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I don't think that humans demand a drug called Fantasy. It's that their Reality is coded in Story. Language involves Story; any noun, verb, and object is a story. We create narratives of events because that's how we realize them and remember them. Narratives have always created reality for their audiences -- people listening to poets recite The Iliad saw fantastic pictures in their minds. Until CGI, radio drama could create more convincing worlds than cinema offered. It was the scientific revolution -- Galileo, Newton, Darwin, and all that -- that made popular the notion that stories supposed to be true should be backed up by evidence, facts. Churches have been struggling for over a century to reconcile the old story, supported by art and popular telling, with increasing realization that there's no evidence that it happened as tradition has it.

Seeing actually is believing on some level -- seeing people fly on the silver screen, or watching dozens of Indians or Ninjas shot to death, goes into the brain as reality. More insidious than images inspired by Homer or Conan Doyle. One problem with CGI is that the images aren't quite realistic, they don't move exactly as mass and momentum would make them. Something about them makes me seasick. The stop-motion King Kong is more realistic in a way -- there was an actual model being photographed.

People are invested in their stories and resist giving them up for something as trivial as evidence. We've always had Fantasy in Story. But, as you say, Fantasy in film has become more important than story. The slick images are degrading people's ability to discern reality.

Bill Roope

Not all humans crave fantasy.
I for one don't. I decided CGs suck after the
second Matrix movie with the endless Mr. Smith's
Reality with all it's ups and downs is much more
interesting because it's real. What you do has
real penalties. There is no reset button.
Also, you use the all inclusive too much I think.
'Humans' not 'most humans'
And, on another topic, some societies are demonstrating
that it's quite possible to shrink not grow.
I live in one-Japan.


More simply, I wanted to say that language turns to fantasy by its nature. We know our reality through language, but we also create a sense of reality with language. A good storyteller can make listeners see Scylla and Charybdis, the marriage game in Regency England, or a ghost beyond the campfire. Anything outside the range of common experience was likely to be expressed as fantasy -- unicorns, Amazons. The distinction between fiction and nonfiction (stories that presumably are backed by evidence or fact) is relatively recent. Previously Truth was established by Authority.

Hollywood developed as a fantasy factory of class; lately it offers fantasies of violence. No argument that CGI is a step down in storytelling. Imagination is a purer medium.


But story generally also carries a message, which is the untouched part. Whether it is that the gods favor the bold, or that you must not question authority and look to violence for answers, the teller always has a message. What is the message of these films? Well, some of it is hope- they deal with a bad situation inevitably getting better. Another is control- heros are able to change events through their actions. Some movies through other elements in there. Who is the bad guy in the latest Batman movie? A terrorist who rises with an Occupy type group. The good guys? Incorruptible police and a brutal vigilante. What about Spiderman? Bad guy: boundary pushing scientist trying to help the disabled with a pushy boss. Good guys? Cop and and kid who ignores the rules and manages to end up with super powers. Avengers: Bad guy? Alien asshole with a foreign accent Good guys? Team of misfits working with a secret government military program.

Seems like a consistent pro-Establishment, and especially pro-USA, trend. Which probably makes people who live here feel better and stop thinking of all the ways their government screws them.

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