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On Fantasy, and why it’s so easy to get hooked onto Hollywood opiate

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.

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Posted by on January 28, 2012 in Editorials

 

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Prime Suspect Review

Prime Suspect

Rating: ★

Yesterday we said goodbye with a great last episode of Prime Suspect.  Well, it’s not technically dead, they’ll continue shooting, but the airing slot will be taken over by The Firm, in a move by NBC that is totally overhauling many of their shows.  NBC insists that none of them are being cancelled, merely benched.  Hilarious.

I am a huge fan of crime shows – on my list of to-watch shows are Castle, Bones, Dexter, Criminal Minds, etc etc etc.  Part of why Criminal Minds is top on my list of favorite crime shows is because there is a certain degree of Hollywood shimmer that isn’t there.  Yes, most of the people are attractive, yes there isn’t really much mention of paperwork and whatnot, but Criminal Minds does deal with the mental impact of the crimes, which is something that I find lacking from many other shows.

Prime Suspect takes the grit of crime a step further and throws it into the police office.  One reason why I hated CSI was because of how… pretty it was.  Look at the pretty offices, the pretty ME room, the pretty crime scene.  Look at how dashing the detectives all look and how they all get along and work together for the sake of good!  Prime Suspect has imperfect heroes.  They smoke, joke at inappropriate times, fight, and insult each other.  They have problems in their personal lives and insecurities.  They are not perfect heroes.  Of course, there still is a bit of Hollywood polish, it’s a little unavoidable, but it’s kept to a minimum.  The show also deals with the emotional impact that the deaths of the victims have on their family and friends.

I really like the writing in this show, which is pretty rare for me in the current day and age.  I often lament the decrease in quality, but this show redeems a little of my fear that the entertainment industry is declining into a state of caring only about special effects and explosions.  On top of that, the acting is great.  Maria Bello is a less often seen actress, but she is great in everything she does.  She popped onto my radar with The Cooler, and if anyone hasn’t seen it, I highly recommend it.  Other notable actors you may recognize are Kirk Acevedo and Peter Gerety.

Please NBC, stop futzing around and being greedy and give us back Prime Suspect.

 
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Posted by on November 18, 2011 in 4 Stars, Prime Suspects, Series Overview

 

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