Learning about relationships ruins most movies and TV

July 3, 2015 by Joshua
in Art, Leadership, Relationships

My pasts three posts were about how media misrepresents leadership like juvenile fantasies of beating people who disagree with you. If you don’t know how to lead, you might enjoy the drama of the misrepresentations, but you risk retarding your growth.

It’s deeper than just leadership. Movies and TV dramatize and misrepresent nearly all relationships. The more I learn about relationships… Well, for one thing the more my life improves. But the more I learn about relationships, the more those I see in movies and television seem twisted into what will hook people into watching more.

TV shows and movies feel engineered for profit more than expressive works. Relationships outside of TV and movies have nuance, subtlety, and complexity. Most TV shows and movies overload relationships with drama. They’re like Doritos and junk “food” instead of fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices, which have a lot more flavor, it just doesn’t hit you all at once. They probably affect your appreciation and expectations about regular relationships like Doritos affect your appreciation of fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices.

Not every show simplifies and dramatizes its relationships, but finding ones that don’t is hard. Wading through junk shows takes time. The more I learn about relationships, the less I tolerate over-dramatized shows.

The movie American Splendor, about Harvey Pekar, who created one of the first comic books that treated regular life instead of super heroes, has a scene that described how he decided to transform comic books, despite having no experience. He’s talking to a friend, R. Crumb, who already makes comic books:

Pekar: I tried writing some stuff about real life… stuff that the everyman’s got to deal with.

Crumb: These are all about you?

Pekar: Yeah.

Crumb: You’ve turned yourself into a comic hero.

Pekar: Sort of, but there’s no idealized shit. There’s no phony bullshit. This is the real thing, man. You know, ordinary life is pretty complex stuff.

Ordinary life is complex! You don’t need to dramatize it to make it interesting. If you look, it’s already more complex than saving the universe (in comics) or non-stop drama (on TV and in movies).

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