Loyal readers, do you know what we need? A proper tragedy.
No, I do not mean “A bus full of nun-orphan-kittens got physically involved with a tanker truck filled to the brim with 20.0 molar Death”. This is the theatric kind of tragedy. You know the one… the frowny face.
“Mainstream” tragedy is a tricky bit. People see movies/ go to plays/ read books/ etc. for the catharsis, not to simply feel worse upon leaving than they did beforehand. You cannot just kill everyone and call it quits, which just invokes feelings of schadenfreude. It is also a “no-no” to pull the move where the entire piece builds up to a tragedy then goes the comedy route. That is dramatic comedy, not “ha-ha” comedy, mind you. Without spoiling too much, Shutter Island did this by setting up a nasty, tragic ending, but then pulled “its okay” out of a hat about a minute before the credits rolled. Yes, they made it to “mindfuck” with everyone in that pseudo-complex way that blockbusters do, but they turned what could have been a decent tragedy into something with only pretentions to greatness. It was disappointing, really, a “shaggy-dog story” if you will.
I want a story where the antagonist gains his bittersweet victory while his friends and family lies broken at his feet. Where the desperate struggles of the protagonist ultimately amount to nothing, or make the situation worse for everyone around them. Where the scientist cannot find the cure in time and Timmy dies of the disease anyways, without the slightest whiff of the sappy crap.
The story of the man for whom the ambulance did not arrive in time. The tale of the person that married the love of his life before being sent to war, then never returning. The songs sung by the happy couple who are broken and divorced by the end of the verse, with no hope of loving again. The news of the astronaut, a hero of his sons and daughters, that get knocked into drift while on the shuttle, dying alone in the emptiness.
Art is supposed to imitate reality, and yet the expressions of so many artists ring false. Real life does not end happily most of the time, especially not in the deus ex machina-ways that so many pieces border on. Yes, we are supposed to take in media for enjoyment, but there is catharsis in tragedy, if it is good enough.
Oddly enough, the best “mainstream” tragedy that has come about recently would have to be Doctor Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog. It is rather ironic, but this “tragi-comedy” is one of the best examples of proper style that I have seen in a long time. Without spoiling the ending, suffice to say that some of my wishes were fulfilled in a spectacular way. I loved it.
In short, I rather wish that we could get some real tragedy back on the market, something on the level of Grecian or Shakespearian drama. Comedy is good and all, but he’s getting a little tired while Tragedy is growing restless due to his constant stream of bit parts. Let’s get out sad on, folks.