Sunday, October 27, 2013

Story Spectrum

So I posted this over at my tumblr and thought it might fit well here:

like tbh i feel like my problem with the “dark and gritty!!” trend in modern stories is this

there’s this idea in our culture that cynicism is realistic? that only children believe in happy endings, that people are ultimately selfish and greedy and seeing with clear eyes means seeing the world as an awful place

that idealism is— easy, i guess. butterflies and sunshine and love are easy things to have in your head.

but i’ve known since i was fifteen that idealism— faith in humanity— optimism— is the most difficult thing in the entire world.

i constantly struggle to have faith in humanity, because it’s really, really easy to lose it. it’s easy to look at the news and go “what were you expecting? of course humans behave this way.” it’s easy to see the world and go “ugh, there’s no hope there.” and the years when i believed that were easy. miserable— but easy.

it is hard work to see the good in people. it is hard work to hope. it is hard work to keep faith and love and joy and appreciation for beauty in my daily life.

and when moviemakers and tv producers and writers go “omg!!! all characters are selfish and act poorly and don’t love each other, nothing ever happens that is happy or good, that’s so much more realistic, that’s so much more adult”

no, it’s not

it’s childish.

it’s the most childish thing i can imagine.
Meh. I don’t agree.

Stories illustrate the full spectrum of human experience. Life can be beautiful and inspiring and delightful. But it can also be ugly and painful and deadening. Different stories may focus on different points along the spectrum, and that’s okay. Or, sometimes they show one part of the spectrum with another in contrast. There is room in our collective imagination for many different kinds of stories, and ignoring or denying an entire category based on its tone diminishes us.

But we believe that we live in a universe where there are reasons for things that happen, whether those reasons exist in the natural world, in human agency, or in some sort of metaphysical dimension we don’t fully understand. So stories that are inexplicably cheerful, in which nothing ever goes wrong, are not realistic. But at the same time, stories that are pointlessly gritty, in which nothing goes right, are equally far-fetched.

In both cases, though, the problem isn’t with the tone of the story, but with the lack of causal connections between events.

(Source: swanghoulras)

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