Friday, November 23, 2012

When a story hits close to home

I'd say that a good 90 % of the books I read, movies I watch, and TV shows I see regularly fall into the fantasy realm. Even if they're not explicitly categorized as fantasy, they usually have some sort of element that takes the story out of our modern, real world. Heck, even back in high school when I was watching The OC and Laguna Beach...well, those shows aren't exactly realistic, are they?

I mean, come on...do you really think Snooki got that orange just by hanging out at the beach? (source)

Fantasy is really popular, and for good reason. When people go to a movie or read a book, they want an escape. They want to experience something that takes them out of their world, makes them forget about their own problems, even if it's just for a few hours. But what about stories that remind us of our biggest problems and fears?

This past Wednesday, I went with my dad to see Red Dawn. I wanted to see the movie because I have a mad fangirl crush on Josh Hutcherson it looked like an interesting and culturally relevant action movie. Dad and I watched the original a few weeks ago, and both that and this updated version reminded me, surprisingly, of most zombie movies.

The story is actually pretty similar to the modern zombie formula: Both involve an unsuspecting town being invaded by foreign enemies bent on destroying them all. A select few characters survive the initial onslaught and must escape to the wilderness, forced to find their own food and shelter in order to survive. But in one story, the villains are seemingly mythical monsters acting out of instinct. In the other, they are people from a real country that poses a real threat, even to those of us in the real world.

When we watch fantasy or horror movies, the villains are simultaneously distant and familiar. We know that Freddy Krueger is not a real person, but that there are plenty of people out there who really are child molesters. We know there is no real Michael Meyers, but there really are people who want to break into our homes and kill us. And we know that zombies aren't real, but that they represent things about our nature that we don't like.

Perhaps this zombie needs to take some tanning advice from Snooki. Or not. (source)

Perhaps a much more blatantly real movie is just what people need every now and then. After all, you can't live in a fantasy world forever. But every now and then, it's okay to escape into a world of zombies or made up serial killers. Because our real, everyday life problems are sometimes a little too real for us to handle.