Monday, May 24, 2010

I Need a Hero

Once you start learning about story, you can never read a book or watch a movie simply for entertainment anymore. You know too much. At least that's been my experience.

My husband rented 2012 last weekend. Bummed, I said, "This is going to be just like that stupid Tom Cruise movie with no hero." (I can't remember the name; the doomsday one where aliens invade the earth...okay, I Googled it: War of the Worlds, as in HG Wells but not really.)

So, we watched 2012 while waiting for our daughter to come home from a dance and yep, I was right. The main characters consisted of a dysfunctional family intent only on saving themselves. The secondary characters consisted of sleazy politicians intent only on saving themselves. The whole rest of the world (i.e., me and you) could die as long as they survived. I don't know about you, but I have a hard time connecting emotionally with that type of person (fictional or not). If they don't care about us, why should we care about them? The goal of successful, satisfying books and movies is usually to "save the world," not "forget the world, save ourselves!" What if Lord of the Rings had been about Frodo trying to escape Sauron, and to heck with what he might do to Middle Earth?

Hello? Maybe it's a sign of our selfish times, I don't know. But I need a hero: someone willing to fight and sacrifice and do the right thing, like Frodo and Sam and Aragorn.

Aside from this glaring fault, the characters were stereotypes: divorced parents; Mom living with a boyfriend; Dad trying to maintain a relationship with the kids; bratty teenage son; cute little daughter; bizarre, psycho, convenient source-of-information guy reminiscent of the mad scientist Doc in Back to the Future; obnoxious, arrogant government bureaucrat that of course, no one can gag and throw in the brig; noble president who stays behind to die and leaves us stuck with the obnoxious, arrogant bureaucrat. To make matters worse, the movie was predictable and boring, and dragged on to the point that you almost wanted them to hurry up and die so it could finally be over. And then there was the inevitable "ticking clock" with the computerized female voice counting down to impending doom and destruction, with salvation coming at the last second. Other than that, I don't know what happened because I kept falling asleep.

Stories like this leave me wondering, "Where have all the heroes gone?"

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