What has always set a successful piece of literature apart from the mundane? What is needed to make an ordinary character extraordinary? There is only one answer: A nefarious antagonist and an extremely trying conflict caused by the antagonist. For example, Jullian Danglars going up against the Hero, Edmond Dantes in, “The Count of Monte Cristo”. There are many reasons why we do this as writers, but to keep it simple we will just say this; CONTROVERSY SELLS! But why does it sell? Why do we enjoy watching, reading, and hearing of the struggle of others whether they are real or fictitious? Well, my theory is this.
As humans, we strive for stimulation. We desire to feel. As society thrusts itself forward we find that we are becoming more and more addicted to this need to be provoked. Why? Because the more advanced we are, the more services we have to make our lives become boring and sedintary. So what do we do? We get CREATIVE! We look for ways to introduce emotional responses in our lives that seem to have little effect at disrupting our own routine experiences. If we read or see something or someone else going through conflict, we can experience a plethora of emotion. We can feel sadness, joy, envy, or disgust but we can always shut it off at a moments notice when it becomes too much. Plain and simple, if the conflict can be ignored instantly then there is no consequence. And this is okay for now. However, what happens when we mix our fiction with our reality and promote them using the same medium? Will we, or have we become out of touch with reality?
If we, in fact, have become “out of touch” what would this mean? Would it start to reshape our own morality? If so how could it? As we see fictitious conflict coinciding with real atrocities we become desensitized to actual conflict in our own lives. If we are to constantly see evil prevail or evil glorified, then will our society, in fact, become evil? Have we become evil already?
Those are just some questions to think about. I love fiction. I love fictitious conflict. What I hate, however, is true evil. I see it becoming a part of our lives, and our news/media is eating it up because it sells. For now they receive a paycheck. For now they can live comfy. Later we will all pay.
Has anyone ever watched the movie, “Stranger Than Fiction” (SPOILER ALERT BELOW!)
Well if you have, you would know that it is about a man who lives an ordinary life, much like some of us. He goes to work, he works, comes home, eats, sleeps, and repeats. That is until he hears a voice. The voice of a woman narrating his life. I won’t worry with giving you all the details. I will just say that the woman is writing a book about him and has no idea that he is real. He goes on a journey and must find her to stop her because he found out that all her stories are tragedies, meaning the hero dies. When he finds her and tells her she is in disbelief. She knows that she will ruin her work if she lets him survive, but now that she knows he is not just her creation the real guilt starts weighing on her conscience. Therefore she doesn’t kill him. She saves him and takes a subtle hit on the book.
I feel like that is what our problem is. We don’t see the reality of someones tragedy. We don’t see how our thoughts and feelings hurt one another. Our ideas are real but if we don’t see the people that we effect, then they are just as fake as Bugs Bunny or Elmer Fudd. If we are upset about something, we step on and disrespect a flag that so many people (ones’ we cannot see) fought and died for, or we burn down businesses that we feel should not be more privileged than us. But do we really think about, or feel anything for those individuals effected? No. Because they aren’t helping our cause. Let’s just face it, if you are like this then you are not even helping your cause. You are hurting everyone and everything and bringing more misery to your situation.
Maybe one day we will understand that our issues are real. Maybe we will understand that the people we hurt are real and maybe the people that hurt us will understand that we are real. Maybe one day we can figure out fiction from non-fiction.