Thursday, October 31, 2013

Why I Still (and will ALWAYS) Hate Michael Leigh

Ponczka and I finally watched the last season of Breaking Bad. I am hugely relieved, because for the last month it's been pretty difficult remaining in ignorance about how the show concludes. I'm grateful for all the radio and television stations, and the print and internet media, that gave spoiler alerts when information was about to be divulged. There were a number of times when I had to dash to lower a volume, or stop reading an article part way in, due to fear of having it all spoiled for me.

Somehow, we made it through, and got to watch that brilliant television show right through to the end, while never knowing what was coming next.

The degree to which wonderful story arcs are ruined by so much spoiler information flying about remains a pet peeve of mine. So often, my anticipation of a film is ruined by watching a trailer in which the entire arc of the story is laid out. So, as a rule, I avoid trailers of films I want to see, and I never read the blurbs on book covers once I've decided to read the book. My failing memory often serves me in this respect. So that, by the time I finally got around to reading Life of Pi, for example, I had totally forgotten what I'd heard about it, so that I had the great privilege of learning the identity of Mr. Richard Parker only at the moment that the author, Yann Martel, reveals it to his readers. And when I attend the Toronto Film Festival every year, I'm able to take in films with virtually no sense of expectation, having only skimmed information about the filmmakers ahead of time.

Which brings me to Michael Leigh. He is probably the main reason I have such a sensitivity about spoilers. Michael was a classmate of mine in elementary and junior high in New York. He was a very decent kid, in every way. He was my friend. I have no idea what he's been up to these last forty something years, but I hope and trust that he's done well. And yet, I hold a grudge against Michael Leigh that I will never let go. Because Michael spoiled one of the greatest movie surprises of all time!

You see, one Saturday afternoon, Michael and I went to our local movie house to see the original Planet of the Apes. I was very excited about seeing it. All of us early teenaged guys were. And I was really enjoying it, all the way through. It was exciting, thought-provoking, even funny. And toward the end, it was building up to a nice, thrilling conclusion.

Which is when Michael Leigh leaned over, nudged me, and whispered...
"This must be where they see the Statue of Liberty."
I think I'd have suffocated him by stuffing my empty popcorn bag down his throat if I hadn't been in shock. As it was, I was so distracted by outrage that the end of the film washed over me like a dim, faded rerun. And so, Michael Leigh remains for me the symbol of book and film ending spoilage!

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