Entertainment for Entertainment's Sake...
Updated: Jun 14, 2021
What happened to the days where we were blessed with just a goofy, fun story?
I'm a fan of great, complex stories. But that doesn't mean I can't enjoy and respect the simple ones. In the past they were abundant. One could put on a movie, read a book or TV show with the expectation of simply enjoying tales of good vs. evil, silly vs. serious, dumb vs. smart, etc. If it was an action flick, there would be explosions abound and strong heroes doing physically impossible feats such as jumping off buildings or flying through the air after the bus they were standing on crashed into a train, only to get up, brush themselves off and chase after the bad guy with barely a scratch on them.
Books were similar, albeit a bit more complex. Heroes would be the ones to root for, principled and willing to sacrifice themselves. Villains were obvious and evil, always looking for something or someone to exploit in order to better their circumstances, everyone else be damned.
But then things started to get more convoluted. This idea that the stereotypical trope of good vs. evil was somehow lazy and less intelligent than the grey, somewhat sympathetic villain and flawed, corruptible hero started to take over. Now don't get me wrong, I love grey characters and tend to implement them heavily into my work as well. But there is something to be said about occasionally having just a fun, silly, good vs. evil story that doesn't try to convey some philosophical, sociopolitical agenda onto its audience.
Perhaps the most egregious genre to take this approach is that of comic books. Lately, many fans have had issues with the top comic book companies due to their transition from simple hero vs. villain to flawed antihero vs. down-on-their-luck villain who generally is only a villain because the system or society wronged them in some way, thus in the end their circumstances really weren't their fault. Again, grey is good, but every now and then couldn't the bad guy just want to blow up a busload of kids for kicks instead of trying to crash a country's economy because they were forced to file chapter 7 on their mortgage? There's nothing wrong with simple; sometimes it's what people want or even need.
So when I see people bashing Michael Bay films or the Fast and the Furious franchise for being simple, cheesy, over the top eye candy spectacles, I just wonder why. Why do they care? Nobody is forcing them to watch these films. Majority of them are made for kids anyways, so let them have their fun. Same goes for books, comics and TV shows. There's nothing wrong with a hero and villain duking it out for several pages or minutes because the bad guy wanted to blow up the embassy. Let them have their battles, and let the audience enjoy it.
So going forward, perhaps we could all be a bit more tolerant of what we might consider 'bad' media. Not every film is meant to be an Academy Award winner (as if anyone cares about the Academy Awards anymore anyways), and not every book is meant to be a Pulitzer Prize winner. Sometimes people just want to do some fun stories that bring a smile to one's face or a tear in their eye. And I say embrace it, as lately the era of entertainment for entertainment's sake is dwindling and being replaced with stories by people who think they know better than you when it comes to what is fun or important. After all, it is their duty to 'inform,' 'educate' and make you 'aware' using their platform, right? Except it's not their platform really, it's yours. You're the one that paid for it all these years by buying movie tickets, Blu-rays, comic books, novels or being patient enough to sit through hours of advertisements. So make your voices heard if you agree. Vote with your wallet. Reward and encourage those scarcer and scarcer productions that focus on just pure, unadulterated fun stories without an agenda, while staying away from the ones that are perpetually trying to tell you how to think. I know I will.