There’s a lot of depressing crap going on in the world right now. A lot of stuff happening that weighs heavy on me and so when it’s time to sit down and write this blogpost it feels hard to ignore it. But I also know that, at a certain point, there comes a time to check out of it. It’s a luxury and privilege that I have, and sometimes that means taking a break from the heaviness.
I’m finding that a lot with the stories I engage with these days. I’m less drawn to super realistic dramas, much preferring something fun and pulpy. It’s not that I want to ignore the depths of awfulness and stuff that we can get in stories, it’s that I’m fully cognizant of how downright shitty the world can be and I want to, for a while, exist in a space where the good guys are truly good and do win.
It’s escapism, I know that, and there are stories that are just blithe fluff where everything works out without any real problems — and those have their place, but there’s something noble to a story that can acknowledge the terribleness of it all and yet choose to hope and believe in a better world all the same.
And somehow, I just now realize, I’m talking about stories like The Lord of The Rings. Even though the books (and movies) avoid the “we’re real and dark and you can tell because of the rape and torture” that marks a lot of ‘realistic’ medieval and fantasy stories, there is a decided bleakness to the situation. For all its romance, the War of The Ring is a hopeless affair, a fact that the members of the Fellowship and their allies know all too well. Yet a key part of the narrative is these people choosing time and time again to hope against hope. There’s an optimism to stories like that, to ones that affirm a hopefulness to the Everything Of It All and bring some lightness to the weight.