How does the unexpected plot twist deceive us?

The excitement that gives us when we understand the unexpected twist of the plot and hits the target is unparalleled. The movie critics are behind those who do their job well to keep the magic of Pirang. The late, well-known American critic Roger Ebert wrote of the 1974 film Chinatown: "Because the film depends so much on the pleasant revelation of its plot, it would not be fair to say more about it." Another critic, Richard Brody, 45 years after Ebert's words, says about Jordan Peele's "Us" from 2019: "It's a great sin to reveal the twists of this movie." How does the unexpected plot twist deceive us?

The excitement that gives us when we understand the unexpected twist of the plot and hits the target is unparalleled. The movie critics are behind those who do their job well to keep the magic of Pirang. The late, well-known American critic Roger Ebert wrote of the 1974 film Chinatown: "Because the film depends so much on the pleasant revelation of its plot, it would not be fair to say more about it." Another critic, Richard Brody, 45 years after Ebert's words, says about Jordan Peele's "Us" from 2019: "It's a great sin to reveal the twists of this movie."

  • 30 best story twists Cinematic works of the 21st century

When a twist is in the right place, it has a long-term bad effect. A bad twist is like a cheesy, poorly made gimmick. Not only does it disappoint us, but it also makes us sick to see it. We may be in the world of fiction, but the suffering we suffer is completely real. The final episode of the TV drama series "Lost" in 2010, which concludes the six-year mystery adventure, elicited such a reaction from many viewers. The co-creator of this collection J. J. Abrams complained about this issue: "For years I had people who adored "Lost" to death and now they say that you really got on my nerves with the last part of the series. I still don't know how the series should have ended. I just heard this. It really sucks".

The twists are kind of surprising in the narrative. Stories can always surprise us, just by doing something unexpected and sudden. The fears that Venus leaves us are the basis of the genre of horror and suspenseful movies because they can definitely surprise us very simply and directly. Absurd contradictions and extreme and messy variations can be surprising and often pleasant. But a twist that is truly astounding has its own reward and faces limitations that horror and absurdism cannot overcome. How does the unexpected plot twist deceive us?

Roger Ebert says of Chinatown: "We can't give away the twist."

With something big to reveal, the story It pulls the rug under your feet in a big way. You think it's news, but later it turns out there was something else going on. Darth Vader was Luke's father. The missing necklace was the only jewel of an outfit. The rose blossom was a sled. For a surprise to turn into a twist, some new information must overcome old concepts. For a twist to be satisfying, it has to make sense, or at least feel logical in retrospect. If not, you'll be like Nick Pizzolatto, creator and executive producer of True Detective from 2014 to 2019, who once commented, "I can't think of anything more insulting as an audience than spending hours and weeks on a story." Leave it and then they will tell you it was a lie. What you saw was all fake and didn't really happen.

Stories with surprising twists do several important things. First of all, like any story, they ask their audience to spend time and try to create specific ideas in their minds about what the story is about. We devote our attention and interests to existing characters and situations. Then, when the surprise comes, we have to undo a lot of what we've done before and do something new instead, reconstructing our understanding of what's going on with new and strange information. adapt to what is available to us.

Stories themselves must take action, just like what Pizzolatto said, and must anticipate that unexpected reaction. Storytellers have an arsenal of small and large equipment to armed teeth that they can use to prevent some unpleasant incidents. I have written about these methods in my 2018 book Elements of Wonder, which is about how these methods take advantage of our cognitive biases and blind spots in our thinking. Their main goal is to convince the audience that, firstly, the pre-twist impression may have been understandable, but it is fundamentally wrong and an interpretation of the existing facts, and secondly, the post-twist impression is completely consistent with the same existing facts. They do this trick with an ever-ready ally: your mind. How does the unexpected plot twist deceive us?

Audiences complained about the ending of "Lost" and thought it was rotten.

The first and most important tool for creating a twist is the cruel truth that you should never (emphasis added) I will, never!) get attached to what we see and hear. Because we go our own way in this world or because we want to ignore what people tell us. let's bring We constantly draw different conclusions and fill in the blanks. This means that each story has many opportunities to let us in on our own impressions while having the option to tell us something different later on. For example (at the risk of spoilers), the surprise finale of 1999's The Sixth Sense, in which Malcolm Crowe (played by Bruce Willis) emerges as a ghost, is done exactly this way. In the opening sequence we see him walking unharmed. It seems that time has passed. No one tells us that he recovered from the gun shots; We draw this conclusion ourselves. Only then can we step back and say, "Ah, I thought..." Then, just like a magician performing a trick on stage or a pickpocket, writers can learn how They use our thinking to keep us in a state where we are only staring in one direction. While important events happen elsewhere and Pirang's vital information is buried so that we can go to them later and discover them. without drawing your attention to them ahead of time. The fact that stories naturally capture our attention and imagination helps this process throughout the story. Psychologist Melanie Green and her colleagues found that people were more inclined to believe that they were in what they called narrative transference. When a story is compelling, lively, and engaging, we are less resistant to it, less concerned about adding details, and more willing to follow the narrative wherever it wants to take us.

Characters provide useful avenues for misleading information because they add deniability. A character can lie or go astray without the whole story seeming inconsistent or hypocritical. These practical facts work well with another predictable feature of human cognition: our relatively poor memory for original information, especially when we are distracted (by engaging content that engages us emotionally) can come up with claims in an incomprehensible space. To face or even see that they are revealed and become worthless, but later we remember that we have heard these before somewhere. Later, when we come across those claims again, that sense of familiarity can make us more inclined to take them seriously. Psychologist Daniel Sheeter, who is a well-known and influential figure in the cognitive and neuroscience studies of memory, calls failure and things like it the sins of memory, and stories can use these to plant information in a place in our brains where details can be misleading. We remember and at the same time we lose the traces of warnings. Fortunately, despite our tendency to lose track of information, we don't completely lose track of the distinction between information, so if a story tells us that our trusted source was unreliable, we know it. The original source is gone but the story itself can still make sense and succeed. How does the unexpected plot twist deceive us?

Seeing the surprise of "The Sixth Sense" made us feel cheated.

If the stories play their turn well, they can even add completely new information to the end of the show, but with They should do it so delicately that it would not be known that it was something new. A common and surprisingly reliable example is the case of the dumb clue: Sherlock Holmes sees the knees of the suspect's trousers but reminds Watson that they are only dirty and worn. Here the secret of the story is revealed. Mrs. Marple only says that she was a maid in the house where the murder took place, but later explains that she knew what had happened as soon as she heard that a young beauty was in the house.

This The strategy takes advantage of the fact that generally when something unexpected happens, no matter how ordinary it is, it reminds us of something special. Fortunately for the storytellers, Pirang's surprise affects this process by increasing information retrieval in line with the surprise. So we remember that we heard something about pants and we heard about a maid named Gladys, and the pieces of the story fit together. The fact that different disclosures are equally consistent with the partial information we had at the outset is harder to see because we are not built to think that way about outcomes and predictability. As soon as something happened, it is an important datum about something that we should have predicted based on every bit of information available to us.

This way of thinking about the past is sinful in some ways, but useful in everyday use. and practical Imagine you're walking in the park, enjoying the sunshine and strolling effortlessly, when suddenly you slip. What happened? One theory is that your motor systems use predictive processes, building models based on past experiences to predict what will happen next. When the model is wrong, we are surprised. (When a surprise is too small to occupy a place in our brain consciousness, we borrow a phrase associated with the great information science theorist Claude Shannon and call it surprise). When that happens, the system must revise its assessment of the relevant recent past in terms of what turns out to be meaningful. It makes sense to pay little attention to parts of the evidence that are also consistent with other results. Because they did not serve us properly. Story can tap into this tendency to provide us with loose ties that we feel are tight and compelling.

It's fun to discern the cognitive principles that explain how story structures work. But writers and screenwriters don't need to be cognitive scientists to use these strategies. Good storytellers know by instinct and experience that they are influential, and the basic principle that is most important of all of these is that you must do something that makes the desired impact. The point is to create an idea that works.

But a story can obey all of these rules, it can be engineered with structures that its authors think follows the rules in every way, and still make its audience furious. he does. For example, Ebert loves these two films: Ang Lee's Life of Pi (2012), an emotional fairy tale that uses an existential twist to ask questions about faith and trauma, and David Mamet's Playhouse (1987), a thriller devoid of emotion. It's so rigidly structured that it's as cunning and venomous as a spotted snake, but disliked the convoluted ending of 1995's The Usual Suspects: "If you're going to see the movie, you can because of how amazing it is." But he goes on to warn: "But when the film reveals its blinding secret, I was filled not with joy but with the feeling that writer Christopher McQuarrie and director Bryan Singer had better peel back the story's interconnected surface and simply They told a story about their characters". How does the unexpected plot twist deceive us?

Roger Ebert from The ending of "The Usual Suspects" was disgusting

At least McQuarrie and Singer can be relieved that Ebert is considered a minority of viewers. But the writers, actors and crew of the "Lost" series were about to face something less pleasant for them. In a recent visit, Henry Ian Cusack, who plays Desmond, insisted that the series is not about to end. But many audience members who think like us will go crazy to hear this. What went wrong? For some viewers, at least "Lost" and "The Usual Suspects" ruined their finale. They allowed their audience to leave the theater without first fully teaching them to just admire and accept what happened. They gave up on placating their audience.

Three years after "Lost" aired, Abrams spoke about his storytelling philosophy at a TED talk. In this speech, he said that he was inspired by a secret box that he bought at a children's magic shop. The box was sold with a promise: $50 worth of magic tricks for just $15. On the other hand, with the money left in your pocket, you couldn't choose the tricks inside the box. Many sellers offered this discount model. Like removing ineffective products Take it out and instead offer customers a fun experience with what they're buying. But Abrams never opened his box of secrets. He kept it closed in his hand for years. Why? Because it reminded him of his grandfather, and of course he added in the continuation of his words: "It shows the infinite possibility. It shows hope. A potential factor and things like that. However, he has come to realize a fact about his career as a storyteller. "What are stories but a box of secrets? and this box of secrets remains closed, out of respect for my grandfather.

However, there is another way to look at the box of secrets: the real reason you might not want to open it is its disappointing contents. Is. If you open it, you'll realize that you didn't get a $50 gimmick if you consider the value to be something you'd be willing to pay for if you knew what you were buying. You probably didn't even earn as much as $15. You feel betrayed and it's not a good feeling at all. The more you wait, the more money you spend, and the more you think that something magical is inside the box, the worse it gets. This is also true for stories. When the box of secrets turns out to be a useless thing, you're in trouble. How does the unexpected plot twist deceive us?

Roger Ebert loved David Mamet's stiff thriller "Playhouse," a deadpan film that was as mysterious as a snake

As I worked on "Elements of Wonder," It seemed to me that stories with a twist wanted to have a self-healing trick. You can fool someone even if they never realize it. Indeed, for a con artist, such an ending is ideal, but not at all good for a twisted story. A story with a twist should not only have a deceiving action, but it should also contain the mechanism of this work so that the deception is revealed. This combination of elements makes for an amazing story that you might call a self-revealing hoax. If all goes well, the thing that heals itself is what happens to that revelation. You should leave the theater happy and productive, not deceived and helpless. The story must have its own regeneration drive. When I first started teaching the self-repairing aspect of the wonders of fiction, I taught it to students as the fundamental difference between true fiction and hoaxes, but that was wrong.

What psychologists, economists, sociologists, and anthropologists From gamblers to cheaters, everyone has come to the conclusion that humans have a very fine and accurate sense of whether people are playing fair or cheating. Some psychologists, who made a huge change in this science, even proposed the theory that the human brain has a neurological architecture that is specifically evolved to identify a cheating person, so this number of us responds in a comprehensive and automatic way to the possibility that someone in Somewhere, he promises something that he has less of. By the way, our judgment about these matters is often incorrect, but regardless, it has an emotional state. People can do a lot of things that we don't like, but most of us don't like cheating at all, whether it's real or fictional, because in both cases, our good times and good intentions are taken advantage of. So a story that wants the audience to feel good after reading it should devote a page to people who know how to deal with the same danger in the real world.

When David Maurer's "Big Trick" in Published in 1940, he presented his book as a byproduct of his research into the colloquial and professional language of the American underworld. His linguistic career spanned the social dialect of various people, including bootleggers, pickpockets, prostitutes, economic swindlers, morphine and drug peddlers, horse-track side hustlers, and many other villains, but "The Big Trick" is undoubtedly about tricksters and tricksters. . Because their vernacular was the professional language of their job, he could not study them without studying the ways and methods of the profession.

But the society knew some of those methods before the publication of the book "Big Trick". From newspaper reports, from Ring Lardner stories or, unfortunately, from personal experience. But "The Big Trick" gave an accessible and complete picture of the golden age of glamorous tricksters and went to the core of the matter and did something completely new. The cultural impact of this book was impressive. You may not have read Maurer's book yourself, but if you do, you will find that many of the phrases and methods he mentioned and documented are familiar to you, and some movies and novels have been adapted from this book. have benefited directly and indirectly. George Roy Hill's 1973 film "The Sting" used the "big trick" so directly Maurer sued the film studio and screenwriter, but the case was settled out of court. I recently read in an article by Barbara Wiley that the critic Edmund Wilson even sent a copy of this book to Vladimir Nabokov and told him that it shed a very bright light on certain aspects of American life.

Irving Goffman , one of the most prominent sociologists of the 20th century had also read it. His iconic 1952 essay on "Reassuring the Audience" uses Maurer's book in the final stages of a great ruse: the con artist's first task is to identify, or demonstrate, his target or audience and win his trust. . After this, the intended target can be convinced by the scammer's fraudulent plan, and a small success will be given to the scammer, encouraging him to make his original investment and take the bullet, and then completely screw the other person. But just emptying the target's pocket is not enough. After achieving this objective, the criminal must provide a clean escape route, without the least bit of violence and conflict with the victim or the law.

For this reason, calming down a protesting target is an important ability. The fraudster can use clever tricks (such as some colorful equipment such as fake blood bags or police officers who are involved in this trick) to prevent the target from panicking or calling the police so that other accomplices can get away from the target completely. . This is where the target needs to relax and this is essential while doing the work. "Suspicious targets are not uncommon," Maurer writes in his book. In fact, many people are skeptical at first. Someone who knows what he's doing and is a vindictive calmer, pours the oil over those pesky waits, turns the tables, soothes them, distracts them, and gives them as much encouragement as they need until it's time for the big game. And this is where the target, like an oppressed sheep that goes to the altar, slowly lowers its head and is satisfied with the satisfaction of the deceiver. How does the unexpected plot twist deceive us?

George Roy Hill's "Sting" was taken so directly from the book "The Big Trick" that the studio took it to court

to As a sociologist, Goffman points out that even though it's rare to fall victim to a hoax, social life is full of people seeking solace and comfort. People in this situation are people who think they are in love and have been turned down, a long-serving employee who has been denied a promotion, a convicted felon who must submit to the indignities of incarceration, and a group that In competition, a game or a battle is lost. Whenever someone finds themselves in trouble, when their expectations turn to despair and they feel that they are in a precarious position and are threatened, the moment of crisis has arrived. If they don't calm down, they can get angry, humiliate, organize a complaint, or if not, deal with intensity and violence and get out of control.

Institutions and people in a position to notice this frustration. , they often prepare ahead of time so that they can manage the stormy situation. One option is to arrange things so that they no longer need to calm down. For example, think about why a low-level employee is not eligible for a promotion in the first place. But most of the time this is not possible. Crisis is inevitable. If so, then the target should be shown how to accept the new position and continue working respectfully. Goffman says about this: "For the target, relaxation represents the process of adapting to an impossible situation, a situation that is influenced by a state that describes the individual in a way that conflicts with social facts. Therefore, the target must provide himself with new defenses, a new framework in which to see and judge himself. A process that redefines itself along defensible lines and goes along with it. Since the target himself is often in a weak and weak position, the reliever must immediately do this for him.

But why is such delicate and sensitive management needed? Goffman considers the calming process to be the art of helping people accept failure and says that we need this help because failure is an existential threat to us. We join hands to remove the horror of failure from each other and from ourselves and guide each other to the mortal threshold of failure, into the afterlife after failure. Goffman says that the person who needs to calm down is a person who is losing one of his social lives and is close to dying in one of the possible ways of death for himself. And it's not terrible. Who's ever been disappointed by an amazingly worthless and boring twist? In any case, why does the audience need consolation from society for failures? If someone or something breaks here ate, isn't that story ineffective by design?

The clever tricks I talked about, burying information, mastering misinformation, encouraging emotional involvement at critical moments, and exploiting the sins our memory commits. Yes, they are all crisis management tricks. They serve to exonerate the story from the charge of deception. But they do something to make you look guilty. This is dangerous work, and as Goffman says, the despair of reasonable expectations, as well as those that are misguided, creates a need for consolation and a process of adaptation. This is where, no matter how annoying and unreasonable the audience's complaints may seem to Abrams, it doesn't make sense to leave them alone with the final reveal and end credits and a sloppy second take of the original plane crash scene you've delivered to the studio. Kenny.

In fact, in a way, the purpose of the final impression of the "Lost" series was to calm down. In an interview with Vulture magazine, associate executive producer Carlton Cuse notes that after the first draft of the finale was ready to air, then-ABC studio head Barry Jones was concerned that the finale was too unexpected. "I am worried that we will come out of the emotional end of the series". Then he slams the advertisements of P&G and says that it is not going to be good. "Is there a way to smooth it out a little bit?"

Cues says: "The images that were put together, a montage of impressions of the plane hitting the beach, accompanied by the sound of ocean waves crashing, for this It was to create a break in the narrative, but it was very ominous. I think we could have done something to make it clear that this was not something you should have taken. But one of the most important thoughts about the series was this global ambiguity and giving people a chance to digest it if they wanted to, and sometimes you know you can't have both at the same time".

After the book "Elements of Wonder" came out, two different authors contacted me with almost identical requests. The Qahar impostors had juiced the heads of both of them and wanted to talk to me about how the cognitive science of pirang twists could help them understand their personal experience. The first author, Stephanie Wood, has written a book and several articles about being duped into the fake life of an elaborately crafted man she met online. Another writer, Bruce Grierson, had fallen for a con man. The person you might encounter when you have a phone call on the line and you hear the distressed voice of someone on the phone saying, Grandpa, I'm in trouble. I swear to God, don't tell mom and dad." In Grierson's case, it appeared to be a business email from a church pastor, with a story about iTunes gift cards for a sick friend. He had lost $300 and wrote a story about it for Walrus magazine.

The scammers in the book "The Big Trick" are fascinated by the saying: You can't put a hat on an honest man. This claim is true for some tricks but not for all. On the other hand, if you are doing this to support yourself, it is a good thing to tell yourself. I felt a little cheated myself when asked to shed some light on the consequences of real-world shenanigans. My research is about how stories create a safe space to play with tricks and deceptions that, when carried out seriously, do real harm. The subjects of my research were tormented by sex. What would they gain from driving around in toy cars? They both said they find it heartening how effectively stories pull us to see parallels between the lines they've taken and the detours they take.

Timely and efficient twists make for a sad but sweet ending, something Breaking "Bad" was great at it

Most of all, they were comforted by the fact that the most influential twists used what behavioral economists Colin Kammerer, George Lonstanin, and Martin Weber called the Curse of Knowledge. Once we understand something, it is impossible to fully remember or imagine how we were when we didn't know it. Our early selves were gullible and foolish. How did we not notice what was going to happen to us? When we have such a reaction to the story, the story becomes something brilliant and revelatory. When we experience these things in our own lives, we are more likely to feel guilty and ashamed and blame ourselves. The way Goffman talks about it. As Goffman says, when our sanctity is lost, we can seek solace for the wounds others have suffered, and thus the surprising twists have two kinds of value. One is the dawn of wonder itself, when It gives us a wonderfully satisfying story, and we get that good feeling and say, "That's something." An engineered manifestation of a deeper and more accurate interpretation of what has already happened. The second aspect, which is less obvious, is the opportunity to see ourselves as fools who are not embarrassed. We were naive and then we learned that we were naive and how we became that way. We know that we will not be deceived again.

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