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Hating reality

Whenever I watch an action movie, I find myself becoming quite pensive during the film.  Probably because I don't enjoy watching all of the violence and fast-paced chasing, so I turn my thoughts elsewhere.  What intrigues me most is what people find so compelling about these movies.  They are definitely the biggest movies with the most attendance.  But so many people that I know don't enjoy the violence itself, but perhaps some other aspect of the movie.  Yes, I know many people also enjoy the violence.  I'm just not sure why.

So, Conrad and I went to see the new Star Trek movie today.  And I became pensive.  Spoiler alert.  I will be talking about events that happen in the movie.  If you haven't seen it yet and don't want it spoiled, don't read the rest of the post until after you watch the show.

At one point, Captain Kirk has to climb into the warp core drive and realign the something or other.  At any rate, while the ship is tumbling through the atmosphere and the gravity is switching around every which-way, for some strange reason the orientation is conveniently correct in key points of time, including the entire time that Kirk is in the warp core.  Then, he magically aligns the thingummy perfectly with the other one by jumping on it with the full weight of his body.  Something that allegedly needs to be aligned perfectly.

Excuse me for being Vulcan during a movie, but this is nonsense.  So, why do we enjoy it?  Why are basically all movies like this?  There was another point where Kirk and Kahn were flying through a bunch of debris.  There's no way they would have landed in the airlock that Scottie opened.  At certain points, Spock would interject how improbable everything was.  And he was right.  It certainly was improbable, and much of it was entirely impossible.

But, during a movie, for some reason we allow quite a bit for the suspension of reality.  We allow for the idea of faster than light travel.  We allow for the idea of matter being reorganized into energy and then back again perfectly unscathed into the former matter.  We enjoy suspenseful scenes where people do things which are impossible or near-impossible.  I wonder if this is because we like the idea of overcoming against all odds.  That we can be as strong as we will ourselves to be.  That there is no obstacle which we cannot overcome.  I'm sure the fact that we like emotions is part of it.  We like feeling suspense, we like the pain of losing a main character or the joy when we find out that he really isn't dead after all.

Perhaps we watch movies to escape from reality.  Reality is too harsh, too anti-climactic, too boring.  In real life, we don't have background music making each moment more dramatic.  In real life, we have to shower and wash our clothes multiple times to get out that tar that we fell into in the previous scene.  Real life takes time.  Lots of time.  Boring, everyday life kind of time.  We can't kiss someone one moment and marry them in the next scene.  There is a lot of filler in the middle.

Reality is not as sensational.  It's not as intense.  We don't always get what we want.  Loved ones do actually die.  There isn't a special injection that we can give someone to resurrect them from being brain dead.  Sometimes there are tasks which are insurmountable.  Sometimes truth loses.  Sometimes good loses.  Some people don't forgive.  Some friendships are never restored.  Some lovers break up and never reconcile their hurt feelings.

But we really do cling to fantasy.  We love movies.  How often do you hear of a science documentary which makes hundreds of millions of sales in the box office on opening weekend?  In fact, how often do you hear of science documentaries even being shown in theaters?  How much time do we spend learning about the wonders of astronomy, physics, chemistry biology, psychology, mathematics, anything?  How much time do we spend killing orcs, building cities, sniping with rifles, watching aliens invade Earth?  Why is it so much more appealing than real life?

(Conrad reminds me that he actually enjoys watching documentaries, and I almost always resist.)

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