later figured out that I probably had either very persistent food poisoning or a stomach bug that I managed to pass on to zero of the people I cooked for that night, but honestly, the first several times? surprised no one. Because balance disorder. Even when the balance disorder is well under medication control, the things I can see in the theater are the things that people tell you are not important to see in the theater. The things where the spectacle is not the point. The things that are not packed with fast-cuts and panning and awe-inspiring camera angles.
(Speak not to me of Arrival. NO.)
So: theaters. Not for me. I know people who go internet silent for a day, two days, even a week, to avoid spoilers on a movie they’re not going to have a chance to see right away, but honestly: that is not feasible. I have not seen Black Panther yet. Sure, if it was vital to me, I could pirate a copy. A better solution is to form a different relationship with spoilers.
Because…sure, yes, it is nice to be able to let a story unfold without knowing where it’s going. It is. I recently watched Brigsby Bear (at home, streaming on my TV), and if you can watch that without spoilers, I recommend it; it’s not that it’s thoroughly unpredictable, but having it unfold organically added to my experience, I think. (Mark Hamill is great in it.) But I watched it with someone who had seen it before, and I will happily watch it again; if it wasn’t worth watching again, it wouldn’t really be worth watching. Because most stories have been told in some form already, and the question is, how will the details work this time. How will the experience of it be.
Which is not to say that I think you should go out of your way to spill the details of a brand-new book or movie to those who haven’t read or seen it; you notice that I’m fairly careful about that in my posts here. I know that a lot of people don’t have the attitude I do, and that’s okay. But…I don’t have a lot of choice. And I like where I’ve ended up with that. I’ve made a virtue of that necessity, rather than railing against it. I’m still looking forward to seeing Black Panther. Being the last one on my block to see a thing has its perqs; having a phalanx of friends I could turn to and say “I got to the episode that’s Amethyst’s origin story!!!” when I was watching Steven Universe was a lot of fun.
And I’m not really the last one on my block. This week someone else got to Amethyst’s origin story and wrote to me. A couple weeks ago, a different friend did. Today I read a Moliere play for the first time. When I read Middlemarch there was the entire horde of Middlemarch fans ready to squee and welcome me in; when I mentioned it in a recent book post, a local friend said “OH FINE YOU’VE CONVINCED ME” and I expect that when she gets to it I will get email from her. My best girl friend from college hasn’t gotten there yet, but maybe when her youngest leaves for college I’ll get an email that says, “Dear Marissa, I have just finished Middlemarch. OMG YOU WERE RIGHT.” Because you’re never actually the last one on your block to get to it, and hearing something something Dorothea something is not the same thing as reading it.
So yeah, I’ll probably find out sometime this week that the Infinity War was the friends we made along the way, and that’s fine. It really is the journey. And when it’s not, I don’t want to go on that trip anyway.