Suspension of disbelief

The term suspension of disbelief or willing suspension of disbelief has been defined as a willingness to suspend one's critical faculties and believe something surreal; sacrifice of realism and logic for the sake of enjoyment. The term was coined in 1817 by the poet and aesthetic philosopher Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who suggested that if a writer could infuse a "human interest and a semblance of truth" into a fantastic tale, the reader would suspend judgement concerning the implausibility of the narrative. Suspension of disbelief often applies to fictional works of the action, comedy, fantasy, and horror genres. Cognitive estrangement in fiction involves using a person's ignorance to promote suspension of disbelief. The phrase "suspension of disbelief" came to be used more loosely in the later 20th century, often used to imply that the burden was on the reader, rather than the writer, to achieve it. This might be used to refer to the willingness of the audience to overlook the limitations of a medium, so that these do not interfere with the acceptance of those premises. These premises may also lend to the engagement of the mind and perhaps proposition of thoughts, ideas, art and theories. Suspension of disbelief is often an essential element for a magic act or a circus sideshow act. For example, an audience is not expected to actually believe that a woman is cut in half or transforms into a gorilla in order to enjoy the performance. According to the theory, suspension of disbelief is an essential ingredient for any kind of storytelling. With any film, the viewer has to ignore the reality that they are viewing a staged performance and temporarily accept it as their reality in order to be entertained. Black-and-white films provide an obvious early example that audiences are willing to suspend disbelief, no matter how implausible the images appear, for the sake of entertainment. With the exception of totally color blind people (achromats), no person viewing these films sees the real world without color, but some are still willing to suspend disbelief and accept the images in order to be entertained. Suspension of disbelief is also supposed to be essential for the enjoyment of many films and television shows involving complex stunts, special effects, and seemingly unrealistic plots and characterizations.


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