Have fantasy and science fiction become a choice between the endless series and the “end of everything” fiction, with the middle ground being the endless series attempting to fight off the coming apocalypse, otherwise known as the end of everything? And of course, these days in fantasy there are more gods, goddesses, sorcerers and sorceresses, demigods and demons, and various powers of incredible might and unfathomable evil than ever existed in all the belief systems and divine pantheons in all of human history. And then there are the vast and sinister conspiracies that are so well organized and so secretive that, if unchecked, they will rule the world, yet are so often stopped in their tracks by a single bumbling wizard or barely trained whoever or whatever.
The media arena doesn’t have quite the variation, but has a definite emphasis on the evil supernatural, depicted in terms of blood, gore, and sex that would have seemed far beyond decency for movie-goers of 50-60 years ago.
So… why all the incredible evil, the almost unimaginable power, gross sexuality, and all too vividly depicted gore? What is it about American society today that finds all this so fascinating?
Do so many Americans believe that the end of the world, or their way of life, is coming to an end? Or are they so jaded that the simpler evils and triumphs enjoyed by earlier generations fail to move them? Or do they lack the imagination to picture the impact of less vividly described or viewed pleasures and punishments?
Or is it that all too many of the current generation of Americans have no real idea, no personal experience with starvation, death, brutality, tyranny, and the crushing burden of true slavery or even the grinding wage slavery of a century ago? Oh, everyone in range of mass media sees the pictures, hears the trained solemnity with which talking heads present yet another death or disaster. And Americans behave as if the everyday world in which they live is beset with terror, danger, and death, when the fact is that, for all the faults our society has, today we live in a society with one of the lowest levels of overall danger in human history. And, sad to say, even the less privileged position of poor minorities today is far less dangerous the the average middle-class life of less than a century ago.
But then, perhaps too many Americans revel in media death, depravity, and danger because so few of them have truly seen or experienced much – or any, in some cases – of it in real life, and not as the media once put it, “up close and personal” [which was never really either], unlike previous generations who did experience more than most ever wanted, and that may be why they wanted more uplifting entertainment.
As for me, I don’t claim to have experienced it all. If I had, I’d already be dead, but I’ve seen more than enough, and experienced enough of the less than wonderful times, that I find no appeal in the “darkest side” of fiction and media… and still wonder about why so many seem to revel in tales so dark that the darkest of what I’ve written seems light by comparison, despite the fact that some of my work is, beneath the surface, rather dark.