So, here I am sitting around at 5:49am, drinking my coffee. I was perusing the news on various sites as I am wont to do at this hour and decided in this edition of Morning Musings, I would investigate a few things on the theme of Whatever Happened To…

Whatever Happened To:

Movies without a political bent. Does everything television show, film, or even cartoons have to be soaked to the dripping point in politics? I completely understand topical things; Star Trek in the 1960’s was famous for sprinkling some of the days’ political commentary into episodes – take Let That Be Your Last Battlefield as an example. But today, there is no escaping politics on any level. Social media, once a fun plaything is now little more than political polemics run amok. Movies, even those that are supposed to be mindless fun are injected with political statements so obvious they stain the entire endeavor. What was once an escape has become little more than a trap we cannot escape, even for a moment. This is not good and does more to drive a wedge into our society than we know. The lines are drawn and becoming more defined and harder to cross, reinforced by our “entertainment”. I can’t help but think we’re burning ourselves down from the inside.

Manners. I get being allowed to do as one wishes, not being “coerced by social conventions and all that 1960’s mumbo-jumbo that is flourishing right now, but at what point has common courtesy – saying good morning to a colleague, saying “excuse me” or “pardon me”, or any of a number of pleasantries – become so burdensome we have discarded them like so many used cartons of milk? Being a teacher, it’s astounding the lack of manners exhibited by students on a daily basis. They simply refuse, preferring to walk into you rather than move, squeezing themselves past you in that little space between you and the wall rather than say, “excuse me” and wait that one moment for a person to pass. Adults are no better, passing by and not even acknowledging your existence. Clerks at stores, or on the other side, customers, just plain rude, as though they hate their existence and their job and don’t want to be bothered. Please, thank you, you’re welcome are all foreign it seems, as is removing one’s hat inside a building.  Yes, the latter seems dated, but you get the gist. I think I read someplace that decaying manners are a sign of a decaying society. If that’s the case, we’re doomed. I will say it’s a bit different in the South, but that’s a piece for another time.

Happy Endings. Film, books, television are so wrapped up in the surprise, the twist, the shock value of, well, everything, we’ve almost become immune to it all. So, the response is to shock, twist, and surprise more. As I delve deeper and deeper into my writing career, I’m bombarded by the notion that there must be shock and twist and, well, more shock to your novel to keep the audience interested. Why? Have we become so bored, so jaded, or so miserable that we simply cannot conceive of the notion of happy endings? What’s wrong with a predictable and happy ending, a story that tells a nice story, follows the traditional story arc, and in the end, everyone is happy? It seems every book must be drenched in misery, someone’s struggle or tale of woe before we find it fun or engaging. I keep asking myself at what point will happy be in vogue, and I’m not sure of the date. Yes, there are the occasional happy endings, usually involving dogs, but I find myself searching for something other than dystopian nightmare films, personal struggle films, or reality and am finding it tough going. While it seems a bit cliché at this point, give me Forrest Gump, or The Pursuit of Happyness, even Major League (one of my all-time favorite happy ending movies) any day of the week. I’ll read classics like The Three Musketeers, or A Christmas Carol (even though it’s not really about Christmas) just to get some happy. There’s enough baggage to lug around in this life, we don’t need to be burdened with more. Used to be Shindler’s List was the foil to the happy ending…now it seems it’s the norm. Bring back the happy ending.

These are some of the things I was musing about this morning. Let me hear your Whatever Happened To thoughts and don’t forget to make it a great day.