I have this thing where I cannot watch movies or television programs with a lot of violence. This, of course, means that there are a lot of them out there which are raved about by my friends and professional critics alike that I am unable to watch. Yes, I know it’s just acting and yes, I know all the blood and gore and scars of that violence is fictional, but that doesn’t make any difference to me at all. When I watch violence on a screen, it deeply disturbs me.
I also have a quirk where I only like books or movies with happy endings. I know there are literary and cinematic masterpieces this excludes me from enjoying, but I’ve come to accept that. I do not find tragedy and heartbreak entertaining, so if I am choosing to spend my time on something for the purpose of being entertained, I want things to work out and I want people to be happy.
From the time I was very young, I read memoir after memoir of persons who lived through some of the worst times in history. I don't read so many of those anymore, but I do pay attention to world news and current events. Too many real bad things happen in the real world and I can’t sit through accounts of awful things portrayed in entertainment without thinking of that. Even though the violence or horror in entertainment is fictionalized, I know that much of it was inspired by actual horrible things that have happened to actual people in the past. Even though I didn’t know those people, that doesn’t make me less horrified.
And those are just things that are out there as part of history that happened to people I will never know, in places I will probably never go.
In real life, I love people who have dealt with more pain and heartbreak than any person should ever have to experience. There are other people who have a piece of my heart who just can't seem to catch a break, no matter how hard they are trying to do things the right way. And just today I learned that someone I’ve never met in person, but whom I nonetheless consider to be one of my kindred spirits, got some heartbreaking news yesterday. Tears are spilling over as I write this, wishing there weren’t so many miles between us and that I could hug her and play with her kids as she works through the process of going forward from here. When I look around, there is plenty of real heartbreak and struggle and hardship in the real lives of real people I know.
My insistence on good things and happy endings in entertainment isn't because I can't handle bad things or heartbreak; it's just that real life already has more than enough.
So, I’m sorry if I can’t watch your favorite television show because it has too much violence. I’m sorry if I can’t enjoy your favorite movie because it has too much tragedy and a depressing ending. I’m sorry if I didn’t like your favorite book because I couldn’t handle my heart breaking over all the horrible things that happened to a fictional character. Real life is shitty enough a lot of the time and my heart is often too broken and raw from loving and hurting for people who are dealing with real bad things.
I simply cannot handle spending my entertainment time on bad things too. Please just let me have something to remind me of good things and let me have my damn happy ending.
Even if it isn’t real life.
Update: After having a few conversations about this happy ending thing, I'm going to write a follow-up post within the next few days. I may not have fully explained myself here and think there is more to explore on this topic.