Ever since I remember being aware of such things, but particularly when I was working in trad publishing, “cool” or “Wonderful” was doing something to punch the consumer of story in the mouth, metaphorically speaking…. er I man, subvert expectations.
The problem is “expectations.” As in, when does an expectation stop being such?
By five years ago, I’d stopped expecting any romance on TV or movies to end in happily ever after. It usually ended in the woman going off to “self actualize” which only sounds good to people who have no concept of romance, marriage, or life.
And particularly to people who’ve made career into romance. And who are then unhappy because it turns out playing glorified nursemaid to a business is not the same as having someone who has your back on your way through life. Nor does it give you kids, nor really anything tangible other than a paycheck. Sorry, but, businesses will use you and discard you, because that’s what businesses do. They’re not a holy mission.
Anyway, at this point it’s seeping into trad published books, so no matter what the meet-cute or the love, friendship and support, I know that the couple will end apart so the woman can be “free”. (Freedom is just another word….)
This is the last breakdown but there have been many.
As far as I can established, the culture got locked into a rut where destroying the support pilars of society and the culture was what was viewed as artistic or transcendent.
So, if you run a trilogy with an amazing hero, by book three you’re supposed to show he’s really worse than the villain.
I expect it. I brace myself for it. For years, it was all there was to read.
Publishers, editors and other people steeped in this wallow fo decadence and unthought will acclaim all of this as “cool” or “so innovative.”
In fact, it’s not. It’s been done in every story for at least 100 years. Since you know, the culture started tearing itself apart like a cat with a skin disease scratching to death.
Look, most people aren’t innovative or creative. And art gets stuck in ruts. So subversion is needed, oh, every 100 years or so.
And since this particular rut is one of the stupidest ever to inflict on a culture, it’s time to be done with it.
I speak as someone who took years to stop reflexively doing this shit.
Because it’s the stereotype, it’s the pattern, and we absorb it, before we can even speak.
No one is asking you to write or read polyanna stories. But the shit being pushed at us is as unrealistic, just less useful.
Your neighbors are not all living lives of quiet desperation. Most people are pretty happy where they are. Unless you’re profoundly unlucky, if you breakdown almost anywhere in the US (other countries… well…) someone will stop to help, or at least call emergency services for you. Most businessmen aren’t corrupt, outside of some totally effed up industries. Most people might do things YOU disapprove of (duh) but have their own code and try to live by it.
Humanity is not all horror and evil. There is that, of course, but there is also shining good and amazing courage. Sometimes in the same person.
And it’s important to know this, because we live steeped in story, and stories build what we expect.
What we’ve done to ourselves for 100 years is depress everyone.
Stop it. Stop it now.
Write heroism against all the odds; honor and glory in environments that forbid it; bravery for one last stand. Write people we can look up to.
Most people are living in paradise, but staring at the mud.
Bleeding cool is bleeding to death.
Apply a tourniquet to the culture.