works that you feel you've experienced through cultural osmosis

yesterday i finally watched this movie called “The Shining” by some guy called Stanley Kubrick. it was pretty good.

lol obviously i can't contribute anything about The Shining that hasn't already been said. but i think maybe i can contribute to a discussion about what it's like to finally watch/read/play something that already has a cemented, canonical influence on The Culture, and an agreed-upon critical consensus. i think everyone has encountered a work that they feel they don't even need to experience first-hand, because being alive in the world has done a good enough job of describing what that experience would be like.

watching The Shining was like some bizarre form of anti-entertainment, or like colouring a page in a colouring book. the whole thing was already there, in a somewhat complete form, in my mind, just waiting to be coloured in (fleshed out). throughout the entire 2.5 hour run time, i encountered maybe three things that i didn't already know about through cultural osmosis. they were: >!1) whoa, this movie has full frontal nudity! 2) whoa, Wendy bashes Jack in the head with the bat! 3) Dick Hallorann has an extended phone call scene with his buddy??!< ...literally every other scene and plot beat were things i'd either seen, seen parodied, or heard about before.

so why even watch the movie? to confirm myself that, indeed, Kubrick is a Very Good Filmmaker? and yes, indeed, it is deeply unsettling to watch Jack Nicholson, who appears unhinged even at the start of the movie, become increasingly detached and relentless? or to participate in the ritual of discovering that the ghosts who haunt the Overlook can tell us something about the inherent evils in colonizing indigenous people's land?

i did not discover or experience anything "new" by watching this movie. i did _enjoy_ the experience, because watching an excellent movie is an enjoyable thing to do, but it was less an exercise in entertainment, and more like ticking a big box in the checklist labeled Being a Culturally Literate North American of a Certain Age. is this gamification on some level?

i came away from watching The Shining having had exactly the experience i assumed i would have. and i can't tell if that's because, indeed, The Culture has already taught me all the important bits of watching The Shining, or because my critical faculties have become so dull that i wasn't able to formulate a unique experience, relying instead on what i assumed i already knew about The Shining.

that's not to say i didn't have my own unique, personal emotional responses to it. i simply felt like i was experiencing something i'd experienced before, even though i definitely had not.

so what is this experience, and has anyone else had it? is it a useful experience to have? it seems to be a kind of happy sweet spot between the novelty of a brand-new (to me) piece of media and watching a comforting favourite.

more importantly, has anyone else experienced anything like this?

This is a pretty fitting thing for me to say here but, uh, I feel like I had a similar experience to this when I watched…. The Shining. So there is even less for me to say!

Somewhat tangential question: Does having watched a lot of _The Simpsons_ mean you've got, like, every Hitchcock film spoiled to an at least somewhat noticeable degree?

@“Gaagaagiins”#p86814 haha Gaags, we are the opposite of those weirdos in Room 237.

actual text i sent to my friend after watching The Shining:

haha people who had already seen this movie must have appreciated that one Simpsons episode so much more than i did

related tangential question/zen koan: can a work be considered “spoiled” if you don‘t realize it’s being spoiled?


@“whatsarobot”#p86815 haha Gaags, we are the opposite of those weirdos in Room 237.

Took me a bit to realize you weren't saying that we were [John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson.](

@“whatsarobot”#p86813 i had that experience with the band arcade fire. one day i thought to myself, “let's see what this arcade fire is all about,” only to discover that, somehow, i already knew all their songs. except they‘re not nearly as referenced as something like the shining. they’re played on the radio some, but it‘s way too much for that. i really can’t account for it.

@“Gaagaagiins”#p86817 i am only half saying that, because this is literally me (in my imagination, all of the time):

[upl-image-preview url=]

(genuinely my number-one favourite movie quote of all time.)

@“whatsarobot”#p86820 Just taking out the posts, fully formed, from the Raptor bag

don't ever ask me where anything is, because you already know the answer

I too have had a very similar experience with The Shining! For me it was also a case of box checking: I had watched every other Kubrick movie somewhat naturally (local theatres screening them, friends watching them, or just my own curiosity), and then one day I looked at his Wikipedia article and realized The Shining was the only one I hadn't seen.

It is kind of neat how deeply most of Kubrick's movies have pierced through wider culture, and I guess this is what certain people are talking about when they lament the current state of cinema. There obviously still are directors that have made whole strings of one-off "smart" movies that have deeply impacted pop culture, e.g. the Coen brothers, but most that I can think of are pretty old and I'm not sure if there are too many younger directors growing into that role? (Someone correct me if I'm wrong.)

I feel like I've heard a lot of stuff about Marvel/The Avengers, but the relationships between the lore of all of those movies seems way too complicated to me for me to make anything coherent out of what I've absorbed, so if I did decide to watch them, I feel like I would get _something_ out of the experience -- though there's just too many of them, and [they're not Japanese enough]( for me to ever actually do that.


This is like seeing Casablanca as someone born after probably 1965.

When I watched it, I just kept thinking to myself, “Ah, so this is where that's from.”

I more often have the opposite experience, particularly with books, where sometimes think I know what I‘m getting into, only to realize that most people who talk about books either haven’t read them, or got exactly one idea out of them and ignored everything else. Also, to be more fair to the people of the world, a lot of books have too much inside of them for anyone to talk about it all.

A noteworthy example was when I finally sat down and read the Bible. I thought that I had a decent idea of what was in the Bible, having lived in a culture steeped in it for my whole life, but boy howdy was I incorrect. 90% of the events I knew were contained within Genesis, and a few of them took up like a paragraph each. Like, I thought the Tower of Babel was this huge deal, but it just sorta comes and goes with barely any fanfare. And then there's like 3000 pages of stuff I had literally no idea about (except for some of the Jesus stuff.) The thing blew my mind!

Funnily enough, after reading it I suddenly started seeing references and parallels to Bible stories in every darned book I read. It was like I had discovered the secret key to the Western literary canon.

I had an experience perhaps more similar to yours when I watched _Citizen Kane_ for the first time. I didn't realize for example[ that this White Stripes song]( was just a bunch of quotes from the movie, and so a lot of lines sounded extremely familiar in a way I couldn't quite place until later. However, I suppose this is different because I didn't already know they were gonna be there, and frankly a lot about that movie surprised the heck out of me, particularly just how exhilarating and entertaining it was.

Yeah, idk, I think I have the opposite experience more often! I guess I don't osmose culture that well. Generally, the more I've heard about something, the more surprised I am when I actually sit down with it.

this happened to me ALMOST with rear window as a teenager where i'd seen the simpsons episode so many times i thought i knew exactly where it was going and how the movie would end and i was kinda bored for a lot of the middle of it. but then the movie does not end how the episode ends and that really confused me.

i've seen it since and now i think it's PRETTY COOL and not boring.

i definitely feel like i have this with thelma & louise, animal house and basically every war film i haven't yet seen.

you raise a good point about younger directors taking up the mantle of developing idiosyncratic, authored, “one-off” movies, @saddleblasters. i‘d also like to know who’s working in that space these days. i think maybe Robert Eggers would be a good candidate?

@wickedcestus i think you osmose culture extremely well, from all of your contributions i've read on this forum. i love your point about books containing too much inside of them for anyone to (coherently) talk about. as a book reader, this is a constant struggle, wanting to convey why the reading experience i've had was so magical, and being unable to articulate it in any satisfying way.

also lol i didn't expect to come away from this thread wanting to sit down and read the Bible, but you've got me intrigued. i wonder if i can get it as an audiobook. and if i may ask, which version did you read?

@“whatsarobot”#p87055 I read the King James version first because it is the one most often quoted with its fancy classical language, but for my second read I‘m currently using the New Oxford Annotated Bible which uses the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) translation, and I gotta say it’s a lot clearer. Just much easier to tell what‘s actually going on, while still feeling a bit ancient and, y’know, Biblical. I like to sit down for an hour or so on the weekend, perusing the notes and maps and etc. and just really sinking in.

I once thought about making a "Bible Guide for Non-Christians Looking For Something Interesting to Read" (alternate title: "What Books of the Bible to Read If You Kinda Want to Know What's Going On But Don't Wanna Bother With the Whole Thing Like I Did") once but never got around to actually organizing my thoughts on the matter.

I osmosed A LOT of stuff as a kid. Every reference cataloged in my brain as something I should probably know. The Shining example is funny though because it must be super common Especially after that Simpsons episode. And the Simpsons in general just aped everything ever all the time.

Not too long ago I read DUNE. When I was about 100 pages in or so I was like "What's the deal with this spice?" And I saw some people talking about it and I was so intrigued with the concept that I heavily spoiled the entire series for myself. I put Dune on hold for awhile, but eventually came around to reading it and gosh was it a good experience even though I knew what was coming. It was doubly interesting because I had the same perspective as Paul, via my spoiling. I then inhaled the 2nd book and had a good time and took a breather. I guess what I learned is that it can be pretty worthwhile to experience something even if you know 'the facts'. I learned waaaay more about the story actually reading it. Good times.

Speaking of, are there any movies or shows you've seen that originally were maybe groundbreaking or did something fresh but have been iterated on so much they seem stale?



are there any movies or shows you’ve seen that originally were maybe groundbreaking or did something fresh but have been iterated on so much they seem stale?

wow this is such a rich question that it probably deserves a thread of its own. i'll have to think on this one for a bit. it seems much easier to think of video game examples than movies or shows, but something tells me that M*A*S*H* might be a good example. unfortunately i have never really seen M*A*S*H* since childhood, when i most decidedly Did Not Get It.

@"wickedcestus"#185 thanks! i'll try and track down a copy of the NRSV version. i've always intended to actually read the Bible one of these days, and so far haven't gotten around to it. and if you ever feel like whipping up a list of The Books You Can Safely Skip, i'd like to see it. i understand there's a lot of _this dude begat that dude_ which i can probably ignore. but, upon closer reflection, even that might be a Simpsons reference that i'm mistaking for fact.

@“whatsarobot”#p87065 The begetting is the good part, man…. That‘s a joke but the genealogical portions are often nestled inside and in between the best stories as a sort of clerical insert, because that sort of stuff was quite important to the people writing this down! Not so much for us though! But this sort of thing is a snapshot of why it’s difficult to sort out the sort of guide i mentioned… Certain books start with great stories and then get mired in pages upon pages of minutiae regarding how many cubits wide a curtain should be, and other such things.

@“wickedcestus”#p87069 it‘s hilarious to me how much you’re selling me on the idea of reading the Bible.