The Stark Failure of Modern Fantasy to Stir Us

My Comments on the movie Avengers and Game of Thrones Series follows. Such opinions are wholly my own.

There is something important about our global culture today that we increasingly embrace very dark, violent, conflict-based movies and series that seem stripped of myth and emotion beyond the theme of a privileged white elite that must fight against an encroaching evil. It’s not what hides in comic book super powers, villains, or Game of Thrones endless familial conflicts and battles over kingdoms that we should ponder, but our interest in such “us versus them” bleak power dramas that should disturb us as Americans.

I’m not criticizing American culture, but this fixation on groups of violent and perverse men and women fighting evil in our dramas says something scary and yet revealing about our struggles culturally, our fixation with money, our fear of change, our often cruel competitions, and this winning-at-all-cost mentality that’s so disturbing. It fits a pattern inside each of us that we have let our value systems fade into some desperate survival-of-the-fittest themes and tales.

In these stories we have stripped out our Humanity completely, our sense of the American Underdog, the Forest Gump’s, the innocence and the humility, replacing it with values systems of wealth, power, and prestige. Our fallen leaders didn’t create these shallow themes, as temping it is to now blame our reality on him. We created these hollow themes. Its evolved from the innocence of 1977 heroic adventure to 2019 dark, devolved, dystopian urban Myth now. And we have elected leaders that pattern our own selves in both movie and politics. Our own desperation’s shines clearly in both. Sadly, it’s all connected. But it’s something I think may be broken in many people in this country. The Drug Culture in America fed it, followed by wars and violence, then the greed of real estate, investment banking, and evil self-serving politicians.

I’ve always felt you can strip out the fantasy elements of Game of Thrones and numerous other fantasy novels written the past 30 years and stick their stories on a Narco or Drug Lord Family. It’s the same tale. It’s The Godfather or The Sopranos or numerous other mafia dramas personified. That proves these stories never had a basis in fantasy. They had a basis in the violent drug addicted competitive culture that came out of the 1960’s and 1970’s that affected their authors so profoundly. Same for comic book themes…..there’s nothing original or heroic in a person born into privilege with super powers they didn’t earn or desire. There’s no hero-journey, no spiritual lesson learned, no sword drawn from the stone, no rebirth of the hero in us that used to occur in truly heroic film.

There’s just money, aristocracy, and privilege. I don’t think we can change this fixation and interest in “Aristocracy Drama”, as I call Avengers and Game of Thrones now. It’s our own shallow hearts seeing only dark forests and skies in our stories where money lies as the only out for us, all others are losers (as our President, Donald Trump has said). For it’s our own culture’s broken but secret desires for privilege, for prestige, for social recognition, for marriage, for money, for attention, for popularity online, and our view that we are all Kings and Queens with vast powers over peasants in our dreams that drives all this. That is what seems to hide behind these themes we so cherish in 2021.

But we have to see at some point in this time that we are missing something magical and beautiful and endearing in this human drama. The fact is we are completely out of touch with the vast rich mythological constructs of our ancestors and our grandparents that had that missing Human Drama we so need today.

Stories of the past just 40 years ago with enduring meaning and myth have all but disappeared today. The theme of the mono-myth, the dying hero, friendship, humility, sacrificial or enduring love, pathos, adventure, or true tragedy have been completely gutted from all our books and the cinema. And that is disturbing. Maybe that’s arrogant or naive for me to say, but the patterns of human frailty and its beauty seem stripped from story to me. I find it sad and yet strangely a piece of the broken puzzle of the election of Donald Trump and the corrupt society run by the rich we now find ourselves trapped in and yet wholly worship.

This shallow age we are all now trapped in may run its course. I think it will. But what we have in our entertainment systems today has left me feeling hollow and empty. It’s not just about politics and cultural failure, it’s about the sad but very dark shadow cast over so many of our own hearts. We simply can’t see or admit to what lies inside us that is clearly broken, and choose instead to remain completely blind to the bleak monetary and power-driven mythological cycles we are stuck with now, and which draw us back to the theaters like moths to the flame for more mirrors of our own suffering.

— the Author

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