Fatalistic Fiction

So recently I read a series, but its gray, dour tone (largely depressive and fatalistic) made me question my emotional investment in seeing these characters succeed. I won’t name the series but its not the only one of its flavor I’ve seen on the docket lately.

So why bother reading the rest? In 100 years, we’ll both be dead.

I guess some authors intend the reader to form their own conclusions as to whether there is any glimmer of hope at the end of their book series tunnel.

But for me (as the audience), I have a hard time empathizing or investing in the personal journeys of aimless characters. Why pursue your doomed crusade if you the character believe you have no chance improving your circumstances and you will only die a violent (and apparently pointless) death? Why not give up and go eat a taco? Frankly that might prove more useful, cause at least you’ll get a last meal out of it.

(I suppose this is why I don’t care for any of the dystopian franchises trending either.)

I’ll admit I’m worried over why these tales are dominating mainstream media—where the outlook is bleak and despondent and its okay to violently murder scores of people in the name of Fate–or so-called “realism”. I can’t determine which.

Actually– because I’m not emotionally bonded to these characters, I find myself blank, devoid of reaction, when they do meet a violent death. I’m not sure which worries me more, being hurt by their deaths or being totally unfeeling that they died. I think the apathy is worse. And I can definitely say for “so-called entertainment” that I don’t find stories where thousands of people violently die: be it war or disease, evil dictator or supernatural monster, or even Fate himself, “entertaining”! And I don’t feel I’m going too far out on a limb to say it can’t be healthy shoveling that much dark into my psyche.

I’m not saying we have to live in “children’s animated film-land”. Stories need conflict and gravitas to drive them forward. But when did entertainment quit being FUN?? Excuse me, but I kinda thought that was the point! The “literal definition” of the word, even. When did our “heroes” (to use the term loosely) become emotional abusers and psychos—and that these issues are just okay and swept under the rug because they are the story protagonist? It worries me about the psychology of the writers behind the story too.

But that’s probably another, more complex rant and I’m digressing a bit. I’m just sayin’ . . .  for clinical depression, death and insanity, I could simply turn on the local news.

I miss the uplifting and charming tales I used to watch and readwhere the heroes are strong, smart and resourceful (people who should be admired and looked to as examples), where the journeys are fun and fascinating to follow—where I visualize my favorite parts of the book over and over because it’s something I want to see and wish I was there too. Where lives are saved over and over, not taken until I’m utterly numb (and sickened) from the words and from the sight.

Maybe those stories aren’t entirely realistic (and only for a given value of “realism” anyway) but, that’s the type of reality I personally want to aspire in our bright (not bleak) future. Reality is what we make of it as is entertainment, and personally I’d like to make both better.

What do you think of fatalistic futures and fiction? Any types of dystopia or broken worlds you favor? What kinds of entertainment work for you and why? Let’s discuss it in the comments.

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