It seems to be the most primordial of notions, good triumphing over evil. People go to the movies and make movie studios richer by the billions every year because movie goers can’t seem to get enough of the whole super hero saves the day narrative. In a world where unfair things happen more often than not, it’s amazing that the general public still likes to root for the underdog. Perhaps it’s our way of listening to our better angels. Or perhaps pretending to care for the struggles of others is part of the suspension of disbelief. Whether or not you believe that conventional wisdom at the movie theater is duplicitous or not, today’s conversation will be about when the hero doesn’t have to die at the end of the story.
In this physical plain of existence, we all have some idea of what it’s like to have a bad day. It is in our very nature to try and avoid having bad days at practically any cost. When we see people (fictional or otherwise) go through trials and tribulations in the real world, most people tend to focus on their own problems and express (maybe) 5 seconds of empathy before moving on to their own concerns. Yet somehow when audiences go see a cookie cutter super hero from x y or z motion picture conglomerate, they never get tired of the same old trope.
There’s something righteous about watching the bastard son turn out to be a heavenly prince of the highest caliber. Everyone loves the story about how Cinderella escapes the evil stepmother and her cat named Lucifer in order to go to the ball and meet her prince charming. These days, women who are not princess level beauties seem to control the narrative too. At any rate, the question of why an unfair world likes fairness in their movies is one that must be explored in great detail. Or at the very least, it should be given an appropriate amount of investigation according to “conventional wisdom”.
Why is rooting for the bad guy at the movies unseemly when in the real world, the bad guys win more often than the news people care to report? Everyone was just dying to watch Thanos get his head chopped off by Thor in the last avengers movie, when Thanos’ attitude is reflected in the corporate world every day at all levels of any given business. How many times has office politics gotten people fired unfairly? How often has upper management fired someone because there just aren’t enough resources for everyone at the company and decimation makes mathematical sense? If we’re being honest, we would say more often than not. But are these titans of industry and their notable corporate cogs vilified? The answer is actually a resounding no.
On the contrary, fortune 500 c.e.o.’s get romanticized like they’re the brightest minds of the century and they get put on all kinds of arbitrary lists of people that matter. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with success, yet there are efforts to essentially punish the wealthy by way of taxes and all kinds of regulations in the name of fairness. So which one is it? Is super success something to be admired, or is it something that should be taxed excessively? There are many who believe that this world is defined by shades of gray, rather than black or white. But no matter how you slice it, the numbers just don’t add up.
Perhaps suspension of disbelief has taken on a whole new meaning. Perhaps women who aren’t princess tier beauties outnumber the truly noteworthy specimens among them to the point where that frozen movie was about how the princess should stay unmarried while her less attractive sister falls in love with her dream guy. Maybe audiences love to think of themselves as superheroes for the duration of the movie or video game, and then go back to the generally accepted apathy that is truly mainstream. Whatever motivates you to go and spend twenty bucks at the movies every so often, try and compare the fantasy that you paid for to the reality that you live in. Does the hero die in your story? Does the princess really stay unmarried in order to appease the ugly girls? Or is your special brand of subjectivity just enough to make you smile with our without your deified on-screen role model’s approval? Whatever the answer to your question truly is, maybe you’ll just choose to forget about it until the end credits roll.