Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Respect the ending

Completing a series is a tough thing. Not that I know firsthand, but let's be real, whether it be a books, TV or film, it's rough. No matter how you slice it, you cannot make everyone happy. It's a shame really, but it's true. I'm sure there is someone on this planet that thought the ending to Harry Potter sucked (whoever that person is, we will never be friends). From what I can tell most people were not happy with how the last Hunger Games book ended, I have yet to meet someone who liked the Dexter finale and on the flipside of that I haven't met someone who disliked the Breaking Bad finale.

I recently completed another series, the Divergent books. For those of you who haven't finished the third book, Allegiant, which came out last week, you can keep reading, I will not spoil anything. For those of you who haven't read them at all, why are you wasting your time reading this blog when you could be reading those? Come on now. Go buy them, it takes like 5 seconds if you have Kindle. 

Anyways, once you finish, I highly recommend you read a blog the authorposted on her site. It explains, not defending, her choice to do certain things and not others. There is one line that she said that struck me. "You are allowed—encouraged!— to continue to feel however you want to feel, or think however you want to think, about the ending, no matter what this blog post says. I’m the author, yes, but this book is yours as well as mine now, and our voices are equal in this conversation." I respect what she says, but I disagree.

In my opinion, the creator of whatever I'm consuming has the right to do whatever they want with the characters they've created, and I have to have, at the very least, respect for what they've done. Now, does this mean I can't have an opinion on how something ends? Of course not. But the way I look at it, this is their creation. I don't think the book is mine as well as hers. Yes, I have read it, obsessed over it and analyzed it. But I haven't lived with it, breathed it, thought about it endlessly, as I'm guessing she did. 

I think consumers can get just attached as the author, they can have a sense of belonging to the character, but ultimately I believe the characters live with the creator for the rest of their lives. Susanna Collins, Veronica Roth, especially JK Rowling, all have more ownership over their characters than me the consumer. And because of that fact, I have decided to on more occassions than not, to respect how they end something.

This rings even more true when I discover the ending of the series was the decision from the very beginning. If the writer (because in every creative thing, books, TV, film; it's the writer who makes it great, unless Meryl Streep is in it) decided from the beginning they were going to kill this character or not kill that character, then I have even more respect for that decision. Because it means they didn't allow the audience to alter the story they wanted to tell. And to me, that is one of the most important qualities in storytelling. 

There are shows where the writers actually have zero clue where the next season is going when they write a finale, where they make their characters get in the worst possible holes and then some how dig them out, but aren't quite sure how they'll do it. Actually, that is the case with most television shows. But there are some, like Mad Men, that have creators already picturing the finale scene. Or books like Game of Thrones, where the author lets the characters tell the stories and he just goes along for the ride. I can't fathom what that's like, not knowing how you're already five-book series (and most likely seven-book series) will end. No matter, the point is, when the creator of something has a clear track for a character, I've decided you've got to respect it.

I hated the Dexter finale, I thought it was dumb, unbelievable and pretty much a disservice to the series. However, I have a small amount of respect for it because the producers and the writers decided this was the way to end Dexter's journey. Just because it wasn't the finale I wanted doesn't mean I should totally rip it apart and yell at the creators. It only gives me a little right to do that. It's much easier for me to come to peace with how something ends when I come to the conclusion that the creative minds behind this medium wanted it this way, so I'm cool with it.

Essentially, I believe that it is exciting to consume a book, a TV show and a movie and I'll have my opinion to how it ends, but ultimately it doesn't matter. The creators actually don't care what we think, most of the time. I think some of them are grateful to the success (like Breaking Bad) but I don't (and truly hope) that success of something doesn't alter the way it should truly end. As long as the quality of the show, the quality of the characters and it's still downright entertaining, then how they end should be up to the creators. 

So, when you're watching a series finale (like HIMYM in the near future) or you're reading Allegiant (wait, you're telling me you are still reading this and you haven't started Divergent yet? Get ready to feel stupid when everyone is talking about it) keep in mind the creator(s) have ended it the way they want to and we should respect that. And though it may not always be a happy ending, and though it may not be the ending you had in mind, it is the ending they wanted. Let's just hope it's a satisfiying one. 

With that I say... Live long and prosper.

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