Sunday, October 5, 2014
Why shouldn't books and films make us feel good?
In some ways I find it ironic how romances, which are stories of the finding of what is one of the (if not the) most important chosen relationship in our lives, are so demeaned. This happens even when it's a book like Diana Gabaldon's Outlander. She didn't want it to look like a romance because she knew how they were seen by the elites of publishing-- money cows but ill respected.
So here came the mini-series, which follows the first book on Starz (and hopefully will eventually be available on DVD). It is demeaned also by those who think it's only for women. It's not. It's about a country and a time. It is about what a man and woman can find together-- and that isn't seen just through one relationship. My husband has enjoyed it as much as I have. If it reminds me of anything, it's the HBO series Deadwood-- not for the romance in that one but for the violence.
Here was a good article about this series and also about our society and how we see romance or sexual relationships between men and women in entertainment.
So a film that shows human beings as the lowest of the low, that one is considered to be arty but one that shows them as real people where passion and love can grow into something powerful enough to get past the terrors and difficulties of life, that is not arty...
Something is badly askew with our media or what we expect from it.
What I liked in the article was how it made the point why should we not celebrate male beauty as we do female? Why can't women appreciate a good looking man? This is one of the darts that is thrown at romances-- the gorgeous men. Except aren't beautiful women a staple of many other forms of entertainment-- and I might add young, beautiful women?
This leads to the question I have asked more than once. Why shouldn't books make us feel good-- well unless they are non-fiction? Why do we seek out things that show humans where none are likeable and yet that is considered 'art'? Is this really what people today want? Well if it's so, don't pretend it is real life. It's fiction too-- but just designed to upset.
Gabaldon's books are not just romances, but they have very romantic moments that come as close to real life as the less attractive view presented in say Gone Girl. I am not saying both don't exist as being how relationships can be. But I am saying that Outlander is as real as the other and one is put down as romance or chick fare and the other revered as noir or art.
What we put into our heads is what impacts our view of life. When we read non-fiction, a view say of torture and whether it benefits those who use it as a state technique, that's a very unpleasant topic to consider, but it is based on real life. It's worth getting upset in knowing what is being done to a culture, to earth, to individuals when they condone torture, [insert many words in that spot], but my opinion is only when it is non-fiction. When it's fiction, which is manipulated to feel real but is still fiction, then what goal does it have for us?
I know what the goal was with The Wedding episode in Outlander. It was how it can be between a man and woman. It was to celebrate beauty. It was to delve into what makes it work between a man and woman who are mated for life. Nobody can say it's how it always is. This is for a couple who will be together through a lifetime with as difficult of circumstances as today or in any era, a time of powerlessness and the ruthless behavior of those who seek power over others. It is though about the strength of a real love that will keep these people bonded even when it's not easy. Why isn't that a better aspiration than a very well written story, excitingly paced but admittedly of two despicable persons and a marriage that was a disaster?
After I wrote this piece, I came across the following article where it discusses showing men fully nude in films and how it's been the no-no. Well given how women react to a sexy man's chest, as a no-no on a book cover (at least if it remotely suggests sexuality), I wonder if it's men here who, in a film, don't want the full Monty or it's women... anyway here's the link: