Thursday, September 1, 2011


     It is an exciting time to be alive. With the internet and an increasingly global, shared culture there is a chance today to be a part of world-wide conversations. There is still the local community level of things—with the shared experiences, places, and events—to which most of the population of the world is limited. However, there is the reality that just about anywhere in the world some people have shared experience through the stories in books, movies, television and news that enables us to have things to talk about. And we can truly engage in conversations around the world.

     Is that why we are increasingly “spoiler” obsessed as a culture? Or is it that the stories we tell have reduced in quality?

     It used to be that great stories transcended their plots. You can still enjoy the great works of literature and art if you approach them with an idea of what they are about. No one thinks to preface a conversation about Hamlet with a “spoiler” warning. We all know that everyone dies in the end. Still, the great stories are enjoyable time and time again. Even plot dependant genres like the Whodunit have great works that transcend the “twist” ending and are worthy of reading for the mechanics and artistry with which they are told. “Murder on the Orient Express” or “The Red-Headed League” spring to mind.

     OK, there is a need for conversations about the stories of our culture to start out cautiously for a year or so after they are introduced. People need a chance to catch up. But somewhere along the way we have gone overboard in treating stories as simple plot and surprise delivery devises and have forgotten that they are so much more. They inform, stimulate thought and truly shape the culture that produces them.

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