I think patience plays one of the biggest roles in deciding what a person is capable of getting into. People gravitate towards things which don’t take much of their individually attuned patience to appreciate. As usual, I’ll use myself to explain this.
It takes very little patience for me to enjoy something like Fate/Zero. The show’s opening episode tested a lot of people’s patience with its lengthy expository dialog and forty-minute runtime, but I loved it right from the beginning, because it appealed to me in so many ways, that my patience for it was massive.
You’ve probably run into a work which you couldn’t get into for lack of patience, even though you wanted to. A great example for me would be Legend of the Galactic Heroes, which I’ve seen a bunch of random episodes of and can easily recognize that it’s something excellent, but I don’t have the patience to really sink my teeth into its 100+ episodes and 100+ named characters.
Something like LotGH is obvious, but in reality, patience is a bar for every new piece of media which presents itself to you. Unless a work is devoid of anything which appeals to you, then all it takes is enough patience to get through the things which don’t appeal to you to get to the things that do.
But life is short, and a lot of people don’t care to look for slivers of things they love in mountains of things they hate or are indifferent towards. There’s too much easy entertainment out there that requires little to no patience, and it’s usually more satisfying to let those things fill your time than it is to puzzle small rewards out of big hassles. Some people, like myself, will agree that actually taking on the big things that aren’t always awarding can be great fun, but I don’t think we go after these on a more frequent basis than things that are easier.
Having clarified all of that, let’s look at different layers of patience leading to appreciation.
Appreciation rarely comes without a desire to appreciate, yet that’s also where it has its beginnings. Obviously, people don’t come out of the womb thinking “know what, I’m gonna go on to appreciate anime a whole bunch,” it just sort of happens through some series of events. As you get older, it’s a little more rare, as you spend most of your time getting the easy enjoyment, and only every once in a while does a friend or someone get you into something out of the blue, or you stumble on it by chance.
That fact is the major bar that keeps too many people from discovering a totally new thing, at least when it first debuts. It’s like how hardly anyone went and saw Eraserhead when it came out, because who on Earth could know that it would be something they might want to appreciate? But enough people randomly discovered it on late-night TV that it went on to become a cult classic. (This is pretty much the definition of establishing a cult hit, and the worth of late-night TV, to begin with.)
Patience really comes into play when you start making an effort to appreciate things. In the anime fandom, this happens on a constant basis, with every passing season, as people test their patience against every new show and figure out which ones they’ll watch and which ones they’ll drop.
Most of the time, when people are trying to appreciate something, that thing is part of a medium which they already appreciate. I.e., a gamer trying to get into a new game, an anime fan getting into a new anime, etc. With each step that the thing being gotten into is more massive, it requires more patience, and a stronger desire to get into it. Getting into the magical girl genre on the whole, for example, took more effort and patience then watching any one new show did.
But where I’m really going with this post isn’t just about getting into new things, but about how deeply you can come to appreciate a new thing.
The other day I played through the original Super Mario Bros., and if you’ve ever played that game, then you’ll realize immediately how often I used save states when I say that I beat it in around an hour.
Why would I save state every ten seconds in Super Mario Bros.? Because you start the game with only three lives, and there are twenty-four levels in the game. I’ve lost all three of my lives by the third level most of the times that I tried to play the game over the years. After that, I usually quit playing.
By saving all the time, I completely obliterated the entire point of Mario, which is really about patience and memorization more than anything. You could also say that it’s about building up skill, since almost certainly having played through one Mario game all the way will make the next one easier, but you could certainly play through on just memorization.
There is no individual great challenge in Super Mario Bros., except for maybe trying to figure out what the fuck to do in levels 7-4 and 8-4, which are bullshit levels. By saving every time I conquered a challenge, I treated Super Mario Bros. like I was playing Super Meat Boy; but there was no challenge in Mario that took more than a minute or two to conquer, whereas in Super Meat boy I spent over an hour on some of the short levels.
I’ve played through Super Mario Bros., but I’ve not gotten into it. I’ve only glanced over it, and not even really enjoyed it. I lack the patience to get into the bones of it.
Following on that, the other classic game which I’ve just stopped playing is Doom (PS1 version). To a way greater extent than Mario, I really do appreciate what Doom has to offer, and I would ideally love to get into it in a real sense. However, I presently lack the patience to do so. Doom is a hard game, and after dying ten times on a level, I tend to input the “level select” code and move past it. I did this up until the point where there were three levels in a row that I got stuck on, and then I thought it best to stop there.
I’m not done with Doom forever, though I’m a lot less excited to keep going at trying to conquer it than that game Dark Souls that I’ve been calling my favorite game for nearly a year and still not played even half of it. But Dark Souls asks less of my patience, because like Fate/Zero (whose second season I haven’t yet watched), it appeals to me in a lot of ways. I’m kind of already “into it,” even if I’m not into it the way my friends are INTO IT.
By now, the structure of this post is as ADD as the subject matter, and I’m honestly losing patience with the idea of relocating the point. I hope I’ve said something here.
tl;dr: Media works are not so much good/bad as they are appealing/unappealing, and one’s appreciation of them is a play of patience.