I admit it. I loved Glenn. Everything that was good and hopeful in this world seemed represented in him. Failed at school? Shit Job? No bother – you can be a hero. In a bind? Ethical choice? No bother, you’ll do the right thing. So it proper pisses me off to see his head smashed in – so slowly that we see his eyeball pop out of his head first – as he tries to declare his love to his wife and unborn child. For fuck’s sake.
When I was younger, my parents watched Charlie’s Angels. The Six Million Dollar Man. The Generation Game. Was the world a better place? Not really. We still ran around bombing the hell out of people, still poisoned environments for money, still turned a blind eye to poverty, inequality. I mean, at least now we know the world is shit, right? Well, no. Because all we’re doing now is creating an alternative reality that is so awful that the real world seems ok. And that’s a feat of mind fuckery that is not only irresponsible, but dangerous.
My kids think I don’t know it but they download GoT and TWD and watch as if it’s relief from “real world”. As if ‘phew, that’s ok – at least we don’t have to deal with that!”. And of course, that has always been the nature of escapism. But something has changed. No good news is news. We’re bombarded with relentless misery. People flock to Luther for pecks and six packs and look past the endless misery of yet another woman murdered by another psychotic man. I know mothers of daughters who now refuse to watch these scaremongering visions of hell. But what about the mothers of boys? What are we telling our sons? That men are to be feared?
I know that we live in an imperfect world. That bad things happen, day after day. But if our fiction can’t give children hope; if it sends out a message that you really are better off dead, what hope is there? What responsibility do we have as newsmakers – as storytellers – to present the future as an image of hope rather than despair? What responsibility to say “good will overcome?” What responsibility to share those tales of people who overcame, sacrificed, reached out, saved, believed? Because if what we present to our children is a grim representation of life as it might be if authority broke down, if we didn’t have guns, if we weren’t tough enough…well then, we eliminate empathy, compassion, hope. And a world without hope is not a place I want my children to grow up and believe in.