Note: this post was started over a week ago, but, as was mentioned previously, I haven't sat in front of a computer to finish it.
I haven't had much time to think lately- just sit still and read or rest and wonder. While reading in bed the other night, however, a thought came to me. I had just finished the book The Secret Life of Bees and was starting to pick up a book I got for Christmas but hadn't gotten around to, Hard Laughter by Anne Lamott. These are the first fiction books I've read in who-knows-how-long. I'm normally found reading a spiritual-formation book, or a political book, or, mostly, a book for school. More than any of those, I read things online- news or blogs. Which got me thinking...
I had a thought about how classic TV-fiction shows vs. reality TV shows parallel fiction books vs. blogs. Hang with me.
The popular, in-the-news, Thing-to-Read these days seems not to be books, those old-fashioned, hard-copy, static things, that have no pictures and are the same, whether you read it now or years from now. Heck, you could go online and read a review and probably figure out the ending before even starting the book. You could flip to the back and find out the ending, for that matter. But BLOGS, those are the things to be reading. They're current. They're always changing. They have all the narrative of a fiction with an ever-changing plot an end that can't be spoiled.
The other form of popular entertainment, television, has its own version of this. Fiction TV shows can be likened to books- the stories they contain come to an end, and the plots are wrapped up as the writers choose. And, like books, the first viewing is entertaining, but you can always wait for the reruns, or, as TiVo has allowed, fast forward to the good parts. Reality TV shows, like blogs, claim to give us the whole story- what's really happening, with few edits and no knowledge of the eventual outcome. And, like blogs, reality shows have become more popular. Currently, of the top-10 rated TV shows, America's Got Talent and So You Think You Can Dance made the list. Survivor and American Idol are crazy-popular hits. Even Who Wants to Be a Superhero made the cut.
So, my question, after thinking this, is reality better than fiction (from an entertainment point of view)? Obviously reality is better than fiction when we're talking about Reality. In Reality, fiction = lying. In Entertainment, however, fiction provides a compelling plot, a happy ending, and characters that can't choose how to portray themselves, so we see them how they are. Reality shows/blogs, in Entertainment, can sometimes provide a plot, but reality tends to muddle a clear story line. Reality in Entertainment provides characters who are often putting on a face to show only what they want to portray in the blog/show, and provides no conclusion, except maybe a contrived one.
I'm not sure if any of this makes sense. It did while I was about to fall asleep one night. I think the point is, entertainment doesn't have to be real. Compelling, yes. Believable, yes. But not the raw Reality that we live in day-to-day. We get enough of that in our lives anyway. It's OK to have a break from it every now and then.
And, then, another discussion is Our Lives as Narratives, and the Metanarrative (God's story) we're living in, but that's a whole 'nother topic.