Maintaining this blog is an interesting learning experience. What I'm finding is that I feel a lot more comfortable when I've written the posts in advance. My intent, at this point, is to keep the Lone Wolf story going on Mondays and Wednesdays (which, of course, can't be written very much in advance due to reader involvement) and to put out one more deep and thoughtful post with actual content once a week on Fridays.
What I'm finding, especially for those thoughtful, content-ful posts is that if I put it off till Friday, I'm no good. I'm just stressed about typing it, and can't think about the actual content to really focus on it.
Which is why, tonight, instead of what I had scheduled for you, I'm going to write about Moonrise Kingdom.
If you haven't seen Moonrise Kingdom yet, go watch it. Right now. Stop what you're doing, go find somewhere where it's still playing; if it's not still playing, get a bootlegged copy. Then buy the dvd when it comes out.
This movie took me away to another, magical world, a place where boys can be men, where dreams can come true, where life is hard, but it all comes together in the end, and where true love can be found at the end of a very awkward and difficult rainbow.
I wish that was my life.
There are only two other movies that come to mind that have made me feel this way: Miyazaki's Spirited Away, when I was in college, and My Girl, with Macaulay Culkin and Anna Chlumsky when I was a kid.
What I really getting at here is this: it's stories like these that make me want to write. Sometimes, I come across something so spectacular, so inspiring, that I can't help but fall in love.
Here's where it gets tricky though. Moonrise Kingdom is a fantasy. It's a very good fantasy. Hell, it's MY fantasy, packaged up, put in a box, and handed to me tied up in a pretty, silver ribbon. And it makes me happy that someone out there understood me well enough, without ever having met me, to tell that story.
But it's still a fantasy.
I watched a very interesting pair of Extra Credits episodes the other night about Spec Ops, The Line. The guys at Extra Credit were basically blown away by this game because by the end it becomes clear that it's not just another shooter--it's actually critiquing it's own genre and making a point, a very real, very unpleasant point.
If you haven't watched these episodes of Extra Credits yet, the basic gist is this: Spec Ops, the Line, drives your character to actions that any reasonable human would question, but that you are so used to doing in games of this genre that you don't question it, only then they use the gameplay and story to highlight just how unnacceptable everything your character is doing is, without actually ever breaking the tropes of the genre.
As you proceed through the game, the message becomes more and more clear, and on more than one occasion, lines in the narrative break the fourth wall and directly address the player. The most powerful of these comes at the end, "You're here because you want to pretend to be something you're not... a hero."
The Extra Credits guys then go on to point out that all the big title shooter games, in fact many games and stories, especially popular ones, go out of their way to make the reader/player/viewer feel like a hero. It's a carefully cultivated fantasy.
This raises some very serious and disturbing questions for me. Is it actually okay to use fiction to live out fantasies that aren't, and never will be real? What are the moral ramifications of this? Or, re-phrased, does that actually make our lives better?
Escapism, fantasy and wish-fulfillment are all very nice, but does it actually make us happier, better people? Moonrise Kingdom made me incredibly happy to watch, but now, in retrospect, it kinda just leaves me feeling very depressed, because that's not my life, it wasn't my life, and now it never will be my life. The closest I can come to experiencing those kinds of events is through fiction, either enjoying it as an audience member, or potentially creating it myself.
I loved Moonrise Kingdom, but is it just wish fulfillment? If it is, is that okay? Should we aspire to something more than that in creating fiction? Or is that enough, once in a while?