For some time something has been bothering me, but I wasn’t quite sure what it was, like a pea under a mattress or nails scratching on a blackboard. Then watching the movie “Avatar” for the fourth time on TV I started to realize what it was, escapism.
Movies such as “The Matrix”, “The Lord of the Rings”, “Avatar” and Harry Potter’s adventures have taken the escapism of childhood to new levels, such that the transfer of reality to an alternative fantasy world has become so realistic that it seems to many as an alternative reality. While the Matrix and Avatar have very different alternate realities, in the former case a computer program that mimics reality and in the latter case as a member of the Nav’i tribe on the planet Pandora, nevertheless they have the same message. We are supposed to identify with Neo or Jake Sully, the new “moral” heroes.
I especially dislike the Harry Potter series, I saw the first, second and last movies in the series and I must say I thought it was utter rubbish, hardly better than a third rate B movie for kids. The last one was particularly dreary, with all the gratuitous death and destruction, and then Harry is dead and lo and behold he miraculously comes back to life, what rubbish! I was surprised that many Jewish and other religious parents allowed their children to wallow in this stuff about wizards and magic wands, it was all special effects, but so many children were caught up in it.
Let me say this clearly, there is no other reality except the one we know. Yes, escapism may work for a short time, but then you go out of the movie theater or pause the video, and back to reality. Even if higher physics predicts other universes, we only experience one of them. No one has ever actually been into another universe and actually met ghosts, devils, aliens or other products of the human imagination. Such escapist stories appeal to some aspect of human beahvior, such as talking animals, but they are not real. Dealing with the real world is hard, what with terrorism, criminality, drugs, violence and even boredom, that a hefty does of escapism seems like a good antidote. But, best not to go in too deeply, reality bites.