May each of you have the heart to conceive, the understanding to direct, and the hand to execute works that will leave the world a little better for your having been here. -- Ronald Reagan

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Movies, TV, Novel - Messed Up Characters and Storylines

I've just finished reading The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. There's much to recommend it. It won the Pulitzer Prize, which usually drives me away from reading something. They're so politically correct, so 'European', so pretentious, and not usually well written. They're usually supportive of the radical Left social and cultural mores. This was an exception. Just lovely writing. Craftsmanship. For as long as it was at over seven hundred pages, it had few lapses; kept the interest going. With a couple exceptions though, the characters, especially the protagonist, were severely messed up. Treating their most loved ones horribly, psychopathic behaviors and bad, horrible decisions with devastating results.

I thought about what some of the most popular shows have been, and what I experienced in The Goldfinch reminded me of them. The first that came to mind was the wildly popular "Dexter", exalting a serial killer that was okay because he only tortured other serial killers. Justified torture and murder. I watched much of the first season, couldn't take it, the horribleness of it, so stopped watching.  Then there was "Breaking Bad", a chemist using his knowledge to manufacture a seriously good product. It devolved, as it should have, into the most horrid storyline and monstrous people. I lasted through season one a couple more episodes. Had to stop, couldn't take it.

There was "Sons of Anarchy", so good. Even wrote about it here when it first started. It was brilliant. It too generated into horribleness. Bad people making worse decisions, bad treatment of loved ones, murder, betrayal. There were no good people, no good actions in the end, unless it was the worse of the worse getting murdered. I hung out to the end of this series, hoping some good resolution would happen. Based on "Hamlet" I knew all would die, but good grief, how they got there was appalling. Then in the end (spoiler alert), Jax, a torturer, betrayer, liar, the leader of the Sons, the worst kind of human being, is presented as a Christ archetype sacrificing himself for the group. Good grief.

"House of Cards" I gave up on after about two shows into season three. It devolved into the worst kinds of behavior, even for politicians. Every kind of human decency was violated. I just became disgusted by the whole thing. Speaking of which, "House" was the same. House was an amoral jerk that was a force of destruction. He hurt everyone, was a psychopath, plus the storyline of every episode was the same. Someone dying, someone lying, "everyone lies", and then the truth comes out and the patient (victim) is saved. Both horrible and predictable.

I came away from these shows wondering what the point was. (The Goldfinch wasn't pointless by the way.) "The Unforgiven" by Clint Eastwood at least had a point. All the bad things that happened there is what happens when there isn't forgiveness. Great point. That other stuff mentioned here is just dwelling on the dark heart of people just for the sake of the dwelling. Just can't stand it. These were hugely popular and celebrated shows. Just a reflection, I guess, of how much of our culture is dwelling on the worst, dark hearts of our spirit. A sad reflection of where we are. 

Do read though, if you're so inclined, The Goldfinch. Sad story, exquisitely told.

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