I want Entertainment and Hope; Or Why I Gave Up on Daredevil

Dear Grimdark Entertainment,

Everyone tells me you’re fantastic. My friends rave about you, they obsess about you, and their eyes grow wide in surprise that a giant geek like me doesn’t watch you.

I’ve told them it’s not my thing, I’ve told them it doesn’t interest me, and eventually I’ll lie and say it’s too violent, I don’t like zombies, I hate the actor, or whatever will get them to shut up.

Dear Daredevil

You’ve enchanted the world, brought mobsters, zombies, fantasy, cops, superheroes, mystery, and countless other things into the public mind. You’ve touched our culture in a way that people everywhere have an idea who your protagonists are. The older among you have influenced your genres in ground breaking ways. Where would character dramas with an overarching story be without The Sopranos? What would the colour palette and story structure of Science Fiction be without Battlestar Galactica?

I appreciate your writing, your story structure, and your fantastic dialogue. Daredevil has some of the most thought provoking themes about what it means to kill and about being a Hero.

Despite your awesomeness, I can’t do it anymore. I’m sorry but I can’t do it anymore. It’s not you, it’s me.

Behind your edginess, your clever writing, and your amazing dialogue, you have a constant message. “Life Sucks!” “Everyone you love will die!” “Feel the Pain!”

Award winning and popular entertainment seems to have lost its sense of humour and its sense of hope. Even television shows that should be funny beyond belief to counteract their subject matter, like American Horror story, fail.

I’ve tried. I’ve tried for years to love you. I’ve forced myself to read and watch you. I just can’t do it.

I want fun. I want Hope. I want cheesy one-liners. I want sappy moments. I want friendships that last. I want love that burns beautifully. I want awkward people. I want characters that care about their friends.

In short, I want to enjoy my entertainment.

This doesn’t mean I’m against character death, sadness, or trauma. It just means I don’t want those to be your main emphasis.

Robert J. Sawyer is a master of making a book hurt me deeply but still be wildly entertaining. Frameshift was both sad and beautiful. It was hopeful, entertaining, and still makes me want to cry.

Joss Whedon’s Doctor Horrible is a wonderful Supervillain romp with singing and laughs aplenty but it doesn’t shy away from asking the important questions about killing and nature of evil.

The Final Girls examines the guilt and trauma of losing someone you love. It has a character that is borderline suicidal and blames herself for the death of her mother. It’s one of the funniest movies I’ve seen with one of the most entertaining premises.

Hope and deep character drama shouldn’t be mutually exclusive.

So I’m sorry Daredevil, Game of Thrones, Walking Dead, The Shield, The Expanse, Breaking Bad, American Horror Story, The Sopranos, Punisher, Gotham, True Blood, and countless others.

I just can’t be with you. I hope you find an audience that loves you.

I’ll just be over here reading, watching, or writing something that makes me feel more than just sad, broken, and hopeless.

Your ex-consumer,

Éric

P.S. Rape and torture aren’t fun. They aren’t necessary, they’re not something I want to experience (even second hand), and they certainly aren’t funny.

Introspection, Faith, and Death

Last week was an amazing week for me. I got news that I will be a published author, I wrote 5000 words in Everdome, and there were a few other pieces of news I can’t talk about yet.

Everything was going great then my body utterly crapped out on me. I had a major allergy attack (which for me is thankfully not anaphylactic) and I’ve spent this week feeling like I have cotton balls instead of brains and I’m fairly certain a kitten could beat me up.

There were also two celebrity deaths that have consumed my social media feeds. All of which kept making me think about death. I think Adam Ruins Everything can sum up the feelings I had.

Warning: This video shoves your mortality into your face.

I spent most of Monday catching up on Daredevil. The show has a few scenes where the main character discusses good and evil with a priest. It’s done in an introspective way that really speaks to me.

I was raised French Catholic. (Yes it’s tough not to say, “And with you” when I hear, “May the force be with you”) One thing I always hated about organized religion was the lack of introspection and questioning. In fiction people will say they are, “Searching for faith” or “Questioning faith” but it’s rarely explored. (On a side note, the lack of this exploration that probably soured me on the Exorcist.)

“Write a million words–the absolute best you can write, then throw it all away and bravely turn your back on what you have written. At that point, you’re ready to begin.”

David Eddings (Possibly referencing Heinlein or Bradbury)

As I’m approaching the mythical one-million words I’m starting to see themes in my work that I didn’t realize where there before. Dreams, intelligent villains, hope vs fear, sentience, and faith. If you’d asked me ten years ago if I’d have faith as a theme in my writing I would have laughed and said no.

However faith is more than just belief in a higher being(s) it’s belief if ourselves and those around us. It’s believing in humanity and hope. I’m sure, to some, it sounds overly optimistic or naïve.

In A Case of Synchronicity (one of the sequels to A Study in Aether), the main character (Elizabeth) starts doubting what she knew about her mother and what she knows about the world. She visits a church and speaks with the priest there about what is right and what religion means in a world saturated with magic. (Don’t worry the book also involves kissing, time travel, and scary vampires)

It’s a theme I’ve also been exploring a little with the Hal stories. (what is faith like in a galaxy where you know there’s a god living in the Sun?)

I’m always fascinated in characters that have faith without zealotry, spirituality without hate, or hope without fear.

I’m still not sure what I believe in the grand scheme of things (and I’m rambling little… sorry) maybe that’s why this sort of exploration and introspection appeals to me.

 

Do you think I’m being overly sentimental and naïve?

Éric