Whatever happened to escapism? Escapism used to be the main reason that we, as people, consumed media. We would be sick of our boring, monotonous lives, and we would seek something fantastical, entertaining, fictional. Now, many forms of media have veered towards being commentaries, as is seen with modern Disney. It’s also the main reason as to why people are going to the movies less and less, since there is no reason to spend money on something that would upset you.
While many people have created books and stories based on social commentary, they were stories first, commentaries later. For example, in Animal Farm, Orwell crafted an enticing, tightly written story. However, if the reader looked beneath the surface of the unique plot, they would see a rich and complex narrative about communism and its effects. It may have been a commentary and a warning, but it was clever. And, though it was short, provided entertainment.
Nowadays, with corporations such as Disney and Hollywood running a vast majority of publicly consumed media, the consumer gets “the message” shoved down their throats at every chance they get, instead of getting a proper story. In one of the more recent Disney controversies, regarding sexual messages intended for children, Disney has shown that they have an agenda other than making people happy. In the times of old Disney, the most important thing was good, quality entertainment, with some more adult themes underneath. It was never supposed to be the other way around. Most importantly, though, this type of writing and theme is not clever. It has no purpose other than being political for clout. Disney is prioritizing its message and agenda over quality and enjoyment. For an entertainment company, you would think that storytelling is the most important thing.
If Disney, the most recognizable and cherished brand is failing in this regard, what does that mean for the rest of the movie industry? Well, it means that it may follow suit. Hopefully, other small companies may realize why Disney is failing, and avoid the cause as much as possible.
Surprisingly, Universal Studios has already done that, with its new release of Cocaine Bear. While it is a silly premise without the flashiness and spectacle of Marvel, Cocaine Bear is a generally well-written, funny, and entertaining piece of media that I am very happy to have watched. I will avoid all spoilers, since the movie is definitely worth watching, but I will say this: Cocaine Bear is a true escapist comedy that made me laugh and forget about the real world for two hours. Surprisingly, it also added a bit of subtle commentary, but not nearly enough to take you out of the experience. Overall, it was clever in its incorporation of messages, and added them to make the movie more entertaining, not more political.
Though escapist media is dwindling, there is still some solace to be found in smaller budget productions that don’t have anything to prove. The one thing I hope that people take away from the failings of Disney, is that stories should be allowed to be simple and enjoyable. They don’t have to prove that you have a high budget, they don’t have to prove that you agree with the majority, all they have to do is allow the viewer to have fun. That’s what movies, television, even songs, any piece of media, is about. All you have to do is entertain your audience and allow them to be happy.
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