Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Happily Ever After

All my favourite movies are either Disney sing-alongs or animated family movies at the least. I love children's stories and fairy tales for one big reason. "They all lived happily ever after." I love my happy endings. In fact; I struggle to watch movies that are sad.

Sad movies are the ones I usually only watch once and then avoid because I just find them depressing. Even if they're only a little bit sad, I couldn't imagine deliberately putting myself through a depressing experience for entertainment.

Happy endings used to be the norm. It was very nearly a requirement of a narrative that it have a happy ending. "The good ended happily and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means." - A well known quote from Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Ernest.

Unfortunately, that's not the case any more. Someone decided that happy endings aren't realistic enough, and all of a sudden books, movies, plays, and musicals were being encouraged to be confronting, traumatic, and "modern".

I find this to be a very stupid philosophy to have. First of all, since when were happy endings unrealistic? Some people legitimately live happy, fulfilling lives. Perhaps not all the time, but that's why protagonists have obstacles to overcome. They get through their problems and live happily ever after.

Someone once tried to convince me that children's stories shouldn't have happy endings because it creates unrealistic expectations of life for children. Seriously!? You want to offer children depressing stories because it will set them up for a life of misery and low expectations? No wonder there's such an epidemic of depression in western society.

Perhaps life isn't peachy for everyone, but if you tell kids that there lives will be miserable, then OF COURSE THEY WILL BE! Because kids won't strive for happiness if they've never seen an example of happily ever after.

And besides all that; who wants to go and see a play or a movie for a realistic experience that perfectly reflects life? I certainly don't! I go to movies and plays to escape life and pretend I'm somewhere else, somewhere where they do all live happily ever after.

In fact, that's why we have art in the first place! Movies and plays and books' primary duty is to help the audience escape reality. That's why they have a suspension of disbelief! Because you don't want to be in the real world; you want to be in the fictional world presented in front of you.

Of course there's a place for traumatic narratives that leave the audience in tears, and seeking counselling, like true stories, and narratives based on real events, like Titanic for example. But there's no reason to shun happy endings.

I don't know why, but there's suddenly been a big push to create "realistic" art. That's just stupid. In a world full of problems, I think the best thing for us is a little more happily ever after.

No comments:

Post a Comment