The Big Short, etc.

Sunday was my birthday. My husband tried to tailor our movie night to my tastes by renting The Big Short instead of a kid movie. Our kids are 2, 6, and 9. Let me tell you, they didn’t get it. There were a lot of questions. Explaining the mortgage crisis to my six-year old was difficult. Also, the Chinese food hit the floor on the way down the stairs. Movie night was a bomb. We should have stuck with something tried and true and probably avoided anything nominated for an Oscar.

The kids can watch Scooby Doo 100 times without complaining. It’s funny how they love to watch the same shows over and over again. My son makes me read The Little Blue Truck ten times a day A psychologist could probably tell me why. Maybe it’s because the whole world is new when you’re little so it’s good to read a story you know. Also, I mean, how did that car get eyes? “Mama. Car. EYES!”

Adults are the same, though. It really just depends on a person’s stage of development as to what story resonates. If you’re reading genre novels, you know how they’re going to end. In a romance, there’s going to be a black moment towards the end of the book followed by a happily ever after twenty-five pages later. In a mystery, I know the good guy will catch the bad guy and I’ll be left with a sense of peace that the real world doesn’t always provide. Storytelling is mostly in the journey.

I’ve noticed that the more stressed out I am, the more I crave a happy ending or at least a known destination. Taking an interesting and fun journey with a known destination is so satisfying and comforting. It’s a road trip without the smelly car and kids screaming in the back. During finals week, I used to read a stack of romance novels. Now, when my kids are sick or the bank account is giving me fits, I run to Susan Elizabeth Phillips. During one memorable respiratory virus, I read one of my Sarah Henning’s manuscripts. Reading Dead Meat totally saved my sanity in between nebulizing the kids. (I still love that book, Sarah!) I wonder if anyone has plotted book sale trends against economic trends? In times of economic downturn, who has enough mental capacity for deep thought at the end of the day? You just want a big fat wedding or a bad guy behind bars. Or zombies, if the last ten years mean anything.

People always blame American tastes for sex and violence on something ugly inside of us, but there is another aspect to it. Books and movies about romance and violence are generally genre staples that take a messy situation and rearrange the puzzle pieces into a satisfying picture.

I’m not sure if I arrived at any real points in today’s ramble, except wait until after the kids go to bed to put in The Big Short. We had much better luck with Kindergarten Cop and Enchanted last week.



11 thoughts on “The Big Short, etc.”

  1. I think you’re on to something. At some level, I think people are wired to like happy endings. The guy gets the girl, the bad guy goes to jail, that type of thing. Things we don’t always get in real life. And considering today’s news, I’m really craving a story where justice is served. And a little escape.


  2. I remember those days with the kids, trying to find entertainment to cover all ages. (We landed on old stuff — big, splashy musicals, Hope/Crosby road movies, anything with Danny Kaye.) But I think you’re right. Some of us turn to comfort reads when the goin’ gets tough. Way healthier than comfort food!


  3. When our kids are as young as yours are now, we all need something familiar to hang onto. Familiar stories, oh yeah! I love this line of yours: “Storytelling is mostly in the journey.”


  4. Loved this post–completely agree re: the stress-reducing qualities of genre fic . (I’ve also been known to bring out the rom-com DVDs To combat writer’s block.) Oh, and please explain the mortgage crisis to me?


  5. My kids are nearly 2, 4 and 6 — we can never watch movies in front of them — they’re scared of anything that isn’t a cartoon. So am I at this point. I’ve been sticking to historical shows as escapism. Downton. Poldark. Grantchester.


  6. Loved your post. When my kids were little, it was “The Little Mermaid” and “The Land Before Time.” They watched the last one so many times, they actually recited the lines 1/2 a second before the characters did. I got a lot of dishes washed. As for adult stories, I think you’re on to something. When I need a laugh, I turn to Rhys Bowen. Most of the rest of my reading tends toward noir. I thought about watching The Big Short last night but decided to save it until it’s free on Netflix.


  7. Fantastic post, Sam! I think you’re onto something…I’d love to see a study looking at book sale trends vs economic trends. For the record, The Big Short is excellent–entertaining, funny, and also slightly infuriating 😉


  8. I’m so relieved that post made sense. Phew! I stayed up too late too many nights in a row recently and I can’t tell which end is up. 🙂


  9. Happiest birthday week to you! Thoughtful post here…and I can relate to the kids and the re-dos…I’ve seen Toy Story, Cars, and Hoodwinked at least a hundred times each because they wanted to watch them over and over. Lo these many years later, we were talking to the kids about Cars for some reason that I forget but they were both surprised to hear how many times they watched it…ha!


  10. Fun post! I’m a repeat watcher myself. From Criminal Minds to Murder She Wrote. Those characters have become my friends. I’ve watched Something’s Gotta Give over and over. And It’s a Wonderful Life. Love those movies.

    Guess I’m a big kid. A big old kid.


  11. The Little Engine that Could, and Could, and Could…you get the picture, and I don’t have kids, that’s my Godchildren! I admit though that when something strikes a chord I return to it again and again. Books, movies, and music. There’s a lure of the familiar. Good post.


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