Our love for movies may be everlasting, but that doesn’t mean they’re always easy to enjoy. The older we get, the more patterns become obvious and the more cliches and inaccuracies remain in our minds.
If that comes to us, there may be times when jokes or actions can drag us out of the experience and make us laugh or laugh. As a remedy, we must suspend our disbelief, but it is not always easy.
What is the suspension of unbelief?
For anyone unfamiliar with the term, suspension of disbelief refers to how we overlook parts of the media that are obviously wrong in favor of continuing to enjoy the story.
Sometimes these moments involve components that only an expert in a specific field could grasp, but other times they revolve around contradictions stated directly earlier in the film. The varied nature of these deliberate or accidental oversights can be completely ignorable or frustrating, depending on the viewer.
The good and the bad
Lucy, released in 2014, began with a great example of a terrible plot point. One of the key lines in the film states that “most people only use about 10% of their brains.” For anyone with even a passing understanding of the brain, we know this is hilariously wrong. For psychologists, students, and people who have paid attention to biology, this could make the entire subsequent film mind-blowing, as it is based on a widespread misunderstanding.
Better examples where we can suspend disbelief focus on the main character who has unusual levels of high luck. Consider when a character goes to a casino to play something like craps, for example. The odds of the player winning continuously on a 3 or 11 or 2 or 12 bet are low, but they are still in the realm of realism. These are just odds and the odds can be beaten, so we tend to be more likely to accept this scenario.
How do we deal with a suspension of disbelief?
This is the question many of us face in the comic book era, where the show takes a prominent place and science and good decisions are left behind. Ultimately, if something stupid hits you deeply on one level, it’s impossible to ignore it. There is a simple trick, however, that can help. In fan culture, this is called a headcanon, but the term can apply to all other viewers as well.
A headcanon is how you can add your own details into a world that explains what the writers or directors overlooked or didn’t care about. For something like an entry in the MCU, for example, we can get away with thinking of their universe as one in which the laws of physics are fundamentally different. In martial arts movies, we can see their worlds as those where the human body gets tired ten times slower than it does in real life, and so on. You may have to relegate every movie to some kind of science fiction like this, but if it helps, it helps.