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.