So, feeling my way to a question here … Terrorists aren’t just movie villains any more. Do real-world catastrophes such as 9/11 (and the bombs in Madrid, and the ones in London, and the war in Darfur, and … really, all the human-driven, mass loss-of-life events) affect what you choose to read? Personally, I used to enjoy reading Tom Clancy, but haven’t been able to stomach his fight-terrorist kinds of books since.
And, does the reality of that kind of heartless, vicious attack–which happen on smaller scales ALL the time–change the way you feel about villains in the books you read? Are they scarier? Or more two-dimensional and cookie-cutter in the face of the things you see on the news?
The question brings up a couple of interesting reflections on today. The first one was remembering that morning. I was in the process of breaking up with She Who Must Not Be Named, so I got up, showered, got dressed and went to work – no radio, no tv, no lingering. In the car, I’d had a CD in and it continued playing, so I got to work and saw a friend and said a cheerful “Good Morning!” and she looked at me like I had four heads and said, “What’s so good about it?”
This morning, I went about my normal business again and didn’t realize what day it was until I wrote out a check to put in the mail. So, I suppose I must admit it’s not in the forefront of my mind, but I do think about that day (and the days after) at unexpexted times. Much like the strongest memories of my parents don’t occur on their birthdays or holidays or other times you’d expect, but surprisingly out-of-the-blue for the oddest reasons. I'd never thought before that day was similar to the loss of a loved one, but maybe it really is.
Thinking about books, I don’t think 9/11 changed the way I read or the way that I think about villains. When I read fantasy and horror, it’s easy to have the Big Bad as the antagonist – and comforting that there are good guys and bad guys, those villains are simple and not-realistic on purpose. Pure escapism. When I read other novels, I like books about the grayness in people’s lives. What motivates a good person to sin? What drives a bad person to an act of redemption? Why do two well-meaning people end up at odds? Certainly no classic villains there.
I guess villain that made me think of terrorism the most, was the Joker in the recent Batman movie, The Dark Knight. This wasn’t a villain that was greedy, or power-hungry, or a religious or ideological fanatic. Chaos for its own sake – on a very small and personal scale. One of the few re-assuring things about the Cold War was that the prospect of nuclear destruction was both unimaginable and equal-opportunity – everyone bites it, it wasn’t personal. But with terrorists, what if you’re the unlucky guy in that store, on that corner, on that airplane? That’s very personal and all-too-easy to imagine ourselves or our loved ones in that situation. And that’s scary.
Note: find this BTT link here.