*Oi! Spoilers ahead? Maybe?
I’ve talked about something like this before (actually a number of times), but here we go again:
|We all thought we were ready... The stunned silence |
afterwards told us that we weren't
A lot of people were shocked recently (even if they knew what was going to happen after reading the books) by the “Rains of Castamere” episode of Game of Thrones, specifically those scenes regarding what is known as the “Red Wedding”. People took the internet with their pains, my sister’s boyfriend claimed he was in “mourning,” and many people were just incredibly distraught by the whole thing. Yes yes, particularly if they hadn’t read the novels and “didn’t see it coming,” but trust me, even though I knew what was going to happen it was still shocking (but no, I haven’t read the books yet, I’m so sorry). This event was like one big, collaborative moment of pain for cable television viewers, and it made many people emotional. But of course, with this, you also get that one person who has to chime in with their feelings of superiority and say things like, “It’s not even real, I don’t know why you’re upset about it.” And that’s what I want to talk about: why I personally think it’s okay to become invested in fictional things. I mean, everyone has cried in a book or a movie or something like that at one point in his or her life, right?
I know, at this point it probably sounds like I’m just defending myself and my “feels” as the many internet fangirls may call them (shh, I might just be one in some respects too). And maybe I am too invested and concerned with these fictional worlds and not enough with the real people in my life, but I really don’t think so, because I know where the line is between fantasy and reality and what’s important in life, and yes, maybe this is the kind of thing that makes me happy, so why wouldn’t I want to spend time doing and thinking about the things I love? But when it all comes down to it, maybe with all these other people “feeling” and making connections to these fictional things on a regular basis, it shouldn’t be seen as a thing that really needs to be defended, you know? Is that making sense? Oh it doesn’t matter, you’ll think what you want to in any case, but I’ll lay it down anyways.
|This past season of Downton Abbey was a rough one for me.|
I don't really want to talk about it...
The way I see it, being able to create fictional worlds and characters that spark emotion in us is a mark of the human ability of creation, creativity, and imagination. And also, as an extension, in visual mediums such as film and television, having actors portray these characters in ways that make us feel for them is a mark of the talent of these actors and actresses. And finally, the fact that people can become so touched by these beings that they know for a fact are not real as though they are real could be seen as a measure of the human capacity for empathy: we experience joy and pain through other’s joy and pain, even if we may not know them or they may not even exist, because even though the people we see may not be real, they are often experiencing real human issues that we can relate to. Just like Evey says her father always said in V for Vendetta (the film for sure, but also the book? It’s been forever since I’ve read it, give me a break): “Artists use lies to tell the truth.” So it’s not real but it is real, or at the very least, it could be real, if not in the exact same situation, but a similar one.
|If this whole thing wasn't sad enough,|
Martin Freeman was sure to break me even more.
I know I’ve talked before about how I don’t really get into sports all that much (with some exceptions: woohoo, figure skating!), but that doesn’t mean I don’t understand how and why people become so obsessed and invested in it. What I don’t understand, however, is why it is seen as more socially “acceptable” to be so wildly into sports (and even music, it seems), but not into something like film or other general “geek” culture? Both are testaments to human abilities, it’s just that one is testing our bodies and their physicality, while the other is an exploration of our imaginations. I don’t understand how certain sports fanatics can dress in all their teams’ colours all the time, paint themselves up and chant wildly, or wear cheese on their heads in seemingly ridiculous sports dress-ups without anyone looking twice, yet as soon as a comic book fan cosplays as one of their favourite characters it is seen as “weird”. Although, taking all that into account, I must say, in recent years, this kind of activity has become more socially “acceptable” as it has reached a wider audience over time: we can constantly see more and more entertainment expos and conventions popping up or getting larger as more people embrace this kind of entertaining culture. Seriously, I love comic conventions, and the Calgary Expo was absolutely incredible this year (I plan on going again, yes, I loved it that much).
|Remember how cute and happy Ianto once was?|
Remember how people made a shrine to him in Wales
after he died (which is still there)?
But there is still this little thing about why becoming emotionally invested and connected to certain things is seen as “more okay” than others: why is it alright (and almost expected) for me to cry watching The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, but not at the end of that Supernatural episode where Charlie was reading The Hobbit to her comatose mother like she always did when she was a child? I’ll admit, I got pretty wrecked by that. And it almost seems as though some stories seek out to make you emotional (I’m looking at you, War Horse, and I ain’t falling for it) yet if you admit to it with other things (yeah, just stay with imagining another Supernatural example for this one while we’re already at it) it’s seen as weird or ridiculous? Is this a high-brow/high-art versus low-brow/non-art thing? How bourgeoisie, except I’m using that ironically, I hate it when that term is used seriously, but that’s beside the point...
|I tried so hard but I couldn't stop my hands from shaking in the stupid |
finale of SPN Season 8. "Sacrifice?" Sacrifice my happiness, more like.
The point is, you follow a character who is made so well by their creator, and you can’t help but become interested in their lives. But of course, there is a line that can be crossed: mixing reality with fantasy, or becoming a little too dependent on these fake lives, as though you are living vicariously through them. We need to remember that even though the feelings and emotions are real, the person and the world they live in is not. We have to live for ourselves, but if in reading about or seeing how these characters experience things we learn a bit about humanity or emotion or how to handle certain situations, or even ourselves? Well I don’t think that’s a bad thing at all.
So cry your heart out, have favourite characters, dress up as them for fun (that’s right, not just for Halloween), and discuss these fake “friends” of yours in depth as though they are real people: I’m sure the person who wrote these fictional things would be delighted to hear about the joy and realism you are finding in their works. And at the end of the day, it may seem like I am obsessed with film and books and television based on what I talk about all the time, but it’s what I love, and it’s also the easiest way to start a conversation with someone: asking them about the movies and shows and things they like too. At least, that’s what I’ve found, and this makes me feel like far less of a geek when people join in (even though apparently this is becoming “cool” these days. Who knew?).