Sunday, June 23, 2013

Slice of Life vs. Bigger Than Life

Superheroes are the polar opposite of a slice of life. Killing lifeless zombies, evil vampires, extraterrestrial aliens, or bad witches is not a slice of most people’s lives. At least, not people I know. Popular culture has a hard time seeing that Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird makes Gerry Lane in World War Z look like a wimp. Our heroes live in a fantasy world because heroics in real life are make-believe.

Hollywood is especially prone to fantasy. Sherlock Holmes was a cerebral detective until reincarnated by Robert Downey Jr. as a martial arts action hero. Hansel & Gretel kill witches with weapons a gamester would love. The Lone Ranger wields guns and fists like a superhero and can even leap tall buildings in a single bound. The trend is to go extreme, the more extreme, the better.

Comedy has become unworldly, as well. Real people are not that outrageous, uncouth, or ill mannered. The problem with being edgy is that you have to continuously venture ever closer to the precipice. Would On Golden Pond, As Good as it Gets, or When Harry Met Sally get green lighted today. Probably only if they added some never-before-seen shocks. (Okay, shoving Simon’s dog Verdel down the garbage chute probably qualifies.)

Am I arguing for a return to slice of life stories? Not really. I like action/adventure, clever dialogue comedies, and especially mystery/suspense stories. And I write Westerns. None of which fit in the slice of life genre. I would prefer, however, more variety in contemporary fiction and film. Fiction is not as big of a problem because good books stay around and there are thousands still waiting for me. Movies are different. When I look at a theater listing and six out of eight films are about men and women that can deflect a bullet with a sword, slice a monster’s head off while leaping six feet off the floor, or throw a paralyzing blow from a piece of stick, I usually end up staying home to watch yet another permutation of CSI. 

1 comment:

  1. It is true that Hollywood likes to spice things up a bit to appeal to the general audience but I look at it this way. Most people of the younger generation probably would not of cared about literary works from the past. By Hollywood spicing it up it may create a spark in a view of wanting to know more about those characters and how they evolved to how they are perceived today. Although those movies are not bad movies to entertain us with it can give some insight on what the past was like.