THURSDAY OCTOBER 19, 2017
 
Blog FILM
DO MOVIES DISTORT OUR PERCEPTIONS OF REALITY?
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There are many things that Hollywood movies tend to romanticize that really have no bearing on the day-to-day mechanisms of real life. However, without realizing it, the interesting thing about movies is that they distort our perception of reality. 

If, for example, you asked someone sitting in a movie house with a tub of popcorn on their lap about to watch “Wonder Woman” if it was based on a real life story, they would laugh at the absurd question. Yet, if you were to observe their tense faces during the battle scene against Mars, the god of war, you would see that viscerally they were reacting as if flames really were being flung at their heroine by a belligerent villain and that she was bravely fighting back to overcome a Greek god who appeared to be faster and stronger than her. After the movie, of course, the person would go back to thinking of it as an elaborate fantasy, but during the movie, they were perfectly willing to suspend all disbelief and act as if what they were witnessing an event unfolding in real time.

From the perspective of your rational, conscious mind movies are delightful entertainment. Unfortunately, from the point of view of your subconscious mind, a movie is real, and you unconsciously start to make unwarranted assumptions about the nature of reality itself.

Here are three examples of how Hollywood movies tend to distort our perception of reality.

1. A DISTORTED VIEW ABOUT ADDICTIONS

In the disturbing movie, Rush, Jason Patric is an undercover police officer who is assigned to bust Jennifer Leigh, who plays a nubile woman named Kristen. He ends up becoming the undercover role he has adopted and falling in love with her. Like many Hollywood movies, this one romanticizes addiction and even normalizes the eerie underworld of narcotic dealers and addicts. 

Another example where a movie trivializes the horrific reality of addictions is Flight, a story about an airline pilot who has surprisingly heroic streak during a calamity. This type of movie sends a message to a naïve young person that an addiction is perfectly fine and an accepted element of society as a whole. 

As they begin to partake in drugs, they will begin to spiral down and unless they enroll in a place like Luminance Recovery treatment center they will continue to self-destruct, making their lives and those that love them increasingly nightmarish.

2. A DISTORTED VIEW OF EMPOWERMENT

We all feel that life is a little too much for us at times. This is why the idea of getting bitten by a radioactive spider and developing instant super strength and gymnastic abilities is so appealing. 

How does this distort reality—after all you’re not going to go on a quest in search of a radioactive spider to turn you into Spiderman?

It makes you underestimate how hard it is to do anything well—study for an examination, rise in a career, or work out in a gym. You unconsciously expect things to be easy without going through the process of painful, gradual transformation necessary to completely upgrade your knowledge and skills. Since mastering anything isn’t easy, you drift from one thing to another, never finding that magical experience that will change everything for you.

3. A DISTORTED VIEW OF ROMANTIC LOVE

In reality, many of our relationships fall apart because the other person fails to live up to our fantasy of what a perfect relationship should be like. But where do we get these distorted views about how relationships should work out? It’s not from actual role models. Often, it’s from movies.

In Pretty Woman, many of the people who loved the movie quickly forgot that it was a fairy tale as unrealistic as Cinderella. It was immensely popular when it was released because it appeared to define “true love.” When true love shows up anything is possible; a millionaire and a prostitute can forget their huge socioeconomic differences in the space of a week and just a few well-timed words of wisdom from a woman can transform a ruthless corporate raider into Prince Charming.

MOVIES SMOOTH OVER LIFE’S DIFFICULTIES

Ultimately, all movies are about the Hero’s Journey, going from a lower state to a higher state through a weird and wonderful commingling of people and events that have a transformational effect. Movies appeal to us because we are actually on a Hero’s Journey ourselves.

In a movie like Trading Places, for instance, a beggar like Eddie Murphy becomes wealthy through a little luck and quick realization of latent intellectual capital to quickly dominate the world of high finance. It’s a Hero’s Journey from a lower state (destitution) to a higher state (wealth). In real life, too, people have gone from rags to riches. The difference is that in a movie the journey is fun and exciting; in real life, any significant transformation is extremely hard.

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