socimages:

The folly of small sample sizes; using The Tortoise and The Hare to teach research methods.
Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, by Zach Weiner.

This is relevant to my research methods

socimages:

The folly of small sample sizes; using The Tortoise and The Hare to teach research methods.

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, by Zach Weiner.

This is relevant to my research methods

Dear Princess Twilight,
Missing you already, and I hope you’ll be back soon. Things are definitely looking up for me here at Canterlot High. But I know I still have a lot to learn about friendship. Hope you don’t mind if I write to you for advice when I need it.
Your friend, Sunset Shimmer.

gemslashstashcache:

pukakke:

"Oh, I know it will be great and I just can’t wait, to see the person you are together! 

Happy Pearlmethursday, everyone! Especially gemslashstashcache!! 


Aaah awww!

Bless ♡♡♡

mogaiteens:

pybooty:

Coming Out Simulator 2014 - a half-true game about half-truths

Coming Out Simulator is exactly what it says it is. It’s a free-to-play conversation simulator based on/inspired by the personal story of coming out of its creator, Nicky Case.

There’s no easy answer in Coming Out Simulator, no optimal ending to be achieved if you collect the requisite amount of points. Case based the game off a pivotal moment in his own life as a teenager. And just like in real life, the moment of “coming out” in this game is traumatic no matter which way the player chooses to approach it.

Ultimately, it’s liberating as well. But that’s not what the brunt of the experience playing Coming Out Simulator is actually like. […] There’s power in exploring a fantasy like the one in Mass Effect 3, but there’s also power in being reminded that “coming out” the way one does in that game is a fantasy, and a pretty far-fetched one for many people who faced far more difficult challenges when they actually came out.

Coming Out Simulator is a game about that second experience. It’s a painful one. But it’s also a necessary one, that I think more people who’ve never had to struggle with their own sexual identity should see for themselves. 

this game made me cry omfg

This game is very well made and I highly suggest it, but keep in mind that it is highly emotional and often hits seriously close to home.

technicolor-says:

whammy5:

Fundamentals: Stop Suspending Disbelief

princealigorna:

whammy5:

princealigorna:

froborr:

At Anime USA last week, I mentioned in one of my panels—might have been Analyzing Anime 101, might have been Postmodern Anime, I don’t remember which and haven’t gone through the video yet—that “the concept of suspension of disbelief needs to die in a fire.” This, of course, led to some people coming up to ask me about it after the panel (because for some reason when I ask for questions at the end of a panel, nobody raises a hand, but the minute I start packing up, I’m swarmed with people wanting to ask questions).

Here is the problem with suspension of disbelief: it makes you less literate. I mean, it’s also fundamentally impossible, but even attempting it makes you less literate, because what suspending disbelief means is trying to forget that a story isn’t real. Which means, in turn, giving up the ability to recognize it as a deliberately constructed artifice, created by actual human hands for an audience of actual people, within the context of a culture.

That is a huge thing to ignore. It means losing all ability to examine technique, to think about the difference between portrayal and endorsement, to question a work’s positionality. By pretending that a work is a window to another world, you erase the distinction between author and historian. Everything that happens in a story is a choice by its storyteller; there is no otherworld where events proceed independently, and of which the storyteller is an objective, uninvolved observer dutifully recording the deeds of others.

Consider, since it is the main subject of this blog, a cartoon. To suspend disbelief is to pretend that its characters are real people within a real world that obeys consistent rules, which is anathema to a cartoon like, say, Ren and Stimpy or Adventure Time, which depend on constantly twisting and warping settings, situations, and characters to surprise and entertain. To suspend disbelief is to ignore the animation itself, to refuse to examine how art styles, distortions of characters’ bodies, framing and camera angle shape the story and convey the priorities and interests of its creators.

This is not to say that we should never consider the diegetic; that’s as absurd as only considering it, as “suspension of disbelief” demands. It is possible to talk about a character, to discuss their motivations and experiences, to have an emotional reaction to them, without pretending that they’re real. People have emotional reactions to the imaginary all the time, from anxiety about imagined scenarios for an upcoming task to sexual fantasies to happy daydreams. I can say, “Batman is driven by survivor guilt over his parents’ death,” or “Twilight Sparkle is prone to anxious overreaction,” and it remains true, even though the characters in question do not exist. Indeed, it is because they are characters, and thus far less complex and self-contradictory than real people, that I can make such straightforward claims about their behavior with little expectation of contradiction.

There is thus nothing at all to be gained from the suspension of disbelief. It does not add anything to the appreciation or exploration of narrative, and cuts off access to much. It is yet another example of how badly the emphasis in general education on basic literacy gets in the way of full literacy.

Yeah…I see what they’re going for, but I’m gonna disagree. Without suspension of disbelief, there can be no sense of IMMERSION, which I think is very important in  narrative. Unless you’re pulling some hyper-experimental like Burroughs or Gertrude Stein that intentionally calls out its own artificiality and commands that you look at its structure and technique in a critical fashion, the majority of narratives are written with the intention of trying to make a world of its own, with an internal consistency and continuity, that the reader can be ABSORBED INTO. And then from there, you can twist their emotions and expectations.

But in order to do that, you have to first make the reader/viewer believe that the world and the characters are credible, at least within the parameters you’ve established for it.

This is more of a critique of “suspension of disbelief” as an analytical tool and people’s obsession with when doing analysis. We can talk about immersion, I think, without requiring a suspension of disbelief. We can talk about whether the rules are consistent (although to be honest I’m of the opinion that consistency and continuity are also things way to overemphasized in analysis sometimes) without saying “ignore that this is a human-crafted piece of art and therefore we can not consider in anyway how decisions of the person(s) producing a work may effect what is presented to us.”

At least that is what I’m getting out of this, and it’s a very important point. It’s especially important if we want to start talking about issues of race, sex, gender, etc. where, say, the lack of diversity in such things is a deliberate choice of the authors in some shape or form. Yet people try to hide behind “suspension of disbelief” or some asinine related claim like “historical accuracy” (which is most of the time based more on false perceptions of history anyway) to avoid such talk.

In other words, what benefit is added to the discussion of fiction by telling telling people to forget that fiction is, at the end of the day, a human creation, and all that goes with it? Everything that would be important to talk about in regards to why or why not a piece of fiction “works” does not require us to act as if we are literally watching through a window to another realm. In fact, the discussion would probably be enhanced by recognizing the artificialness of everything.

This sounds an awful lot like formalist apologetics to me. Which is fine if that’s the discipline you’re most comfortable with. Certainly, discussion of formal aspects like sound design, animation quality, voice acting, music, etc. can  be perfectly interesting discussion. But I’ve always found pure formalism to be a limited and even sort of useless form of criticism when it comes to talking about anything beyond surface detail.

But that’s just me. And like I said, formalist qualities can add a lot to a wider overall critique of a work. For me, what matters most is my level of emotional investment, and that’s often tied to how believable I find a piece to be, along with how much its flaws pull me out of the experience. The formal aesthetic choices DO play a part in that though. If something is off with pacing, or voice acting, or there’s an animation error, that can pull me out of the story as much as characters acting OOC, or poor continuity between episodes, or the tone of the episode being off or combative, or the moral being craptacular (especially as it relates to the previous events).

I’ll just point you to go read froborr's direct response to you as I think it gets at the point better than I could because trust me, my reasons for not exactly caring for suspension of disbelief have nothing to do with “formal” structure stuff cause I don't know crap about that sort of thing XD.

But for me, it basically amounts to “my emotional investment doesn’t require me to suspend disbelief, nothing about emotional investment seems to require suspension of disbelief, and “suspension of disbelief” has been used to justify some pretty shitty and problematic opinions”.

Alllllrighty, I read the first post on this this morning and it stuck with me a bit. And now I’ve read the follow-ups, and I’m gonna say now what I wanted to say then:

I think this is a big ol’ load of bullhonky.

Read More

I’m feeling like at this point I might be over my head in this debate simply because I’m not a literary theorist at heart? Like, I have no real idea what formalism is except at a broad level.

So…I’ll just pass this on to froborr and bow out cause obviously I’m not sure if I’m contributing anything at this point without possibly missing something or misstating something ^_^”“

princealigorna:

whammy5:

princealigorna:

froborr:

At Anime USA last week, I mentioned in one of my panels—might have been Analyzing Anime 101, might have been Postmodern Anime, I don’t remember which and haven’t gone through the video yet—that “the concept of suspension of disbelief needs to die in a fire.” This, of course, led to some people coming up to ask me about it after the panel (because for some reason when I ask for questions at the end of a panel, nobody raises a hand, but the minute I start packing up, I’m swarmed with people wanting to ask questions).

Here is the problem with suspension of disbelief: it makes you less literate. I mean, it’s also fundamentally impossible, but even attempting it makes you less literate, because what suspending disbelief means is trying to forget that a story isn’t real. Which means, in turn, giving up the ability to recognize it as a deliberately constructed artifice, created by actual human hands for an audience of actual people, within the context of a culture.

That is a huge thing to ignore. It means losing all ability to examine technique, to think about the difference between portrayal and endorsement, to question a work’s positionality. By pretending that a work is a window to another world, you erase the distinction between author and historian. Everything that happens in a story is a choice by its storyteller; there is no otherworld where events proceed independently, and of which the storyteller is an objective, uninvolved observer dutifully recording the deeds of others.

Consider, since it is the main subject of this blog, a cartoon. To suspend disbelief is to pretend that its characters are real people within a real world that obeys consistent rules, which is anathema to a cartoon like, say, Ren and Stimpy or Adventure Time, which depend on constantly twisting and warping settings, situations, and characters to surprise and entertain. To suspend disbelief is to ignore the animation itself, to refuse to examine how art styles, distortions of characters’ bodies, framing and camera angle shape the story and convey the priorities and interests of its creators.

This is not to say that we should never consider the diegetic; that’s as absurd as only considering it, as “suspension of disbelief” demands. It is possible to talk about a character, to discuss their motivations and experiences, to have an emotional reaction to them, without pretending that they’re real. People have emotional reactions to the imaginary all the time, from anxiety about imagined scenarios for an upcoming task to sexual fantasies to happy daydreams. I can say, “Batman is driven by survivor guilt over his parents’ death,” or “Twilight Sparkle is prone to anxious overreaction,” and it remains true, even though the characters in question do not exist. Indeed, it is because they are characters, and thus far less complex and self-contradictory than real people, that I can make such straightforward claims about their behavior with little expectation of contradiction.

There is thus nothing at all to be gained from the suspension of disbelief. It does not add anything to the appreciation or exploration of narrative, and cuts off access to much. It is yet another example of how badly the emphasis in general education on basic literacy gets in the way of full literacy.

Yeah…I see what they’re going for, but I’m gonna disagree. Without suspension of disbelief, there can be no sense of IMMERSION, which I think is very important in  narrative. Unless you’re pulling some hyper-experimental like Burroughs or Gertrude Stein that intentionally calls out its own artificiality and commands that you look at its structure and technique in a critical fashion, the majority of narratives are written with the intention of trying to make a world of its own, with an internal consistency and continuity, that the reader can be ABSORBED INTO. And then from there, you can twist their emotions and expectations.

But in order to do that, you have to first make the reader/viewer believe that the world and the characters are credible, at least within the parameters you’ve established for it.

This is more of a critique of “suspension of disbelief” as an analytical tool and people’s obsession with when doing analysis. We can talk about immersion, I think, without requiring a suspension of disbelief. We can talk about whether the rules are consistent (although to be honest I’m of the opinion that consistency and continuity are also things way to overemphasized in analysis sometimes) without saying “ignore that this is a human-crafted piece of art and therefore we can not consider in anyway how decisions of the person(s) producing a work may effect what is presented to us.”

At least that is what I’m getting out of this, and it’s a very important point. It’s especially important if we want to start talking about issues of race, sex, gender, etc. where, say, the lack of diversity in such things is a deliberate choice of the authors in some shape or form. Yet people try to hide behind “suspension of disbelief” or some asinine related claim like “historical accuracy” (which is most of the time based more on false perceptions of history anyway) to avoid such talk.

In other words, what benefit is added to the discussion of fiction by telling telling people to forget that fiction is, at the end of the day, a human creation, and all that goes with it? Everything that would be important to talk about in regards to why or why not a piece of fiction “works” does not require us to act as if we are literally watching through a window to another realm. In fact, the discussion would probably be enhanced by recognizing the artificialness of everything.

This sounds an awful lot like formalist apologetics to me. Which is fine if that’s the discipline you’re most comfortable with. Certainly, discussion of formal aspects like sound design, animation quality, voice acting, music, etc. can  be perfectly interesting discussion. But I’ve always found pure formalism to be a limited and even sort of useless form of criticism when it comes to talking about anything beyond surface detail.

But that’s just me. And like I said, formalist qualities can add a lot to a wider overall critique of a work. For me, what matters most is my level of emotional investment, and that’s often tied to how believable I find a piece to be, along with how much its flaws pull me out of the experience. The formal aesthetic choices DO play a part in that though. If something is off with pacing, or voice acting, or there’s an animation error, that can pull me out of the story as much as characters acting OOC, or poor continuity between episodes, or the tone of the episode being off or combative, or the moral being craptacular (especially as it relates to the previous events).

I’ll just point you to go read froborr's direct response to you as I think it gets at the point better than I could because trust me, my reasons for not exactly caring for suspension of disbelief have nothing to do with “formal” structure stuff cause I don't know crap about that sort of thing XD.

But for me, it basically amounts to “my emotional investment doesn’t require me to suspend disbelief, nothing about emotional investment seems to require suspension of disbelief, and “suspension of disbelief” has been used to justify some pretty shitty and problematic opinions”.

froborr:

princealigorna:

froborr:

At Anime USA last week, I mentioned in one of my panels—might have been Analyzing Anime 101, might have been Postmodern Anime, I don’t remember which and haven’t gone through the video yet—that “the concept of suspension of disbelief needs to die in a fire.” This, of course, led to some people coming up to ask me about it after the panel (because for some reason when I ask for questions at the end of a panel, nobody raises a hand, but the minute I start packing up, I’m swarmed with people wanting to ask questions).

Here is the problem with suspension of disbelief: it makes you less literate. I mean, it’s also fundamentally impossible, but even attempting it makes you less literate, because what suspending disbelief means is trying to forget that a story isn’t real. Which means, in turn, giving up the ability to recognize it as a deliberately constructed artifice, created by actual human hands for an audience of actual people, within the context of a culture.

That is a huge thing to ignore. It means losing all ability to examine technique, to think about the difference between portrayal and endorsement, to question a work’s positionality. By pretending that a work is a window to another world, you erase the distinction between author and historian. Everything that happens in a story is a choice by its storyteller; there is no otherworld where events proceed independently, and of which the storyteller is an objective, uninvolved observer dutifully recording the deeds of others.

Consider, since it is the main subject of this blog, a cartoon. To suspend disbelief is to pretend that its characters are real people within a real world that obeys consistent rules, which is anathema to a cartoon like, say, Ren and Stimpy or Adventure Time, which depend on constantly twisting and warping settings, situations, and characters to surprise and entertain. To suspend disbelief is to ignore the animation itself, to refuse to examine how art styles, distortions of characters’ bodies, framing and camera angle shape the story and convey the priorities and interests of its creators.

This is not to say that we should never consider the diegetic; that’s as absurd as only considering it, as “suspension of disbelief” demands. It is possible to talk about a character, to discuss their motivations and experiences, to have an emotional reaction to them, without pretending that they’re real. People have emotional reactions to the imaginary all the time, from anxiety about imagined scenarios for an upcoming task to sexual fantasies to happy daydreams. I can say, “Batman is driven by survivor guilt over his parents’ death,” or “Twilight Sparkle is prone to anxious overreaction,” and it remains true, even though the characters in question do not exist. Indeed, it is because they are characters, and thus far less complex and self-contradictory than real people, that I can make such straightforward claims about their behavior with little expectation of contradiction.

There is thus nothing at all to be gained from the suspension of disbelief. It does not add anything to the appreciation or exploration of narrative, and cuts off access to much. It is yet another example of how badly the emphasis in general education on basic literacy gets in the way of full literacy.

Yeah…I see what they’re going for, but I’m gonna disagree. Without suspension of disbelief, there can be no sense of IMMERSION, which I think is very important in  narrative. Unless you’re pulling some hyper-experimental like Burroughs or Gertrude Stein that intentionally calls out its own artificiality and commands that you look at its structure and technique in a critical fashion, the majority of narratives are written with the intention of trying to make a world of its own, with an internal consistency and continuity, that the reader can be ABSORBED INTO. And then from there, you can twist their emotions and expectations.

But in order to do that, you have to first make the reader/viewer believe that the world and the characters are credible, at least within the parameters you’ve established for it.

I want to thank you; you’ve done an excellent job expressing what we might call the “official line” on suspension of disbelief.

That said, here’s why you’re entirely wrong.

Without suspension of disbelief, there can be no sense of IMMERSION

This is false.

I’ve seen “immersion” used in two distinct senses here. The first is in the sense of engagement, that is, emotional investment in the characters and events portrayed. This does not require suspension of disbelief at all. For example, I presume from your blog description you’re a fellow MLP fan. I know I and other people I’ve spoken to are able to simultaneously care about the characters and story while also appreciating the animation, guessing at the intended moral, and so on, all of which require not regarding the show as a window into another world, but instead as a conscious artifice created by people. Since we’re clearly not suspending disbelief, yet still engaging with the story and characters, it follows that you don’t have to suspend disbelief to engage with the show.

The second sense I’ve seen it used in is absorption, that is preoccupation with the work as an emotional and aesthetic experience to the extent that one momentarily forgets oneself and one’s surroundings. However, the fact that this same experience can occur with non-narrative forms such as instrumental music demonstrates that it is not a product of suspension of disbelief either, since with music there’s nothing to suspend.

he majority of narratives are written with the intention of trying to make a world of its own, with an internal consistency and continuity, that the reader can be ABSORBED INTO.

And this is why the concept of suspension of disbelief needs to die in a fire, because it encourages (no offense) nonsense like this.

It is simply, straightforwardly false that the majority of narratives are written with this intention. For starters, this idea of creating a “world of its own” wasn’t even articulated until Tolkien introduced the concept of “secondary creation” in his “On Fairy Stories,” in 1947. Seven thousand years of written stories and plays before anyone suggested that the point of writing could be to create and depict another world. The overwhelming majority of narratives were written long before that point; if so many were written with that intent, how come no one mentioned it for literally the entirety of recorded history?

And it’s not even true of modern narrative, because it’s not like Tolkien suggested this and everybody instantly agreed this was the One True Purpose of Story. In fact, if you talk to most creators they’ll agree that consistency and continuity are usually not their first concern—that they mostly pay attention to such things because they matter to fans, but that they’re usually not willing to let them get in the way of a good story. And even that’s only true of a very small band of genres—I assure you very few writers of sitcoms or romance novels care much about creating another world.

Unless you’re pulling some hyper-experimental like Burroughs or Gertrude Stein that intentionally calls out its own artificiality and commands that you look at its structure and technique in a critical fashion

Or, you know, Aesop’s fables, what with deliberate artificiality to convey a moral. Or Shakespeare’s plays, with their frequent asides to the audience. Or almost any musical ever, with their elaborate musical numbers that are clearly not actually happening from the characters’ point of view. Or any episode of MLP with Pinkie Pie in it. Or… well, you get the idea.

And then from there, you can twist their emotions and expectations.

Well, no, you can’t, because that requires acknowledging that there is a creator and an audience, which you can’t do if you’re suspending disbelief.

But in order to do that, you have to first make the reader/viewer believe that the world and the characters are credible

No, you just need to get them willing to invest in the characters. I don’t need to believe that talking brightly colored miniature horses are plausible in order to care about their adventures and enjoy them; the human capacity for empathy turns out to be very flexible. We are fully able to invest emotionally in things we know aren’t real.

I think the concept you might be feeling toward here is not credibility (because, again, there’s nothing remotely credible about cartoon ponies) but rather resonance—I need to be able to look at a character and recognize them as a character, with traits and foibles and layers, so that my empathy triggers and I start ascribing emotional states to them. But again, this doesn’t require believing for a second that they’re real or even possible, just being willing to play along.

I responded to princealigorna’s thing earlier. This is a better response. I’m going to go with this instead.

princealigorna:

froborr:

At Anime USA last week, I mentioned in one of my panels—might have been Analyzing Anime 101, might have been Postmodern Anime, I don’t remember which and haven’t gone through the video yet—that “the concept of suspension of disbelief needs to die in a fire.” This, of course, led to some people coming up to ask me about it after the panel (because for some reason when I ask for questions at the end of a panel, nobody raises a hand, but the minute I start packing up, I’m swarmed with people wanting to ask questions).

Here is the problem with suspension of disbelief: it makes you less literate. I mean, it’s also fundamentally impossible, but even attempting it makes you less literate, because what suspending disbelief means is trying to forget that a story isn’t real. Which means, in turn, giving up the ability to recognize it as a deliberately constructed artifice, created by actual human hands for an audience of actual people, within the context of a culture.

That is a huge thing to ignore. It means losing all ability to examine technique, to think about the difference between portrayal and endorsement, to question a work’s positionality. By pretending that a work is a window to another world, you erase the distinction between author and historian. Everything that happens in a story is a choice by its storyteller; there is no otherworld where events proceed independently, and of which the storyteller is an objective, uninvolved observer dutifully recording the deeds of others.

Consider, since it is the main subject of this blog, a cartoon. To suspend disbelief is to pretend that its characters are real people within a real world that obeys consistent rules, which is anathema to a cartoon like, say, Ren and Stimpy or Adventure Time, which depend on constantly twisting and warping settings, situations, and characters to surprise and entertain. To suspend disbelief is to ignore the animation itself, to refuse to examine how art styles, distortions of characters’ bodies, framing and camera angle shape the story and convey the priorities and interests of its creators.

This is not to say that we should never consider the diegetic; that’s as absurd as only considering it, as “suspension of disbelief” demands. It is possible to talk about a character, to discuss their motivations and experiences, to have an emotional reaction to them, without pretending that they’re real. People have emotional reactions to the imaginary all the time, from anxiety about imagined scenarios for an upcoming task to sexual fantasies to happy daydreams. I can say, “Batman is driven by survivor guilt over his parents’ death,” or “Twilight Sparkle is prone to anxious overreaction,” and it remains true, even though the characters in question do not exist. Indeed, it is because they are characters, and thus far less complex and self-contradictory than real people, that I can make such straightforward claims about their behavior with little expectation of contradiction.

There is thus nothing at all to be gained from the suspension of disbelief. It does not add anything to the appreciation or exploration of narrative, and cuts off access to much. It is yet another example of how badly the emphasis in general education on basic literacy gets in the way of full literacy.

Yeah…I see what they’re going for, but I’m gonna disagree. Without suspension of disbelief, there can be no sense of IMMERSION, which I think is very important in  narrative. Unless you’re pulling some hyper-experimental like Burroughs or Gertrude Stein that intentionally calls out its own artificiality and commands that you look at its structure and technique in a critical fashion, the majority of narratives are written with the intention of trying to make a world of its own, with an internal consistency and continuity, that the reader can be ABSORBED INTO. And then from there, you can twist their emotions and expectations.

But in order to do that, you have to first make the reader/viewer believe that the world and the characters are credible, at least within the parameters you’ve established for it.

This is more of a critique of “suspension of disbelief” as an analytical tool and people’s obsession with when doing analysis. We can talk about immersion, I think, without requiring a suspension of disbelief. We can talk about whether the rules are consistent (although to be honest I’m of the opinion that consistency and continuity are also things way to overemphasized in analysis sometimes) without saying “ignore that this is a human-crafted piece of art and therefore we can not consider in anyway how decisions of the person(s) producing a work may effect what is presented to us.”

At least that is what I’m getting out of this, and it’s a very important point. It’s especially important if we want to start talking about issues of race, sex, gender, etc. where, say, the lack of diversity in such things is a deliberate choice of the authors in some shape or form. Yet people try to hide behind “suspension of disbelief” or some asinine related claim like “historical accuracy” (which is most of the time based more on false perceptions of history anyway) to avoid such talk.

In other words, what benefit is added to the discussion of fiction by telling telling people to forget that fiction is, at the end of the day, a human creation, and all that goes with it? Everything that would be important to talk about in regards to why or why not a piece of fiction “works” does not require us to act as if we are literally watching through a window to another realm. In fact, the discussion would probably be enhanced by recognizing the artificialness of everything.

Bored, so ask me questions about stuff. Maybe about anime; I could go for some questions about anime.

froborr:

At Anime USA last week, I mentioned in one of my panels—might have been Analyzing Anime 101, might have been Postmodern Anime, I don’t remember which and haven’t gone through the video yet—that “the concept of suspension of disbelief needs to die in a fire.” This, of course, led to some people coming up to ask me about it after the panel (because for some reason when I ask for questions at the end of a panel, nobody raises a hand, but the minute I start packing up, I’m swarmed with people wanting to ask questions).

Here is the problem with suspension of disbelief: it makes you less literate. I mean, it’s also fundamentally impossible, but even attempting it makes you less literate, because what suspending disbelief means is trying to forget that a story isn’t real. Which means, in turn, giving up the ability to recognize it as a deliberately constructed artifice, created by actual human hands for an audience of actual people, within the context of a culture.

That is a huge thing to ignore. It means losing all ability to examine technique, to think about the difference between portrayal and endorsement, to question a work’s positionality. By pretending that a work is a window to another world, you erase the distinction between author and historian. Everything that happens in a story is a choice by its storyteller; there is no otherworld where events proceed independently, and of which the storyteller is an objective, uninvolved observer dutifully recording the deeds of others.

Consider, since it is the main subject of this blog, a cartoon. To suspend disbelief is to pretend that its characters are real people within a real world that obeys consistent rules, which is anathema to a cartoon like, say, Ren and Stimpy or Adventure Time, which depend on constantly twisting and warping settings, situations, and characters to surprise and entertain. To suspend disbelief is to ignore the animation itself, to refuse to examine how art styles, distortions of characters’ bodies, framing and camera angle shape the story and convey the priorities and interests of its creators.

This is not to say that we should never consider the diegetic; that’s as absurd as only considering it, as “suspension of disbelief” demands. It is possible to talk about a character, to discuss their motivations and experiences, to have an emotional reaction to them, without pretending that they’re real. People have emotional reactions to the imaginary all the time, from anxiety about imagined scenarios for an upcoming task to sexual fantasies to happy daydreams. I can say, “Batman is driven by survivor guilt over his parents’ death,” or “Twilight Sparkle is prone to anxious overreaction,” and it remains true, even though the characters in question do not exist. Indeed, it is because they are characters, and thus far less complex and self-contradictory than real people, that I can make such straightforward claims about their behavior with little expectation of contradiction.

There is thus nothing at all to be gained from the suspension of disbelief. It does not add anything to the appreciation or exploration of narrative, and cuts off access to much. It is yet another example of how badly the emphasis in general education on basic literacy gets in the way of full literacy.