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Journal by makoshark04




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July 22
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  • Mood: Bewildered
  • Listening to: Foo Fighters, "My Hero"
  • Reading: Cracked.com
  • Watching: Seinfeld - 811 "The Little Jerry"
After I started posting Animorphs fan art this past week, I got into a discussion with several Deviants about the way the original book series ended. My stance was, I didn’t like Animorphs’ gradual slide into bleak depressing hopelessness, where nothing works out for any of the main characters and it’s heavily implied that they all die. The whole thing felt like K.A. Applegate toying with the readers’ emotions for five years just to say “See? This is why war is bad, people!” Yeah, I get that. But I prefer stories where the good guys triumph, where they overcome insurmountable odds and achieve their goals. It’s hopeful, it’s inspiring, and it’s why I love to read stories.

But entertainment at large is trending away from that, it seems. Just a few days after I had this discussion, the guys over at Cracked put out a podcast that coincidentally talked about the exact same thing: www.cracked.com/podcast/why-ou… They cited TV shows like Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones, as well as movies like No Country for Old Men and the recent oeuvre of the Coen brothers. Everyone’s doing stories where every character is some kind of bastard, everyone does unspeakably terrible things, and levity is nowhere to be found. And audiences can’t get enough of it. We’re watching TV and going to the movies these days to deliberately depress ourselves.

Personally, I can’t get into that. People keep telling me “Oh, you need to watch Breaking Bad/Game of Thrones/The Walking Dead/Mad Men! It’s the greatest show on television!” And I’m thinking “Why would I want to get emotionally invested in characters who are clearly in a world where no happy ending is coming? Why would I want to sit there for an hour a week and watch these horrible human beings live out their bleak meaningless lives where nothing pleasant ever happens? This is supposed to be fun?”

I’ll give you an example. A couple of months ago, I was visiting my dad, and he showed me one of his favorite new TV shows, Banshee. I guess it’s about this guy who used to be in prison but now he’s working as a detective or something. All I remember from the one episode I saw was a family losing their home to a corrupt bank official, a 12-year-old kid who has a near-fatal asthma attack, and a flashback scene where the main character nearly gets raped by a horrifyingly strong albino man in front of a room full of about a hundred of his fellow prisoners. The last shot of the episode is the corpse of one character sunk at the bottom of a lake with a fish eating its eyeball. And I’m sitting there thinking “Holy fuck, I’m going to have to watch like six episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000 back to back just to get this out of my memory.” This is what people are calling the golden age of television?

Don’t get me wrong, I like a good conflict in a story. Obviously, the characters have nowhere to go if something unfortunate doesn’t happen to them. But what’s wrong with seeing them…oh, I don’t know, win at the end? Do we really need to pile on all this extra drama, running the characters through the wringer until they’re just bitter broken shells of a human being? I mean, if everything is just DRAMA DEATH FEAR ANGST MURDER BETRAYAL ARRRRGHHH all the time with no positives at all, then what the hell’s the point in watching it if you know nothing’s ever going to get better?

An earlier Cracked podcast brought this phenomenon up as well, where they discussed Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy and wondered how well it would hold up in the future. The argument was that it wouldn’t, because it’s so dark and depressing, and future generations will likely look back on the movies and television shows of the 2000s and 2010s and wonder why we chose to entertain ourselves by not being entertained. You can keep your cancer-ridden meth doctors and your incestuous dragon princes or whatever. I’m going to be over here watching Wander Over Yonder and laughing my ass off.
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:iconfeyzer:
Feyzer Featured By Owner Sep 8, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Indeed. Cynical douchebags have taken over to make us all into cynical douchebags X3 Or trying to, some people have pulled their heads out of their asses somewhat.
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:iconkinggigasmon:
Kinggigasmon Featured By Owner Sep 8, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Eh, it doesn't matter if the story is depressing or not. What matters is how you tell it. If you think about it, "Gone With the Wind" has a depressing ending and it's still considered a classic. Darker stories can be appealing because they explore parts of human nature that is a part of all of us (to certain degrees) and invoke different feelings in people. Entertainment isn't always about happiness, it's about exploring emotion and humanity.

And some people only like stories that invoke one type of feeling in the end, and that's fine. But some others like stories with darker themes because they can identify or appreciate the feelings and thoughts they stir in them.

And there's no way to tell how history will see the works of today. "Moby Dick" was a flop when it came out in the 19th Century, and only became popular fifty years after it came out. Time can only tell on things like the Nolan Batman movies.
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:iconvictor639514:
victor639514 Featured By Owner Jul 28, 2014  Student Traditional Artist
HALLELUJAH!!!

Thank you so much for expressing the same words I wanted to say, but never could find the motivation to. I STRONGLY agree on this subject.

Nowadays, "oscar-worthy" entertainment is being passed off as films and TV shows that have little to no levity whatsoever, to the point where it goes from depressing to "Holocaust Depressing". It's literally the kind of bilge tank that only self-loathing, pretentious emos would love to take a dip into. This is why I found "Man of Steel" to be such a letdown for me. Even if it has that "quirky" ending with Superman at the Daily Planet as his Clark Kent persona, it still doesn't erase the fact that I had to sit through 2 hours of brooding, darkness and the "oh-so cold and cruel nature of humanity against special snowflakes".

Seriously, I would rather have a Superman that could reverse time by circling the Earth counter-clockwise and erase memories with a kiss, than a Superman who is CONSTANTLY questioning his existence, his powers, his birthright, his life, blah blah blah. I get it Nolan! The world is a harsh place, so stop shoving it down my throat and maybe we'll be good friends, 'mkay? I don't care if happy endings come off as corny or cheesy. As long as there is a shine of optimism, happiness and hope, even in the most devastated enviroment, it gets my approval.
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:iconironsheepengine:
IronSheepEngine Featured By Owner Jul 28, 2014
I, my friend, would highly recommend taking a look at All-Stars Superman, written by fantastic writer Grant Morrison, which, as DC puts it, "strips down the Man of Steel to his timeless, essential elements."  en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All-Star…
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:iconvictor639514:
victor639514 Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2014  Student Traditional Artist
Interesting... I'll give it a read. :nod:
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:iconironsheepengine:
IronSheepEngine Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2014
ok
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:iconmonkeyjb1988:
monkeyjb1988 Featured By Owner Jul 27, 2014
*applause* If it helps, I plan on happy ending stories. Even my bleakest work will will be happier. I agree whole heartedly: drama is needed, but smiles never hurt.
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:iconredmcspoon:
RedMcSpoon Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2014
*Batman Spoiler*
The last batman film in the trilogy seemed like a happy ending to me. He saved the city, retired and ended up with catwoman :D
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:iconjarkeld:
Jarkeld Featured By Owner Jul 24, 2014
There was a similar discussion on the Bioware boards about Mass Effect 3 BEFORE it came out (I put that there for those that try to bring up the ending fiasco). I'll never forget the discussion, because the question was asked - what kind of ending are you hoping for? I'd say 60 - 65% wanted an ending where Shepard died, because, "Disney endings aren't real" is what one person wrote.

And this went on and on about how people use games and media as an escape and don't want a grim style because the real world is already dark enough. But many argued that "that's how it should be"; that art should imitate life. There were arguments about how Shep can't win the war, but that's not the point. The point is that this is the current reality - people are tired of the "everyone lives/bad guys are defeated/hero saves the day and goes on off to the next adventure".

Do I agree with that? No; but things like Walking Dead are supposed to be like that, because of the situation going on. But that's a discussion for another time.
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:iconmaxvision92:
maxvision92 Featured By Owner Jul 23, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I do have to say though, if you're questioning why people prefer the grim, or bleak, over the optimistic, I'm probably the wrong person to talk to about this. Between last year's Pacific Rim, where mankind comes together to battle the insurmountable alien threat with robots that punch monsters to death and win, and this year's Godzilla, where man and his machines are helpless against two strange insurmountable beings and our only salvation is another creature just as ancient, mysterious, powerful and terrible, I vastly preferred Godzilla. Something about Pacific Rim's plot, setting, and especially characterization struck me as infantile when viewed away from the IMAX experience, while Godzilla felt more mature, more respectful of the audience and it's source material, and more dramatic in character and action. We can much more easily associate with Aaron-Taylor Johnson's beleaguered soldier determined in the face of unimaginable horror or Bryan Cranston as a man who has lost everything to forces he can only barely begin to understand than we can with the rather bland, one-note archetypes Guillermo Del Toro filled Pacific Rim with.

But if you ask me, to go to the root of this phenomenon, you'd have to go back to the Greeks, who filled their mythology with tragedy and loss brought about uncaring gods, where only those of the gods' blood could hope to triumph.
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