History Main / ViewersAreGeniuses

21st May '16 4:10:29 AM CassandraLeo
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** Unsurprisingly, Zappa's classmate/[[VitriolicBestBusd sometimes-friend]]/protégé Music/CaptainBeefheart created music that was at least as incomprehensible as Zappa's, not merely for the fiendishly atonal music and complex arrangements but the often surreal lyrics that often seemed to be cases of WordSaladLyrics on the surface but often turned out to incorporate {{Mind Screw}}y metaphors about things like ecology and animal welfare. Unsurprisingly, commercial success was not forthcoming.

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** Unsurprisingly, Zappa's classmate/[[VitriolicBestBusd classmate/[[VitriolicBestBuds sometimes-friend]]/protégé Music/CaptainBeefheart created music that was at least as incomprehensible as Zappa's, not merely for the fiendishly atonal music and complex arrangements but the often surreal lyrics that often seemed to be cases of WordSaladLyrics on the surface but often turned out to incorporate {{Mind Screw}}y metaphors about things like ecology and animal welfare. Unsurprisingly, commercial success was not forthcoming.
19th May '16 11:46:16 PM dspeyer
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* ''Literature/Unsong'' is full of multilingual puzzles and puns, as well as obscure trivia, history, poetry and kabbalah references. It may have an excuse: before writing it, the author surveyed his fanbase and found an [[http://slatestarcodex.com/2015/11/04/2014-ssc-survey-results/ average IQ of 139]]. Nevertheless, he's been [[http://unsongbook.com/chapter-5-never-seek-to-tell-thy-love/#li-comment-704 disappointed]] in how many references people have missed.

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* ''Literature/Unsong'' ''Literature/{{Unsong}}'' is full of multilingual puzzles and puns, as well as obscure trivia, history, poetry and kabbalah references. It may have an excuse: before writing it, the author surveyed his fanbase and found an [[http://slatestarcodex.com/2015/11/04/2014-ssc-survey-results/ average IQ of 139]]. Nevertheless, he's been [[http://unsongbook.com/chapter-5-never-seek-to-tell-thy-love/#li-comment-704 disappointed]] in how many references people have missed.
19th May '16 11:45:12 PM dspeyer
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Added DiffLines:

* ''Literature/Unsong'' is full of multilingual puzzles and puns, as well as obscure trivia, history, poetry and kabbalah references. It may have an excuse: before writing it, the author surveyed his fanbase and found an [[http://slatestarcodex.com/2015/11/04/2014-ssc-survey-results/ average IQ of 139]]. Nevertheless, he's been [[http://unsongbook.com/chapter-5-never-seek-to-tell-thy-love/#li-comment-704 disappointed]] in how many references people have missed.
10th May '16 2:33:50 PM CassandraLeo
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So you sit back and watch the ratings -- which plummet faster than a rocket propelled brick in a nosedive. What went wrong? In trying to avert making the classic mistake that ViewersAreMorons, you went too far and ended up assuming that they're ''geniuses'' instead. Of course, if you're working in a medium that doesn't need an audience of millions to be profitable, you may not care. While a lot less common than its more insulting opposite (any show without the "mass-market appeal" that the less high-brow stuff has will be ScrewedByTheNetwork without mercy), overestimating the audience can be more of a death knell than underestimating it, even without network sabotage. Remember that loading up your work with loads of obscure references solely for the sake of having them there is just pretentious. Just because your characters know who Derrida is does not make them interesting or your show any better than one that doesn't namedrop. Don't think your show/book/game is smart just because you're quoting smart people.

to:

So you sit back and watch the ratings -- which plummet faster than a rocket propelled rocket-propelled brick in a nosedive. What went wrong? In trying to avert making the classic mistake that ViewersAreMorons, you went too far and ended up assuming that they're ''geniuses'' instead. Of course, if you're working in a medium that doesn't need an audience of millions to be profitable, you may not care. While a lot less common than its more insulting opposite (any show without the "mass-market appeal" that the less high-brow stuff has will be ScrewedByTheNetwork without mercy), overestimating the audience can be more of a death knell than underestimating it, even without network sabotage. Remember that loading up your work with loads of obscure references solely for the sake of having them there is just pretentious. Just because your characters know who Derrida is does not make them interesting or your show any better than one that doesn't namedrop. Don't think your show/book/game is smart just because you're quoting smart people.



However, in the eyes of artists and some fans, this is a JustifiedTrope. There are many instances where a film with dense references and information provide an UnconventionalLearningExperience, introducing high concepts in a dramatic, entertaining fashion. This empowers readers and viewers and makes them interested and curious in exploring offbeat ideas that they otherwise might have felt they are not educated to understand and accept, since many of them have internalized the ViewersAreMorons ideas and reflexively feel some movies or books are not for them. For instance, Joseph Campbell's Heroic Journey concept was fairly obscure before Film/StarWars used a Heroic Journey plot, which brought the concept into the mainstream. There's also SocietyMarchesOn to consider. The number of people with college educations are higher today than they were say, in the 60s, so what used to be obscure becomes mainstream in the passing of time and indeed new genres and new storytelling techniques are created because audiences have become too smart for old plots and hackneyed cliches. In the case of some artists, the dense play of text and subtext for them is ''the'' reason why they make art in the first place and they set out to fill it with GeniusBonus and RewatchBonus so that audiences can immerse themselves in understanding the work fully.

Ironically, the reverse is also true. Artforms that we regard today as High Art like opera, classical music, poetry, and even Greek or Shakespearean tragedy were popular and commercial work in the day. Audiences across the class and educational spectrum had no trouble understanding and following these works. And indeed they were all filled with topical and common references that audiences had no trouble following.

It is this distinction which is why you see so much dissonance in understanding humor as a general topic. It is far easier for the LowestCommonDenominator to "get" a joke, if there is a [[ButtMonkey clear "butt"]] of the joke. However people who really follow humor aren't aiming to disparage people, but are instead in finding out the TwistEnding, or the {{Pun}}. Racist humor, gender humor, TooSoon humor is still humor - but many people won't find it "funny" because ''you have to think about it'', or ''have to have it explained''.

to:

However, in the eyes of artists and some fans, this is a JustifiedTrope. There are many instances where a film with dense references and information provide an UnconventionalLearningExperience, introducing high concepts in a dramatic, entertaining fashion. This empowers readers and viewers and makes them interested and curious in exploring offbeat ideas that they otherwise might have felt they are not educated to understand and accept, since many of them have internalized the ViewersAreMorons ideas and reflexively feel some movies or books are not for them. For instance, Joseph Campbell's [[TheHerosJourney Heroic Journey Journey]] concept was fairly obscure before Film/StarWars used a Heroic Journey plot, which brought the concept into the mainstream. There's also SocietyMarchesOn to consider. The number of people with college educations are higher today than they were were, say, in the 60s, TheSixties, so what used to be obscure becomes mainstream in the passing of time time, and indeed new genres and new storytelling techniques are created because audiences have become too smart for old plots and hackneyed cliches. clichés. In the case of some artists, the dense play of text and subtext for them is ''the'' reason why they make art in the first place place, and they set out to fill it with GeniusBonus {{Genius Bonus}}es and RewatchBonus {{Rewatch Bonus}}es so that audiences can immerse themselves in understanding the work fully.

Ironically, the reverse is also true. Artforms Art forms that we regard today as High Art like opera, classical music, poetry, and even Greek or Shakespearean tragedy were popular and commercial work in the day. Audiences across the class and educational spectrum had no trouble understanding and following these works. And indeed they were all filled with topical and common references that audiences had no trouble following.

It is this distinction which is why you see so much dissonance in understanding humor as a general topic. It is far easier for the LowestCommonDenominator to "get" a joke, if there is a [[ButtMonkey clear "butt"]] of the joke. However However, people who really follow humor aren't aiming to disparage people, but are instead in finding out the TwistEnding, or the {{Pun}}. Racist humor, gender humor, TooSoon humor is still humor - but many people won't find it "funny" because ''you have to think about it'', or ''have to have it explained''.



See also FauxSymbolism, MindScrew, and MoonLogicPuzzle. ''Not'' mutually exclusive with CriticalResearchFailure - just because a show is crammed with obscure knowledge doesn't mean that it is correct, [[SeriesContinuityError even when it comes from the show to begin with]]. This can be the result of too many [[InJoke in jokes]] being included in a work.

See also ViewersAreMorons, the opposite side of the coin. When this trope and the latter trope conflicts however, you can wind up with an UnpleasableFanbase.

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See also FauxSymbolism, MindScrew, and MoonLogicPuzzle. ''Not'' mutually exclusive with CriticalResearchFailure - just because a show is crammed with obscure knowledge doesn't mean that it is correct, [[SeriesContinuityError even when it comes from the show to begin with]]. This can be the result of too many [[InJoke in jokes]] {{In Joke}}s being included in a work.

See also ViewersAreMorons, the opposite side of the coin. When this trope and the latter trope conflicts conflict however, you can wind up with an UnpleasableFanbase.



* Steven Erikson's ''Literature/MalazanBookOfTheFallen'' is quite possibly one of the most complex works of fantasy ever written. The main storylines of the series span four continents, every one of the ten {{Doorstopper}} books has a [[LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters cast of hundreds]], and the series's backstory covers hundreds of thousands of years. Viewpoint characters constantly change; there is extensive and deliberate use of LostInMediasRes, obtuse in-world poetry used as chapter epigraphs, oblique dialogue, digressions as characters discuss or ponder philosophy, and complex prose. The first book ''Literature/GardensOfTheMoon'', is infamously difficult for new readers to get into.
* Creator/LarryNiven expects his readers to be conversant in a basic level of physics. His character will occasionally mention some scientific principle, but will ''never'' explain that principle, or why its important to the story, because they (the characters) already know what it means. So when a character mentions it take six hours to get a message because of light-speed delay, or mentions the tidal differential of a ship in orbit around a neutron star, or starts talking about a thickened gas torus in high gravity rotational environment and it confuses you, Niven expects you to do the research and keep up.

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* Steven Erikson's ''Literature/MalazanBookOfTheFallen'' is quite possibly one of the most complex works of fantasy ever written. The main storylines of the series span four continents, every one of the ten {{Doorstopper}} books has a [[LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters cast of hundreds]], and the series's backstory covers hundreds of thousands of years. Viewpoint characters constantly change; there is extensive and deliberate use of LostInMediasRes, obtuse in-world poetry used as chapter epigraphs, oblique dialogue, digressions as characters discuss or ponder philosophy, and complex prose. The first book book, ''Literature/GardensOfTheMoon'', is infamously difficult for new readers to get into.
into. This was done deliberately, as Erikson wanted to weed out readers without the patience to keep track of his vast numbers of characters and plot lines.
* Creator/LarryNiven expects his readers to be conversant in a basic level of physics. His character will occasionally mention some scientific principle, but will ''never'' explain that principle, or why its it's important to the story, because they (the characters) already know what it means. So when a character mentions it take takes six hours to get a message because of light-speed delay, or mentions the tidal differential of a ship in orbit around a neutron star, or starts talking about a thickened gas torus in high gravity rotational environment and it confuses you, Niven expects you to do the research and keep up.
10th May '16 2:24:11 PM CassandraLeo
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* William Gaddis' JR is a 700-plus page novel with no chapter stops that is almost entirely composed of conversational dialogue that is sometimes packed with financial jargon.

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* William Gaddis' JR ''JR'' is a 700-plus page novel with no chapter stops that is almost entirely composed of conversational dialogue that is sometimes packed with financial jargon. And it doesn't even tell you which character is speaking; you have to figure it out from context clues. ''A Frolic of His Own'', another {{doorstopper}}, is written in a similar style, and full of legal jargon.


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* Creator/KenKesey decided to write ''Sometimes a Great Notion'' fully in first-person. Fair enough. He decided to use multiple narrators. Also fair enough. He also decided never to explicitly tell a reader when the narrative point of view shifted. There are subtle clues, like a mention of the previous narrator in third person, but the reader has to do the work entirely for themselves. It's not as difficult as some of the other examples on this list, but it still counts.
10th May '16 2:20:44 PM CassandraLeo
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** Music/{{Gorguts}}, starting with ''Obscura'', are effectively the TechnicalDeathMetal version of Captain Beefheart (see below). To understand their music properly it helps to have a working knowledge of death metal, ProgressiveRock, AvantGardeMusic, twentieth-century ClassicalMusic, and several other genres. A thorough background in music theory won't hurt either. To understand their lyrics, it helps to have a detailed understanding of history and various forms of mythology. Even with those under your belt, most of their albums won't even begin to make sense until you've listened to them at least ten times.


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** Unsurprisingly, Zappa's classmate/[[VitriolicBestBusd sometimes-friend]]/protégé Music/CaptainBeefheart created music that was at least as incomprehensible as Zappa's, not merely for the fiendishly atonal music and complex arrangements but the often surreal lyrics that often seemed to be cases of WordSaladLyrics on the surface but often turned out to incorporate {{Mind Screw}}y metaphors about things like ecology and animal welfare. Unsurprisingly, commercial success was not forthcoming.
30th Apr '16 11:40:44 AM Sypolar
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* ''Anime/ConcreteRevolutioChoujinGensou'''s use of AnachronicOrder makes it difficult to follow the plot and characters through its timeline. Not only that, the show's timeline takes place in an AlternateHistory with each episode events playing out a specific event that occurred in post war Japan. Combined with its philosophies on Justice, specifically JusticeWillPrevail, and GreyAndGrayMorality, you can see how it ended up on this list.
13th Apr '16 2:30:39 PM CaptainCrawdad
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* The otherwise scholocky low-budget horror film ''.Com for Murder'' assumes that the audience has a good familiarity with the 18th century German author Creator/JohannWolfgangVonGoethe's ''Literature/TheSorrowsOfYoungWerther''.
6th Apr '16 9:34:24 AM aye_amber
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[[caption-width-right:247:TheSnarkKnight reads "The Tell-Tale Heart" by Creator/EdgarAllanPoe, and TheDitz thinks it's a romance novel. Nice joke... you understand it, because you ''do'' know Edgar Allan Poe, [[DontExplainTheJoke right?]]]]

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[[caption-width-right:247:TheSnarkKnight [[caption-width-right:247: TheSnarkKnight reads "The Tell-Tale Heart" by Creator/EdgarAllanPoe, and TheDitz thinks it's a romance novel. Nice joke... you You understand it, because you ''do'' know Edgar Allan Poe, [[DontExplainTheJoke right?]]]]



-->-- '''Lt. Colonel Cameron Mitchell''', ''Series/StargateSG1''

The public's been clamouring for some more intelligent television in the wake of RealityTV and LowestCommonDenominator {{Recycled Script}}s. So, you go and write a series loaded with difficult quantum mechanics, quoting obscure 17th-century philosophers, with characters who are [[ThePhilosopher philosophical]] {{Magnificent Bastard}}s who speak [[BilingualBonus a dozen languages]] while conversing to each other by sending Shakespearean Zen koans hidden into chess move patterns, and packed with [[RuleOfSymbolism allusions to ancient Sumerian religion]]. You make sure all your TechnoBabble is scientifically plausible and go to great lengths to make sure [[AnachronismStew all your ancient Roman soldiers are wearing exact replicas of period equipment]]. Now it's TrueArt, right?

So you sit back and watch the ratings -- which plummet faster than a rocket-propelled brick in a nosedive. What went wrong? In trying to avert making the classic mistake that ViewersAreMorons, you went too far and ended up assuming that they're ''geniuses'' instead. Of course, if you're working in a medium that doesn't need an audience of millions to be profitable, you may not care. While a lot less common than its more insulting opposite (any show without the "mass-market appeal" that the less high-brow stuff has will be ScrewedByTheNetwork without mercy), overestimating the audience can be more of a death knell than underestimating it, even without network sabotage. Remember that loading up your work with loads of obscure references solely for the sake of having them there is just pretentious. Just because your characters know who Derrida is does not make them interesting or your show any better than one that doesn't namedrop. Don't think your show/book/game is smart just because you're quoting smart people.

to:

-->-- '''Lt. -->--'''Lt. Colonel Cameron Mitchell''', Mitchell,''' ''Series/StargateSG1''

The public's been clamouring for some more intelligent television in the wake of RealityTV and LowestCommonDenominator {{Recycled Script}}s. So, you go and write a series loaded with difficult quantum mechanics, quoting obscure 17th-century philosophers, with characters who are [[ThePhilosopher philosophical]] {{Magnificent Bastard}}s who speak [[BilingualBonus a dozen languages]] while conversing to each other by sending Shakespearean Zen koans hidden into chess move patterns, and packed with [[RuleOfSymbolism allusions to ancient Sumerian religion]]. religion.]] You make sure all your TechnoBabble is scientifically plausible and go to great lengths to make sure [[AnachronismStew all your ancient Roman soldiers are wearing exact replicas of period equipment]]. equipment.]] Now it's TrueArt, right?

So you sit back and watch the ratings -- which plummet faster than a rocket-propelled rocket propelled brick in a nosedive. What went wrong? In trying to avert making the classic mistake that ViewersAreMorons, you went too far and ended up assuming that they're ''geniuses'' instead. Of course, if you're working in a medium that doesn't need an audience of millions to be profitable, you may not care. While a lot less common than its more insulting opposite (any show without the "mass-market appeal" that the less high-brow stuff has will be ScrewedByTheNetwork without mercy), overestimating the audience can be more of a death knell than underestimating it, even without network sabotage. Remember that loading up your work with loads of obscure references solely for the sake of having them there is just pretentious. Just because your characters know who Derrida is does not make them interesting or your show any better than one that doesn't namedrop. Don't think your show/book/game is smart just because you're quoting smart people.
31st Mar '16 9:04:45 AM aye_amber
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* A ''Literature/GoodOmens'' fic by Creator/AAPessimal, based on the riff that ''The Devil Has [[http://archiveofourown.org/works/769628/chapters/1444071 All The Best Tunes]]'', deals with Crowley and Aziraphale getting involved in the murky world of pop and rock music. The chapters include BlackSabbath getting a helping hand from Crowley, and the Four Motorcycle Riders of the Apocalypse each sponsoring trends in music that they are attracted to. [[note]]War gets Teddy boys to rip up seats in a London cinema; Famine is drawn to singers with interesting eating disorders; Pollution gravitates to Punk Rock, etc.[[/note]] The chapters become increasingly dense with references to sixties and seventies rock and pop music, and the last, where DEATH takes an interest in an [[Music/BlueOysterCult obscure New York rock band with an intellectual edge]] and gets them to write his theme song, is so [[ReferenceOverdosed packed with obscure references]] the reader would need a degree level education in music trivia to get all the references. [[WordOfGod Even the author admits he might have overdone it a little]].

to:

* A ''Literature/GoodOmens'' fic by Creator/AAPessimal, based on the riff that ''The Devil Has [[http://archiveofourown.org/works/769628/chapters/1444071 All The Best Tunes]]'', deals with Crowley and Aziraphale getting involved in the murky world of pop and rock music. The chapters include BlackSabbath Music/BlackSabbath getting a helping hand from Crowley, and the Four Motorcycle Riders of the Apocalypse each sponsoring trends in music that they are attracted to. [[note]]War gets Teddy boys to rip up seats in a London cinema; Famine is drawn to singers with interesting eating disorders; Pollution gravitates to Punk Rock, etc.[[/note]] The chapters become increasingly dense with references to sixties and seventies rock and pop music, and the last, where DEATH takes an interest in an [[Music/BlueOysterCult obscure New York rock band with an intellectual edge]] and gets them to write his theme song, is so [[ReferenceOverdosed packed with obscure references]] the reader would need a degree level education in music trivia to get all the references. [[WordOfGod Even the author admits he might have overdone it a little]].
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