Friday, March 27, 2009

Escape from enchantment ...

... Reality and the Postmodern Wink. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

This notion of “escapism” seems to be accepted by everyone almost as the reason for the movies’ existence in the first place. Read any history of the medium and it will tell you that Depression-era Americans went to see the lavish movie musicals of Busby Berkeley and similar glamorous stuff to escape from the bitter hardships of their daily lives. Reality was getting them down, so they sought out a fantasy. I don’t believe it. Speaking as a naïve viewer of the sort that is supposed to have a taste for escapism, I feel quite sure that what those audiences wanted from the pictures was not escape from what they thought of as the real world but a cinematic reality that they could regard as superior to it and that was therefore more real than the world outside it. To us it may look as if poverty and failure were the reality and love and happiness mere fantasies, but I don’t think it looked that way at the time.

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