Good Fiction vs. Popular Fiction


Are good fiction and popular fiction mutually exclusive? It seems those in the movie business are coming to that conclusion when it comes to nominating films for the Oscars. Though I didn’t see the movie, I’ve heard the Dark Knight succeeded on many levels, not the least being artistic achievement, yet it was clearly a popular film. So how did the movie industry treat it when they put together the Oscar nominations? One mention. One.

Understand, I am not advocating for the Dark Knight. Rather, I am making an observation which may or may not be true. It seems to me that fewer and fewer Big Box Office successes earn awards. Years ago, this was not the case. My Fair Lady was a financial success while at the same time receiving recognition from the movie industry as one of the best. So too, The Sound of Music, The Graduate, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, and a host of other earlier-era films.

Interestingly, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King also fell into that both-and category, but that seems more like the exception that proves the point, because the trend appears to be toward creating vapid blockbusters that come out in the summer and artsy (and ofter R-rated) movies that come out in December and win Oscar nominations.

Why?

Some might argue that the public wants it so. The common man is too devoid of artistic sensitivity to appreciate quality.

But what about Lord of the Rings?

Personally I think the public is much more astute than film makers give us credit for. Unfortunately I think publishers might think the film makers have it right.

Sure, sometimes it’s nice to enjoy an easy read, but do the serious books always have to be inaccessible to the person who wants an entertaining story? The best books, to me, are the ones I came to for entertainment and found something thought-provoking as well.

But of late, it appears the Serious Book must be about angst or despair or doubt, which seems to automatically chase away the reader who wants to sit down on a Sunday afternoon with an enjoyable story—except, of course, those who like to wade through angst, despair, and doubt! 😮

Published in: on December 15, 2008 at 5:20 pm  Comments (8)  
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