Create the Culture

Jul 18, 2023

Book Club Hobbies Superversive Virtues

By: Brandon Quakkelaar

Edited By: Jesse Denzin-Weber

Public domain illustration of an archangel battling a beast that looks like a dragon.

Lackluster and lame excuses for entertainment have been piling up over the last few years, and Hollywood has lost its shine. What’s left is a grating subversion of my culture. It’s to the point that I tend to ignore new releases unless they’re recommended by people I trust. When big studios announce that they’ve acquired a beloved IP, or are remaking a classic story, there’s no excitement left. There’s no anticipation other than dread for whatever flop they’ll end up delivering.

The fix for this is simple and time-tested (although Hollywood can’t bring themselves to embrace it).

Do this:

Tell stories about noble heroes who fight against incredible evil!

This is your classic “good versus evil” story. It’s what Star Wars used to be. It’s what Marvel and DC used to be. It’s David versus Goliath, Grethel versus the Evil Witch. William Wallace versus Longshanks. Ripley versus the Xenomorph. It doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, writers should not get complicated until they can first deliver a quality Good vs. Evil story.

The heroes must be noble, but they don’t have to be perfect. Perfect people don’t exist in reality, and it’s difficult to get audiences to empathize or be inspired by such a fantasy. They just need to be generally good. The heroes don’t necessarily even need to succeed, though it’s fun when they do. A tragedy can be captivating, and self-sacrifice is noble.

The villains must be evil. The greater their evil, the more satisfying their defeat can be. Though, like in the original Little Red Riding Hood, they might win. They might even believe that they’re the good guy, but there should always be a clear contrast between the villains and the heroes.

Disney is an example of Hollywood losing its shine. Last month Bounding Into Comics reported that Disney’s estimated Box Office losses are up to 900 million dollars. Why would Disney spend so much money on material that doesn’t resonate enough to justify the price tag? Why doesn’t Disney make classic Good vs. Evil stories? There are (at least) two potential reasons. Either they are lying to themselves about what’s moral, or they’ve been fooled by lies about what’s moral. Both options produce stories that push corruption. Stories built on lies cannot be as good as stories built on truth.

Disney is full of zealots. Many (if not most) of their decision makers are willing to accept financial losses in order to spread their false morals.

So where can people go to fulfill their entertainment needs? Where can they go for some good old-fashioned escapism that challenges them to be better people while not assaulting their culture and virtues? The answer is: books! Short stories, novels, and comics don’t need the giant budgets that filming requires. This means you (and I mean you, dear reader) can sit down and write stories for your family. You can refine your craft. You can write poems and songs. You can tell tales of mighty heroes and evil monsters, and the stories can be good!

If you are interested in stories like that, I invite you to read my short story: Malice at Midnight. It’s free. Let’s set out to create the culture we need rather than just bemoaning the result of lies.

Further Reading

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