(Podcast version: https://swarthynerd.com/the-benefits-of-fresh-eyes-ep-119)
Recently, I’ve been watching gameplay streams of Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War and Fire Emblem: Thracia 776 by new players. As a fan of both games, it was interesting seeing their first experience as they reminded me of when I had first gotten into the Fire Emblem series nearly fifteen years ago. Admittedly, I was quite jealous of their fresh experience; something I’ll never have again.
At the same time, I decided to watch a few classic films that I’ve never seen. These films were Full Metal Jacket, The Big Lebowski, Sixteen Candles, Beverley Hills Cop, Ferris Buller’s Day Off, and The Breakfast Club to name a few. All greats that millions already seen, however, I’ve just now discovering them. Hell, there are countless popular media pieces I’ve yet to experience that everyone praises. I have a few reasons for that.
For video games, I simply didn’t have the funds to buy new consoles (and if I did, I decided to use the money to travel). For movies and TV shows: either they didn’t draw my interests, or I didn’t care. When it came to anime, it was a nightmare to access a series before streaming services like Crunchyroll existed. You could go to hell if you wanted me to buy a volume of an anime series that only contained three episodes on a disc for $100+ back in the day.
(Thank God for torrents services dedicated to anime)
As I grew older, branched away from my media comfort zone (anime), and became more involve with the Swarthy Nerd Podcast, and this blog, I’m starting to go back and view movies that I never watched in the past.
As my podcast co-host The TV Guru always tell me, I do have a few golden advantages that comes with not watching these old movies before:
- Because I’m watching these movies years after they were release, I am not blinded by the bias of nostalgia that most fans have who can’t let go of the past.
- Most of my takes on the media I’ve never seen prior are fresh and different from most others. I bring something special unlike most others.
- Veteran fans will be interested in what I have to say as a newcomer (until I start to completely tear apart their favorite film)
That said, this brings us to the topic of this post: Fresh Eyes: Experiencing New Media For the First Time. We’ll discuss how and why being new to a piece of media years after its release can have its benefits in terms of fan discussions. However, as a counter, we’ll also go over how there are flaws of waiting too long to consume older media.
PART 1: THE BENEFITS OF FRESH EYES
As a newcomer to older media, you have a few advantages that seasoned fans don’t have. The obvious one is being that you’re having that new, first-time experience that long-time fans will never have again – no matter how many times they try with their select favorite. While they’ve been spoiled, you haven’t. Therefore, you can make remarks on certain unfolding events, create predictions, and give personal first-timers insight during your journey. It’s fun to be either proven right or wrong about your predictions and have people react to them.
For example, when I was watching The Breakfast Club, I made a rather wild prediction that Claire/The Princess was going discover Alison/The Basket Case hanging herself from a stall in the girls’ bathroom given Alison looked mental.
Can you blame me? I mean, look at Alison! She appears as if she’s one of those weirdo, possibly autistic white girls with no friends who smells like boiled hotdog water and flaming hot corn chips (she clearly don’t take care of her hair). Hell, maybe she got bullied by some popular girls and that made her withdraw from the school’s society. Dudes ask her out, but it’s either as a joke or they wanna brag about how they were able to rail the weird girl. Therefore, Alison winds up hating herself even more to the point of offing herself (in my head, of course).
Obviously, I was wrong about my predictions about Alison wanting to off herself. It was Brian/The Brain who wanted to end it all. All because he got a bad grade once and doesn’t have the balls to tell his parents that they can’t project their views they have about how he should be as a man onto him.
(But hey! At least I was kinda right about one of the kids wanting to kill themselves!)
A second benefit of having fresh eyes towards older media is that you may discover things that the vets may had not catch or will never catch without your input. This can come from you injecting your own past experiences dealing with media you’ve already consumed or from education. From this, you could teach others something new or give them an original insight that they would never have before.
You may understand how framing works as well as why directors place characters in a certain position in the frame in film. From there, you can educate those who don’t know the power of character position in frames and what the director is trying to tell the viewer. If you’re musically incline and have knowledge within music theory, you can give insights on why the music composer wrote the movie’s theme song in a certain key signature. You can even joke a bit by saying something like “The key signature of Axel F (the theme song of Beverly Hills Cop) is in the key of F Minor as a play on his name!” (funny enough, the key of F Minor is describe as a key to describe death and loss.
Remember: Axel F’s went to California to solve the mystery of his friend’s murder). For those gifted in the visual arts, you can explain how characters wearing certain colors give hints on their personality or how colors are used to give insight on the scene. Your gift can help those appreciate their favorites a lot more.
Finally, the last benefit of being new to a form of old media is that you can invoke feelings of nostalgia within older fans as you discuss your fresh experience. As you discuss your viewpoints and impressions, there’s a chance you’ll encounter a fan commenting on their own experiences, how it made them feel years or even decades ago and show their appreciation that something they loved has a new fan.
Going back to my statements of watching newcomers play older Fire Emblem games, people in the comment were talking about how certain scenes, story-beats, and reveals made them feel on their first playthrough. The streamer would leave his or her remarks with the viwers responding back.
You often see this reaction with older people when young people review older media on social media. If a 20-something is watching an older film from the 80s or 90s, you’ll see those who grew up in those decades reflect on how simple life was back in the day. You might have a person comment how they remember watching said 80s or 90s film at the theater with their girlfriend who later became their wife.
There are many benefits with having fresh eyes towards older media ranging from invoking nostalgic feelings when talking about it with older fans to bringing new views to the table that others may not have.
However, what happen if you’re trying to enter a fandom of an older media piece way too late? What if you try to get into something old only to find countless spoilers online? Let’s answer those questions!
PART 2: The Flaws of Fresh Eyes
One of the most fatal flaws of having fresh eyes when consuming older media late in the game is that you could wind up entering a dead or dying fandom. There are media that are evergreen; thus, they’re blessed with being timeless. However, some media don’t have those blessings – especially within the anime fandom with seasonal viewership having the possibility of killing an anime fanbase.
Let’s take the When They Cry franchise as an example. Before it had its recent renaissance and revival thanks to Higurashi Sotsu/Gou, the Umineko on Stream and Ciconia no Naku Koro Ni, the When They Cry fandom was dead (or at the very least, inactive) Sure, we had some minor Higurashi and Umineko material and news from 07th Expansion for the hardcore fans to enjoy, but nothing major that would generate new interest or fans. If the renaissance didn’t happen, the When They Cry fanbase would have died out.
Second, when it comes to consuming older media, you do risk being spoiled; either by accident or by some cornball asshole on purpose who think you should had consumed it when it first came out (regardless of accessibility and level of obscurity). While some iconic spoilers can’t be avoided and have entered the mainstream conscious, your best bet to avoid spoilers for older media is to – and I know it’s hard for most of you guys – stay the hell off the internet or avoid searching for that media online.
Finally, the last flaw of coming into a media late in the game is that you’re too late. Meaning, everyone has covered every topic in terms of analysis, and discussion. People moved on to other things. Nobody cares about it anymore. Your input won’t mean shit. It’s over. Therefore, it is always good to strike while the iron’s hot. Be the master of timing in that regard.
You have to move on to something new, Firefly fans.
Does it matter the time of when you consume media in any point of your life? Well, I say if you’re doing it for yourself and your own personal enjoyment, no it doesn’t. You can partake in indulging in something within the arts whenever you feel like it. It’s better late than never as they say. Some may joke and dog on your for being late. However, even if you’re late to the party, some may chat and pick your brains about the media you saw.
When it comes to timeless classics, there will always be people talking about them, so don’t dread about not seeing it sooner. Now, that said, some media is best consumed while the iron is hot: meaning you should do your best to participate while it’s still popular (don’t be one of these cornball hipsters who only mess with art when it’s no longer popular).
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A Black nerd empowerment podcast where Black nerds (well, all nerds, but Black first and foremost) can get together and talk freely about nerd culture while also acknowledging systematic white supremacy and racism in the nerd and Eastern otaku fandoms. Every Tuesday join @superlostfan108 and @weebtrashyuki the founders of http://www.swarthynerd.com for there very informative podcast talking about all things nerdy. No desperate boot licking self hating negus who were never accepted by Black norimes for being too weird for their love of anime and comic books by the Black community allowed. Go drink bleach.
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