Yesterday I went to see yet another superhero movie (Batman vs Superman – review to follow on the reviews blog soon) and as always, the story was about good vs evil. In films and books good generally triumphs, but lately it seems this is not the case in real life. I mean, is it me or has the world gone mad? We can’t turn on the TV these days without hearing about some new atrocity or disaster that’s happened and it never stops! We’ve had I don’t know how many storms this year already, as well as flooding, blizzards and earthquakes in other parts of the globe. People being murdered, shot in schools, bombed and worse. Much worse. And the threat from terrorists, hell-bent on making everyone conform to their own twisted ideologies, is escalating daily. Judging by the news stations, there is so much evil around I don’t know how the human race is going to survive another year, let alone a century or millennium!
Only very occasionally do we get a happy, feel-good story. It’s as if the news channels decide to throw us a little morsel of joy to keep us going, but really the only thing they’re interested in is the horrible stuff, because that makes for more drama. It’s clear they thrive on bad news – it keeps them in business and they appear to be able to spin out a simple story for hours, endlessly rehashing the same facts and interviewing “experts” on the subject. But wouldn’t the viewers be as interested in happy stories, good things that have occurred, if the TV stations reported them with the same intensity?
I think the answer is yes – just look at something like a royal wedding. When an event like that takes place, no one minds the news anchor repeating the few known facts all day and sharing trivia about the bride, groom, dress and entourage which we probably don’t need to know. Because we need happy stories too. Which is why I will never write a book with a sad ending or where evil triumphs over good.
Books (and films), in my opinion, are for entertainment purposes (unless you’re reading non-fiction in order to learn something specific) and personally I don’t find it entertaining when things go wrong or are sad beyond measure. I can’t take relentless misery. I need hope. Bright things. Happy things. Of course the hero and heroine have to be put through the wringer – maybe both emotionally and physically – otherwise it would be too easy. But if I read a story where they have everything thrown at them and overcome it all, only to succumb to some illness or something at the end, I just want to scream and throw the book in the bin.
And if the villain were to win, I’d be even more cross. What kind of message would that send out to readers? That being evil pays? Maybe it does occasionally in real life – ruthless people often do seem to end up rich – but at what cost to those around them? If we stop believing that being good is best, humankind will just descend into chaos and ultimately destruction.
Perhaps that’s why I like superhero stories/movies so much – nothing can beat those characters in the end because they have superpowers. They are always stronger and better than everyone else and they will triumph, no matter what. If only they existed in real life, think what they could do for the world!
But do we really need them? If people could just learn to leave each other alone and let everyone think for themselves and believe whatever they want to believe, how much better the world would be. Why do humans have this need to dominate, to dictate what others should or shouldn’t do? Why can’t we use all the resources we have for good instead of evil? It is a mystery to me, but when it comes to my own stories, evil is never allowed to win. Ever.
Pia Fenton writes contemporary romantic YA stories and her Northbrooke High series features UK heroines clashing with US heroes in an American high school setting. The latest one is New England TLC.