“Well, that was super unrealistic.”
My friend sitting beside me sounded quite disappointed. We were in the theater watching “The Guardians of the Galaxy,” which is a great movie if you have not seen it, but that is not the point I’m looking to make.
What struck me as odd is how my friend was downplaying a cool scene in the movie because it had failed his definition of “real.” Like, how realistic were you expecting a film featuring a talking raccoon, a sentient tree and an massive alien battle to be?
The whole concept of how we as a culture want everything to be so realistic was first brought to my attention during my Introduction to Theater class. The professor was addressing how imagination and fantasy are slowly deteriorating within entertainment and being replaced with this need for realism. At first, I didn’t really buy in to what he was saying. But after giving the idea a little more thought, I could see what he was saying.
It seems like for something to be worthwhile and entertaining it needs to be realistic. Saying something is unrealistic has become a phrase with negative connotations. A movie or a video game doesn’t need to be realistic and life-like to still be entertaining.
As I was playing through the video game The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, my brother would continually make remarks about how the combat was so unrealistic and therefore, a stupid game. I disagree completely. Skyrim is not meant to be realistic; it is a world with dragons and magic. Just because it was not entirely realistic did not detract from any of the fun I had playing through it.
When I’m watching a movie I am looking to be entertained. Sometimes things that are completely faked with special effects are the coolest. Think of the film “300” for a moment. Many of the stunts they pull off in the movie are completely impractical in a real-world setting. Yet, I don’t feel this fact takes away from the entertainment of the movie.
The reason we have movies and video games is for a source of entertainment, not for trying to emulate in real life. If everything was so realistic and life-like, we wouldn’t have the need to watch these films or play these games. We would just go outside and live.
Stretching the boundaries of what is possible and what is not is the very reason we enjoy these sources of entertainment. Fantasy and imagination should not be stifled in the name of creating a realistic product.
Maybe that is why our culture is so in love with superheroes — because they do things we could never do in real life. Unrealistic is not a synonym for bad and realistic is not necessarily a synonym for good.