There are many different ways people can entertain themselves. They can play video games, read comic books or manga, watch movies, and (dare I say) exercise. These activities amuse us, but sometimes they ask tough questions about our values and what makes us human. That heady stuff is fine, but what about when you want to just let your jaw slack open and say “haha, wow, %$#@?”
Only certain things get you in that mindset of shutting off all logic and just having fun. But what does it take to get there in the first place? Let me give your four strategies.
You can’t hate what you’re doing.
I can’t stress this first point enough. If you don’t like whatever it is you are doing, there is almost no way you will be willing to just enjoy it. The best example is whenever I have watched a Harry Potter movie. I intensely dislike the entire series, and I think Harry Potter fans are the absolute worst. So when my friends make me sit down and watch a movie with them, I spend the whole time picking apart everything that displeases me. I pay close attention because I don’t like it. When you are watching something you dislike and you cannot stop, it becomes incredibly difficult to just watch and enjoy.
I still don’t get it.
Make sure you “can’t believe your eyes.”
When was the last time you looked at a screenshot and said, “How on earth could that happen!?” When you see something unbelievable, it’s a natural reaction to just gawk. A perfect example is 70% of everything in Bayonetta. The fights were you summon giant stiletto heels, battle on top of jets, and stare at enemy designs that boggle the mind. But Bayonetta does not work for mindless fun: if you just mindlessly spam buttons, the game will kick your ass. Rather, the Dynasty Warriors franchise is great mindlessness. You need only press a handful of buttons, and you can be assured that countless soldiers will be blown away. That rush of plowing through multiple enemies almost effortlessly is why you can just sit back and enjoy.
Pictured: something actually pretty mindful.
A great movie version of this ideal is the under-watched Redline. Redline is a passion project which took over six years to create: in this feature length movie, everything is completely hand drawn — and the movie is jaw-droppingly beautiful for it. Not to mention the stuff they show is bonkers, like the giant glowing bio-weapon “Funky Boy.” The stuff on the screen is great to watch, so it’s easy to just let yourself go.
Do yourself a favor and see this in motion.
Break your concept of logic.
It’s one thing to make an image that impresses, but if you can create something that just stops your mind from working, all the better. God’s Pornographic X-Rated Films. Did you pause? That’s what I mean. When something you can’t fully compute is introduced, and your mind stops — this is mindless fun. That phrase is actually the name of a secret organization in the manga Wounded Man. They have complete control of the world’s porn industry, and use their power to force celebrities to act in their pornos. Then the hero rips a tree from the ground, splatters a bunch of goons (did I mention the heroine is tied to the tree the whole time?), and utters the best victory declaration ever: “Blood got in my eyes. Piss on my eyes to wash the blood away.” If that sounds interesting, and sanity isn’t a big thing for you, see anything made by Kazuo Koike.
The absolute absurdity of what I described broke me when I read the manga; I literally had to stop reading for a few minutes. But when absurd things reach perfection, being both impossible and unimaginable without causing a brain crash, you are in the right place. A game that focuses on set pieces like Uncharted exemplifies this very well. You are in a plane about to crash, on a train about to fall off a mountain, and inside ancient ruins that visually impress with deadly traps. That balance of “wow, cool” and “OMG I’M GOING TO DIE!” is what allows you to go through the experience in a empty headed manner.
See? Empty headed.
Manage your consumption of information.
When you find yourself in a world in any form of media, you need information. Where are you, who are the enemies, what will you do? How this information is conveyed is vital. You can spread hints of what is going on throughout, or you can info dump. Info dumping is an effective way of getting something across, the payoff being it is often times boring. Possibly the best and most humorous way information has ever been passed on is in the anime Kill la Kill. In a show with amazing design and a ridiculous plot about clothing taking over the world, there is a lot that needs to be conveyed. So the only reasonable thing to do is have the narrator strip down while describing exactly what is going on, right? And his nipples glow pink. If this doesn’t make you chuckle while deadly serious things are happening at the same time, then this whole article is probably not for you.
Striking that right mix of brainless fun and just plain stupid can be tough for any creator. But hitting that sweet spot of weird writing, awesome visuals, and well managed information is pure bliss. Sometimes you just need to turn your brain off to enjoy it.
Article by contributor Joel Drayer.
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