With fears of nuclear meltdown in Japan following last weekend’s terrible earthquake and tsunami, it’d be nice to think that Hollywood wasn’t already working on how to cash-in on our newest fears. Nice, but let’s face it, probably very unlikely.
Maybe I’m just too sensitive to everything that’s going on right now, but I’ve found myself wondering whether there was any chance that the last wave of disaster movies – and alien invasion movies, and superhero movies, and any movies that feature wholescale destruction of buildings, national landmarks or anything similar, for that matter – could be… well, the last wave for awhile, really. Or, at least, the last wave that always puts that kind of thing into a heroic narrative with last-minute saves and stirring music and a complete lack of the confusion and unsettlement that the real thing brings.
Don’t get me wrong; I understand about the demands of the genres that normally feature such scenes, and that such destruction is really just collateral damage in the rampage of the real story – both figuratively and literally, oftentimes – but I wish that there was something out there to balance it out, something that wasn’t necessarily about heroes and villains and epic themes, but instead was closer to… well, real life, where there can sometimes just be uncertainty and worry.
(Typing that, I find myself thinking about ABC’s V, oddly enough, and the way that every single character is not only connected to the conflict, but taking an active role in it. Where are the innocent bystanders? If we had some of them, even just occasionally, maybe the show would have more depth and feel less like a glossy direct-to-DVD adaptation of a videogame.)
It won’t happen, of course; even 9/11 didn’t put media off destruction for too long, even though at the time it felt as if everything had changed, and the flipside of all these stories we’d watched for so long was finally visible. It’s much easier to ask audiences to buy into this kind of thing by making them make sense, after all, and making things into stories where there’s a definitive ending and, more often than not, happy ever afters. Yes, I know that Warners pulled Hereafter from Japan because it featured a tsunami, but that seemed more about saving face than a genuine attempt to be sensitive (After all, it was still released on DVD in the US the following day); I just wish that, just once, the entertainment industry would look beyond benefits and publicity and start coming up with something that doesn’t appeal to our base natures and desires to be comforted and told that everything will be alright. But instead, everything that’s going on is probably leading to meetings where nuclear disasters are being talked about as new hooks to make things seem more timely and more relevant to today’s audiences. What’s that saying about “cheap holidays in other people’s misery” again…?