(This is related to the latest in S&T arguments, but reading the argument is not necessarily a prerequisite for understanding this entry. Additionally, while it was sparked by something bonesiii said, this entry isn't necessarily directed at him.)
I've heard that Bionicle was supposed to take some work to understand a few times now now, and it just doesn't click with me. When I think of a story that requires work to understand, I think of Snowpiercer, with its rich, deep-running themes that run throughout its entire core. I think of The Great Gatsby, which is filled with symbolism that works towards its greater ideas.
Basically, when I think of a story that takes some work to understand, I think of theme.
The reason I think of working towards theme is that it's one of two fulfilling things to work for when reading a story. (The other is mostly applicable to detective stories, which is working out the mystery before the answer is revealed.) I've said it before (where it fell upon rather deaf ears) but theme is at the heart of every story. Every story sends a message. (Maybe more. (Imagine.)) In fact, one could say that conveying a theme is the goal of all stories (besides those that also strive to sell toys
.) To understand a theme and unwrap the author's intent takes a lot of work, and doesn't even always have a concrete correct answer, but what it gives you is a deeper understanding of the story. Snowpiercer takes work to understand, but when you do understand it, it's so much more fulfilling than just an action movie on an apocalypse train. It's this work that I expect a story to provide, and it's the lack of such work that usually results in me finding a story unengaging, because without theme, there's just not much there. Things just happen. It's why it infuriates me when I see someone say to turn your brain off and enjoy the movie; to me, no story should ever only be enjoyable without thought. It needs substance. That is how a story should make you think.
Contrast this with the evidence I've seen that Bionicle was meant to make you think. Bionicle's theme is mind-bogglingly simple to figure out, imo; it's a nine-year story about team work, and occasionally more refined aspects like leadership. That's not what I'm told needs thought. What I'm told I need to think about is the height of robots, or the wacked-out physics, or whether Kapura teleports via flatulence. Even just piecing the wildly tangled knots of storylines is work. That's not the work I expect from a story; I'm not supposed to figure out the logistics of the fictional world. It's not worthy work to come up with the midichlorians of Bionicle, because what does that actually have to do with the story? How is my understanding of the story itself actually enriched by that? Is the thinking required to make sense of this story actually worth it?
idk, that's my thoughts on the role of thinking in stories. I don't want to turn my brain off, but I want my efforts to actually be rewarded with a deeper understanding of the story rather than simply making sense of an author's inability to organize storyline coherently.