Telling your friend how a TV show, movie, or piece of live theatre ends may incur his or her wrath, so determined are we to preserve the element of surprise. Film critic Noah Berlatsky reports in the L.A. Review of Books that his editors have even taken spoilers out of his reviews for fear of receiving hate mail from readers. 

But artistic appreciation, which reviewers are tasked with cultivating, should mean more than stoking anticipation for a surprise ending. As reviewer Adam Sternburgh argues, "[a]nticipation is certainly one of the pleasures fine films and TV can offer us, but it’s not the only one, and frankly, it’s probably the cheapest." 

Actually, people's enjoyment of entertainment increases when they know the ending before it happens, according to research done at the University of California, San Diego: knowing the conclusion of a story while you watch opens new critical avenues, increasing your appreciation of acting, dialogue, characterization, staging. 

Bill Brown, professor of English and Visual arts at the University of Chicago, explains in his Big Think interview that the practice and enjoyment of art criticism means slowing down to appreciate a work from different angles:

Read more at the L.A. Review of Books

Photo credit: Shutterstock