The Audience's Responsibility - Suspension of Disbelief

24/01/2017

 

In today's internet driven age we see movies come under the microscope more than ever. Once a film is released, and the reviews have come out then the legions of movie fans across the world get together online (and in person) to discuss what they liked and what they didn't. It is inevitable that in any of these conversations you'll hear at some point, from somewhere a criticism in some lapse in logic or other aspect that is cause for the film in question to be irrevocably tarnished. We've all heard one of these complaints are some point in time. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was panned by critics and audiences alike. One of the main talking points (SPOILER ALERT) was the moment that turned Batman from Superman's enemy to ally. The exchanged of "You have to save Martha", "Why did you say that name?!" has been ridiculed far and wide. I, myself, am not a fan of the moment. But have we, as an audience, forgotten the reason we watch movies in the first place?

 

Primarily, we as an audience watch movies to escape our world and to be entertained. A key step in that is a suspension in our disbelief in order to be captured and engrossed into the world we are watching. It is this that I think is increasingly forgotten by the movie discussing public. It is not a new phenomena that films are not completely air-tight in their stories. One could point to the final act of Star Wars. Why did the Death Star not just blow up the planet that was blocking their view of the Rebel base located on the moon on the other side? It is a lapse in the logic of the world that has been created for us and could be considered "story-breaking" and yet the film is one of the most beloved of all time. Indeed, it is only in recent years that people have made that observation. So are people getting pickier?
It would seem that with the internet making it easier to discuss films across more people, and even our ability to "citate" with screenshots, etc, that we as an audience are becoming more demanding. No more is it enough to just "go with it", to accept that Superman for some reason would refer to his own mother by her first-name, or that there were untold reasons that the Death Star couldn't just blow-up the planet first.
However, even with this logic flaw pointed out, Star Wars isn't suddenly considered to be a much worse film so it can't just be a sign of the times either.
I think that as much as we as an audience need to remember to suspend our disbelief, that suspension needs to be earned. We don't complain about the death star, because by the time we hit that part of the film we're so engrossed in the compelling, well-told story that we don't notice "hey, they could have just blown up the planet". Conversely, many would say they were not engrossed in the story of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, so when those fateful lines hit the reaction is "Seriously?".

What do you think? Are we less forgiving as an audience than we used to be or is the criticism warranted, and just more readily available in this internet age?

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