As of late, it’s been difficult for me to watch any films that take a darker, deeper look at human nature, life, and existence. Normally, I thrive on these themes, and eat them up like pineapple cakes. But lately, I have been too….emotionally drained to want to entertain them.
In the end, what is it that a majority books, movies, television, and games provide? Outlets for our own fantasies, of course. Where the fantasy space of the viewer is carefully engaged, using the screen material. To quote a friend, “it allows your mind the freedom to wander, to consider what it finds of interest, to float past what it doesn’t. It allows you to engage a mode of fantasy that draws energy from the story and its characters (though likely not all characters, and different characters for each viewer or reader), but is not equivalent with the story–again, fantasy will touch down on points of interest with the story, but otherwise spends a lot of time elsewhere, playing with some of its ideas, characters or scenarios.” It is a mark of powerful work of art, that is able to transport and immerse the viewer it’s own unique fantasy space. Take Star Wars, Star Trek, or Harry Potter. All of these have fanatical and active fanbases, who are, above all, active in exploring these worlds. Harry potter fanfiction is written and consumed in unfathomably large quantities by fans who love the characters, and love to write about them. There are conventions for both Star Wars and Star Trek, where fans enjoy roleplaying their favorite races.
In the end, I do believe that people have fantasies of two main themes, often intertwined: fantasies of grandeur, and of romance. Hollywood has perfected the formula, the one where a movie, immersive or not, manages to make the audience lose themselves in their own fantasies, more than what’s actually happening on screen. For guys: Fast cars, explosions, wealth, social status, superpowers/amazing physical ability, a sense of purpose, and above all, a sense of specialness, of being chosen. For girls, romance, finding passion/a connection, social status, desirability/likability, and that same sense of specialness. And it all wraps up all tight and neat in 110 minutes. For a movie to have mass appeal, it makes sense to unashamedly throw all these things together in a jumble, which is why chick flicks and action movies are so damn generic.
Art and media is, after all, something to be engaged in, and not just watched. Just like a painting evokes different responses, and is appreciated in different ways by different people. Ideally, one would be fully able to appreciate the complete depth a work of art, all it’s complexities as envisioned by a great mind. But in the end, it doesn’t really matter, as long as you can find even one reason to be entranced.
The greatest works of art…they are not only immersive, taking you into their realm completely, but they explore and expand your own fantasies. They provide a framework that your mind can roost on, an area to entertain and contemplate at your leisure. They make you think, shaping your understanding of the world, and human nature.
I think it’s quite silly how … almost taboo it is to talk about the notion of fantasies, and how absolutely integral they really are to most of us. Far from being something we discard when “growing up,” we keep them with us for life; they shape our dreams and aspirations, our understanding of media and what works of art we enjoy, and ultimately, who we want to be.